It’s become a bit of a tradition on this blog for me to set my sights on a beloved Christmas song and then nitpick it to absolute death. It’s fun. We all love it. However, I won’t be doing it this year. I’ve already covered the two biggest, easiest targets (Here & Here) and, with those two off the board, there really isn’t another Christmas song out there I can muster 800+ angry words about. The good news is, there are plenty of songs I can muster a few dozen angry words about. Lo, I give you: The 10 Dumbest Christmas Songs Ever Written.
(Editor’s note: In the name of making this a comprehensive list, I had to include a few old friends in the mix.)
10. Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad
Why It's Dumb: Let’s go with numbers to tell this story, shall we? 19 words. This song is over three minutes long and it features exactly 19 unique words. This song plays 47 million times a year between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. Jose Feliciano has made, roughly, seven bajillion dollars off of this record. Schwarzenegger’s words-spoken-to-millions-earned ratio for the “Terminator” films isn’t as off the charts as Feliciano’s.
9. (Tie) Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmas Time/John Lennon – Happy Xmas
Why They're Dumb: Paul McCartney and John Lennon are like the Goldilocks of Christmas songs. In 1971, John released one hell of a downer holiday song on the world. Nothing like being asked accusingly “What have you done” with your life while you try to dig the cat out from under a metric ton of spent wrapping paper. Nine years after John bummed us all out, Sir Paul delivered unto the world the musical equivalent of the ugly Christmas sweat. It’s just straight up dumb and tacky and it’s fun, but only in that ironic kind of way. There has to be some just-right porridge in between these two somewhere.
8. Gayla Peevey – I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
Why It's Dumb: The vocals of the 10-year-old singing this are just so painfully annoying. There are people half her age on “The Voice” right now who sound like they’re adults. Also, side note: You know the parents are going to end up taking care of that goddamn hippo two weeks after Christmas when the stupid kid gets sick of it. The mom already proved her hippo knowledge earlier in the song when she assumed one would try to eat her daughter. I picture the mom on January 12 trying to feed the hippo hamburgers and Cheerios and the hippo just sighing heavily, dreaming of the days when poachers were the only thing it had to worry about.
7. Lou Monte – Dominic the Donkey
Why It's Dumb: The premise of this song – and Dominic’s entire existence – is based on the lyric: “Because the reindeer cannot climb the hills of Italy.” The reindeer in question are Santa’s reindeer. Santa’s FLYING reindeer. These reindeer, who can fly, crap out when faced with the hills of Italy. I’m amazed they even got that far. By Lou Monte’s logic, they should still be running around in circles near the Himalayas sob-screaming “Bambi’s mom had it easy!”
6. Jimmy Boyd – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Why It's Dumb: So the whole point of this song is that Mommy is kissing and tickling Daddy, who is, in fact, dressed like Santa. It sucks because the kid doesn’t know that. All the narrator of this song knows is that Mommy is screwing around with an ageless being behind Daddy’s back. Furthermore, this narrator thinks it would be funny, FUNNY, if Daddy saw this! I don’t think Daddy is going to see the humor in adultery, supernatural or otherwise, kid. The follow up to this song, “I Saw Mommy and Daddy in Court (and Had to Choose Which One I Wanted to Live With),” was way less successful.
5. Alvin & the Chipmunks – Chipmunks Song
Why It's Dumb: Ok, so this song clocks in at 2 minutes, 17 seconds. That’s a little short, but alright. It’s a gimmicky song performed by a band of chipmunks, not “Stairway to Heaven” or something. But wait! Take out 20 seconds for the spoken word intro, 37 seconds for the clearly-stalling instrumental breakdown and another spoken word section in the middle and another 16 seconds of spoken word outro at the end and you’re left with about 64 seconds of actual song! 64 seconds! This thing won three Grammys for god sakes. It’s not like it’s saying anything particularly profound during those 64 seconds, either. The chipmunks read their Christmas lists and then plea for time to continue working as usual.
4. Andy Williams – Happy Holidays
Why It's Dumb: Christmas is known for its traditions. In America, where Andy was based, it works like this: We hang up our stockings, leave out some milk, cookies, and carrots and then, at some random hour, Santa stops by to leave presents. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for old Andy, who decided to completely rework the Santa mythos. In Andy’s world, Santa comes precisely at midnight, you leave him a peppermint stick and hang up a less-than-glamorous sock. That’s not how this works, Andy! There are goddamn rules to follow. You don’t get to make up your own version of something the rest of the country already made up and agreed upon.
3. Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams – Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Why It's Dumb: It’s amazing that a song which features a female character desperately fighting off the unwanted advances of a male character and the lyric “Say, what’s in this drink?” isn’t the date rapiest song on this list. But so it goes. This song is flat out creepy. It’s impossible to read the lyrics or listen to it performed and not think about date rape. Yet for some reason, people keep covering it as if it were this romantic little ditty. Perhaps we could afford to be that naïve in the late 40s when this thing was written, but we can’t still be at that point going on 70 years later.
2. Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne
Why It's Dumb: Let’s see, this song is about a man who gropes women in grocery stores, convinces them that they know him and then force feeds them beer until they compliment him on his music career and admit that they hate their lives. Then, when they don’t sleep with him, he gets all mopey about it. But don’t worry. His actions are presented with a folksy twang, so that makes it charming.
1. New Song – Christmas Shoes
Why It's Dumb: A Dickensian pauper wanders into a needlessly crowded shoe store on Christmas Eve and coughs on all of the merchandise while simultaneously guilt-tripping some poor sucker into buying him a pair of shoes. Meanwhile, a minimum wage clerk has to somehow reconcile this scene with the fact that he has another two hours on his shift before he can drink it all away with booze.