Does Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ Suck? – Great Rock Debates
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Paul McCartney‘s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ tops our newly published Worst Christmas Songs list. But hold on — it’s also No. 3 on our list of the Top 10 Christmas Songs. Sounds like we have a holiday-themed Great Rock Debate on our hands! You know the rules by now: Two of our writers each pick a side, make their case and leave the final vote up to you. Ready? Here we go!
Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ Sucks
By Matt Springer
If there is a hell and they celebrate Christmas (highly unlikely), then Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ must play on an infinite loop from mid-November to New Year’s Day. In fact, maybe McCartney signed a deal with the devil, and in exchange for boundless musical talent, he was required to inflict Satan’s ultimate instrument of torture upon the earth.
How else to explain this abysmal seasonal horror? As remarkable as it is when a Beatle produces work at the top of his game, it’s equally pathetic when a Beatle turns in a song as lazy, passionless and trite as ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’ John Lennon‘s ‘Happy Christmas (War Is Over)‘ is easily a better Christmas song. Actually, ‘Revolution 9′ is a better Beatle Christmas song than ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’
Somehow, before the ’80s had even begun, McCartney managed to deliver a song that exemplified the worst synth excesses of an entire decade. If you didn’t know this was the work of a rock legend, no one would blame you if you assumed it was Kajagoogoo’s big Christmas single.
And the repetition … good God, the repetition. Three lines of melody that seem genetically engineered to both drive you insane and remain plastered inside your brain pan for weeks. Who here hasn’t found themselves sipping an ice-cold beer on the Fourth of July, minding their own business, only to discover this wretched earworm slithering its way into their outer lobe?
Criticizing holiday music is like pantsing a defensless kid: No one wants to see it. Who wants to read some Internet crank bitching about a Christmas tune? It’s a fun season, one that’s about so much more than how crappy a pop song can be.
And yet, if you want to understand just how crappy a pop song can be, look no further than ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’ Like that fat dude in the red suit, it just keeps on giving and giving.
Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ Does Not Suck
By Matthew Wilkening
My God, what repressed childhood horrors happened to you while this song was innocently playing in the background?
Whatever it was, it seems that now you can’t see the forest for the Christmas trees. Some things aren’t meant to have their parts analyzed in such detail. Instead, they just should be appreciated as a whole.
The key to enjoying this song is marveling at just how much McCartney is able to do with so few moving pieces. Now, like any house of cards, it’s easy to attack one section of ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ — the dated keyboards, the admittedly simplistic lyrics — and tear the whole thing down.
But there’s enough songwriting talent on display to keep things from crossing the fine line into over-simplicity, and obviously there’s some melodic magic going on, or that gorgeous chorus wouldn’t be popping back into your head in the middle of summer.
Besides, the most important triumph of ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ is that it captures and spreads the holiday spirit so effortlessly — and does so without bringing up politics, religion or even romance, making it applicable to just about holiday celebrant at any time.
Plus, it’ll be gone in a month, so it’s really not worth getting so worked up over.