Hating Christmas songs can make you seem like a Scrooge, but as we become once again bombarded by them, there are a handful of carols that are so bad that all we want for Christmas is to never hear them again,
A variety of reasons make these songs some of the Worst! Christmas Songs! Ever! By artists ranging from Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Madonna to New Kids, Destiny's Child and, er, David Hasslehoff, these holiday tunes are too cheesy or too self-serving, others are overly dramatic or just outright awful. No one needs to hear Cyndi Lauper sqeak: "Bonga, bonga, bonga! Do the Christmas conga!"
In fact, considering how many great Christmas songs there are -- as we recently rounded up for you -- there really is no excuse for anyone one to stuff our metaphorical stockings with these musical lumps of coal. Dreck the halls, indeed.
Paul McCartney & Wings - "Wonderful Christmastime"
The words "terrible" and "awful" aren't often associated with any of the former Beatles, yet those adjectives are sadly appropriate for Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime." From the kitschy keyboards that open the song to the dreadful lyrics that permeate it, please forgive us, Sir Paul but this was not one of your finer moments. We'll take "Spies Like Us" over this any day.
Mariah Carey & Justin Bieber - "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
Mariah Carey tries to maintain relevance than to have Justin Bieber, one of the world's biggest pop stars, bring her along for the ride in a re-vamping of her early holiday hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You” on his 2011 Christmas record? The relationship between the two in the video is best oedipal as Carey is six years older than Bieber's own mother. This, paired with Carey's XXXmas outfit, is enough to re-title the song "All I Want For Christmas Is Ewww!"
New Kids On The Block - "Funky Funky Christmas"
What says "Funky Funky Christmas" more than five middle-class white kids? We can think of many things, actually. From the embarrassing intro where "Santa" is pretending to dig the New Kids through to regrettable lines like "Kick the ballistic Santa Claus" and faux British accents, it isn't hard to tell the New Kids were willing to do just about anything to stay in the spotlight to help keep the momentum of "Hangin' Tough" moving forward. Makes us wish that "New Kids Got Run Over By a Reindeer" parody was non-fiction.
Madonna - "Santa Baby"
I'd love to know what Madonna was thinking when she decided to really pour on that New York by way of Betty Boop accent for "Santa Baby." Maybe she took the title too literally? Her cutesy vocals are so put on, and pale so much against Eartha Kitt's original, it renders the rest of the song guilty by association. And by guilty, we mean awful. How can you even notice the song's decent string arrangements with Madge's pouting, annoying vocals laid over top?
Destiny's Child - "8 Days Of Christmas"
Who has time for 12 days of Christmas? Not Destiny’s Child, apparently. By lopping off a quarter of the days of Christmas, it allows us to hear all about what Destiny's Child received for each of their eight days of Christmas while also injecting some originality into the song via the chorus. On the plus side, it's not as superficial as it could be. On the negative side, there's everything else. Guess not everything Queen Bey touches turns to gold.
Dwight Yoakam - "Come On Christmas"
If you are prone to sad feelings over the holidays, you had best stay away from Dwight Yoakam's song "Come On Christmas." The song is arguably one of the most depressing holiday songs of all time. If Christmas is a time of celebration, Dwight missed the memo -- it’s downright morose and highly unlikely to put anyone in the Christmas spirit.
David Hasselhoff – "The Christmas Songs"
For better or worse, David Hasselhoff's music career never gathered steam on the North American side of the Atlantic. Just kidding, it was definitely for the better based on this Christmas medley. Starting off with "Jingle Bells" before moving into "Chestnuts," the Hoff’s enthusiasm isn't quite matched by anyone else in the video, even the kids. No, especially the kids.
Band Aid 20 - "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
While their intentions were good (money raised went towards eradicating famine in the Darfur region of Sudan), this attempt by the likes of Coldplay's Chris Martin and U2's Bono to modernize this song reeks of trying too hard to recapture the magic of the original version.
