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Tacky Christmas Songs

Treble clef

by Marko Peric

This time of year the music on the radio changes somewhat. In addition to the usual mix of lite rock swill, there's an increasing mix of seasonal music. You've got traditional classics that have come back from the vault every year since just after the dawn of time, and then there's the Christmas pop-music. Thing is, a lot of this Christmas pop music is pretty lame. That doesn't mean that you don't want to listen to it, because hey, it's Christmas and you're in the mood to hear it, but that doesn't make it good music. Much of it is pretty tacky. That said, I'm going to revel in said tackiness, and judge it for its merits. That's right, as per the title I'm doing a Good/Bad/Ugly rating of tacky Christmas Songs.

"Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney: Easily one of the worst Christmas songs ever recorded, this is so bad as to be a contender for worst song by a former Beatle (But frankly George Harrison, may he rest in peace, took the prize with "Got My Mind Set on You"). It's repetitive, inane, poorly written, and really, really wrong. Naturally I like it a lot, although I find it incredibly hard to believe that the same ex-Beatle who recorded "Live and Let Die" and "Band on the Run" recorded this. As much as I like this song, any song that actually features the lyrics 'ding dong, ding dong' is by default Bad.

"Mary Had a Baby" by Bruce Cockburn: I've been informed that this song is traditional Negro spiritual from the American South but the only version I've ever heard is Bruce Cockburn's. And after reading the lyrics I can certainly tell why. This song is awful. If you haven't heard it, it does something like this: "Mary had a baby (My Lord), Mary had a baby (Ah my Lord), Mary had a baby (My Lord), the people keep coming but the train has gone." Repeat this with predictable verses like "Shepherds heard the singing" and "Star keeps shining" and the somewhat unexpected "Jesus went to Egypt" and "Traveled on a donkey" and of course the bit about the train each time. What exactly an overloaded train has to do with Christmas is beyond me. Bruce Cockburn may be a talented musician and a superb songwriter, but he didn't write this, and it's Ugly.

"Mary's Boy Child" by Boney M: Another in the genre of old songs covered by popular musicians, this one is somewhat better than most. Boney M, a 70s Euro disco band that most of you have never heard of, is probably best known for their amusing lesson in Russian history "Rasputin." Go download that for a laugh. But about this song, it's actually about as good as an old Christmas song covered by a 70s Euro disco band can get, which is surprisingly Good.

"Christmas Coming to the USA" by the SNL players: Look, it's the Song of the Month! This amusing little ditty has actually been played 5 times on SNL, and each time it's been bit different. Each time it's been quite amusing. It's best appreciated live on TV, with Horatio Sanz singing and playing ukulele, Jimmy Fallon running the keyboard, Chris Kattan holding the keyboard, and Tracy Morgan dancing. It's one of the best running items on SNL these days. Go download it now (search for "SNL Christmas Coming to the USA" on your file share program of choice) if you haven't already. I naturally think it's Good.

"Ay Ay Ay It's Christmas" by Ricky Martin: The first clue this song stinks should be that it's on the tripe-laden Another Rosie Christmas. The second clue would be that it's sung by Ricky Martin. The third clue would be the title. Ay Ay Ay It's Christmas? What kind of song title is that? And the fourth clue would be the lyrics. "Ay ay ay it's Christmas and I don't know what to do. Ay ay ay it's Christmas and I don't have a gift for you." Well Ricky, if you spent more time planning ahead and less living la vida loca, you wouldn't be in this predicament, now would you? According to all the women I've consulted, Ricky Martin is seriously handsome, but this song is just Ugly.


If you're looking for more reviews of tacky Christmas songs, check out More Tacky Christmas Songs and Even More Tacky Christmas Songs.


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