Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Worst. Christmas Carols. Ever.

The past few Christmas seasons have birthed a new holiday tradition in my family. Back in 2006, I posted a short list of my favorite Christmas carols on my personal blog, and this prompted a passionate response by my brother Tom, who is generally quite Zen about everything in the universe BUT Christmas carols. Politicians have come and gone in his home state of Minnesota—home to the Larry Craig bathroom scandal, former WWE wrestler Jesse (the Body) Ventura turned Jesse (the Governor) Ventura, the Franken-Coleman recount, and so on. Does Tom get worked up about any of that? No. Tom gets worked up over what Christmas carols are on rotation on Sirius satellite radio. Yes, folks, he even writes them a letter annually to complain. It took one too many rounds of "Santa Baby" to turn my brother into an activist.

So long story short, when I posted my innocuous little list of holiday favorites back in 2006, Tom immediately fired off a lengthy email rebuttal lambasting me for my "egregious" omissions. In the spirit of family harmony, I posted his favorites to the blog that year, and the whole sorry deal turned into an annual tradition. Which immediately devolved into an annual blogging snarkfest over our least-favorite holiday carols, as well as our favorites.

Since we’re rather hilarious on my planet, and since this year’s edition isn’t out yet, I’m treating you to our "Best of the Worst" list of our least-favorite Christmas carols from the past couple of years. Enjoy!

TOM SAYS: My first and all-time top pick is "All I want for Christmas is You" by Vince Vance and the Valiants. What a train wreck. This one gets me worked up the minute I see the name flash on my Sirius screen. First of all, who are these idiots? I actually looked them up on Wikipedia and found out that they are a "party band." If you ask me, they are a bunch of "no talent @$$ clowns." (thanks Office Space!) Plus, that name is so lame. And, their two other 'hits' according to Wikipedia were "Bomb Iran" and "Bomb Iraq." Niiiiiiice.

To me this is THE number one most annoying song played at Christmas.

TRACY SAYS: Mine would have to be "Santa Baby," any version, but especially Madonna's. This song creeps me out. I don't care if it's a song about a woman in love with her significant other, who happens to be dressed in a Santa suit at the moment. You simply Do. Not. Sexualize. Santa. It's wrong. So very, very wrong. And any female who sings or talks in baby talk after exiting her teenage years needs to be repeatedly pelted with copies of Ms. Magazine and The Feminist Mystique until she stops. Seriously.

TOM SAYS: Next up for me is "Christmas Shoes" by New Song.

TRACY: Word!

TOM: It is one of those songs where the person writing it is just trying to gain attention as the "Aw, isn't that sweet" song. Well, it isn't. It is a manufactured, try-too-hard holiday song. Big ups to the Lean Left blog, which said:

"If you haven’t heard it, it’s a song about a boy who’s scraping together money to buy a pretty pair of shoes for his mom, who’s dying. He wants to buy them because 'I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.' Oy. The only way to make the song even remotely tolerable is to do something Kevin found Googling up the song: Imagine the kid is a grifter, his mom is waiting in the car, and they’ve been pulling this scam at every store in town, with plans to return the shoes for cash two days after Christmas."

TRACY: And that sums it up quite nicely.

Here’s a bad one: "Jingle Bells," by the Jingle Dogs. What kind of tin-eared freak thought it would be a good idea to have DOGS barking once-beloved Christmas carols in their entirety? I want to tie him up and make him listen to dogs barking every Clay Aiken song in existence. Accompanied by Kenny G.

TOM: My next one is "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney. It is just a terrible, terrible song. It almost sounds like something Dana Carvey would have done as Paul McCartney on Saturday Night Live. I wish that Heather Mills would receive this song as part of the divorce settlement so that it does not have to be associated with Sir Paul anymore.

TRACY: :::snicker::: (That Heather Mills line was genius. High five!) My first pick is Anything by Josh Groban. The whole world seems to love Josh Groban except me, including Oprah who once gave his Christmas CD away during her favorite things episode. For all I know, he may be a very nice boy. And I'm hardly a classical music purist, owning a CD by a duo called the "OperaBabes." I apologize profusely to all the Josh Groban fans whom I am about to alienate, but for some reason, whenever homeboy opens his mouth to sing, he just bugs. And that "You Raise Me Up" song? All you raise up, Groban, is my middle finger. Can't. Take. Anymore. I want this CD to take a flying leap off my universe.

