Now, before you decide that I’m the Grinchiest Scrooge that ever lived, re-read the title. I love Christmas. I love what it stands for as part of my faith, and I also love what it does for people in general, making us kinder, more generous, and more willing to lean into a spirit of whimsy and wonder.
By the time you read this, my Christmas tree will be up, lit, and decorated. I have been listening to Christmas music for a while now, and a good part of my shopping is done. Since I got an early start on all things Christmas, I’ve had plenty of time to wax poetic on the whole season, particularly the songs.
I set out to make a Top Ten list, David Letterman-style, but as I polled those near and dear to me, I discovered that the list of Christmas songs that make people cringe is so varied that I’m just not sure I can stick with just ten songs and feel that I gave this topic its due justice. So I’ve put Christmas songs into categories instead.
Songs with Kids Singing
Disclaimer: I love to hear my children sing; their voices sound like angels. I love to hear your children sing at a Christmas program, but I do not want to hear them singing on my radio. In that spirit — remember, just as they appear on my radio, not in real life — here are a few that make me cringe:
I love some Trans-Siberian Orchestra (their version of “Carol of the Bells” is life), and this tune is classic (who doesn’t love some Canon in D?). With this one, they lose me the minute I hear a choir of children singing, and by the time they get to On this night/On this night/On this Merry Christmas night (around 1:55), I can’t listen anymore!
“Happy Birthday, Jesus”
I love celebrating Christmas for its faith elements, but this song gets under my skin. I can’t decide whether it’s just the kid singing or if the song doesn’t ring true to me, but I can say definitely the singing children don’t help.
Honorable mentions? “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” and “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
Redneck Christmas Songs
Disclaimer: I grew up listening to country music, so it runs deep in my veins. Give me some Vince Gill Christmas and I’ll listen all day. These songs though…
“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”
It’s a classic, I know, but I think it’s a clear cause for concern both because of the storyline itself and the serious twang that must take place to do this song “justice.”
“Merry Christmas from the Family”
Consider yourself lucky if you haven’t heard this song. It’s about as redneck as they come, and it resides firmly in a list of politically incorrect songs that are seriously cringe-worthy.
“Redneck Twelve Days of Christmas”
Can we just assume anything Jeff Foxworthy “sings” is bad? This one just hurts my heart, maybe because I can see some of my family in it.
Honorable mention? “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy”
Songs that aren’t about Christmas
Disclaimer: As I did my research, I discovered that many of our Christmas classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” aren’t really about Christmas at all — just winter. So I propose we keep these winter-themed songs until March instead of throwing them out on December 26th (just a thought). Anyway, back to the songs that REALLY don’t fit the season…
“Favorite Things” from the classic Christmas film The Sound of Music (insert eye roll)
This song is not about Christmas; it’s about things you like, some of which may be winter-themed (snowflakes, sleigh bells). There are just as many things listed that are NOT winter themed, such as kittens, ponies, and crisp apple strudels. Remember, I have no problem with the song or the movie, just the fact that this song doesn’t belong with Christmas.
“Same Old Lang Syne”
Don’t know it? It’s a story of two people who were once in love that ran into each other at the grocery store on…you guessed it, Christmas Eve. Aaaaand that’s as Christmas-y as it gets.
Creepy/Questionable Christmas Songs
Disclaimer: This category involves some definite over-thinking (as does this whole post). And to be fair, I sing along to these songs when I hear them on the radio, so they obviously aren’t that bad.
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
Did anybody other than me not know this song was about a dad dressed as Santa? Mom isn’t kissing the patriarch of commercial Christmas, but actually your dad! Whew, what a relief…
“Baby It’s Cold Outside”
As much as I have always loved this tune, it definitely has a creepy vibe when it seems that the lady is trying to leave while the gentleman tries to talk her out of it. I won’t make any sarcastic comments here, but it does tend to be a love-it or leave-it choice, according to my very researched poll.
Honorable mention? “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – He sees you when you’re sleeping/He knows when you’re awake…
And the one you’ve all been waiting for <drumroll, please>
This song is so “gut-wrenching;” I use that term because it either makes people weepy or it makes them want to vomit (you can guess which category I fall into). It’s such a manipulative, emotional empty hole of a song, and it gets played over and over and OVER. And then, someone figured out a way to turn a 3-minute song into a whole Hallmark movie! So if the song doesn’t do you in completely, there’s always a movie to finish the job.