The 10 Worst Holiday Cover Songs Ever
Oh, it just gets better.
It's the thought that counts, right?
Because they had the common decency to make original garbage, this list pardons holiday atrocities like New Kids on the Block's "Funky Funky Christmas" and "Last Christmas" by Wham! The ten "artists" on this list couldn't even be bothered to wrap their own turds to put under our collective Christmas tree. Instead, they had the audacity to wrap up another person's excrement and regift it to the public.
This week Rocks Off waded into the murky depths of holiday Internet radio stations, down the YouTube rabbit hole and into our own vinyl archives to bring you the very worst of the worst. Here are the ten most awful Christmas covers we could find.
Merry Christmas, and may God have mercy on your soul.
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Big Church Night Out
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Danny Gokey And Mandisa
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Kansas - 40th Anniversary Leftoverture Tour
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An Evening With Justin Furstenfeld Of Blue October
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10. "Jingle Farts"
It's exactly what you think it is, and even more poorly pieced together than you can possibly imagine. As our girlfriend bemoaned, "My God, the farts aren't even in tune!" Indeed. And before you cry foul, claiming this song to be a random Internet creation and therefore not a true cover, this song exists on Christmas albums. Several of them. Want to be really depressed? This is No. 10 on the list. We found nine songs worse than this.
9. Elvis Presley & LeAnn Rimes, "Here Comes Santa Claus"
Rocks Off is a total Elvis fanboy. Having grown up with a grandmother who was absolutely over the moon for the man, we tend to see most of his faults as "quirks" and the more questionable pieces of his library as "misunderstood."
His original "Here Comes Santa Claus" cover is pretty middle-of-the road-fare; he didn't phone it in, but "Blue Christmas" it's not. For a recent duets album, Elvis' cover of "Here Comes Santa Claus" was hacked up and patched back together in a pointless pairing with 1996's fourth-biggest country star, LeAnn Rimes. The original music has been replaced by a "modernized" accompaniment that sounds like it was churned out of a Casio keyboard.
8. Barenaked Ladies feat. Sarah Maclachlan, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings"
In the context of this list, this one isn't THAT bad. We will forego bagging on Barenaked Ladies, because as Troy so eloquently puts it, "The Barenaked Ladies are triple platinum...are you?"
We will point out, however, that the ridiculous arrangements and overproduction mangle two rather excellent classic holiday carols fairly badly. To top it off, that whining backing vocal you hear at the beginning? That's Sarah Maclachlan in her most depressing role since those horrible animal-abuse commercials ruined her album Surfacing forever.
7. Elf 7, "Come All Ye Faithful"
This cover sounds like a '90s-era raver kid got a cheap Windows music studio program for Christmas and then proudly played his horrible creation back for the assembled family through a pair of earbuds. If you can actually pick the hymn "O Come All Ye Faithful" out of this insipidly generic house track, you are leagues ahead of us.
There are literally dozens of albums of crap like this. While no one has been quite diabolical enough to upload this masterpiece to YouTube yet, the truly masochistic among you can hear it on the Amazon page for Acid Xmas.
6. dUg Pinnick, George Lynch, Billy Sheehan and Simon Phillips: "Little Drummer Boy"
"Little Drummer Boy" makes its first of two appearances on this list in this laughable pop-metal rendition. Fellow Houstonian rock nerds may instantly empathize with our main issue with this song. As a lifelong fan and apologist of King's X vocalist and bass wizard dUg Pinnick, Rocks Off can state that this "supergroup" tune may be Pinnick's worst transgression yet.
This white-washed Metal Xmas track -- complete with Sunset Strip-era background hoots and hollers -- pairs Pinnick with some of the bigger name members of Toto, Dokken, Lynch Mob and Mr. Big among other forgettable '80s-era schlock bands. Lynch Mob. Enough said.
5. The Blenders: "Pure Imagination/White Christmas"
The saccharine-smooth vocal stylings of The Blenders aren't really that bad, we suppose. But when you take a hatchet to one of the greatest Christmas songs from one of America's favorite Christmas movies (White Christmas, not Holiday Inn) and proceed to fuck with Willy Wonka while you're at it, all bets are off.
We seethed our way through the pointlessly bad "Pure Imagination" and braced for "White Christmas." Six bars in, we began to feel an uncontrollable twitch inside our right eye. By the end of the first verse, we had abandoned the concept of happiness ever returning to our life. We have no idea how long the song goes on after that, because at some point during the next verse, Rocks Off felt something hot in the back of our skull and blacked out.
4. Destiny's Child, "Carol of the Bells"
Listen, we love a clever take on a classic as much as the next guy, but when you try to outsmart acclaimed composers and musicians by using ProTools and a producer whose resume includes running the soundboard at church musicals, you're gonna have a bad time. Much like trying to accessorize a Maserati using parts found in an aisle of AutoZone, this song features tons of pointless and tacky "improvements" to more traditional arrangements.
To make matters worse, the second Houston artists to make the list take entire sections and very obviously loop them into later parts of the song, giving the impression that the lovely voices in Destiny's Child couldn't even be bothered to do an entire take.
3. August Burns Red: "Jingle Bells"
August Burns Red is a Christian metalcore group whose cited influences are other metalcore bands that have existed approximately 15 minutes longer than they have. Much like ABR couldn't pick a specific genre of metal to ape, we couldn't decide which song off their 2012
cash grab Christmas album was the worst.
Much of it is so glaringly overproduced that it comes off as bad Mannheim Steamroller set to blastbeats. We'll be honest; after listening to the entire album, we excluded the tolerably arranged "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "O Holy Night," then just closed our eyes and picked a track number. "Jingle Bells" starts off amiably enough with a decent acoustic arrangement, wanders into a questionable keyboard accompaniment, and then it's off to the metal elevator music found in the rest of the album.
Besides, Christmas carols just aren't that metal. Be glad it's an instrumental version, as this band's vocals are hilariously bad.
2. Miley Cyrus: "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
Rocks Off will save the diatribe we've all heard about pop music being a corporate product, groomed and formulated for maximum return on investment. We will spare you the familiar hand-wringing on how the commercialization of Christmas is removing the soul of the holiday, as if that wasn't already happening 60 years ago. We don't feel like either topic needs any further exposition. What we will do is leave this YouTube video here, making any and all future discussions unnecessary. We apologize in advance for ruining your holiday, "Punkin."
1. Justin Bieber: "Little Drummer Boy"
"Little Drummer Boy," a droning monstrosity in and of itself, has been covered by a laundry list of artists so terrible, Rocks Off could crank out a list of the 50 worst versions fairly easily. This hulking pile of Autotuned, candy-coated Bieber bullshit is the very worst among them, handily beating out the likes of Sean Kingston and the Cranberries.
Just when you think the song couldn't possibly get any worse, Busta Ryhmes cashes in his very last favor for a waning shot at reclaiming validity and like some sort of horrible reverse-Christmas miracle, the song actually gets worse. If this doesn't make you want to burn the entire concept of Christmas to the ground, nothing will. For the rest of you, I apologize for subjecting you to unarguably the worst Christmas song ever.