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Worst Christmas Songs

Tom Williams, Getty Images
Tom Williams, Getty Images

For every “Father Christmas” or “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” that shows up on a best-Christmas-songs list, there’s an awful tune or two (or three) to counter it. Maybe you’re stuck in a line at the mall that never seems to move, or maybe you’re just plum out of holiday joy as we zero in on this year’s celebration. Whether you’re looking for self-abuse or just a few evil giggles, our list of Worst Christmas Songs hits like a lump of coal in your stocking.


‘Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk on Christmas)’

John Denver


From: ‘Rocky Mountain Christmas’ (1975)

There’s a long tradition of brilliant bittersweet Christmas tunes, like Darlene Love’s epic Phil Spector production “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” But there’s a long, long walk from “Gee, I’m sad about not seeing my one true love this holiday” to “Dad, please don’t get loaded and hit Mommy like you usually do on every other day of the year.”



‘O Holy Night’

Tiny Tim


From: ‘Tiny Tim’s Christmas Album’ (1996)

Tiny Tim spends most of his time right where he belongs: tucked away deep in the dustbin of pop-trash history, where he’s mainly known for marrying someone on the Johnny Carson show and generating inexplicably high ratings in the process. His music is uniformly terrible; his Christmas album is no exception. As he trills “O Holy Night,” you may start to question your belief in a rational and benevolent higher being.



‘White Christmas’

Paul Di’Anno


From: ‘Metal Christmas’ (1994)

Whenever you hear the classic Bing Crosby standard “White Christmas,” have you ever wondered, “Man, I wish the original singer from Iron Maiden would give this tune a crack?” Well, he has. And if you suck every ounce of gentle charm out of this chestnut and replace it with dull, deadening, weak-ass metal, you’ve got a recipe for a holiday nightmare.



‘Ave Maria’

Chris Cornell & Eleven


From: ‘A Very Special Christmas 3′ (1997)

Remember that time Luciano Pavarotti sang with Bono? No? There’s a reason for that. Rock doesn’t need opera singers, and, frankly, opera doesn’t need rock singers. There’s a handful of rock vocalists who are so gifted they can make the leap; Soundgarden‘s Chris Cornell isn’t one of them. Instead, he sounds more like a man singing an eternally beautiful composition while constipated … and with a mouth full of marbles.



‘Here Comes Santa Claus’

Bob Dylan


From: ‘Christmas in the Heart’ (2009)

Bob Dylan‘s 2009 holiday album has a few bright spots, especially the manic accordion-flavored “Must Be Santa,” which is both buoyant and absurd. But on the album’s opener, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” his vocal makes Kris Kringle sound less like a jolly guy with toys and more like a creepy murderous stalker.



‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’

Twisted Sister


From: ‘A Twisted Christmas’ (2006)

Speaking of creepy Christmas songs … there’s more than enough skeevy behavior in any version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Imagine the emotional scarring from not only finding your mother with another man, but that man confirming the existence of a fictional being who flies around the world in a single night delivering presents to every home on the planet! When Dee Snider and the rest of Twisted Sister tackled the tune as part of their 2006 LP A Twisted Christmas, it amplified every disturbing image baked straight into the song.



‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

Band Aid


From: Single (1984)

Since its release, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” has raised millions for charity, and it’s still a staple of holiday radio playlists. But it’s kind of a wretched song. It’s flimsily written, with brief verses stumbling into the sing-songy choruses. It’s also incredibly condescending, as a parade of rich, white British musicians over-sing in an effort to make themselves feel better about snorting coke and drinking wine while people on the other side of the world starve to death. “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas,” they sing. And for this the poor and hungry deserve our pity?



‘Back Door Santa’

Bon Jovi


From: ‘A Very Special Christmas’ (1987)

We can all agree that Bon Jovi are a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen, and they’re just following in a rock legend’s footsteps with their own watered-down version of Jersey escapist rock. Right? That somewhat explains their cover of Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa,” which came out on the same album as the Boss’ cover of Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas, Baby.” Bon Jovi’s cover is ill-advised from the start — from the synth riff to Jon Bon Jovi‘s subtle-as-a-sledgehammer vocal. Every single member of the group deserves coal in his stocking.



‘Hey Santa’

Carnie & Wendy Wilson


From: ‘Hey Santa’ (1993)

It sure looks good on paper: Two of Brian Wilson‘s kids record their own Christmas album in the spirit of the Beach Boys‘ holiday classic, with a guest vocal by Uncle Carl, production from Al Jardine and their dad on piano. But it turns out to be one of the most watered-down soft-rock Christmas songs ever recorded.



‘Wonderful Christmastime’

Paul McCartney


From: Single (1979)

These few melody lines, probably pecked out by Paul McCartney on a Mellotron while sitting on the loo, are among the worst our ears suffer every December. There oughta be some kinda law banning McCartney’s not-so-wonderful Christmas song from the airwaves.



Remember Bon Jovi’s Strange Christmas Song?




Next: Top 10 Christmas Songs

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