There's so much horrible Christmas music out there. These songs just might be the worst.
What’s that smell? It’s not Nat King Cole roasting chestnuts on an open fire. No, it’s the smell of completely terrible holiday tunes.
The season to celebrate family and generosity comes each December with a soundtrack of red-nosed reindeer and chestnuts roasting. But, for every crooning Christmas classic, there’s Paul McCartney, backed by his goofy, dated synthesizers, singing “simply having a wonderful Christmastime” on repeat.
When done right, holiday music is a tasteful addition to the month of December and a fun genre to revisit during a random celebration of Christmas in July. Those tasteful renditions are reserved for the likes of Cole’s rendition of “The Christmas Song,” The Beach Boys’ offering of “Little Saint Nick” or even James Brown’s “Merry Christmas, Baby.”
For every great Christmas tune that’s produced, though, there seems to be at least three produced that serve no better purpose than to you annoy your friends during the holiday season.
Here’s a look the musical equal to a lump of coal (because, let’s face it, we can’t all be Mariah Carey or Bing Crosby). Spin each at your own risk.
Devo - “Merry Something to You”
Long removed from the glory days of “Whip It,” Devo released a non-partisan holiday song in 2009 saying happy holidays to all people. The song’s awkward, but, being Devo, that could be the point.
Fall Out Boy - “Yule Shoot Your Eye Out”
This Chicago-area pop-punk quintet went from being the soundtrack to a generation of teenage angst to an arena-ready top 40 sensation. Between these two career phases the band released a sappy, acoustic Christmas song.
New Kids on the Block - “Funky, Funky Xmas”
The name of the track and the artist should say enough. The song’s off of the group’s 1989 Christmas record titled “Merry, Merry Christmas.”
Paul McCartney - “Wonderful Christmastime”
This 1979 song recorded by McCartney comes full of late ‘70s electronic styling and alongside a music video of the otherwise legendary songwriter hosting a boisterous holiday party.
Justin Bieber - “Drummer Boy (feat. Busta Rhymes)”
It’s Justin Bieber, singing “parum pa pum pum.” Not even Busta Rhymes could save it.
Wham! - “Last Christmas”
Wham! made a memorable mark on ‘80s Christmas song with this 1984 release. The song’s been heavily covered throughout its existence, including renditions by Arctic Monkeys, Carly Rae Jepsen and others.
Cyndi Lauper - “Christmas Conga”
Cyndi Lauper got it right with “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and “Time After Time.” With a chorus that sings “Bonga, bonga, bonga, bonga ... do the Christmas Conga,” she didn’t get it right on this one.
David Hasselhoff - “Jingle Bells”
So … David Hasselhoff put out a record of Christmas songs. His take on the classic track “Jingle Bells” is surely the one to most drive your friends crazy.
NewSong - “The Christmas Shoes”
For those who haven’t heard, “The Christmas Shoes” is just really, really sad. Not exactly the type of track to turn on at the office’s holiday party.
Aqua - “Spin Me a Christmas”
The group responsible for the completely timeless and irreplaceable pop tune “Barbie Girl” actually dropped a holiday song. Released in 2009, the song is as over-the-top as the one about life in plastic that the group rode to fame.
William Hung - “Little Drummer Boy”
Remember William Hung? The 2004 “American Idol” contestant who was so bad that it was kind-of good? His take on “Little Drummer Boy,” much like any of his released music, is like a car wreck: So disastrous — yet so mesmerizing — that you can’t seem to look away.
Twisted Sister - “Heavy Metal Christmas”
Two things that probably shouldn’t be mixed: Hair metal and the “12 Days of Christmas.” Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider and the band call for items like “nine tattered shirts” and “three studded belts” in the roughly five-minute number.
Justin Bieber - “Mistletoe”
J-Beebs is the only artist to put out a holiday album so bad it deserves to make this this twice. This Bieber number — while not as bad as “The Drummer Boy” — can easily cause a holiday-related headache upon first listen.
Jeff Foxworthy - “Redneck 12 Days of Christmas”
The thing with a comedy rendition of a holiday songs is it’s supposed to be funny ... but most times it’s really not. Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck Christmas song — with lines like ‘Well you know you can’t really consider it a Christmas unless you go down to the penitentiary and visit your momma’ — is no exception.
Elmo & Patsy - “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer”
While any version of this late 1970s holiday song is unapologetically annoying, the original version takes the cake (or … eggnog?) on being the most unbearable.
John Denver - “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)”
The 1973 number has Denver take the form of a child (one verse sings: “Just last year when I was only seven/and now I’m almost eight as you can see/you came home at a quarter past 11/fell down underneath the Christmas tree”) for a depressing take on Christmas Eve.
Smashing Pumpkins - “Christmastime”
There’s something strange about hearing an artist known for digging into the deep, dark places of human emotion sing a song so whimsical and lighthearted.
The Killers - “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”
Killers frontman Brandon Flowers spends four-and-a-half minutes of the partly-spoken-word song pleading for Kris Kringle to spare his life. This instance of quirk from the Killers' canon was, however, born for a good cause: proceeds from the 2007 tune were donated to AIDS charities.
Gwen Stefani featuring Blake Shelton - “You Make It Feel Like Christmas”
Gwen gets the job done on this 2017 song, but hearing Blake Shelton croon over a holiday pop hook? That’s not at all how Christmas should feel.
Band Aid 30 - “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Because there actually are holiday songs worse than “Wonderful Christmastime.” Bogged down by archaic production, not even Phil Collins behind the kit could save this 1984 charitable number from the test of time.
Maroon 5 - “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”
In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono captured civil unrest using four words: “So, this is Christmas.” Lennon’s quivering reminder of “let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear,” delivered during the songwriter’s continued opposition to the Vietnam War, proved holiday music can reflect the somber as well as the jubilant. As for Adam Levine donning a faux Beatles drawl in 2007 for a polished Maroon 5 cover? Stick with the original.
Jimmy Buffett – “Twelve Days of Christmas (Parrothead Version)”
Oh, Jimmy … anything to keep the parrotheads happy. Part of his 2016 holiday album “‘Tis The SeaSon” (because #branding, right?), Buffett released a version of the Christmas classic pandering toward his loyally laid back following. Buffett replaced turtle doves and golden rings with tiki torches and Hawaiian ukuleles, spoon-feeding a list of present ideas for his fans. Somehow, though, he forgot to fit the Margaritaville webstore link into his rewrite.
Fetty Wap – “Merry XMas”
It’s a 1738 Christmas somewhere, but hopefully not anywhere near your speakers. Famed trap rapper Fetty Wap rolls out a sled full of cliches on his 2015 attempt at holiday romance. “Girl you shine brighter than a diamond, I swear/And if you like it can be Christmas all year,” Wap sings — a cute sentiment, but not exactly a memorable one.
Hilary Duff – “Santa Claus Lane”
The title track from Duff’s debut record (yes, her music career started with a holiday album) teams pre-teen pop and forgettable 2000s production as Hillary Duff declares she’s “walking this Christmas, down Santa Claus Lane.”
Bob Dylan – “Must Be Santa”
Just because Bob Dylan can do whatever he wants doesn’t mean he should do whatever he wants. That includes this 2009 call-and-response polka song — because Dylan fans obviously questioned his lack of contribution to polka in the years leading up to “Must Be Santa.”