I love the holiday season. Seeing enormous inflatables taking over everyone’s lawn fills me with delightfully tacky glee.

house covered with holiday lights and tacky lawn decorations

I love the delicious food I can’t stop making and consuming.

And I love Christmas music.

I love the music so much that after Halloween is over, it’s fair game for me. At least in my car, where my husband can’t hear.

Excellent Christmas music keeps my spirits up when life and people seem stupid and difficult. Every Christmas, though, there are a few songs that steal my joy with their weird lyrics, haunting non-holiday melodies, and too much cowbell bell. These songs are immediately skipped on Pandora or the radio.

If you look at this list and think “But I like these songs!” Awesome! I actually LOVE Wham singing “Last Christmas,” and I understand that for most people, it is considered (unquestionably) the worst Christmas song ever. To each their own! But in my opinion, here are some real stinkers-

1. Mary Did You Know? – Kenny Rogers  and Wynonna Judd Version

We can debate what Mary did or didn’t know, but I like my Christmas songs perky, not mysterious. As a mother of young children, I have high hopes and dreams for my kids. Thinking too much about their futures, especially soon after giving birth, would have given me a panic attack. Maybe Mary could have taken a nap instead of all the foreshadowing that will overwhelm her? After my babies were born, I was having less deep thoughts and more deep fatigue. This version also seems pretty high on the synthesizer, and I just can’t stop thinking of “The Gambler “when Kenny Rogers sings.

2. The Christmas Shoes – NewSong


With “Christmas Shoes,” there are only two camps: Lovers People with Hearts and Haters Those of Us Who Are Dead Inside. It’s pretty clear where I fall.

This story-song is just too much for me. I love Christmas, and I love shoes. But I cannot get on board with this. Besides being cheesy, it brings up too many questions. Am I a bad parent because my daughter doesn’t know my shoe size? What do Christmas shoes look like? Does Jesus prefer fancy shoes? Why not Christmas gloves or a Christmas hat? I have been hearing this song for almost 20 years, and I don’t love it yet. Maybe in another 20 years?

3. I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Josh Groban and Military Members

I think this is a beautiful song. Then why is it on this list?!  I liked this song when I was a kid because I had my family with me. As I grow older, I like the song less and less because we’re always missing someone at the holidays.

That’s just my general complaint with the song. But this version starts with the service members telling their rank and where they’re stationed during Christmas. It makes me sad! This hits too close to home, and my husband isn’t even deployed right now. When he was deployed, this was a definite thumbs down on a playlist. If I want to cry and punish myself, I’ll just watch Brian’s Song with a case of tissues.

4. The Little Drummer Boy – Justin Bieber

Rum Pa Pum Pum. NO THANK YOU. As a mother of a baby, I really would not enjoy a drummer playing for us. I take no issue in honoring someone with music or playing your “best for him,” but please no percussion around the sleeping child, holy or not. It throws me when the singer is singing the lyrics, then all the sudden, it’s “Rum Pa Pum Pum” time. Imagine if it wasn’t a little drummer boy, but a clarinetist. The movie You’ve Got Mail gives a great sound for the clarinet, so “Come, they told me. . . doodly doodly doodly det,” could have been the new lyric.

While there are some Biebs Christmas songs I like (hit me up with Mistletoe, this isn’t one of them.

5. Carol of the Bells – Cat Version

When I wrote about all these terrible songs in 2017, I said I didn’t like the choral version of Carol of the Bells. Turns out everything I said also applies to the cat version, too!

This song feels too frantic for me at this stage in life. It starts out nice and quiet, but as the song goes on, it gets louder and faster. (The only version of this song that is acceptable in my home is by Trans Siberian Orchestra. It’s rage-y and sometime my holidays frustrations can be channeled.) Most of the time, the song feels like a child begging for something they want. They start small, but the ask becomes bigger and bigger and soon enough, it’s like cymbals in your ears. Parenthood feels repetitive enough on some days that a Christmas song that goes round and round is not helpful during the holiday season.

When I told my kids this song is like a CD that keeps skipping, they had no idea what I meant. So now I hate the song ever more and feel a thousand years old.


Dishonorable Mention

Wonderful Christmas Time – Sir Paul McCartney

If you’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time, my guess is you are not helping enough and someone else is tired. This song ticks my boxes for repetitive and annoying. Does Paul McCartney keep telling us to have a wonderful Christmastime in hopes that it will become true? Like my kids asking for things multiple times? Or are these lyrics meant to be simple so you can remember them and still sing along after you’ve had too much wassail? This song is not part of my wonderful Christmastime.

Santa Baby-Eartha Kitt

I actually kind of like this song. So why is it on this list? Mostly because when it’s performed it’s in a cringe-y way. Sexier then you want at your church Christmas party, which you likely don’t want any sexy there. Or perhaps it’s the weirdness that is my first memory of the song than ruined it for me.

In elementary school, we had the high school Madrigals come perform a Christmas concert that I looked forward to every year. They had a coolness I could only aspire to, and I couldn’t wait to be one of them. As I sat in my rickety chair in the gym one  Christmas season, I heard the familiar, “Bu boom, bu boom, bu boom, bu boom,” and watched as the Madrigal girls invited the principal up and seductively sang Santa Baby to him with crimson feather boas and strange choreography. During the song, the principal’s cheeks became as red as the boas tossed on him. Those 3 minutes are seared in my brain, and I’m a hater.

Whatever songs you’re listening to, I hope you have music that makes you feel great this holiday season! Which ones are your least favorite?

I’m going to go listen to Wham . . .


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