What are the worst Christmas songs of all time?

Glenn recently released his very first Christmas album, Believe Again, featuring nine world-class musicians of all different Christian faiths coming together to create and make music like you’ve never heard before. On radio this morning, Pat and Stu debated the best and worst Christmas songs – and, as you might expect, disagreements abounded.

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The conversation started when Stu expressed his dislike of a Christmas classic: “Little Drummer Boy.” The song has enjoyed quite the resurgence this week, after a rendition by a cappella group Pentatonix went viral:

As Stu explained, the song is far too repetitive for his liking. Instead, he prefers the little known hit “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Pat and Jeffy weren’t impressed.

“During the break, Stu played a little bit of the song he was talking about,” Pat said. “It’s awful. I thought ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer’ was bad. This is horrible.”

Check out the song in the clip below:

Pat proceeded to read a list of the 10 worst Christmas songs of all time as ranked by Slant Magazine. While neither “Little Drummer Boy” nor “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” made the list, Slant did dig up some truly terrible songs.

10. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” – Jimmy Boyd

9. “Dominick the Donkey” – Lou Monte

8. “Same Old Lang Syne” – Dan Fogelberg

7. “Cherry Cherry Christmas” – Neil Diamond

6. “Christmas Conga” – Cyndi Lauper

5. “Funky, Funky Xmas” – New Kids on the Block

4. “Boys and Girls (Xmas Time Love” – The Cheeky Girls

3.”Merry Christmas with Love” – Clay Aiken

2. “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Country)” – John Denver

1. “The Christmas Shoes” – NewSong

“And I hate ‘Santa Baby’ by Madonna or anybody who does it. Awful. Awful,” Pat added. “‘Santa Claus is Coming To Town’ by Bruce Springsteen that everybody plays 150,000 times during Christmas season. I hate it. And it’s the only one they play… And I don’t know what the fascination is with every top 40 station playing that in the world.”

“You are not a huge fan of the Santa-type songs,” Stu observed. “Sometimes you connect with certain songs, and that’s certainly natural. Obviously, I connected closely with the ‘I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,’ which is, you know, a big time Christmas classic.”

…that no one has ever heard of.

  • Anonymous

    The Best (from a rock/pop standpoint):

    “A Christmas Gift For You from Philles Records” LP Various Artists

    “Merry Christmas” LP Johnny Mathis

  • Anonymous

    I heard this on the radio today and I have to agree with whoever mentioned “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” by Bruce Springsteen. They way he screams it, it almost sounds like an Emergency Broadcast Message–”SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN!!! AIR RAID!!! AIR RAID!!!”

  • Guest

    The Worst:
    Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon

  • sea-libtard

    I like that song.

  • JoeTexan

    I don’t like “The Little Drummer Boy” either. What mother with a sleeping baby would want some kid standing around banging on a drum? And “The Christmas Shoes”–just awful. “God killed my mother so some other guy could learn a lesson.” I really like the old, traditional Christmas hymns. I remember my grandmother singing “Silent Night” to us in German.

  • sea-libtard

    One of the best – “Silent Night” by Stevie Nicks.
    One of the worst – “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8FvmesaxXg Sam Fisher

    Anything that Clay Aiken does should be number one on any worst list.

  • Anonymous

    Hands down, the absolute worst is Jingle Bells by the Crash Test Dummies. It’s so bad that we’ve started giving it as a gag gift for white elephant games.

  • Anonymous

    I really like “Christmas Shoes”! It actually has a great, positive message.

    If anyone wants anything else to listen to, there is a Beatles tribute band called “The Fab Four” that sing a number of Christmas songs you probably know but in a brand new way.

    Or there’s a song by Wilson-Philips that I really like called “Hey Santa”.

