I’m not one of those curmudgeons like Richard Roeper or Gregg Easterbrook or several hundred shock jocks that complain about how Christmas songs get played too early. Perhaps I don’t hang around malls to often except the last days of the shopping season and I don’t really listen to the radio (thank you, iPod.)
I do agree, though, that there are just some songs that are so annoying they should never be placed on the airwaves … ever. Which ones? Here’s my Top Ten:
10. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer — This song is goofy fun the first three times you hear it, but becomes rapidly annoying with constant repetition. It doesn’t help that they whole “Santa is just a regular schmoe amirite?” thing got run into the ground some time last decade. And now there’s a cartoon special (which, to my misfortune, I glimpsed on Cartoon Network while I was flipping channels) about the song. For the love of all things holy… HOW?!?!?
- Watch the 1983 Dr. Elmo video here.
9. I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus — The thing that irks me most about this song is the kid who sings the song. It doesn’t matter if it’s young Michael Jackson or the Cheetah Girls… the singer always sounds like that he or she should know better. The intro, which is supposed to convey childlike innocence, instead makes the kid sound like a total tool.
- Listen to the Jackson 5 back when Michael had a normal nose.
8. I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas — This is a song written in 1953 by John Coctoasten and sung by 11-year-old Gayla Peevey. To be honest with you, most readers of this site have probably never heard of this song, so this is more of a personal grudge. I used to work at a firm where the Lite FM radio station was piped in through the speakers. Around late November, the morning show would switch to an all Christmas format, and for some reason the DJs had a total jones for this song. They would play it EVER HOUR. It was the most irritating song ever known to man. My God, I was clawing my ears by around 9 am in the morning. For some reason, it shot to the top of the charts in ’53 … which shows how stupid the music buying public is. Remember when “The Macarena” was the number one song? Stupid American public! Stupid, STUPID American public!!!
- I have to say, though, that pairing the song with a cheapo Christmas light display makes it slightly more tolerable. Check out the YouTube Video. Take that, TransSiberia!
7. Last Christmas — A long time ago, back when VH1 was still airing music videos, they compiled a list of their favorite Christmas classics. They were all, of course, secular in nature and sung by a Billboard Top 50 Artist. (No Boston Philharmonic concert of “The Nutcracker Suite,” for example.) As you may guess, the entire top of the list was occupied by song I totally, utterly annoyed me. Here’s the first entry. Wham!’s song is of heartbreak on Christmas in the grand tradition of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.” First of all, if “Christmas” wasn’t in the lyrics, it would be indistinguishable from the entire music library of the Divinyls or the Eurythmics … only devoid of any actual content. Second, it just doesn’t sound like a Christmas song. Third, what kind of shopper walks around a mall thinking, “Boy, holiday cheer is all well and good, but I really wish they’d play a depressing song about somebody leaving me on Christmas”?
- The music video really makes me hate the 80’s.
6. Mary Did You Know — I don’t really hate this song, a modern church music staple. However, I do not like how this song, along with “Breath Of Heaven” and “Sing Mary Sing,” has pretty much taken over Protestant Christmas services. This may seem like a shallow criticism, but it just does not sound like a Christmas song. Instead, every year, we’re very likely to endure yet another rendition of the song while amateur actors reenact the nativity, with a way modern message about how we should treat pregnant unwed women with respect or something. “The First Noel” had a Christian message and it doesn’t feel out of place during the Holidays. Why do pastors feel they have to foist on us songs that sound like they were mass produced by a gospel music factory?
- If it’s not sung during a play, “Mary Did You Know” will often be played alongs with video clips of recent Christian movies, like this one.
5. All I Want for Christmas Is You — This is another one of those VH1 favorites, this one done by love-her-or-hate-her diva, Mariah Carey. This is one of those songs that I don’t think is bad when played sparingly. There’s nothing overtly offensive about the sentiment of wanting to be with a loved one for Christmas, right. Modern DJs seem to think that this is the modern “Sleigh Ride” or “Winter Wonderland” and play it in heavy rotation. I disagree. The sleigh bell accompaniment overpowers any genuine Christmas sentiment. And this is one of those songs that suffers by repetition. The phrase “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is itself repeated several times during the song itself, and after hearing the song four or five times, it almost becomes hypnotic. Wait, no, not hypnotic…. Annoying.
- What annoys me more than the song itself? The video, which is all about the glory that is Mariah.
4. Santa Baby — Ah, the sluttiest Christmas song of all time. It’s an excuse for Kylie Minogue to the Pussycat Dolls to RuPaul to sashay in skimpy Santa wear. I don’t mind racy Christmas songs — “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is one of my faves — but “Santa Baby” kicks it up a notch with greed and selfishness. That and the faked New Yawk accent needed for the song is terribly grating.
- It’s a tough contest over who has the worst version of the song, but I’m gonna go with Madonna.
3. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree — Despite the title of the song, does not rock. The second greatest misuse of “Rock” known to man.
2. Jingle Bell Rock — Despite the title of the song, does not rock. The greatest misuse of “Rock” known to man.
1. Wonderful Christmastime — There is no shortage of Top Ten Best Christmas songs that places this Paul McCartney number at the top. Why!?!?!?! Is it some lingering appreciation over Paul’s previous role as a Beatle? Was there some incredible event where Paul played this song and it miraculously cured a leper colony, and Boomers have embraced this song as a remembrance of the event? Or are the Baby Boomers playing one big, elaborate prank on younger generations? It’s a song that relies heavily on a synthesizer track, and the verse “Simply havin’ a wonderful Christmas time” does not improve with every repetition. It’s like the song that never ends. Society at large has accepted that “Wings” was a subpar album. Can we just accept that “Wonderful Christmastime” is a terrible Christmas song?
- Seriously, listening to this song is giving me a friggin’ headache.