In recent years I have begun to notice that the discussion of holiday music revolves around which songs most annoy people, rather than which ones everybody likes. This could simply be a result of the discussions happening on social media, which is where America goes to bitch.
All the time.
That being said, the holiday music complaints immediately gained legitimacy in my head the first time I had to go to the grocery store after Thanksgiving. There I was subjected to a generic holiday music playlist so awful that it made me consider whether I could go a month without groceries. The more I listened, the more I realized that the only thing I don’t like about Christmas is popular Christmas music.
I will never run for president but if I do end up being America’s dictator through some sort of weird coup, the following songs will immediately be banned forever. Not because I want to be mean to everyone else, quite the contrary, I want my dictatorship to be a benevolent one. The songs on this list are likely to bring out the worst in me.
7. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Yeah, yeah, it’s just a cutesy cartoon song. It’s a really crappy cutesy cartoon song though. While it’s not intended to do so, it has a premise that follows the old Disney model of knocking off a grandparent or parent because somebody thinks that’s what the kiddies really want. That’s right, an entire family entertainment empire was built by people who think all children harbor death fantasies regarding their caregivers.
Still, this song makes the list just because it’s the musical equivalent of having one’s ear worked over with a paint scraper.
6. Last Christmas
The only people having fond memories of Wham! are now cat ladies or Andrew Ridgeley when he picks up a royalty check for “Careless Whisper,” which he got a writing credit on but George Michael made famous without him. This song is so bland it thinks white people in Kansas are ethnic. It’s barely noticeable when it begins to play but when you finally become aware that it’s on your mind is immediately transported to the interior of an execution chamber at a state penitentiary, because lying in one would be preferable to hearing the end of the song.
Then you remember why George Michael got arrested and the holiday spirit is just sort of sucked out of you.
5. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
The premise of this song is all fun and games for older kids and adults, but children who are at an age where they are still emotionally invested in Santa Claus will come to only one conclusion after hearing it: Mommy’s a whore.
Come on, you know the kid is going to give Santa the benefit of the doubt.
This song also runs the risk of making young kids learn the truth about Santa earlier than they should, which takes away a powerful guilt-based parenting tool. It’s really doing a disservice to people of all ages, but especially to the kids dealing with the “Mommy’s a whore with a guy who isn’t real” conundrum. If Jeffrey Dahmer were alive he could probably tell you all about that.
4. Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Almost a crime against humanity because Yoko is allowed to sing, Happy Xmas sounds like the kind of holiday tune that a totalitarian regime would create in its propaganda mill. There’s no telling how many commies Lennon knew at the time, but they were probably all involved in the composition of this aural monstrosity.
When Yoko is allowed to cut loose, it sounds like I imagine the screeching brakes on a train do as the engineer tries to avoid hitting a car that’s stalled on the track. Too much exposure to this song at high volume has been proven to cause every disease known to man in mice.
3. Do They Know It’s Christmas?
I’m probably a horrible human being for including this here because this song raised a lot of money for charity BUT AT WHAT COST.
If you have recently seen the original video for this song you realize that it could be made into a cartoon titled “A Mullet Christmas”. Thanks to MTV, this was the first kitschy pop Christmas song that the public quickly got sick of hearing AND seeing. It’s the “We Are The World” of holiday music, and both atrocities were written by the same guy.
The children who were helped by the money raised from this song ran away from it as soon as they’d been fed enough to regain strength.
2. Feliz Navidad
What should have been the biggest red flag about the horrors of multiculturalism instead became a Christmas “classic” that virtually no one has admitted to liking in the 46 years since its release. Feliz Navidad doesn’t even have any of the Christmas cuteness that some other songs on this list do-it’s a horrible song by any objective measure. Pay attention to your dominant hand the next time this song is on and you’ll find that, independent of your will, it is seeking the nearest sharp object. If you start to sing along with it, there is a 90% chance that the hand will find something and stab you.
As I write this, the song’s composer and singer José Feliciano is still at large.
1. Winter Wonderland
I’m certain that I’ll catch all kinds of grief for even including this on the list, let alone ranking it as my least favorite, but many of you will probably join me one day.
A pleasant enough tune the first 16,000 or so times you hear it each Christmas season, it begins to grate around the 90,000th time. That threshold is usually reached just 3 or 4 days after Thanksgiving.
That’s the problem with Winter Wonderland. It seems that every artist in the history of Christmas music has covered it and every one of those covers is on every playlist you’re likely to encounter in a retail space. You might be in a store for 30 minutes and hear it 5 times. That wasn’t a problem before, but now that I’ve brought it to your attention it’s going to bug you. A lot.
Look, I’ll admit I was predisposed to disliking the song anyway. It’s about cold weather, which I despise and reject the very idea that it would be involved in the creation of anything that could be referred to as a “wonderland.” As a Roman Catholic, I’m also suspicious of the presence of a snowman parson, which sounds a little Protestant-y to me. I mean, do Protestants even celebrate Christmas?
It’s the ubiquity of the song everywhere I go that ruined it for me though. If I ever do end up writing a manifesto and doing something that gets me on the front page of USA Today it will be because of the 121,000th time I heard Winter Wonderland in one week during the Christmas season.
Feliz Navidad everyone.
Stephen Kruiser is a professional stand-up comic and writer who has had the honor of entertaining U.S. troops all over the world.