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The 12 worst Christmas songs

The 25 worst Christmas songs ever inflicted on humankind

These aren't just holiday turkeys – they’re the worst Christmas songs of all time

Written by
Andy Kryza
Contributors
Andrzej Lukowski
&
Kate Lloyd
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The best Christmas songs of all time bring tidings of pop-inflected comfort and groovy joy. These... aren’t those songs.

The fact of the matter is that 90 percent of Christmas songs are hasty knockoffs or cheap gags. And mercifully, most of them have been forgotten. Some, though, remain impossible to forget no matter how hard you try, either because one listen is genuinely enough to scar you for life, or because the artist is of sufficient stature that they still rack up Christmas airplay, despite the fact they absolutely shouldn’t.

These are the worst Christmas songs of all time: sludgy byproducts of mankind’s consumerist urges, sentimentalist miscalculations and questionable tastes. Here you will find no Bing Crosby or Darlene Love. This is the Isle of Misfit Songs: Home to the cast of Duck Dynasty and Justin Bieber, GaGa and Chewbacca. Whether you love them for their awfulness or dread them for their inevitablity, each is proof that just because you have holiday spirit does not mean you need to sing about it, even if you've got a golden voice. 

Worst Christmas songs, ranked

‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ by Band Aid 20
Image: Band Aid

1. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ by Band Aid 20

Twenty years on, pop stars still had a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity’s roots in Africa, to say nothing of their cluelessness about the continent’s meteorology. Yet even more shocking is that a band consisting of Them Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Phil Collins and Paul Friggin’ McCartney could assemble to create such a train wreck. The mix makes those early Covid zoom concerts sound like Abbey Road, while vocals from Bono, Chris Martin, Dido, Estelle and Robbie Williams blend with a murderers row of forgotten pop stars for a chorus that sounds like it was sung by sick cats. If you’re going to celebrate the anniversary of a charity song – one that was quite average even when performed by very good singers in 1984 – then don’t do it with (checks notes) Rachel from S Club 7, Busted and Lemar. 

‘Funky Funky Christmas’ by New Kids on the Block
Image: Columbia Records

2. ‘Funky Funky Christmas’ by New Kids on the Block

It’s unlikely NSYNC would have existed to ruin Christmas were it not for NKOTB, whose own contribution to the holiday rubbish bin is perhaps the whitest rap song ever written. Ever. This makes The Waitresses sound like NWA. And that’s before the New Kids start rapping in fake English accents. 

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‘The Christmas Shoes’ by New Song
Image: Benson Records

3. ‘The Christmas Shoes’ by New Song

Some Christmas songs tug at your heartstrings. This swelling country-tinged ballad from Christian band New Song rolls in with a bazooka full of sap, sugar, and angel’s tears… then completely misses a point-blank shot. It starts with New Song Guy buying last-minute Christmas presents, only to observe a filth-covered boy trying to buy a pair of shoes for his mom. It’s revealed she’s probably going to die, and the kid wants her to look nice when she meets Jesus. He doesn’t have enough money, so the New Song Guy buys them for him, clearly proud of an act of Christian love that begins and ends at a cash register and not, you know, with the guy making sure the kid’s safe and the mom gets help? The lord works in mysterious, very overwrought ways. 

‘Christmas Tree’ by Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy
Image: Interscope

4. ‘Christmas Tree’ by Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy

Lady GaGaga – pop queen, Oscar winner, Grammy dominator – has given us a great many gifts. Yet her contribution to the Christmas canon is the musical equivalent of a last-minute present purchased at a sketchy 7-Eleven. This is a song that repeats ‘wake me up, put me on top, let’s fa-la-la-la’ to the melody of 'Deck the Halls’ before spilling out all sorts of half-baked innuendos over the most generic synthpop beat imaginable. It’s a song that sounds dashed-off in five minutes during a drunken Christmas party at the studio. Yes, it’s a joke track. Just not a very funny one. Unless you find the idea of calling your vagina your ‘Christmas tree’ is hysterical. In which case, have we got a song for you!

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‘Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas’ by The Robertsons
Image: Columbia Records

5. ‘Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas’ by The Robertsons

One of the weirdest, most uniquely American crimes against pop culture in the past decade was its full embrace of Duck Dynasty, a reality show about hillbillies who make lures for duck hunters. The Robertson family rode the unexpected success for all it was worth, which included putting out a barrel-scraping country Christmas album. Frankly, it would have sounded better had they just recorded a bunch of ducks being shot. 

‘Drummer Boy’ by Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes
Image: Island Records

6. ‘Drummer Boy’ by Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes

Poor old Justin’s not doing very well on this list – though that’s mainly because his second album Under the Mistletoe’ is jam-packed with awful Christmas songs. ‘Drummer Boy’ features JB singing parts of the traditional hymn over a banging bassline, before rapping: ‘I'm surprised you didn't hear this in the Bible.’ It also features Busta Rhymes spitting the line ‘eggnog with a little sprinkle of vanilla’ like he’s at the till in Starbucks. We can forgive Justin (he was just 17 at the time). Busta should really know better.

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‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’ by Gayla Peevey
Image: Columbia

7. ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’ by Gayla Peevey

Not to bag too much on poor little Gayla Peevey, who was only 10 years old at the time, but this stamping, spoiled, nasally perennial from 1953 sounds like a grown woman impersonating a child… an American-accented Veruca Salt, to be specific. 

‘Spin Me a Christmas’ by Aqua
Image: Universal

8. ‘Spin Me a Christmas’ by Aqua

Did you know Aqua were still around in 2009?! Best known for their 1997 single ‘Barbie Girl’, the Scandi three-piece DOMINATED THE CHARTS with festive trance number ‘Spin Me a Christmas’ in the late noughties. Only joking: they charted at Number 43 in Denmark and nowhere else, and we’re officially sorry for bringing it to your attention. 