    I am with Stu a little bit about the hippo song. I love novelty Christmas songs: “The Hat I Got For Chrees-mas Ees Too Beeg”, Seymour Swines’s version of “Blue Christmas”, “The 12 Canadian Days of Christmas”, “Snoopy’s Christmas”, “The 12 Pains of Christmas”, & (of course) “Dominic the Donkey”.

    For more inspirational songs, check out John Denver with the Muppets or the famous Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet.

  • ksrgl444

    Feliz Navidad! Whiny voice and repeats over and over and over and over. UGH!!!

  • Kelley Barrentine Vail

    Oh I agree!!! The radio plays this song – I bet every hour – and I hate it!

  • Liz Hood

    Wasn’t the Hippopotamus song done originally by Shirley Temple? I have heard it but it was when I was just a kid! I happen to like! It is fun–but really has nothing to do with Christmas.

  • russellmuscle1

    Oh Holy Night is my favorite.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Stu the absolute worst song in the world is “Little Drummer Boy”. Even if it gets played after the season. Actually, it ties for worst with the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. Which would be a good song but has what HAS to be the most hopeless line in the whole, entire world. It goes something like ” Thank God it’s them instead of you”. The best song is “Chipmonk Christmas”.

  • Anonymous

    My late wife loved “The Little Drummer Boy” so she would probably haunt me if I said anything about that song. My #1 worst would be, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” And after about 100 plays “Christmas Shoes” really grates on my nerves. But I liked “Santa Baby” when Bernadette Peters sang it, and I think I remember Joey Heatherton singing it. She was one pretty and sexy woman.

  • Scott Todd

    Nope- Gayla Peevey all the way. IIRC it was recorded in the early/mid 50s as a fundraiser to buy a hippo for the Oklahoma City Zoo.

  • James LaBarre

    As for “Santa Baby”, the only version that I’ve heard that seemed to bet the suggestiveness if the song right was Kirstie Alley’s version (which I think was done for a commercial anyway). “12 Days of Christmas” has always irritated me because I could see **NO** sense for the slowed-down/paused section in all the verses for “five golden rings”; it seems completely illogical, and kills the rhythmic flow (this coming from someone who listens to Test Department).

    I used to like “Happy Christmas” by John Lennon, but after he was murdered near Christmas time I couldn’t enjoy it anymore. As for Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Wonderful Christmas Time”, the discordant instrumentation of it sets my teeth on edge and makes my skin crawl.

  • mysteriousguy48

    My favorite version of The Little Drummer Boy is a duet between Bing Crosby and David Bowie. I don’t think it was ever released as a single, but they performed it on one of Bing’s Christmas specials. You can find it on youtube.

  • Liz Hood

    Time would be right for me as a kid then–I was born in 1946. Ah well, I could have sworn I heard Shirley Temple do it too. Ah well–the memory is the first thing to go…..

  • Anonymous

    Finally came to me what the tune was, that “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas” seems to be based on — (With lousy attempts at a somewhat phonetic rendition) — “Oh what a luvverly buncha coconuts, there they are a standin’ in a row. And there stands me woife, (wife) the idol uv me loife, (life) singin’ Rowll a bowl-a-ball a penny a pitch.”

    Yeah, I know, lousy spelling, but I had to work hard to overcome my spelling corrector, so go with it. Tried to get the enunciation of the singer, y’know.

    –Oh? Wrong song? It’s a moldy oldy like that, though, isn’t it? Well, I tried.

    Laus Deo

  • Anonymous

    “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is the epitome of trivialization.

  • Anonymous

    I love ”I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”, and I’m Jewish!

  • Crassus

    Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer hands down.

  • Anonymous

    Why pick on the cutsy-pie hit, “Santa Baby”? Every style of music has to have it’s novelties and this effort in it’s original version by Eartha Kitt fits perfectly. Kellie Pickler’s more recent “Betty Boop” rendition is very enjoyable.
    Though I’ve never heard any musical authorities comment, I have always felt that “Santa Baby” was/is a take off on the big band hit “Daddy” by Sammy Kaye and the Andrew Sisters.

