Worst Christmas Songs Ever Written

A nice wintery picture to make the falling snow look less like dandruff.

Everybody has a list. Here’s mine, in no particular order.

Christmas Shoes - This has to be the sappiest song ever written. And it makes no sense. A kid’s mom is terminally ill, so his dad lets him wander away from the hospital with maybe thirty-five cents in his pocket (okay, I made that number up. But it’s based on research with an actual child. My kid’s pockets contain less than fifty cents at any given moment) to go buy his mama some shoes. So she can look pretty when she meets Jesus. Personally, I thought the Prince of Peace was looking at our hearts and not our footwear. Maybe I should buy something other than Birkenstocks. And what kind of shoes does Dad think the kid can even buy with a quarter and some pocket lint? Even in the clearance rack at Wal-mart, the pickings would be pretty slim. He might find some water shoes or a pair of knock-off Crocs.

Happy Holidays - by Andy Williams.  This song is closet-PC. Happy holidays, nothing. It’s a Christmas song. I am not aware of another faith that expects someone to come down the chimney at exactly twelve o’clock. Yes, my Jewish friends set a place for Elijah at Passover, but I’m pretty sure they’ll let him in through the front door. And the line about “Don’t forget to hang up your sock!” I believe refers to a stocking. Unless it’s a song about laundry.

And here’s a side-note. Not only do I hate this song because it is an irritating earworm that will get stuck in my head until Valentine’s day, I don’t like Andy Williams. He sounds too much like Frank Sinatra. Don’t judge me. Like some folks scream like little girls when they see a cockroach or a snake, hearing Old Blue Eyes drives me to the brink of violence. It’s a visceral, inexplicable reaction. My husband didn’t believe me when we first got married. He thought it was adorable. It took him about ten years to move from “That’s so cute!” to “This chick’s crazy!”  Let’s just say he doesn’t play Frank around me anymore. Not even as a joke.

Tender Tennessee Christmas - By Amy Grant. Supposed to be sweet and sentimental. Comes across as all smug and condescending. There’s no Christmas like a Tennessee Christmas. Because it’s the only state where tinsel is hung properly? And which part of the state? Is a Memphis celebration still considered a Tennessee Christmas, even though it’s more urban?  Or do you have to be on the east end of the state in order to qualify? I don’t like unanswered questions.

I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas - Shirley Temple. I get it. She has curly hair, and she’s adorable. But really? Total earworm, of course, but the message bothers me more. Research your pets before you buy them. Otherwise, you’ll get that two-ton ball of fun home and realize that it uses its tail as a manure spreader. Who wants that in their living room?  And more people are killed by hippopotamus than by crocodiles. For real. Sounds like a fun pet. Not to mention that pygmy hippos are endangered. Might as well ask for a baby harp-seal book bag or an elephant ivory CD holder.

*** I stand corrected. Gayla Peevey was responsible for inflicting this holiday ditty on us. Not Shirley Temple. Thanks to Angie Z for setting the record straight.

But I’ll let you in on a secret. For years, my favorite radio station in the whole wide world played Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and these songs were part of the mix. In January, they were bought out and went off the air. I would sing these songs joyfully and at the top of my lungs if only I could have my station and my DJ’s back.

Marisa, Marshall, and Kris, I miss you more than you know. Merry Christmas, friends.

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118 thoughts on “Worst Christmas Songs Ever Written

  1. i have never heard that word.. earworm.. and I so totally suffer from it, especially at christmas. I loved this page, you have a rare and cutting sense of humour that I thoroughly enjoy!! c

  2. Ha! My earmworm song is the Santa Claus is Coming To Town by Bruce Springsteen. Really, the ending is not that funny that it needs to be sung 47 times. With a laugh by said lead singer. Each time. Great post! Keep ‘em coming!

  3. My earworm: Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The only redeeming quality is that sometimes on bad recordings it sounds like she is saying “Later we’ll have some fuckin’ pie” and then I laugh.

