The fine line between sentimentality and musical masturbation is always balanced on the thinnest of margins during the holiday season. What’s emotional to one person can come across as crass and boorish to another. That said, some lines are quite clearly crossed as we pick the Top 10 Worst Christmas songs ever recorded by so-called artists.
10. Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmastime (All The Best!)
Sitting at number ten, only because I feel “Wonderful Christmastime” could go down in the history books as the worst song ever. Not only does it lack sentiment or emotion, it honestly sounds like McCartney phoned it in… literally PHONED IT IN! The keyboard melody comes off like the cheap Casio that my children play with at their grandmothers’ house. You know the one, cheap drum machine and a bunch of sounds that try to imitate other instruments but more or less emit speaker vibrations that might resemble the varying sounds of a cat being tortured. Listening to this too many times over the holidays could turn even the kindest of us into homicidal maniacs.
9. John Goodman – Let There Be Snow
Every year, as TV stations try to fill their airtime with Christmas classics, a few stinkers make it back as well. The worst of these is Frosty Returns, which tries desperately to strike a chord between the holidays and environmentalism. It fails spectacularly at both. Despite the great cast of Jonathon Winters, Andrea Martin and John Goodman, it quickly falls apart leaving nothing but tired clichés and horrendous original songs to sit through as your kids wonder what the hell it is they’re watching.
“When does it get good daddy?”
The worst is the song “Let There Be Snow.” Gone is any of the pure enthusiasm that got Goodman through the Blues Brothers 2000, and left is something that is bland and… well, tone deaf. The only good thing I can say is that the song mercifully never received the soundtrack treatment, and hence you’ll never have to endure it mixed with your holiday favourites.
8. New Kids On The Block – Funky Funky Christmas
Whomever thought that this was a good idea should be shot. Having four guys jump around a stage with the only understood lyrics being funky and Christmas is as about as entertaining as banging your head repeatedly against a wall. I’m quite sure this is meant to be fun, but instead it is excruciating. Half dressed boy band dancing doesn’t say anything Christmas except… GIVE US YOUR MONEY! Thankfully Donnie Walberg is a decent actor and this disaster only gets pulled out for lists like this.
7. Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas
Nothing says holiday cheer like a bunch of materialistic characters listing off all the expensive sh%t they want for the holidays. At least Irving Berlin was trying to create a universal feeling of joy with “White Christmas.” “8 Days of Christmas” is a bunch of early twenty somethings trying to get you on the dance floor to hear about their boyfriends and bling. It leaves me with the empty feeling Charlie Brown must’ve had after he saw his own dog had given into commercialism. Except in this case, there is no happy ending, just an over-produced, unlistenable mess.
6. Bon Jovi – Back Door Santa
Originally done as a tongue in cheek ode to infidelity with holiday merriment, Bon Jovi take the opportunity to play it live as a hair throwing rocker. On paper that might sound pretty cool, but in practise the song becomes bereft of even libido, leaving nothing but guitar solos, synthesizers and fist pumping. Considering the audience was made up of 80% white dudes who thought Poison was high art… it is actually really depressing. I mean Tim Curry crossing wits with Kevin McAllister… laughably depressing.
5. Chris Young – Baby, Please Come Home
The original “Baby Please Come Home” is one of the greatest songs ever in terms of pure pop perfection. You take Phil Spector’s production and mix it with the all-out power of Darlene Love to put despair, longing, and yes even joy, into a single syllable and it becomes my all-time favourite holiday classic. Now, it’s 2016, and country music is mining R&B/pop to entertain their banal masses. Chris Young, who is the flavour of the moment, sounds like the last flavour… vanilla, in case you are wondering, and brings nothing to it but a country pose. This isn’t the Johnny Cash Christmas cool that country is capable of, it is a manufactured spectacle lacking soul.
4. Wham! – Last Christmas
Everything that was awful about the 1980’s contained in a single Christmas song. A horrible synthesized riff, hiding behind an over-indulgent vocal with background singing that just doesn’t equal the intensity of the lead, it can only equal Wham!. If the holidays were about white teeth and hair gel this would be an eternal classic, but there is no sentiment in either of those things. This version of “Last Christmas” is little more than the roadside slush left days after the white Christmas.
3. Dr. Demento – Jingle Bells
The Chipmunks are what happens when you shoot for a novelty Christmas hit. Love them or hate them – “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” is the result. However, comedy and novelty went way past the line of sanity when Dr. Demento made this their gift for the holidays. As much as I love pets… there was no effin’ reason Rover should be doing Christmas songs. Funny the first time, revolting the second and absolutely suicidal on the third listen, … why the eff does this exist. If aliens descended on our planet in a post-apocalyptic age and found only this, their report would read – No intelligent signs of life found!
2. NewSong – Christmas Shoes
Everything I hate about modern country music shoved into the heaping pile of manure that is this song. Kid spends money to buy new shoes for his dying mother at Christmas. The sentimental clichés of bad Holiday specials mixed with the Terms Of Endearment storyline is meant to make you feel the joy of life. Instead you get the feeling that you’ve been taken on the worst kind of ride where everything is predictable and “Christmas Shoes” is nothing but bad ideas taken from a dozen sources and tossed in a ‘Disney-fied’ blender that assumes its audience has an IQ equal to their shoe size. There is no lesson here other than that some songwriters will create desperate sh%t to get an emotional response from their audience. RUN AWAY!!!
1. Engelbert Humperdinck – White Christmas
The most popular Christmas song of all time, the Irving Belin penned “White Christmas” has been done hundreds (perhaps thousands) of times in every conceivable style imaginable. To have created the worst version is a feat of apocalyptic proportions. What Humperdinck manages to create is a mass of commercialism so crass that it becomes ‘epic’ in its destruction of sentimentalism. Musical masturbation was Engelbert’s hallmark, and his voice soars to heights not required. The background singers hit notes so high that the angels might be chipmunks that have their nuts twisted. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Humperdinck goes for the creepy factor and whispers the final line. He might want the audience to feel his longing, but completely contradicts the effect, giving us his equivalent of the scary clown. It’s horrifying and still played in those satellite radio holiday mixes.