  • Anonymous

    I have been a singer since first becoming a choir boy in 1943 at age eight. It wasn’t a religious commitment, my neighbor of the same age pointed out that the pay was good. We got a quarter for each of the two hour rehearsals on Tuesday and Thursday, and fifty cents for the Sunday service. A buck a week wasn’t bad for an eight year old in ’43.

    I am an old curmudgeon, I like music but only if it is musical. The Little Drummer Boy was a bit tacky, but expressed a sense of the gift of giving. The new version, with the “voice whips” and attempts to modernize it remove the simplicity that was the virtue of the original song.

    Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby was a great song, it wasn’t intended as Christmas music – it was a playful thing to be played during the season. Forget Madonna.

    I could go through the list, and many more, but it is easier to summarize. Christmas songs come in three flavors – the carols, the serious songs, and the light weight songs. We all know which the carols are so we can drop that topic. As to serious songs we could think of Bing Crosby and White Christmas (a nostalgia for past Christmases) – or of the WW2 I’ll Be Home For Christmas (if only in my dreams). These songs have to be sung simply.

    Then there is good old Rudolph, and all the “elf” songs – a bit light and humorous – celebrations of the holiday for children. Again, they should be sung simply.

    By now you should have seen my theme. The singer should be subordinate to the song. At 78 I can still step onto a stage and hold an audience with a song – and many songs with no accompanyment. I play Celtic harp, mountain dulcimer, Renaissance lute, ancient psaltery, bowed psaltery – and still can pop up with my aged guitar and aged voice with various traditional songs. From Leadbelly to the Clancy’s, Dyer-Bennet and blue grass, Seeger and Burl Ives. Russian and Romanian and Finnish and French (and I only speak French of them).

    The point is not the song, it is whether you sing the song as it was intended. An R&B version of the Star Spangled Banner is not appropriate, although it may get cheers – it is a poem set to a march time, not an opportunity for a singer to show off his/her range and “voice whip”.

    My choir master, himself a curmudgeon, said “any damned fool can shout, it takes a singer to sing softly”. A singer can project the sound without a mike, but may need one for soft singing in a large hall. What I see now is a lot of no talent people shouting into a mike that is inches from their mouths – I’d be willing to stand after them and sing a song to their foot stomping audience, it would be a good experiment to see if the audience is listening or reacting to noise and beat.

    I enjoy the Santa type songs if they are done gently, and aimed at the children and nostalgia. I don’t enjoy them if they are done to show off the performer.

  • Bridge S

    One Christmas I played I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas on my CD player at my desk (when I still had such a dinosaur) at work and my co-worker heard it and fell in love. I bought her the cd (almost impossible to find) the next year and now when Christmas music starts playing in October (at least it seems like Oct), I get random phone calls all the way up until Christmas from her with her whispering into the phone, “It’s on the radio, again!” Yes it plays on the radio here about 20 times from Oct to Dec EVERY freakin’ year. Love the song, but only when I randomly hear it, not when someone calls me to say it’s playing on the radio AGAIN.

  • Bridge S

    Dominic the Donkey! I love a good drinking song for Christmas! Bring out the eggnog! Also, love the Hippo song! I will have to check out several of your other novelty songs I hadn’t heard of before! Thanks!

  • realmarshall

    Last Christmas by WHAM! is absolutely without a doubt the WORST Christmas song ever!

  • Heidi

    Stu is right on the money! Drummer Boy – Ewwwwwwwwwwww!!! I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas – Thumbs UP!!!! :)

  • NJC

    I divide Christmas music into true carols and songs that are about Christ, including hymns we sing at church (Hark the Herald angels sing) and folk carols (Cherry Tree Carol) We don’t get enough of either on the radio.

    The songs in this discussion are more in the Novelty/Santa Clause/Winter category.

