Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Five Least Favourite Christmas Songs

Most holiday songs that are played frequently each year tend to be good. After all, it takes more than references to Christmas, Santa Claus, and snow to make a song listenable. It's with good reason that songs like "White Christmas", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", and "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" are considered classics. Unfortunately, not every Yuletide song played during the holidays can be "White Christmas. There are many that, despite their frequent airplay, some people just cannot stand. These are the top five Yuletide songs that will have me switching the channel or at least turning down the volume on my TV or radio every single time.

1. "Last Christmas" by Wham: I have never been a fan of Wham or George Michael. To me their songs are the musical equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Taking that into account, I think even for a Wham song, "Last Christmas" is horribly bad. It's not the subject matter that makes me dislike the song. There are plenty of Christmas songs about people jilted by their lovers that I love (among them "Merry Christmas Will Do" by Material Issue). The problem for me with "Last Christmas" is twofold. First, to me the lyrics are just poorly written. The last line in the chorus just grates on my ears. Second, the music isn't very good either. In fact, it is so dreary that it would have a soporific effect on me if I wasn't so busy cringing so much at the lyrics. How this song has been covered so many times (most recently by Ariana Grande) and gets so much airplay I will never know. I will say this, at least the cover versions aren't quite as bad.

2. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Elmo 'n' Patsy: Unlike many people I actually like Yuletide novelty songs. I love "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" by The Chipmunks and "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by Gayla Peevey. That having been said, I have hated "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" from the very beginning. Elmo's vocals are annoying. The music is annoying. The lyrics are even annoying  Worse yet, as novelty songs go, it isn't even funny. What good is a novelty song that isn't funny. Sadly, this is one of the most played songs around this time of year.

3. "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid: I hate putting this song on the list, as it was recorded with good intentions and the proceeds for the song went to a good cause. If I'm being honest, however, I have to say I cannot stand the song. "Do They Know It's Christmas" simply grates on my ears. Beyond the fact that I don't like the sound of the song, I have to point out that in some respects the lyrics to "Do They Know It's Christmas" are offensive. It treats Africa as if it was one vast wasteland and treats the continent as if it was one country, ignoring both the diverse terrain and the diverse cultures there. Even the title and chorus of the song, "Do They Know It's Christmas" is potentially offensive. A good portion of Africa's population is Christian, so they naturally know when Christmas is, even when it might not be a happy one for some of them. What is more, in some faiths in Africa (such as Coptic Christians), Christmas is celebrated not on 25 December, but 7 January. The song was recently remade by a new lineup of singers called "Band Aid 30" to help fight Ebola in parts of Africa. Unfortunately, its lyrics are no less offensive and patronising.

4. "The Holiday Season" by Andy Williams: I love Andy Williams. He is one of my favourite singers of all time. In fact, if I was going to make a list of my all time favourite crooners, he would probably make the top ten. Unfortunately, on his otherwise excellent album The Andy Williams Christmas Album there is possibly the worst song he ever recorded, "The Holiday Season". Oh, the music to "The Holiday Season" is listenable enough, but the lyrics are absolutely atrocious. There's the reference to Santa Claus, "He'll be coming down the chimney, down". Why repeat the word "down"? And then there are the nonsense lyrics that have nothing to do with the holiday, "With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock". The song even makes a grave error with regards to a holiday tradition in its lyrics, "And don't forget to hang up your sock." One does not hang up socks at the Yuletide; one hangs up stockings! The song was written by Kay Thompson, who is most famous for the "Eloise" books. Fortunately, she was a much better author than a songwriter!

5. "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"  by Spike Jones & His City Slickers: Perhaps I should not be a Grammar Nazi and point out that it should be "All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth", especially as the grammatical error is the least thing that annoys me about this song. Quite simply, the song is very repetitive. The words "two front teeth" are repeated about twelve times or more throughout the song. Worse yet, even when it is sung by an adult (as Spike Jones's original version was--George Rock handled the lead vocal), it is sung in an annoying, high pitched, childlike voice. The effect can be even worse when sung by an actual child. Even as a child, when my tastes had not quite developed to the point that they are now, I hated this song. 

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