I hope you all enjoyed perusing our list of the Best Christmas Music of the Last 60 Years. Thanks to those of you who added suggestions, most prominently Fairytale of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, which seems to be a holiday favorite for a lot of you lovable troublemakers out there.
In addition to the Christmas classics, we’ve all had our ears pummelled by some really horrible holiday hits as well, especially since the advent of the 24-hour-a-day Christmas music channel. Once again with the help of my performer friends, I’ve gathered a list of some of the most horrendous songs written about Santa and/or baby Jesus. (Or, in one case, an Italian Christmas donkey.) I’ve also included a list of songs that were nominated for both the best and worst lists. Add the Christmas songs that drive you crazy in the comments!
10. Santa Baby by Joan Javits, Philip Springer, and Fred Ebb as sung by Everclear, chosen by improviser Frank Hejl. More than one person I asked mentioned that Santa Baby should be on this list, saying things like, “Every one that sings it has a whiny voice and it makes me want to gouge out my ear drums with a blunt object!” I’ve heard Taylor Swift’s version a lot this year, and though I think it’s terrible, I have to agree that this rendition by Everclear has to be the most heinous I’ve ever listened to. But kudos to a straight dude for not being put off by the thought of calling Santa “baby.”
9. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Tommie Connor sung by The Jackson Five, chosen by comedian Shannon Ennis. Shannon says, “I grew up thinking the mom was a cheat and Santa was an enabler. I was 20-something when I realized that Santa was THE DAD DRESSED AS SANTA.” My friend Kelly echoes the same sentiment. “That song creeps me out. What a great message to kids – your mom’s a ho and is getting it on with Santa.” There’s something particularly disturbing about hearing young Michael Jackson shouting, “I did! I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus! You just gotta believe me!,” as if to say he’d be in big trouble with Joe if he were making the whole thing up.
8. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Dr. Elmo. This song was also nominated multiple times as one of the worst Christmas songs in history. This remixed version makes the novelty tune a bit more palatable, but only because the scratching on it is awesome. The video itself reaches its horrifying peak at the 2:32 mark… and that’s after some weird incest jokes.
7. ŽWho Took the Merry Out of Christmas by Deanie Parker as sung by Donny Osmond, chosen by musical comedy duo Stuckey and Murray, whose song Santa Claus Gave Me Diabetes is well worth a listen, especially if you or someone you know has Type I.
The Staple Singers’ recording of this Gospel/soul track is little known, but wonderful. Donny Osmond’s version, on the other hand, is “Classic white man trying to do soul or funk and failing miserably,” say Stuckey and Murray. “I wish I could see video of him in the studio singing this. No doubt he’s white boy two stepping and snapping his fingers.”
6. Dominic the Donkey by Richard Allen, Sam Saltzberg and Lou Monte, chosen by musical theatre actress Lea Oppedisano. This is one of those songs that strikes a chord in people and could likely hold a spot on either the best or worst list. Like a lot of things that have been created to celebrate Italian-American culture (“Kiss Me I’m Italian” t-shirts, hair gel, The Jersey Shore), this song is cute at first, but annoying when overexposed.
5. Mary Did You Know by Mark Lowry as sung by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd. There’s just so much wrong with this song, I don’t know where to begin. It’s not just the insane lyrics (“Mary did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”) but it’s also the hysteria with which this version is sung. I think this song could almost be touching given the proper delivery. Part of the problem is, whenever I hear Kenny Rogers’ voice now, I always envision it as Will Sasso’s chicken-and-bourbon-soaked impression of him, which makes this song even more ridiculous.
4. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey. I… I just can’t.
3. My Only Wish by Jessica Simpson, chosen by Gorgeous Lady of Comedy Glennis McMurray, for being the Chinatown knockoff of Mariah’s Christmas pariah. *shudder*
2. Dear Mr. Jesus by Sharon Batts and the Bedford, TX Gospel Workshop for Children. Christmas itself isn’t ever mentioned in this song, but I was subjected to repeated plays of it on the local hit radio station every holiday season growing up in Central New York. It’s meant to be an anti-child abuse song, and given that it was written in 1985, I suppose it’s just a product of its time, but let me put it this way: it’s not Suzanne Vega’s Luca, which TIME Magazine called, “a more understated and artful approach to the topic.” (Which is an understated and artful way of saying Dear Mr. Jesus is an awful song.) Indeed, the soulful plea sung by the only adult male voice near the end of this song is almost laughable. Child abuse is no joke, but as far as Christmas songs go, it’s one of the absolute worst.
So what’s the number one WORST Christmas song of all time? Without question, the voice of the people have named:
1. Christmas Shoes by Eddie Craswell sung by Newsong. Comedian Kevin Tor says this song “teaches kids that clothes can travel with you into the afterlife and that’s ridiculous.” Theatre technician Christina Dunham says, “Leave it to country music to take a gesture of charity and turn it into a ‘my dog just laid down and died’ tune.” My friend Vicki described it as “that song where all the kid wants is shoes for his dead mother,” adding, “I hear that and all I want to do is slit my wrists and slide into a hot bath.” Happy Holidays?
SONGS NOMINATED FOR BOTH THE BEST AND WORST LISTS:
Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid
I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey
Three songs that made the best list were also nominated for the worst list: Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney, Christmas Don’t Be Late by Alvin and the Chipmunks and Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys.