I like Christmas songs a lot, but I don’t think any of us could doubt that a large percentage of holiday music is terrible. This became obvious when I discovered 24-hour Christmas music stations, and realized that a couple of songs were awful no matter what. There’s a magical balance between schmaltz and earnest emotion that only the most skilled of musicians can hit. I’m more tolerant of sacred music, if only because it resonates on a deeper level for me and isn’t played mercilessly on the radio. There are awful versions of good songs too, like all of those overwrought renditions of O Holy Night. But there are some that are terrible at a deeper level, the kind that make you change the station before you are compelled to jump out a window.
So I’m sneaking a play from F:AT columnist Ken B. and giving a list of the worst Christmas songs I know of. If you like them you are Christmasing incorrectly.
Cherry Cherry Christmas
Show of hands: does anyone here have a family tradition where you say “Merry Cherry Christmas” to each other? If your hand is up, let me know so your family’s stupid tradition can be ridiculed like it deserves. At no point during the writing of this song did anyone stop and say, “Wait a minute, what does Cherry Christmas actually mean?” Does it refer to popular flavors of candy? Is it just something that rhymes with “merry”? Is it designed to drive me slowly insane whenever I hear it? I’m banking on that last one, because this one offends my intellect at a very basic level. I mean, Cherry Christmas? Really? What does it…how do…gah! I think I need more eggnog…
It is a great black eye on America that there are people who apparently love this song. When I thought of songs for this list, I wanted to avoid using this one, because it’s awfulness is almost a cliche now. I mean, no one reading my blog likes this song right? But to ignore it would be like making a list of the most horrible sports teams and leaving off the Baltimore Ravens. There’s so many angles to how ghastly it is. The way it uses cheap sentiment to make you feel sorry for a little child at Christmas. The way it pushes so hard on the guilt button without ever earning it. I almost wonder if it was written as a joke, like a horrible troll attempt to either provoke maudlin sentimentality or frothing rage. Neither of those things are good, for those keeping score.
Do They Know It’s Christmastime at All?
This one galls me personally on two levels. First of all, I feel like it’s literally one of the worst things any member of U2 has ever been involved in, and this is a group that recorded possibly the worst version of “Unchained Melody” that mankind has ever been subjected to. So I don’t like that as a fan, but even worse is the horrible picture it paints of Africa. I mean, have you read the lyrics? “Where nothing ever grows”? Are we talking about land of Mordor here? And then it turns around and accuses all of the songs listeners that they are implicitly responsible for this suffering. Bono’s contribution? “Tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.” Knowing that he means it ironically does not make it any less offensive. It just makes people hate Bono more, and even as someone who’s a big U2 fan I have a hard time arguing with this one.
I have a theory on how this song was written. Paul McCartney is sitting at a keyboard, noodling with little hooks. Suddenly, he finds one that begins to irritate the other band members. Just for kicks and giggles, he starts playing it over and over again until they are threatening to do him bodily harm. And then Paul McCartney, the man who wrote “Hey Jude” and “Michelle”, adds inane lyrics to this glorified ringtone and releases it as a Christmas song. And apparently someone likes it, because I keep hearing it on the radio. But to this day, I have never heard a single good version of it. I’ve heard people try their hardest to salvage it, but it cannot be done. The melody is rotten to its very core, a open wound on this most wonderful of holidays.
Now that I have that little bit of bile out of my system, it’s time to fill the void with an oatmeal cookie.