The 16 Absolute Worst Christmas Songs of All Time
"Leroy the Redneck Reindeer," anyone?
Here are the worst Christmas songs of all time in descending order:
16. Paul McCartney and Wings: “Wonderful Christmas Time”
Let’s get this one out of the way. This annoying little ditty is commonly cited as the most awful Christmas song of all time, but in reality, it’s far from the worst. I think the reason people are so offended by this is because it reveals some of the unpleasant aspects of the Christmas experience. First, hearing that Paul McCartney has a Christmas song and then discovering that it’s done with Wings and sounds like someone who asked Santa for a guitar and got a Casio keyboard instead distractedly screwing around with the pre-set effects buttons actually mirrors the experience of having your hopes way up for an amazing present and then receiving something not that great. Second, Paul’s joyless insistence that this is, in fact, a “Wonderful Christmastime,” chanted as though saying it enough will make it true, pretty much nails the way Christmas Day feels around 4 pm, when you start worrying that you’re not having as much fun as you should be and overcompensate by talking about how lovely the tree looks when in fact it’s obviously fake as hell and the garland is hung crooked.
15. Bing Crosby & David Bowie: “The Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth)”
I know, you love this song, it’s one of your favorites, Bowie is God, etc. But man alive, doesn’t that opening dialogue between Bowie and Bing make your skin crawl? Doesn’t it totally capture the only-at-Christmas sensation of finding yourself searching for common ground with someone you have no interest in socializing with, and ultimately kind of dumbing yourself down to get along? This came out in 1977, right after Bowie put out “Heroes.” A Christmas song by David Bowie in 1977 should have been some pulsating freak out about having sex in the middle of a Christmas tree farm as it burns to the ground that ends with him declaring himself the new Santa Claus and delivering kids eyeliner and leather pants instead of baseball mitts or bicycles. Not this.
14. Pentatonix: “Little Drummer Boy”
This is the kind of thing that people in late middle age who pester their brokers with questions about Bitcoin after seeing something about it on “20/20” find very soulful.
13. Jimmy Buffett – “All I Want For Christmas is my Two Front Teeth”
As sung by a child, this is a cute novelty song about a kid who doesn’t understand that Santa brings toys and has no power over dentition. As sleazily slurred by Jimmy Buffett, it seems to be about a man who ruined his mouth prying the cap off a bottle of Miller Lite and can’t afford dentures because cocaine is so damn expensive. “It seems so long since I could say / sister Susie sitting on a thistle.” You shouldn’t be saying that, Jimmy Buffett. The fact that you’re lamenting an inability to say that should be enough to get you on some kind of watch list.
12. Twisted Sister: “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”
Supposedly edgy bands releasing rockin’ covers of Christmas classics are a ubiquitous bad Christmas music trope. I think the idea is that you’re supposed to hear this track and be like, “Wow, these cool guys know about Christmas?” Unfortunately for Twisted Sister, they’re about as badass as a carton of store-brand non-alcoholic eggnog.
11. Maroon 5: “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”
There’s something impressively audacious about Maroon 5 covering John Lennon, given that Lennon is maybe the most coldly intellectual pop star of all time and Adam Levine comes off as though his idea of a deep thought is noticing that different types of people have different haircuts.
10. The Spice Girls: “Christmas Wrapping”
“Hey, let’s do a cover of that Christmas song by The Waitresses.”
“Okay. That song is a little annoying but the funky bass line and Patty Donahue’s playful performance do kind of make it fun.”
“Oh, we’re ditching the bass line. And try singing it like you have an important appointment that starts across town in six minutes.”
“Tell you what. I’m gonna sing it like that appointment starts in four minutes.”
9. Christina Aguilera: “Oh Holy Night”
Aguilera sings this like she hates having oxygen in her body and wants to blast it all out as quickly as possible. It’s the official anthem of teenage choir students mistakenly convinced that a big-time music producer from Los Angeles is attending their high school’s holiday concert in search of discovering the next big thing.
8. Bon Jovi: “Back Door Santa”
There’s this whole gross strain of bad Christmas music that explores the horny side of the holiday season, but this one stands out for that awful opening blurt of a riff that sounds torn from a terrible Broadway musical about Santa and Mrs. Claus rediscovering one another sexually in their twilight years.
7. Justin Bieber: “Mistletoe”
Until 2011, there were no Christmas songs specifically geared towards dudes who wear very deep V-neck t-shirts and cultivate their stubble so that it never quite grows long enough to reveal that they actually aren’t capable of growing a damn beard. Justin Bieber to the rescue.
6. Fall Out Boy: “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out”
Fall Out Boy specializes in making music for people who mention that they ‘wear their hearts on their sleeve’ in their Tinder bio and hang out at the vape store so much they get invited to the company Christmas party even though it’s technically employees only. These dude’s who, when they were eighteen, weren’t worried about their high school girlfriend’s going away to college while they stayed home and worked at Best Buy because their love was true and twice as intense as any love the world had ever known, who got dumped the day after Thanksgiving and never got over it. I guess it’s nice there’s a Christmas song for these guys. But still, ugh.