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‘What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?)’ by The Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir and Chorale
Image: RSO

9. ‘What Can You Get A Wookiee For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?)’ by The Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir and Chorale

Apparently Christianity exists in the Star Wars universe, and the law of Christmas dictates that no galaxy may have holidays without novelty songs. An lo, a chorus of droids was programmed to sing a song about buying Chewbacca some galoshes. 

‘Millennium Prayer’ by Cliff Richard
Image: Papillon

10. ‘Millennium Prayer’ by Cliff Richard

Lighten up, Cliff. No need to keep rambling on about the true meaning of Christmas. Especially since you don’t seem to have put much effort into getting your message across – I mean, you’ve not even written your own lyrics. You’re just reciting the Lord’s Prayer again and again (except for an interlude at 2:40 when you start passionately clapping for a while).

 

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Any Beatles Christmas song
Photo by Apple

11. Any Beatles Christmas song

The Beatles have Christmas songs: seven to be precise. So why are they all uniformly dreadful? Because they were all spaffed out as larky fanclub singles that mix half-arsed renditions of carols with sardonic holiday greetings from the Fab Four. They’re still pretty funny, but there’s something genuinely infuriating about the sense that they’d probably have penned at least one all-time Christmas classic if they’d been even remotely arsed.

‘Christmas Wrapping’ by Spice Girls
Image: Virgin

12. ‘Christmas Wrapping’ by Spice Girls

Between 1996 and 1998, the Spice Girls released three consecutive Christmas number ones: ‘2 Become 1’, ‘Too Much’ and ‘Goodbye’. So you’d think their B-side cover of The Waitresses’s ‘Christmas Wrapping’ would be a banger. Nope. We’re pretty sure they all just sat around Mel C’s keyboard and recorded it over the top of the ‘Disco II’ automated backing track.

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Anything involving dogs or cats
Image: YouTube

13. Anything involving dogs or cats

Dogs barking ‘Jingle Bells?’ Cats meowing ‘Silent Night?’ That is so Christmas past. Give us sloths cooing along to Wham! or find a new novelty. 

‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays’ by NSYNC
Image: RCA

14. ‘Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays’ by NSYNC

This 1998 single could be by any ‘90s boy band, really. It’s cooked up to be a filler track on a shop floor playlist or the soundtrack to the credits on a straight-to-DVD Christmas movie. It’s offensively inoffensive, yet regardless of how forgettable it is, it burrows into your brain and refuses to leave until Easter. Maybe Justin’s ramen-curl hair was some sort of helmet to protect his brain from the song he unleashed on the world like a holiday neurotoxin.

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‘Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)’ by John Denver
Image: RCA

15. ‘Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)’ by John Denver

John Denver’s weepy Christmas clunker sounds like the kind of jaunty country song that would celebrate drinking, and gets weirder when it’s established that confirmed-adult Denver is singing from the perspective of an 8-year-old. Also, not to gloss over bad behaviour, but Dad just came home laughing and fell under the tree, John. Lighten up… it’s the holidays.  

‘Christmas Lights’ by Coldplay
Photo by Parlophone

16. ‘Christmas Lights’ by Coldplay

Look, anybody who says Coldplay have no good tunes is divorced from reality. But this plodding acoustic number is no ‘Speed of Sound’ or ‘Viva la Vide’, and moreover the lyrics are absolutely horrible: ‘Christmas night, another fight’ sighs Chris Martin at the commencement of a truly excruciating sub-Richard Curtis sketch of somebody who has a fight with his partner, storms off to look at the tatty Chrismas lights on London’s grueling shopping thoroughfare Oxford Street, and somehow feels better about everything. 

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‘Have a Cheeky Christmas’ by The Cheeky Girls
Image: Multiply Records

17. ‘Have a Cheeky Christmas’ by The Cheeky Girls

Just watch the first minute of the video and marvel at the sheer terror in the reindeer’s eyes. He’s going to call his agent right after this video shoot ends: ‘You said it was a great gig with a “famous double act!” What does “getting sexy in the snow” even mean?’ That being said, this tune is catchy as hell, and pants are overrated anyway.

‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson
Image: Columboa

18. ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson

We get it. ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is extremely problematic. We’re fine with it disappearing. But did we really need John Legend to re-write it with corny, gentlemanly responses to Kelly Clarkson? ‘I really can’t stay’ followed by ‘I understand’ is a nice statement. Then it goes on… John calls Kelly an Uber and name drops his driver (shout out to Murray... twice), asks her to text when she gets home, establishes the boundaries of consent… and kind of gives her shit for smoking? You’ll want to slip yourself a mickey to forget this happened. 

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‘Christmas Conga’ by Cyndi Lauper
Image: Epic

19. ‘Christmas Conga’ by Cyndi Lauper

The only person who ever thought the holiday season needed more conga is that guy in your office who always demands to hear ‘Agadoo’ by Black Lace at Christmas parties. And even he isn’t convinced by the lyric ‘Bonga, bonga, bonga/Do the Christmas conga.’

‘Santa Baby’ by Madonna
Image: A&M

20. ‘Santa Baby’ by Madonna

Hundreds of versions of ‘Santa Baby’ exist, but none have topped the Eartha Kit original. Yet there’s something distinctly upsetting about Madge’s take. Everything about this cover should be so, so perfect. Its opening bars lure you into a false sense of security. You’re about to hear pop queen Madonna at the peak of her sexually charged ‘80s glory covering a classic Christmas hit – what could go wrong?  Then the weird Betty Boop accent kicks in. As one YouTube commenter points out: ‘She sounds like Chuckie from the Rugrats.’

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