It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but that means nothing to major American retailers, who have been blasting Christmas music and setting up lights since the day before Halloween. Every year, it feels like the holiday season gets longer and Christmas pushes Thanksgiving out of the picture earlier, and a lot of the blame goes to the music associated with the winter holidays. There are some wonderful seasonal songs that pop up on the radio this time of year, but there are just as many tunes that take a moment meant for cheer or goodwill and turn it into a trial. These songs are trite, dumb, irritating or just plain stupid, and, worst of all, they ruin Christmas by association. These are the songs we never want to hear again.
"Wonderful Christmastime," Paul McCartney Paul McCartney's solo work wasn't as well received as his Beatles albums, and with good reason: The master tunesmith was drowning in synthesizers and bad melodies. "Wonderful Christmastime," released in November 1979, is all the proof you need that McCartney wasn't perfect. It's goofy and dumb, totally devoid of the heat McCartney brought in his prime, yet it remains a holiday radio staple thanks to its cloying earworm-level catchiness. It's time to put this one out to pasture.
"Do They Know It's Christmas?," Band Aid Bob Geldof poured gallons of syrupy self-righteousness over the Christmas holidays with this 1984 song from Band Aid, an ad hoc supergroup created to ostensibly raise money for African children but really to make a killing for the song's producers. This was the song that really kicked off the 1980s cheeseball charity song phenomenon, paving the way for "We Are the World" and "Hands Across America." But "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is the worst of all. The tone is one of ugly pity, and the question makes it sound like the real crime is that poor children in underdeveloped countries don't get to participate in rampant consumerism.
"Jingle Bells," Everyone "Jingle Bells" was festive and original when it was published in 1857, but the song's definitely showing its age. The melody is childishly repetitive, and the lyrics are alternately bland and antique. (When's the last time you got in a wreck and said you were "upsot"?) To top it off, the song's been co-opted by generations of kids chanting substitute verses about Batman and the Joker. Everybody knows the song, but nobody likes it.
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"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," Elmo & Patsy Kentucky has given us many things -- bluegrass, bourbon, surprisingly resilient racism -- but the most infamous has to be this 1979 novelty song written by Randy Brooks and originally performed by the husband-and-wife team of Elmo and Patsy Trigg Shropshire. It's got all the cleverness you'd expect from the heart of Blue Collar Comedy country, recounting a story about an old woman who gets drunk, staggers through a snowstorm, gets run over and killed by Santa's sleigh, and whose death is celebrated by her alcoholic widower. It's somehow cheesy and depressing all at once, more off-putting than humorous.
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," The Chipmunks and David Seville Before Patton Oswalt tore apart NewSong's "The Christmas Shoes," he had a whole bit about the horror that is Alvin and the Chipmunks. This was the gimmicky song that launched the Chipmunks in 1958 and wormed its way into the subconscious of baby boomers nationwide on its way to the top of the Billboard charts. (It also won three Grammys, in case you needed another reason to hate the Grammys.) The thing is, like the other songs on this list, it's one of those tunes that everyone can sing but that no one remotely enjoys hearing. You have never (soberly) thought, "I would like to listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks to celebrate the season." Can't we agree that it's time for the Chipmunks' reign of terror to end?