5. New Kids On The Block: “Funky, Funky Xmas”
This is exactly as much fun as a novelty song performed by disinterested teenagers could possibly be. The production is somehow…it’s as if they’re appropriating African-American culture without ever having witnessed it firsthand. It’s as if they read an article about hip-hop in People Magazine and riffed on that.
4. Ray Stevens: “Santa Claus is Watchin’ You”
This is just, like, a totally fun song by a passionate Christian conservative man who simply wants to make it clear to his lover that she’d better not ever leave him, because if she does, Santa Claus will punish her to the point that she will cry.
3. Train: “Shake up Christmas”
Train is the perfect band for bad Christmas music. They’ve built their entire career on churning out songs that sound designed specifically to be performed aboard a float in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parade, where forced frivolity disguises the reality that you’re devoting an entire morning to watching a long series of advertisements. Lyrically, this song is at near Captain Beefheart-levels of gibberish. How exactly does one ‘Shake up the happiness?’ and then, ‘There’s a story that I was told / and I wanna tell the world / before I get too old / And don’t remember it / so let’s December it / and reassemble it (oh yeah).’
I guess ‘December’ stands in for ‘dismember,’ based on him saying something is getting reassembled. Does that actually count as wordplay? How does one go about dismembering a story? The promised story goes like this: a little girl makes a Christmas wish for world peace, and somewhere far away, a little boy does, too.
Dude, you’re in a rush to tell this story before you forget it? Bad news, you might already be slipping because as it stands, that’s not a story. It’s not even an anecdote. It’s just two things that happened. You feel like the whole world has to know about this? What the hell is going on here?
2. Joe Diffie: “Leroy The Redneck Reindeer”
There are tons of Christmas songs celebrating redneck culture, and they all suck. This one sucks the most. Rudolph gets sick and calls his country cousin Leroy in to sub. The other reindeer rightly scoff when Leroy rolls up in a battered truck (in the video he loudly burps, too) so naturally Santa immediately puts Leroy in charge of the entire Christmas operation. Imagine being Donner in that situation. You’ve worked hard for centuries making sure toys get delivered smoothly, and you’re probably pretty much okay with Rudolph’s red nose getting all the credit, but now you’re supposed to defer to this Leroy cretin so Santa can make a point about bullying? If I were Donner I would have burned the North Pole to the ground. According to Diffie, it isn’t long before Leroy’s rowdy attitude and ‘rebel yell’ has Santa et al super stoked, to the point that Santa slaps a confederate flag on his big sack of toys. Yikes. I’d suggest that all existing copies of this track be loaded onto a rocket and shot into the heart of the sun, but the song is so bad that there’s a chance that doing so might result in sunlight suddenly developing an awful smell.
1.NewSong: “The Christmas Shoes”
This dude who isn’t quite feeling the holiday spirit is nonetheless out Christmas shopping when he notices a filthy little ragamuffin child attempting to buy a pair of fancy shoes. He listens in as the boy explains to the salesclerk that he’s in a rush because his mother is moments from succumbing to cancer and he wants her to have the shoes so she looks presentable when she meets Jesus. The dialogue that the kid supposedly delivers is so awkward and packed with detail that I suspect that either the narrator is lying, and this never happened, or the kid is lying about why he needs the shoes. Also, I understand wanting to look presentable for your lord and savior, but wouldn’t you be kind of bummed out if you met Jesus and got the vibe that he’s the kind of guy who cares about what you’re wearing? Jesus was literally born in a filthy manger full of sheep and goats, I don’t think he’s fancy. The kid doesn’t actually have enough money to buy the shoes, so the narrator pays for them and reflects, “I knew that God had sent me that little boy to remind me what Christmas is all about.”
If this song ended like thirty seconds earlier, and was just a melodramatic story about a little boy starring down the barrel of a tragic Christmas, I could let that go. If it ended twenty seconds earlier, with the narrator paying for the shoes, it would be a little weird that the guy mentioned that, a little tacky maybe, but whatever. Fine. But take it all the way to the end and suggest that this entire scene was actually for your benefit because God noticed you weren’t being Christmas-y enough…I don’t have a copy of the DSM-5 handy, but doesn’t that seem a touch…sociopathic?
And if you believe in an interventionist God to that extent, do you think God gave the kid’s mom cancer because God knew you’d need cheering up one day?
Or maybe God didn’t give the woman cancer for your benefit. But then…could not the little boy have found himself standing in line with the world’s greatest oncologist instead of you, who did the absolute bare minimum to help him out?
Whatever. This song is next level Christmas trash, suggesting that sick people and poor people exist just to make healthy people with money feel better about their own lives. The songs on this list are bad for a variety of reasons, but this is the only one that’s actually evil.
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.
Suggested for you