TOM: "White Christmas" by Michael Bolton: How about all Michael Bolton? I cannot believe that he had the audacity to remake this classic. The whole Michael Bolton-is-back trip is just sad right now. Last year he had a choir show on NBC? Lord help us through these trying times.

TRACY: Amen, brother. To make it a matched set, I also nominate "Blue Christmas" by Michael Bolton. As you imply, Tom, any Christmas carol "sung" in Michael Bolton's constipated alto should just be banned. Find the master tapes, crush them into tiny pieces with a sledgehammer, and rain the shards down on the terrorists. Or perhaps PLAYING Michael Bolton to the terrorists would be a better wartime tactic.... Like Tommy has said in the past, the King and ONLY the King should sing this song.

TOM: "Step into Christmas" by Sir Elton John: Anyone knighted should never make Christmas songs. What does this one even mean? It is like someone said, "Let’s take 'Crocodile Rock' and add in the word 'Christmas.'"

TRACY: "I remember when rock was young ... CHRISTMAS. Me and Suzie had so much fun ... CHRISTMAS...." Yeah, that sucks.

Anyway, my first pick probably should have been "Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey" by Lou Monte. I heard exactly fifteen seconds of this song for the first time while driving one day last year and nearly hurt myself in my zeal to change the station. Horrible. Just horrible. My brother Tom hadn't heard it yet, so I treated him to the sample snippet from iTunes, but he didn't quite make it through the whole thing before the F-bombs started flying. Do yourself a favor--if the words "Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey" flash onto your car radio screen at any point, put the car in park and run away.

TOM: Amen to "Dominic the Donkey." What the heck is that? It is just plain stupid. I honestly cannot get through more than 15 seconds of it.

TRACY: And then there's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band-Aid 20. Like the Highlander movies, there should have been only one. This song was never a masterpiece, and the lyrics are condescending and weird. But there's something just so eighties kitsch about the original that makes me love it in all its melodr ama and political incorrectness in spite of myself. (FEEEEEEEEEEED THE WOOOOOOOORRRRRLD!!!!) Remaking the song in the 21st century with the no-talent likes of Natasha Bedingfield and Will Young and inserting a horrible, horrible rap in the middle was not only a bad idea, it makes me want to jab out my ear drums with a pencil. The fact that the Sirius Holiday Channel INSISTS on only playing the new version makes me want to hunt down the programmers and jab THEM with pencils until they come to their senses.

TOM: The Band Aid thing is tough for me. I agree with Tracy that the new one should never be played. EVER! However, the inaccuracies of the original are also troubling. The way that Africa is generalized is just bizarre. Today, we have the Internet to easily refute the accuracy of the lyrics (Where "no rain or river flows?" Really? Too bad about that pesky Nile). However, back in 1984 when I was playing Lazer Tag and watching 5 channels on a TV with a spinning dial, we didn’t know any better.

TRACY: You love it; you know it. I have proof--you put the original on a holiday mix CD you made me a few years ago. And as you say, we didn't know any better in the '80s, and neither does our nostalgia. So I say on with the original, death to Bandaid 20 albums everywhere!

TOM: Finally, anything by Mariah Carey. Do I really need to spell this one out?

TRACY: I'll spell it out--she is awful. Maybe once Mariah stops plucking her eyebrows within a millimeter of their lives and dressing like the hootchie 40-something all the other PTA moms talk about, I will consider removing her from this list. Until then, the original PopWreck is BANNED from my household!

I have two more to add. Number one: Any KidzBop carol. Note to the creator--just because you spell "kids" with a Z does not make you cool. Kidzbop--a Disney franchise where they take perfectly good songs and have a "choir" (and I use that term loosely) of loud, shrieking children (aka "kidz") belt them out at full voice while trying some ridiculously age-inappropriate runs and swoops and other vocal atrocities--is simply an abomination. To turn said children on holiday carols crosses a line that never, never should have been crossed.