N Sync - "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays"
The late Gary Coleman is arguably the best part of this holiday stinker from N Sync. And his only part is in the video itself. Truth be told, as far as original holiday songs go, at least N Sync didn't follow the New Kids down a road of complete cheese. Although this track's mid-song breakdown could have been done away with, the video for "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" is completely responsible for the cheese factor being upped. The video's terrible green screen "action" shots of the boys traveling the world on their sleigh (and feeding the homeless!) are a bit over the top.
Christina Aguilera - "O Holy Night"
Sadly, what could have been a really great opportunity for the undeniably talented Christina Aguilera to shine became an exercise in overdone, overwrought vocal runs. While it is important to acknowledge that subtlety has never been one of Christina Aguilera's strong suits, "O Holy Night," especially the last two minutes of the song, border on the ridiculous, even by her standards.
Elmo & Patsy - "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer"
It should be fairly obvious that this song is in jest. And since we cannot find any actual records of Grandma in fact getting run over by a reindeer, let’s contemplate how lucky Grandma might have been spared needing to hear this song. Is that a little too harsh to say? Maybe so. Is listening to the story of Grandma being run over by a reindeer really any better though? Pick your battles.
Newsong - "Christmas Shoes"
Although there may be many that find this song of a boy hoping to purchase shoes for his dying mother touching, we actually find it anything but poignant. Christina Aguilera can be over the top but this is a whole different kind of over the top. If the song's intent was to teach people the true meaning of Christmas, we believe that even the most generous, most caring individuals would have a tough time swallowing this story as told by Newsong.
Bob Dylan - "It Must Be Santa"
Because it is easier to beg for forgiveness, please pardon us for not seeing the legendary Bob Dylan as the holly, jolly, holiday type of person. The whole notion of Bob Dylan doing a holiday record is a bit of a strange thing in itself. Although he gets a solid "E" for effort, this song's upbeat, accordion-driven melody would have been better suited to the Shane MacGowan-era Pogues.
Wham! - "Last Christmas"
Wham!, it feels like we hardly knew ye. Based on this song alone, we don't feel as though that is such a bad thing. Any 80's music fan should be able to appreciate the duo's pop hits from their "Make It Big" album but this tale of "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart" only to have it thrown away the very next day is a little on the melodramatic side. Heartbreak sucks; we get it. But it's the holidays, so move on and don't wake us up before you go-go.
Cyndi Lauper - "Christmas Conga"
We are still trying to figure out what is more cringe worthy in this song: Cyndi Lauper's rhyming of "longa" with "conga" or the truly awful line "Bonga, bonga, bonga! Do the Christmas conga!" Around the two-minute mark of the song, Lauper has a small spoken-word piece where she wishes listeners a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. But then, almost ominously, Lauper says "And by the way, have a nice life." You know how you can hear some people smile when they sing? You are not hearing any of that Christmas cheer here.
Justin Bieber & Busta Rhymes - "Drummer Boy"
At first listen, Justin Bieber does a respectful job interpreting this Christmas classic. It all goes downhill after the first verse however when Bieber starts rapping about playing for the title, being bad like Michael Jackson and expressing surprise that this isn't all in the Bible. Christmas is a great time to be thankful, many of us do reflect on our lives at this time of year. And while Bieber's impression of his self-worth might fly at almost any other time of year, it comes across as tacky and self-serving at this most wonderful time of the year.
John Denver - "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)"
The intent behind "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" was comical and John Denver seems like he was a good sport, having played on "The Muppet Show" and all. The lyrics to the song are just plain sad and depressing. Rather than making us chuckle, they paint what is probably an all too real picture for many people all over the world.
Aqua - "Spin Me A Christmas"
Let's face it, Aqua were never revered for their inspiring lyrics (or, y'know, songs) so it should be little surprise that their contribution to the niche of Christmas songs would do anything to change that. This video has it all: Provocatively clad vocalist Lene Nystrom. A pervy Santa. Uncomfortably forced smiles from the male members of the band. It is, like the bulk of Aqua's career, a bad memory.
T.L.C. – “Sleigh Ride”
The slick, R&B infused "Sleigh Ride" incorporates almost every Christmas cliché in the book, taking lines from numerous holiday classics and funking them up, T.L.C.-style. We aren't sure whose job it is to convince musicians that recording a Christmas song (or entire Christmas album) is an important way to stay in the spotlight, but some artists, like T.L.C., should never have gone there.