  4. This list (which fits exactly with my own much LONGER list) is precisely why I resort to my iPod for the months of November & December. ;) I have a favorite Celtic Christmas album that I’d rather hear non-stop than bear the ear-worms (great designation, by the way) for even an hour… Case in point: the damn Hippo has just taken up residence in my head, and I didn’t even HEAR the song… ;)

  5. Great post! Teeny-tiny correction, not that it’ll change your mind about the song, but Hippopotamus is sung by an unknown singer, Gayla Peevey. The only reason I know that is because I did not believe it could be sung by an actual child (she was in fact 10 when it was made). That voice sounds like it came out of an aging child star in a rest home. I’m thinking of the character from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (creepy!). Though I do like the song :)

    Agree on the Amy Grant song! Also, I’d add to this 1.) Paul McCartney’s Wonderful Christmastime or “Simply having…” – argh! I love you, Paul, but that sucks so bad. 2.) Madonna’s Santa Baby. 3.) Anything off Mariah Carey’s Christmas album.

  6. I agree with every one of them. Especially “Christmas Shoes.” Shaun Groves once said in concert… “It’s just a terrible song!” and I’ve loved him ever since.

    And one I would add: “Christmas With A Capital C” that song ticks me off every time I hear it. It’s sounds like whining to me.

    The best part about Happy Holidays and the Hippo Song? Both are less than 2 minutes long :)

    And (as I am a music promoter now) may I suggest this guy, David Ian, who as of yesterday, has a free download here http://www.iantunes.com/free-downloads/

  7. One more thing and then I’ll quite monopolizing your comment list! I forgot to say Christmas Shoes is THE worst song of all of them and I’m so glad you appropriately put it at the stop of your list :) If I find the person who wrote that song, along with the song ’90s song Butterfly Kisses, I will shove them into a trash dumpster in a symbolic gesture to show where their music belongs.

  8. Christmas Shoes = sappy stupidity. I hate it too. A lot. Any song that gets overplayed as much as that one needs to have something horrible happen to it. Sigh…

    (Thanks for stopping by my birth blog! This comment will link you to my personal one. And – I’m totally bookmarking your blog. Just FYI.)

  9. I can honestly say that I have never heard of a single one of those songs. Not one. Tennessee? Hippos? Shoes? Really? And it’s not like I haven’t been exposed to dodgy Christmas music. My father had a Burl Ives Sings Christmas album that he always found no matter where we hid it. Perhaps I’ve been luckier than I realised. But, sadly, I just know that I am going to try to find the Hippo song on ITunes. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but…

  10. great list. I also particularly hate “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”…. if that shit really happened, then we all should be DEVASTATED, not singing a cute little song about it

  11. Once again, LOL! Add that Chipmunks Christmas song–I don’t know why, but my husband loves that STUPID song! As far as I’m concerned those chipmunks should burn…and that’s saying something because, like you, I love animals!

  12. When I worked in retail, we had this awful Christmas CD that played the Hippopotamus song one every hour and a half. When you hear that song for the fourth time in a shift, it really sucks the humanity out of you.

  13. I like some carols, but it is amazing after so many gazillion years that I still need lyric sheets.

    “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” still feels good, but the ones that are old and given a new punk feel–please! Just write a new song rather than mess up a traditional one. And don’t change the melody one me.

    The hardest part about the music is that it comes to quickly. I am never ready for Christmas anything till about January 5th!

  14. Totally agree on Christmas Shoes…why must people pander to the Oprah crowd with sappy songs like that just to make a buck? Would the writer of that song really give that boy money for the shoes in real life? Makes me kind of sick.

    On another note, my other 2 worst songs are:

    Feliz Navidad: Just because you recite Merry Christmas in another language 87 times, doesn’t mean it requires a whole song.

    Dominic the Donkey: Does anyone not in the mafia like that song?

    Rob, The Mainland

    • Oh, my word. How could I forget “Dominic?” My kids like it, I can’t stand it. And “Feliz Navidad” makes me laugh because my son misinterpreted it at a young age. Now we all sing it his way. “Fleas Naughty Dog.”

  15. I always enjoy finding people who can elevate sarcasm to an art form. And now, thanks to you, I seriously doubt I’ll be getting that hippopotamus for my little girl. She’ll be distraught and hate me for it, but someday she’ll understand… You had me laughing as soon as I read “My Journey to Becoming My Mother”. Thanks for that!

    • I am so glad that I made you think before you shelled out big bucks. The shelters are filled with hippos by the new year. They just aren’t a good pet for most people. And I don’t care what they tell you at the pet shop in the mall. They don’t fit in most bathtubs.

  16. This reminded me of when I left my position as a manager of an ice cream place (let’s call it Schmoldstone Creamery) because of a change in ownership, and they new owner was far less than kind to me. I may have executed my revenge by leaving only one Muzak disc for the Muzak player (the rest of the stack somehow made it into the dumpster *shrug*) – the Christmas one that was only 50 minutes long and had no less than three of these songs on it – plus a crazy techno rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Yep, on a 50 minute loop all day everyday. They were still playing it in June when I stopped in for some ice cream. Tee hee. Reliving this experience has made to giggle and realize that I
    m pretty much pure evil.

  17. Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus right down Santa Claus lane. Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, boring into my brain!

    My favorite is Everybody’s Waitin for the Man with the Bag by Kay Starr. Love that!

    • I hate the ones that have only one memorable line, so that’s ALL anyone can sing. The next line is something like “Vixen gets blisters on his bum-bum, it sure is a pain…” You’re welcome.

  18. My reaction to the Christmas Shoes was very much like yours — she’s dying and you care about what’s on her feet? Ummm. Even with an open casket, nobody gets to see her feet. Besides, I think that women who are so focused on shoes have another whole problem.

    I cannot believe that not a soul has mentioned “Mele Kalikimaka” — the Bing Crosby is particularly memorable. Whenever I want folks to leave my house I play that song. Regardless of the date.

    Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. That’s the Island Greeting that we send to you from the land where palm trees sway…

    Great post. We all need to be outed like this.

  19. Oh, but Christmas Shoes is nothing compared to the new “Let’s make ‘em cry because it’s Christmas song” – One last Christmas. I guess I get it – be thankful for what you’ve got, live each year like it’s your last, etc. But honestly, does making me sit and picture having to let go of my precious child, breaking my heart, and making me nearly run off the road blubbering on my way to work (not to mention the mascara stains on my new blouse) actually get us anywhere?

    • Was “Last Christmas” the one by Matthew West about the little boy who died of cancer? That one tears me up. If you watch the video, you’ll see actual footage of the entire town decorating for Christmas in September just for him.

  20. I’m only familiar with one of the songs (Happy Holidays) on your list. I’d consider myself lucky, but I’m still recovering from being subjected to 9 hours of Christmas music on Thursday.

  21. Pingback: Christmas Songs You’d Like To Punch In Their Stupid Faces | The Byronic Man

  22. i love i want a hippopotumus for christmas. Mainly as it annoys my sister. but the worst one is when noddy holder screams “itssss chrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiistmas!” a little bit of me dies.

  23. What about “Baby it’s Cold Outside”?? All the girl wants to do is go home to her loving parents and you have this creepy old man who is slipping roofies in her drink and trying to take her clothes off. I don’t know how date rape relates to Christmas…

    • That one is definitely a little weird. It’s kind of an upbeat song considering that grandma met her death the night before. Unless grandma was a total witch and they were happy to see her go.