My last pick is "I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas," by anyone. The word is nothing. NOTHING! NOTHING, damn you!

We do have our favorites, too—I’ll post those next time I’m up. But for now, what are your least favorite carols?

Tracy Montoya, author of I'LL BE WATCHING YOU.


  1. Hi Tracy,
    Oh, I laughed so hard at the conversation between you and Tom!
    I dislike GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER. I also dislike any Christmas carol sung by Mariah Carey or Celine Dion. And I positively cringe when I hear carols done by Mannheim Steamroller. They are terrible! Thanks for the laugh. I needed it today.

    Mel K.
    Meljprincess AT aol DOT com

  2. I haven't heard any of the songs you mentioned (can I say I only listen to the radio when I'm in the car). And I'll probably make some enemies but I personally don't like "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer". Yeah I know a whole lot of people like it but I don't!!

  3. Okay, Mel, I'll argue with you on Mannheim--I absolutely love them! 'Still, Still, Still' is my favorite by them.

    But Mariah Carey? I know I'm not her target audience, but oy. Just because she CAN sing a high note doesn't mean she should. I was on the highway the other night and her version of 'O Holy Night' came on. I'm sorry. It was almost sacrilege to me. It had so many whoops and trills that I lost track of the tune, had no sense of the drama and build and story of the song, and got bored. Judy Garland came on right after with 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'. Now there was someone who could sing just about anything and make it seem effortless.

    Twangy country renditions of Christmas classics are hit and miss for me. 'Jingle Bell Rock' will make me change the station. I do like Faith Hill's song from The Grinch ('Where Are You, Christmas'?), and I can listen to anything Martina McBride sings.

    Most of the year, I have pretty diverse musical tastes, but I seem to like my Christmas music shmaltzy and moving and dramatic. Give me Bing Crosby and 'White Christmas' any day.

    Fun topic, Tracy!

    Julie Miller

  4. The two worst ever were the barking dogs and Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer. I can't listen to them but I can listen to most other Christmas music.

  5. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer….
    Did you know that there’s actually a Christmas cartoon movie based on the song? Yep…It’s one of my son’s personal favorites and his one request this holiday is that I sit down and watch it with him.
    He’s already tivo-ed it - just for the occasion!
    Oh my. I’m not exactly looking forward to this. But I’ll think of y’all while we’re watching.

    Kay Thomas

  6. I dislike I'm Getting Nuttin For Christmas the most. I am not much on any of the Rap music either.

  7. Mel, Ellen, Maureen, and Kay, I understand the hate for Grandma Got Run Over, etc., but it hits a soft spot of mine because my own grandma absolutely CRACKED UP the first time she heard that song. So it makes me think of her and her warped sense of humor, so I don't mind it so much. Manheim Steamroller is hit or miss for me, Mel. Tom and I had a tape of theirs we listened to as kids, but everything that's not on that tape usually makes me want to hurt someone!

  8. Julie, I think garage doors across America open whenever Mariah Carey comes on the radio. Ugh. And yes, most twangy carols make me cringe!

    Kay, I had no idea Grandma was a TV show! Weird!

    Virginia, I loathe that song. I don't understand who in the world likes it or why it's still played on the radio, but it's sick and wrong!

  9. Grandma Got Run Over bt A Reindeet
    Feliz Navidad

  10. I don't like "Christmas Shoes" either. I also don't like Bruce Springteen's "Santa Claus is Coming To Town."

  11. Estella, I have a soft spot for both of those (my mom is from Honduras and LOVES Jose Feliciano), but I do understand why they bug! Jane, you're so right--Bruce should never have sung a Christmas Carol. So many kinds of wrong.

  12. "Julie, I think garage doors across America open whenever Mariah Carey comes on the radio." LMAO! Tracy. And dogs howl!

    "OH, Holy Night" is my favorite Carol. If I heard Mariah singing it I'd have to saw off my ears. LOL!

  13. Worst ever--"I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtqIM_bPTws

    Because it's awful AND an earworm.