Spice Girls - "Christmas Wrapping"
The Spice Girls' "Christmas Wrapping" just might be the least terrible song in this list of Worst Christmas Songs. With its easy to digest, bounce-along melody, the song is actually well suited to the pop group. Does that necessarily mean it is good, however? Not really. A Spice Girls record by name only, the track only actually features contributions from Sporty Spice (Melanie Chisholm) and Baby Spice (Emma Bunton).
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Bing Crosby / David Bowie - "The Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth"
At first glance, the pairing of traditional crooner Bing Crosby with the man behind Ziggy Stardust might seem like the ultimate odd couple especially considering Bowie was in the midst of the prolific Berlin phase of his career. In England to film his 1977 special "Merrie Olde Christmas," Bowie was enlisted to appear in the special. It is reported that Bowie was hesitant to perform "The Little Drummer Boy" and so the show's producers wrote "Peace On Earth" in a mere 75 minutes.
The Pogues (ft Kirsty MacColl) - "Fairytale Of New York"
Undoubtedly one of The Pogues best-known songs, 'Fairytale Of New York" has also come to represent a seasonal favourite among music fans. The 1987 single, a duet between Pogues vocalist Shane MacGowan and the late Kirsty MacColl, has proven its appeal year after year in the two and a half decades since its release. The song consistently re-enters the charts at this time of year and would earn the No. 1 position of VH1's Greatest Christmas Song Chart in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Band Aid - "Do They Know It's Christmas"
In 1984, after seeing a news report of highlighting a famine that was gripping Ethiopia, Ultravox’s Midge Ure and the Boomtown Rats Bob Geldof teamed up and wrote this song with the intention of releasing it as a benefit single. The song was rushed to market; only four days passed between the time the song was recorded to the time of its release. The track, featuring some of the biggest pop stars from England and Ireland at the time, sold more than one million copies during the first week of release.
John Lennon - "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)"
There are times that the origins of songs that people associate with the holidays are not rooted in the Christmas spirit at all. Take this 1971 single from the late John Lennon: The song was originally conceived as a protest song against the Vietnam War. Produced by the eccentric Phil Spector, Lennon enlisted the help of The Harlem Community Choir to help fill out the song’s chorus.
The Beach Boys - "Little Saint Nick"
First released in December 1963, in the shadow of the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy, this holiday favourite from California's Beach Boys borrowed heavily from their hit single "Little Deuce Coupe." Clocking in at just under two minutes, The Beach Boys' knack for melody and impeccable vocal harmonies help make the song one of the best original (i.e: non-traditional) holiday tracks of the last century.
Chuck Berry - "Run Rudolph Run"
The Beach Boys weren't the only act to look towards their own catalogue to find musical inspiration for holiday material. Chuck Berry's upbeat and bluesy "Run Rudolph Run" bears a striking resemblance to the guitarist's "Johnny B. Goode," bearing many of the same sonic hallmarks of his previous hit.
Booker T & The MG's - "Jingle Bells"
Some things are better left unsaid. Or in the case of legendary group Booker T & The MG's, some things are better left unsung. With fairly minimal instrumental backing, Booker T. Jones' organ handles the vocal line melodies, helping the track fluidly bounce along. I dare you to try to keep your toes from tapping along to the group's upbeat take on this Christmas classic.
Bing Crosby - "White Christmas"
The only musician to appear in this Top 20 more than once, Bing Crosby's version of this Christmas classic is positively stunning. Listeners are treated to Crosby's rich baritone vocals while a selection of strings lushly provide background accompaniment. Crosby performed the song publicly for the first time on his radio show on Christmas Day, 1941.
Jose Feliciano - "Feliz Navidad"
While "Sesame Street" might have been instrumental in helping children learn the basics of speaking Spanish, it was Puerto Rico's Jose Feliciano that taught just as many to say Merry Christmas in Spanish. In spite of the same two lines being repeated throughout the song, this 1970 single is a staple of holiday gatherings worldwide.
