Christmas songs really ought to be up little tunes -- hope, faith, charity, love and all that. But some songs have apparently snuck through the back door, drunk up all the rum, made a clumsy pass on pretty much everyone but the family dog, and are now holding court in the corner, seriously bringing down the party by talking about how much this season can suck.
So: Ten Christmas songs you probably want to leave off your office party play-list.
10. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," various artists This is one schizo little song -- most of us know the sanitized-for-your-psychological-protection Dean Martin version, but the original was sung by Judy Garland in the film Meet Me in St. Louis, and early drafts of the lyrics boasted cheery lines like "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/it may be your last/Next year we may all be living in the past." They changed that for the film, but left in equally depressing lines like "until then we'll just have to muddle through somehow ..." Jesus, Judy, have another vodka.
9. "Happy Christmas (War is Over)," John Lennon/Yoko Ono
This dirge-like song is more an indictment of the world at large, not a celebration of much of anything. "So this is Christmas/and what have you done?/Another year older/and a new one just begun." What have I done? I've done stuff, Strawberry Fields, so get off my back. And anyway, what have you done? I mean lately? Okay, okay ... letting your wife break up one of music history's best partnerships probably does take a lot out of you.
8. "Grown-Up Christmas List," Amy Grant A person could make the case that this song is simple, sincere, and completely from the heart -- though there's a better than 80 percent chance that said person would be a single secretary with a candy dish on her desk and an obsession with the light hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and today. Everyone else is like: hey look, a list of generic wishes.
7. "I'll Be Home for Christmas," Bing Crosby, etc. Does this mournful holiday classic make anyone away from home for the holidays feel better ... or worse? And the way the news is delivered is sort of cruel too -- hey, Mom, get all my favorite stuff ready! Because yeah, I'm coming home for Christmas ... if only in my dreams! Psyche! That's a total holiday psyche on your ass, Mom!
6. "Santa Baby," Madonna
Not to be confused with the relatively excellent Eartha Kitt version, the Madonna version is cartoonish and weird. Why she decided to go all Betty Boop for this version is anyone's guess, but the bigger problem is that the original had some subtlety to it. Madonna is not about subtlety. Really, Madonna? You're singing a song with barely-concealed sexual subtext? Yeah, don't hump yourself too far out on that limb. 5. "Last Christmas," Wham!
Seriously, George: if you want to save yourself from tears, don't "give your heart away" in public toilets. No, not even on Christmas.
4. "Please Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas," John Denver
The title of this one pretty much says it all. Not a lot of gray area there. Other contenders for this slot in the top ten: "Deck the Wife," "Hark the Fuckin' Kids Are Cryin'" and "Let's Do Meth! Let's Do Meth! Let's Do Meth!"
3. "Do They Know It's Christmas?," Band Aid
Hard to knock a charitable idea that just wants to feed the world ... but seriously? This song bites. Do they know it's Christmas? Well, probably. They're hungry, and probably Muslim, but they're not stupid. Also, Africa does have rivers, and does get rain, and wow, it does grow crops in great amounts in some areas, and ... and ... wait, did Bono just sing "tonight thank god it's them instead of you?" What the fuck was that?
2. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," Gene Autry Maybe it was the fact that this character was born out of a store promotion for Montgomery-Ward's back in 1939 that makes its creation so slipshod. I mean, come on, do we really need yet another cultural institution that supports the cruel system of peer abuse in order to stamp out anything unique and restore the unchallenged norm? I mean, we already have 7th grade.
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1. "Christmas Shoes," Newsong
Perhaps the greatest scam ever perpetrated on American radio audiences: this song isn't about a kid whose mom is dying. It's about a dirty midget con-artist with a shoe fetish. At least, the song makes more sense when you listen to it from that perspective, and as a bonus you don't feel like punching yourself in the face afterwards because you knew it was stupid and you still teared up anyway. Hollow, manipulative, and crass: ah, Christmas.