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Creepy Christmas. Photo and feature by showbizsuperstar.

From poverty porn to sappy love to easy listening, the music industry has all bases covered to tug the heartstrings of the uncritical listener.
They get stuck in your head and follow you from store to store. From the ones you can’t shake to the ones you’ve never heard before, these are the worst songs of Christmas.
Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)

This song, recorded by John Denver among others, is told from the point of view of an “almost eight” year old boy who witnessed his father fall down under the tree the year before. I guess that didn’t make a very good gift for Mamma. The chorus?

Please Daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas
I don’t wanna see my Mumma cry
Please Daddy, don’t get drunk this Christmas
I don’t wanna see my Mumma cry
No, I don’t wanna see my Mumma cry

Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Santa has great potential for being terrifying.
Photo by andersknudsen.

Brought to us by the “supergroup” Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is African poverty porn at its most grim. It’s about and for those starving in Ethiopia at the time of its release in 1984.

It was for a good cause, but the lyrics are a travesty of geographical ignorance, to say nothing of the Ethiopian people being called “the other ones,” a blatant shout-out to neo-colonialism.

At one point, Simon Le Bon and Sting sing:

And it’s a world of dreaded fear
Where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears

(No temperate or cool zones in Ethiopia, guys?)

And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom.

(That’s not the Salvation Army bell outside the IGA?)

Bono adds:

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.

(Oh, yes. If it has to be someone, thank god it’s them.)

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time.
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life.

Surely you get the idea. If you want to torture yourself, this could be the one. Leigh Shulman was in a group challenge to pick the worst line from the song, and had it stuck in her head for a week afterwards.

Christmas Shoes

Contemporary Christian music doesn’t generally try to string together interesting chord progressions, relying instead on flat piano-like synths and soulful, whispery vocals, and this song by band Newsong is no exception. What is unusual about the song, brought to our attention by Sarah Loving, is the depths to which the band is willing to sink in an attempt to circle-jerk tears from the listener.

The story goes like this. A guy is standing in line at the store, “tryin’ to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood.” In front of him in line is a filthy little ragamuffin with a fist full of pennies and a pair of shoes. As he starts counting out the change, he says to the cashier,

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It’s Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there’s not much time
You see she’s been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.

That’s right. When it’s near the end, wouldn’t every little boy want to give his dying mother the gift of shoes before she meets her maker? The important thing is to get the shoes to her before she draws her final breath.

So the guy behind him does what anyone would do. He buys the shoes. And you know what?

I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

Last Christmas

Screen shot from the Wham! music video.

This is on the list because when you catch a whiff of the chorus, the bounding synth line is guaranteed to follow you all day long. Not quite as terrorizing as the following song, “Last Christmas” makes no sense on a number of levels. It’s a lament, a song of obsession. The chorus is so repetitive, you might think that there’s nothing more to the song.

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Other contenders for worst lines are, “I wrapped it up and sent it / With a note saying “I love you” / I meant it.” We don’t know what “it” is? His heart? Also horrible, “A crowded room / Friends with tired eyes / I’m hiding from you / And your soul of ice.”

Wonderful Christmas Time

Bring up this song by Paul McCartney in a room full of people and you aren’t likely to find one that isn’t repulsed by it.

This nearly tuneless and repetitive-to-the-point-of-making-you-wonder-if-you’re-trapped-in-some-kind-of-time-warp song attaches itself to you like a Rottweiler and you’re lucky if sleep can erase it from the vortex it creates in your brain’s logic centers. But heaven help you if you happen to hear it in passing the following day. You’re right back where you started. There are those that refuse to utter or write the name of the song for fear of its awesome power to destroy a day.

My hint to you, holiday revelers, is to sing a couple lines around people you don’t like if you think you can withstand the effects yourself.

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About The Author

Kate Sedgwick

Editor-at-large, Kate Sedgwick, works from Buenos Aires where she organizes her live storytelling project, Second Story Buenos Aires. Read more about her than you might want to know at her blog, and follow her infrequent tweets @KateSedgwick.

  • Kate Sedgwick

    I should have added this one voted on by Candice, too! Lady Gaga:

  • Leigh

    YAYYY!!!! I made the list!!!!!

    It makes it all worth it, having that infernal song going through my head for a week.

  • maryanne

    I have a profound respect for anyone who can incorporate the term ‘circle-jerk’ into an article about Christmas songs. Awesome! Almost made up for the fact that I have to work on Christmas Eve (and so far, no one else has shown up, even though I’m the only foreign staff member at this Chinese University!)

    I have a feeling I’ll be humming Wham all day…

  • Abbie

    Love it.

  • Amanda

    Dominic the Donkey is soooo a regional song, NJ, NYC, LI, CT area.. there’s a camaraderie surrounding it that most americans are just not privy to–sucks to be you all!

  • Linda

    “Christmas Shoes” was brought to my attention last year. Yuck. And this year, I looked at the lyrics of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (used to enjoy it) and realized it’s kind of creepy. “Say, what’s in this drink?” and “The answer is no”? Ruined.

  • Ekua

    “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” pisses me off so much. It amazes me that lyrics never even mention Ethiopia and instead talk about a whole freaking continent. One of the most festive Christmases I’ve had was spent in Ghana. Sun beating down>Freezing in the snow.

  • Eva

    Great list. HOWEVER, I am secure enough in my usual musical tastes to admit that I have a major soft spot for Wham! and Last Christmas. I crank it when it comes on the radio…

  • brittany

    Danish radio incessantly plays “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and I sing along loudly & off-key in public any chance I get, hoping someone else will give me a nod of “this is f*cking terrible” solidarity. Haven’t people figured out how horribly offensive this song is by now??

    I’m personally a fan of “Christmas Rapping” by The Waitresses, but I suspect that would end up on most people’s “worst of” list so there’s a potential tip for next year :)

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