Elvis Presley - "Blue Christmas"
Having made his recorded debut the year prior to the release of Elvis' "Christmas Album," that same excitement running throughout his first three full-length albums can also be found on Elvis' "Christmas Album." Undoubtedly one of his best-known Christmas songs, the danger that drove his earlier hits has been muted here in favour of a song that shone a spotlight on Presley's incredible vocal talent.
Louis Prima - "What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin')"
One of the swingiest, most jazzy, most original holiday songs on our list, the Louis Prima-written "What Will Santa Claus Say When He Finds Everybody Swingin'" is a breath of fresh air for those who can't stand to hear the same tired holiday standards. Despite the almost primitive sound that the song boasts in terms of recording quality, the track remains one of the holiday's most under-appreciated songs.
U2 - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
In 1987, as they toured their mega-selling album "The Joshua Tree," Irish rockers U2 cut their version of this song which would go on to become the arguably best-known version of the track. The song was included on the 1987 compilation "A Very Special Christmas," a project spearheaded by industry veteran Jimmy Iovine to raise funds for the Special Olympics. This remains one of the sole holiday-themed songs that U2 has recorded.
Vince Guaraldi Trio - "Christmas Time Is Here"
Whether or not you've seen the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, there should be no denying how poignant the Vince Guraldi Trio's performance of "Christmas Time Is Here" is to the listener. With minimal backing from the other members of his trio, Guraldi's minimalist approach to the song really lends power to the whole concept of "less is more."
Andy Williams - "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"
You can practically hear the smile in Andy William's voice In almost every note sung in "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”. Written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle, Williams recorded the song for his first Christmas album, the appropriately named "The Andy Williams Christmas Album." In 2010, the song was the fourth most played holiday track on radio in the United States.
The Ramones - "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)"
Perhaps one of the most left-field contributions in our Top 20 Christmas Songs, this song was, thankfully, The Ramones sole contribution to the crowded field of holiday-themed music. While it would have just come across as total cheese had the group chosen to perform a traditional holiday song, penning their own original tune (complete with sleigh bells) was a much more logical (and cool) thing for the punk legends to have done. Hey ho, let's go Christmas shopping!
Ella Fitzgerald - "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
Considered one of the finest female jazz vocalists to ever walk the earth, Ella Fitzgerald's animated take on this classic song shows why she is held in such high regard. Her vocal delivery is warm but lively enough to hold your attention throughout. The origins of the song date back to the early 1940's. It was introduced by actress Judy Garland in the 1944 musical Meet Me In St. Louis. Fitzgerald featured the song on her 1960 album "Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas."
Perry Como - "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas"
If there was one area that it could be argued that the late Perry Como knew well, it would be the field of Christmas music. During his prolific career, Como recorded numerous Christmas efforts but this song has consistently been an audience favourite. While his music might have been closer in spirit to Bing Crosby than Sinatra (primarily because Como got his start before Sinatra), Como's warm baritone vocals on "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" lend a jovial feeling to the song.
Dean Martin - "Walking In A Winter Wonderland"
What Christmas list would be complete without the inclusion of a song from one of the Rat Pack? Dean Martin's vocals on "Winter Wonderland" are the very embodiment of laid-back. Without even trying, Martin brings elegance and class to the song that few others have been able to do quite as successfully. Sorry, Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson, but your version of the song has nothing on the King of Cool.
Frank Sinatra - "I'll Be Home For Christmas"
While the bulk of Christmas and holiday songs are built upon a foundation of happiness, "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is undoubtedly one of the more somber holiday songs. Like practically everything he touched in song, Ol' Blue Eyes sings from the heart on this holiday standard, doing such an amazing job that this rendition is bound to stir up the emotions of even the most cold-hearted scrooge.
Bob & Doug McKenzie - "Twelve Days Of Christmas"
Two of Canada's favourite hosers proudly tackle what is undoubtedly one of the longest Christmas songs ever written. Luckily, Bob and Doug deviate from the original version of the song. Instead of singing about golden rings, turtledoves and a partridge in pear tree, the McKenzie brothers instead sing of their true love's bestowing of beer, turtlenecks, toques and more upon them. Don't take the holidays so seriously, eh?