Reruns and earworms and holidays oh my

Since I have the execrable “Do they Know it’s Christmas?” in my head, I figured I’d post a lightly edited rerun.  You’re welcome.


Back in 2004, John Scalzi posted an invitation to fantasize: if you had the ability to expunge one highly annoying but popular Christmas song from the world, which one would it be? He posited “Feliz Navidad,” which is an honorable entry. It has the requisite parasitic catchiness, yet is definitely awful – it will stay in your head, annoying you quite effectively long past New Year’s. But I would have to say it is not popular enough, and really, not quite awful enough to make my list.

Others in the comments ganged up on “Do they Know it’s Christmas?” which is another effectively awful tune. “Feed the world/Let them know it’s Christmastime.” Er… feed the world, let them know it’s Tuesday, for crying out loud. Feed the world, let them see next week! But I don’t think it has enjoyed enduring popularity past 1984, so it wouldn’t make my list either.  Or… er.  It appears the cast of Glee has remade it.  Joy.  I haven’t listened to it, but I won’t stop you if that sort of pain is your kink.

What would I pick? There is a lot of awfulness to choose from out there amongst the holiday fare, so it is a difficult task to pick just one. As it was, as I plowed through my mental inventory of dogs barking “Jingle Bells,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” (John’s personal pick for least favorite), Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” (Clarence has been waiting for that new saxophone for a very long time now), and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which is hateful because it is so repetitive and interminable, I was able to narrow my hatred down to two selections:

1. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” There is so much to hate in this song, it is hard to know where to begin. It is syrupy and swoopy. Its subject matter is disturbing. It tends to be sung by treacly choirs of little kids doing basic choreography in time to the music (I should know – I was in one many years back). It seems exploitative and deeply, deeply wrong. Bleah. *Shudder*

2. “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” I may get some John Lennon-loving backlash here, but I can’t stand this song. It sounds like someone bleakly going through the motions of optimism. It is, in fact, wrong (“War is over now” – hah.  Really? Magical thinking in a holiday pop song.  Cute). But the crowning achievement of awfulness is Yoko Ono’s strangled yowl, aggressively commanding everyone within hearing range to have “A very merry Christmas/And a happy New Year/Let’s hope it’s a good one/Without any fear.”

You better watch out, indeed.


  1. Nothing compares with the Christmas Shoes. It’s like the dark underbelly of Disney, dead mother and all. Even better, something like 1400 people have covered it so if you get stuck listening to an all-Christmas easy listening station (thanks, Dad), you get to hear it about once an hour. *shudder*

    Ever since someone once pointed it out now every time I hear “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” it makes me think of date rape. Erg.

    • I have heard of “Christmas Shoes,” but I have never heard “Christmas Shoes.” I pretty much listen only to my own Christmas music catalog these days (which consists of 494 items which take up 2.01 GB and would take 1.1 days to listen to all of), which is why my Christmas Music Nausea is not especially current.

      As for “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” I don’t especially think of it as a Christmas tune per se – but I know what you mean. Think about the lyrics to Mark Cohn’s “True Companion” for a few seconds and it’ll creep you right the hell out in the same way – possibly even worse.

  2. Song to expunge? Lennon’s and McCartney’s Christmas songs are different sides of the same coin, and yet more proof that the two needed each other.

    It being Christmas, I would like to give a shout-out to Prince, whose “Another Lonely Christmas” is ****ing terrific, emotional rather than sentimental, and enjoyable at any time of year.


    • Adam, very true – hadn’t thought of that so much. I do prefer (if prefer is the right word) McCartney’s vapid cheer over Lennon’s sarcastic dirge, but only by a hair’s breadth. They both make me want to stuff forks in my ears.

      His Purple Funkiness is always welcome here. For Christmas gloom, it’s also hard to beat “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.”

  3. Mark Speer says

    Now that it’s luckily all over (they even inundate us with these songs here in the Netherlands), how about best xmas song? Fairytale of New York by The Pogues must rank high on that list…