Last Year's Broken Toys: The Most Depressing Christmas Songs of All Time
The Christmas season is supposed to be one of joy and fun, of eating way too much and making drunken mistakes at your office Christmas party. Yet every year we're confronted by songs that frankly aren't in keeping with the holiday spirit. Although it's an urban myth that suicides increase around the holidays, it's no myth that our stress levels certainly can go up, and the last thing a stressed, depressed Christmas reveler needs are these morose-ass songs.
"Christmastime Is Here" For a song that starts out with the lyrics "Christmastime is here/ Happiness and cheer" and kicks off the Charlie Brown Christmas Special , it certainly squishes our spirits. With glum minor-key chords and a snoozy, plodding tempo, this song sounds an awful lot like a funeral dirge, despite the cheerful lyrics. But then, this may have been intentional on the part of the writers; we always suspected Charlie Brown was one more rejection away from opening his veins in a tub.
"Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" This song could have easily been humorous with a few more details about how Daddy puked eggnog all over the cat, then tied mistletoe to his wang and waved it at the mall Santa. Instead, it's a rather bleak number about Daddy's propensity to inflict crippling emotional abuse upon his family during the Yuletide season, set to an oddly foot-tapping honky-tonk beat. We like to imagine a happy ending, where he tries to smack Momma around, but she's a black belt in krav maga and breaks his sternum with the flat of her hand.
"Christmas in Prison" This one doesn't start out as the unbearable downer you'd expect; the guy tries to remain chipper and even manages to be grateful for the fact that they're serving turkey in the prison cafeteria. However, as the song continues, you start to realize that this prisoner is heartbroken and missing the love of his life, who is presumably somewhere on the outside. No time like the holidays to ruminate on all the lost loves you tried to hang onto but who were taken away by circumstances beyond your control, right? Has any prisoner ever tried asking for a shovel or a pickax for Christmas? Just a thought. Bet there's probably some kind of screening process for that stuff.
"The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot" Aw, Christ. It's pretty obvious from the title this isn't going to be one of those jolly sleigh-bells-a-jinglin' Christmas tunes, but by God, it's possibly even worse than you'd think. Not only does the titular little fella not have a daddy, but he has to sadly watch the other boys play with their new toys, then go home and play with last year's toys... which are broken! Aww, do they have to be broken? Does the poverty-stricken, fatherless child also have to be such a butterfingers on top of everything else? Although it's sad, this song has inspired us to help remedy the problem. That's right: when this song comes up in the holiday rotation from now on, we're gonna hit "next track."
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Another one from the "happy lyrics, depressing melody" school of Christmas songs, it's no accident that every single movie featuring a character who is sad around the holidays has to feature some version of this song playing while he quietly sits alone by the fireplace drinking scotch, a single tear rolling down his cheek. The only Christmas song we can think of for which singing it in a bitterly sarcastic voice actually makes it sound more true to form.
"First Christmas" We know a lot of you will be disappointed that Wham's "Last Christmas" didn't make this list, but think about it. Yeah, it sucks that the song's narrator got his heart broken a year ago, but he's moving on, promising to give it to someone special this year. Much, much sadder are the stories in "First Christmas," which are just a little too gritty and realistic to be dismissed as insincere schmaltzy melodrama (Newsong, we're looking in your direction when we use the term "insincere schmaltzy melodrama" ). People have been in these situations. Hell, people are in these situations right now. The song piles on tragedy after tragedy, when each vignette would be enough to flesh out a sad song all on its lonesome. But it's a beautiful song, and we can say many more good things about it just as soon as we stop sobbing. Don't know about you, but we could use a little cheering up right about now, so here's comedic genius Patton Oswalt whaling on that syrupy piece of shit, "Christmas Shoes." Animated for the whole family... assuming your family likes blasphemy and filthy language.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.