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  25. Funny! I have that ‘Ugh’ feeling with pretty much every single Christmas song. Probably because they are played to death every year before and during Christmas. Not just on the radio, also in shops, adverts, even my sky guide has switched to obnoxiousness a couple of weeks ago.
    Incidentally, I love the fact that there is a page on earworms on wiki. In German, the word Ohrwurm is very commonly used and everyone (ok, that’s an estimate) knows it, but I always have to explain it to English speakers when I use it in its translated form. Which I do often because there is just no better word for it in English. So thanks for using it, thus making it a bit more popular ;-)

  26. I could live without “Santa Baby” myself. Don’t know who sings it; I do not care. The first time I heard it I found myself looking around for a screwdriver, anything really, to poke out my eardrums.

  27. Man, this is a great page! Thanks for the laugh!

    It’s odd, though, that the Christmas we know (St. Nick) is connected with the Christian aspect of it. Well, maybe not. As I understand it, the REAL St. Nicolas was a would-be Monk, whose parents left him a lot of money, but he took a vow of poverty, so went about using his money to help people in need. That’s a charitable and truly Christian thing to do at any time. Sadly, the whole thing got turned into an annual GIMME crusade, and not even for things people NEED, just WANT. The real St. Nick would be turning over in his grave!

    I loved your note about how Elijah would be allowed to come in the Front door for Hannuka, rather than having to go down a chimney. (Especially if it’s being used!)

    Now, to the songs…. I know the feeling! Santa Baby was sung by Eartha Kitt (One of the Cat Women on the Batman series) . I never heard of anyone having a violent reaction to Frank Sinatra before. One song that would drive me NUTS if I heard it more than twice during the Christmas/Holiday season…. The Chipmunk Christmas song. The one from the 60′s. “..Want a plane that loops the loop. ME, I want a HOOOLA HOOP! …” That would provoke a violent reaction eventually.

    “Please, daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas.” John Denver’s been bugging my house?! Thankfully, those days are over, but it was not fun, so that song wouldn’t be on my list of faves, either.

    If I may share a few faves, though, old and relatively new. ….

    *Boney M’s Christmas album is a standard.

    *Come on, Ring those Bells! Evie…. she’s a Christian artist who released that song back in the 70′s and it makes me think of a Christmas I’d REALLY LIKE!

    *Mary, did you Know, by Clay Aiken. There’s a vid on Youtube that is excellent.

    *I’ll have a Blue Christmas (Porky Pig version) It was done at an improv club, I guess because you can hear people laughing in the background, but imagining Porky Pig, (a la Mel Blanc) singing that, character and all, would have me on the floor, howling with hysterical glee! It’s hard NOT to laugh at a stammering pig with a broken heart!

  28. Though I haven’t heard a single song you’ve mentioned you still had me laughing! I knew that Christmas shoes was a movie with that guy from the show,How I Met Your Mother, I didn’t know they had a song about it. Thanks for making my day:)

  29. Reblogged this on Becoming Cliche and commented:

    I am sick today, so you get a reblog. It’s the time of year when all the radio stations and shipping malls are regaling you with Christmas tunes, anyway, so I’m not that early. Heck, Hallmark has their ornament premiere in July, so I might even be a little late. Anyway, enjoy.

  30. LOL.. I agree with your list.. I cannot stand the Christmas Shoe’s song..I will however sing the Hippo song just because I know it does get stuck in other peoples heads…heehee I am evil…

  31. Christmas Shoes is the worst!!! I can’t stand songs that attempt to emotionally manipulate you with a completely made up scenario and preachy message. What ever happened to subtlety in lyrics? Let me get there on my own!

    Is it by the same guy who sings Butterfly Kisses? Because that song is almost as bad.

    As a New Yorker, I haven’t heard Tennessee Christmas yet but I’m sure I’ll hate it when I hear it.

    Addition for your list: So This is Christmas by John Lennon. It’s a fine song but I can’t stand the creepy children singing in the background.

  32. Pingback: Day 307: New Title/New Tagline « Life As I Understand It.

  33. Aw, I loved this post! This was one of the first Becoming Cliche posts I read! And while I’m glad to be reminded of this post, I wish I wasn’t reminded of Christmas Shoes. I was really hoping I could avoid that one this year. Ugh. Yep. There it is. It’s in my head now.

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