It’s Christmas! And with Christmas comes Christmas music. Here is the worst.
First published in December 2017.
It’s that time of year when we come together to celebrate with those we are closest to, those we love and depend on, those who make us feel sure of who and what we are together. Too bad the soundtrack is so crappy. There is nothing cool about a Christmas song. It is the musical equivalent of a balloon animal. The place where hyper-consumption meets pop despair. The very place where musical integrity crawled to death. That said, please join me for a selection of the most excruciating seasonal turkeys ever to unleash an unsuspecting audience.
In the category of: MOST MAWKISH
“Christmas shoes” by NewSong
American Christian rock band Newsong is to blame for this watery cack swamp. A poor child lines up in a department store on Christmas Eve to buy his dying mother a pair of luxury shoes so she can look fresh when she “meets Jesus tonight.” It is sung from the point of view of the surly guy behind him in the queue. When the kid doesn’t have enough money, the cranky guy ends up forking out for shoes, learning the true meaning of Christmas. Clogged with layers of strings and angelic children singing, this piece will soon have you grabbing a bucket. If, however, you find yourself searching for a tissue, that’s not a problem. There is a book and a movie made for television. Just for you.
Demerit points: Rhymes “shoes” with “please”
Example lyrics: ‘Could you hurry sir, daddy says there isn’t much time ‘
In the category: THE MOST SPONSORS
‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ by Band Aid
While I realize that Sir Bob and the gang had good intentions and did raise some money, their approach left something to be desired. A classic case of rich, honest white people getting horribly wrong. Going to the full David Brent, they take turns reminding us how lucky we are not to be poor in a third world country, seriously delivering lines like “no rain or river flow”. But… isn’t the Nile the second longest river in the world? It does not matter. Wide shots here. As for this title, the African continent has 500 million inhabitants who identify as Christians. I guess they probably do know that it is Christmas.
Demerit points: The heavy weight of the ego involved.
Example lyrics: ‘There will be no snow in Africa at Christmas’
In the category of: HORNY FOR CHRISTMAS
“Have A Cheeky Christmas” by The Cheeky Girls
Twin Romanian pop pies Gabriela and Monica Irimia look great in shorts. They took the precaution of wearing them when they appeared on UK TV Popstars and were immediately catapulted to fame. Their debut single ‘The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)’ has sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide. It was written by their mother, who was also their manager. Example lyrics: “Touch my butt, that’s life”. This track is their first seasonal offering. On a heavy disco beat, the twins shout things like “Chreeeeeeesssmaaaaas” and “Ooooooh baby baby “ in accents strong enough to open up the oysters. Even their shiny golden hotpants can’t save this one. NB: Watch the reindeer eyes in the clip to see what pure terror looks like.
Demerit points: Reindeer abuse.
Example lyrics: “Getting sexy in the snow”
Bon Jovi’s “Father Christmas from the back door”
Often referred to as the poor man’s Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi presents this misguided cover of a 1968 song by Clarence Carter. Screaming sexual innuendos to a horrible synth riff and squeaky guitar, this track has all the subtlety of a poet in the sixth form. A bilious Christmas package of inflated rock stadium. Worse yet, it has nothing to do with Christmas. At all.
Demerit points: free strangling of the guitar
Example lyrics: “I make all the little girls happy”
In the category: INAPPROPRIATE SUBJECT
“Please, Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas” by John Denver
Confronting Daddy’s alcohol problem on Christmas Eve was always going to be a buzzkill. At the top of intimate piano and acoustic guitar tinkling, an eight-year-old boy begs his father not to screw himself up, collapse and make his mother cry like he did last year. A rich selection for a country air any other time of year, just not what we need to kick off the holiday season. This song would lead anyone to the bottle.
