One unmissable element of Christmas tradition across the globe is to play music that attempts to give listeners that festive feeling. Yule season starts as soon as Halloween ends for some, to the dismay of all the scrooges of the world. The majority of these cheesy songs tend to come with a helpless sigh, before the eventual acceptance that this will be here to stay for weeks, so you had better enjoy it. Others, on the other hand, are downright grating to listen to, whether it be because of subject matter or just because of them generally sounding awful.
Elton John and Ed Sheeran are the latest musicians to release a Christmas record, and critics have slammed the album hard. Yet Ed and Elton are far from the first artists to have made terrible Christmas-themed tunes. Here we have amassed a list of 10 songs that you definitely should not be playing this festive period, or should, depending on if you want some coal in your stocking.
Cliff Richard - Millennium prayer
This track is beyond awful, and was voted as the worst track ever by VH1 in 2004. It spent three weeks at number one during the Christmas period in 1999. ‘Millennium Prayer’ is universally hated, as Richard literally just sang The Lord’s Prayer to the melody of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. The song was a hit, despite the controversy surrounding it, as many criticised Sir Cliff for exploiting people’s faith for his own gain.
The Plastic Ono Band - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Although not particularly controversial, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s’ Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ is a song that is another stain on the former Beatle’s back catalogue, mainly due to its overly preachy, hippie messaging, that seem pretty ironic when looked at in retrospect. The song is too repetitive, it lacks substance and is too vague to make any kind of statement. There’s definitely no peace or love where this track is concerned.
Jackson 5 - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Another track to add to the creepy pile is ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ by the Jackson 5. There is something quite disconcerting, thinking about a young Michael Jackson witnessing his mother fraternising with Santa Claus; even more strange is the fact that he seemingly doesn’t mind all that much. Apparently, the track is depicting the child’s father dressed up as Santa, but the track is still a weird one to digest nevertheless.
Baby It's Cold Outside - Frank Loesser
Frank Loesser’s ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ has been covered numerous times by many of the world’s largest artists for over 50 years, but the track is surrounded by controversy seemingly every year. At first, the song could be construed as cute and flirty, but when delving into it lyrically, the track comes off as a quite unsettling. Throughout the song, the male character seemingly ignores his date’s protests, to the point of sexual coercion. The woman even states “Say, what’s in my drink?” which is rather alarming, especially today.
Alvin and the Chipmunks - The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)’
There is nothing more grating on the ears than the sound of those heinous chipmunks, and I think that that is something everyone can agree on. The incessant screeching of David Seville’s sped-up animated rodents is next to intolerable, and I pity anyone who has to listen to them. Nothing could bring me less joy at Christmas time.
Michael Buble - Santa Baby
MIchael Buble hibernates for the majority of the year, anxiously awaiting the moment that he can pop up from behind his rock to tell you just how much he loves Christmas. The man has covered seemingly every single festive tune imaginable, and they are all excruciatingly hard to listen to. I feel particularly sorry for any retail workers who have had to sit through the album on repeat for hours on end, you all deserve better.
Lady Gaga - Christmas Tree
Lady Gaga’s first foray into Christmas themed songs was ‘Christmas Tree’, a dire attempt at festive seductivity, where she equates her sexual anatomy to a tree. There is no hint at any type of subtlety to the innuendos that Gaga makes, and it is really quite unsavoury. There is no attempt at artistry here, just purely insipid raunch, and the awful 2000’s era electronic beats behind it make the track completely unbearable.
Mistletoe - Justin Bieber
Bieber has attempted christmas hits a few times throughout his career, and has two tracks to avoid this Christmas. Firstly, Mistletoe, his adaption of the classic festive track ‘Drummer Boy’, turning the track into a ballad type pop track that is utterly horrendous. He even features Busta Rhymes in the song, who is demoted to ‘paruppa pum pum’ man. An honourable mention goes out to his 2011 team-up with Mariah Carey for a version of ‘All I Want For Christmas’, which is similarly awful.
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?
Perhaps the most aggravating Christmas song is Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’. This one is particularly bad, mainly due to the completely mishandled lyricism, and the fact that Band Aid was made up of some of the largest musical artists of the time, including George Michael, Duran Duran, Bono, Boy George and Sting. Bob Geldof himself (the songwriter) has described ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ as one of the “worst songs in history”.
Even if the track did help millions of starving people at it’s release, it is impossible to not cringe at some of the lyricism within it. The absurd title of the song sets a precipice for the unsavoury nature of the track. Yes, the Ethiopians did indeed know it was Christmas, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t appreciate being called ‘the other ones’ who are living in ‘a world of dread and fear’, the track also told the public to ‘thank god it’s them instead of you’, a statement that is totally grim, and certainly hasn’t aged well.
Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time
Finally, the worst track of Christmas goes to another Beatles member. Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmas Time’ is a complete sonic assault, in the worst of ways. The track sounds as though someone had just gotten their first keyboard for christmas and decided to write a song in the space of about 15 minutes. For a musician as established as McCartney, the song is inexcusable, no better is the fact that it gets played non-stop, everywhere, constantly at Christmas. No I’m not simply having a wonderful Christmas time Paul, please tell me that I am another ten times.