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The songs that you can't avoid if you try.
I should start by saying Christmas is not my favorite holiday. So, there may be the appearance of a bias here. Even so, I posit that any song contingent on a holiday will be a difficult listen. I believe Halloween is the best time of the year, but that doesn’t mean I want to listen to The Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. Actually, that song should be the lead single off an album called 'If I Could Erase This from Existence.'
That said, the following is a list of songs that torment me every holiday season.
Last Christmas by Wham
This holiday tune is essentially about someone who makes bad decisions regarding who they give their heart to and a vow to make a better call the following year. But, if you really think about it, the chances are likely that this heart will be given to anyone that will have it. Who gives out their heart for Christmas? That’s a pretty risky gift for which there is insurance. It only hurts more when you thought the person was “special.” What a bummer of a song.
Also, the way the word “special” is oozed out in this song makes me want to dig my knuckles into my temples until my vision blurs.
Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney/Wings
I don’t know what secures this song’s place on the list. Is it the synthesizer’s “bwow-wow-wow” noise? Or is the fact that a former Beatle is responsible for such a bland and repetitious song? I expect this kind of holiday drivel from Ringo, but not McCartney. Then again, this was the Wings era and all sorts of mistakes were made during those days.
Do You Hear What I Hear? by Bing Crosby
Could there be a more droning voice than Bing Crosby’s? Now imagine if that same deep, monotonous voice was asking you questions and then answering them with barely a change in pitch? Better yet, imagine being one of Crosby’s kids and having to hear this song every year after he just finished wailing on you for leaving your bike in the driveway again. Do you know what I hear? The same sad tune, plodding away regardless of who is covering it this time. Sorry, Carrie Underwood, even your vocal acrobatics can’t save this Christmas dirge.
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen
It may be more contentious to say that I am not a fan of “The Boss” than it is to say I dislike this song. So when this live version of this old Christmas tune comes on, I am conflicted by multiple reasons to change the station. Do I shut it off because I can mentally picture Springsteen reaching into his age-inappropriate skinny jeans, not for a sweaty bandana but for a soggy Santa hat? Do I kick my radio because he is acting as though his audience is comprised of children with extremely disposable incomes? Or am I just bitter because I have never seen the appeal of his blue-collar, hard-working, everyman persona?
It Must Have Been ‘Ol Santa Claus by Harry Connick Jr.
Nothing says Christmas like cultural appropriation, right? H.C.J. does his best to remind us that he is truly from Louisiana by slamming out some jazz on the piano. I’m pretty sure you can find a performance of this on an old episode of Mad TV, ironically it was not in a skit about a guy trying out his best bluesy *blac-cent.
Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale
I love hearing “PA RUM PUM PUM PUM” 21 times in the same song as much as the next guy, but is there a way to make it more unsettling? A chorale of children, you say? That’ll do it. I think the main takeaways from this nativity soundtrack are that babies love material things, especially when the alternative is a drum solo. Play PA RUM PUM PUM PUM on a snare drum next time you see one. Is that a good present for the newborn king? Even the manger animals were like, “Could you take that nonsense somewhere else? It’s ruining the vibe of this home birth in a barn.”
Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon
Hey everybody, war is over, but only if you want it to be. It’s an encouraging statement from another Beatle whose idea of activism was staying in bed. I don’t need the sanctimonious guilt trip. Then we get to the chorus which is not only shouted by a group of kids but led by the harpy-voiced Yoko Ono. I feel like this song starts more wars than it stops.
Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey by Lou Monte
Chingedy Ching, hee haw, hee haw.
I would rather have a donkey kick me in the throat than listen to this dreck.
Christmas Shoes by NewSong
Few things put me into a more blinding rage than this song. From the over-affected voice, to the schmaltzy lyrics, to the shoe-horned sentimentality, this song is by far the worst. Personally, I do not like children and even less when they sing. But when an adult sings from the perspective of a child, I just cannot be bothered. Then, at the end of the song (which never comes soon enough if, I am beyond punching range) a child-esque voice sings the final chorus. How corny can a song be? Corny enough to get a Hallmark movie made starring Rob Lowe, that’s how. But it’s not just the song that gets me all up in a rancor. It’s watching the toll it takes on those who cannot keep their emotions balled up in the pit of their stomach like the rest of us that truly makes this song unbearable. It’s the equivalent of watching someone really enjoy a hot pocket because it reminds them of their mom’s home-cooking. No one should be that damaged.
Did I miss any ear-worms that burrow deep and ruin the festivities?