    My absolute can’t tolerate worst: Last Christmas I gave you my heart–I change stations when that comes on. The music is awful and the words not any better.
    Christmas shoes: lovely story, but terrible music–whiny and repetitive.
    I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus–PLEASE NOT the Jackson five version.
    Do you hear what I hear–get tired of it.

    Missing in Action–haven’t heard yet this year but would like to:
    Chipmunk song–I remember when it first came out in the late 50′s
    All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth–again older versions.
    Jimmy Durante’s version of Frosty the Snowman

    Novelty songs I really enjoy and hope they will come on:
    I want a hippopotamus for Christmas–makes me smile and find a stuffed Hippo toy.
    Dominic the Christmas Donkey
    Snoopy and the Red Baron

    A really favorite album I wish they would play on Radio: “OY! to the World” by the Kelzmonauts–a Klezmer Christmas with amazing crazy instrumental rendtions of traditional songs such as Joy to the world and We Three Kings. The vocals are a funny Yiddish version of JIngle Bells and a song of Emapthy for Santa Clause ans all his hard work “Santa Geh Gesunterheit ” (Flying downwind from those reindeer wondering what the heck they ate)

    And of course anything by Mannheim Steamroller.

  • Anonymous
  • Guest

    “Christmas Shoes” isn’t a terrible song because it’s depressing. It’s a bad song because its false, manipulative garbage. The word “cloying” was created to describe songs like it. It’s alleged inspiration is some mega-church chain-email story that is as verifiable as those old “Sasquatch Marries Elvis!” stories that used to be in supermarket tabloids. It’s entire purpose to manipulate the feelings of trailer-park hausfraus who are “moved” by a song about some guy who believes God put a little boy with dying mother in front of him so that he can feel good about himself at Christmastime. It’s utterly repulsive and actually insulting to Christianity.

    Patton Oswalt interpreted this song’s version of God’s thinking pretty well: “Somebody in a bad mood on my son’s birthday?!?! BS! Give that kid’s mom cancer! Make sure he’s in front of him in line! Make him seven cents short for the shoes! This guy will buy them, and he’ll be in a good mood!”

    I was blissfully unaware of that song until 2011 when I came across a bunch of “Worst Christmas Song” ever lists it was #1 on almost all of them. Upon listening to it, it not only earned its place as one of the worst Christmas songs ever, but also as one of the worst songs of any genre!

  • Guest

    “Christmas Shoes” isn’t a terrible song because it’s depressing. It’s a bad song because its false, manipulative garbage. The word “cloying” was created to describe songs like it. It’s alleged inspiration is some mega-church chain-email story that is as verifiable as those old “Sasquatch Marries Elvis!” stories that used to be in supermarket tabloids. It’s entire purpose to manipulate the feelings of trailer-park hausfraus who are “moved” by a song about some guy who believes God put a little boy with dying mother in front of him so that he can feel good about himself at Christmastime. It’s utterly repulsive and actually insulting to Christianity.

    Patton Oswalt interpreted this song’s version of God’s thinking pretty well: “Somebody in a bad mood on my son’s birthday?!?! BS! Give that kid’s mom cancer! Make sure he’s in front of him in line! Make him seven cents short for the shoes! This guy will buy them, and he’ll be in a good mood!”

    I was blissfully unaware of that song until 2011 when I came across a bunch of “Worst Christmas Song” ever lists it was #1 on almost all of them. Upon listening to it, it not only earned its place as one of the worst Christmas songs ever, but also as one of the worst songs of any genre!

  • Chris Leate

    I beg to differ. There is so much to choose from Let’s Make Christmas Suck Volume 1

  • Chris Leate

    oh damn, it cut out my spotify playlist :-(

  • Chris Leate

    oh damn, it cut out my spotify playlist :-(

  • 4BlueStars

    Oh no! NOT “Same Old Lang Syne”!
    Whattsa matter with you?

  • Anonymous

    You are mean…a hater!