Merit points: Do not sing it with the voice of a pleading child
Example lyrics: “You came home at a quarter past eleven and you fell under our Christmas tree “
“Santa Claus has AIDS” by Tiny Tim
Best described as “a solitary outcast intoxicated by celebrity,” American novelty singer Tiny Tim (aka Herbert Buckingham Khaury) is responsible for this abomination. No one I spoke to believed this song existed until I showed them the clip. There is no explanation for this, unless he had just had a bad fall, was drinking heavily at the time, or both. On a bed of cheesy Casiotone blips, Tiny sings – but not in her trademark falsetto / vibrato and no ukulele in sight. He apparently wrote this song before the general public in America realized how serious the AIDS epidemic was. The lyrics seem to suggest that the virus amounted to a bad dose of the flu and could be cured with bed rest. This track rightly belongs to the dumpster of pop-trash history. On the fire.
Demerit points doubled: Pure offensive.
Example lyrics: “The nurses all look sad, because Santa Claus is in pain”
In the category of: VAPID AS
“The wonderful Christmas time” by Paul McCartney
Someone has a Mellotron in their Christmas stocking, right Paul? Then they fell in love with it and a monstrosity was born. That bunch of synth laden dreck will irritate your will to live. It makes ‘Silly Love Songs’ sound like a masterpiece. I’m sure Sir Paul knocked this one out on a tea break – we’re talking about writing potato-quality songs here. It was suggested before today that this track could have used more LSD. The more I listen, the more I am inclined to agree.
Demerit points: The half a million dollars that McCartney makes each year with this song for covers and covers.
Example lyrics: “Ding dong, ding dong, oo-oo-oo, doo-doo-doo”
“Christmas Wrapping” by the Spice Girls
There are many heinous crimes that can be laid at the doorstep of the Spice Girls – this movie to begin with. I add this to their indictment sheet. A flimsy, plastic version of a track from The Waitresses, it’s four minutes of solid moans that they can’t be fucked up with all the Christmas racket. It’s like a PSA for iron deficiency. On an automated disco backing track, they lament “No thanks, no party guy, I’m going to relax”. Yet despite their fatigue, they managed to squeeze 50,000 words into this song, turning every line into a desolate and jumbled mess.
Merit points: Hold on, despite the anemia.
Example lyrics: “Don’t think I have the energy”
In the category of: CREEPY AF
“I’m going to put glue around the Christmas tree so that Santa will stay all year round” by Joel Gray
A sadistic child (perhaps an aspiring serial killer) plans to trick Santa with the clever use of glue and keep him prisoner for the rest of the year. If that wasn’t scary enough, the song is performed by a grown man who sings like a petulant child. The psycho rant in the middle belongs to a slasher movie and the icing on the cake is the arrangement of the melody of the Shirley Temple show. A truly threatening seasonal misstep.
Demerit points: A stupid plan that wouldn’t even work at all.
Example lyrics: “I will catch it like a fly and I will have it for Easter and July 4th”
In the category: SLAUGHTER OF A CLASSIC
“I’ll be home for Christmas” by Jillian Hall
The ring is a horror film on videotape that will destroy anyone who watches it within seven days. The slogan is ‘Before you die, you see … ‘ God help me, I may have just discovered the auditory equivalent: Jillian Hall covering a Bing Crosby classic. I am sorry. I had no idea. But now that I have heard it, I must pass it on to you, in order to save myself. By the late 90s, Jillian was best known as the WWE Wrestling Champion from Ashland, Ky. At one point in her career, she developed a character in the ring as a deaf singer, and in 2007 released an album containing five covers of traditional Christmas songs, including this gem. I will confirm that she deliberately sings as badly as she can. While I’m not sure if that makes things better or worse, the fact remains that she looks like a cracked hillbilly with a mouthful of rubber bands. This wacky twang will haunt you long after you mute or run screaming through the night. Before you die, you hear …
Demerit points: Pure and simple vandalism.
Example lyrics: I have nothing to say about the lyrics, his performance is the only one to blame.
We’re all going to need a little time to heal now, especially after this last one. But in the spirit of peace and goodwill and to prove that there are exceptions to every rule, I recognize that the good Christmas tunes do exist. I even have proof. But this is another story.