As some of you might remember, every year my brother Tom and I get our inner Grinches on and post our Annual List of the Worst Christmas Carols Ever. This wonderful holiday tradition continues below.
If sarcasm and general crotchety-ness puts a damper on your Christmas spirit, you’ll want to stop reading now and go hug an elf or continue spreading sunshine and lollipops and wherever you take your relentlessly perky self, because we’re just not your kind of people.
If not, welcome, friends--read on, and feel free to add your own.
TOM: I’ll start with “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” by Chicago. So Chicago decided in 2003 to put out a Christmas album. And they decided to add this "gem." This one just reeks of desperation. They are trying to sound young, hip, and rockin', and it really is just a sorry effort.
TRACY: Oh, my God, Chicago. The new lead singer on this album (new being relative, since the last time Tom and I listened to them was in 1987 when they still had Peter Cetera) is awful! It sounds like some garage band found some overwrought lead singer from the Sheboygan Press classifieds and somehow blackmailed Chicago’s brass section into playing in the background. (Chicago’s brass section = still awesome.)
TOM: There is only one Chicago and that is with Peter Cetera at the helm.
TRACY: Let the church say “Amen!” If Chicago wants to continue releasing albums, they need to get Peter Cetera back.
TOM: Of course, he is suffering from the same disease as Dennis DeYoung and Steve Perry in which a lead singer believes that he is better than the band, leaves, and both of them become a joke. (Gwen Stefani had it briefly, but was cured, and Eddie Vedder has avoided it.)
TRACY: Well then, they need to go to the Philippines and find some dude who sounds just like Peter Cetera.
TOM: Just as long as they don't do a reality show!
TRACY: Here’s my first pick: On the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death, we have ... The Radio City Rockettes, step-kicking all over his brilliant musical legacy with their version of "Happy Christmas (War is Over)."
Dear God, there are no words.
Oh, wait. Maybe there are a few.
Dear Radio City Rockettes,
I understand that you are collectively a New York City institution, and no amount of feminist sturm und drang is going to get you to trade your pasties and fringe for business suits and briefcases. I get that. You were blessed with fabulous legs, and you like showing them off. Fine. And okay, I understand that maybe an hour silent can-canning might be boring, so you feel you have to "sing" to give the public their money's worth. But really--John Lennon?
The man is a legend. And you? You are basically 47 pairs of legs and a bunch of feathers. Musical legend + legs and feathers = a whole lot of disrespect.
Please stop. Now.
TOM: P.S. Any further listings of the Lennon song should no longer have Yoko Ono's name attached. She can attach her name to the Rockettes' version.
Next is “Sleigh Ride,” by Andy Williams: I do like some Andy Williams Christmas songs, but this is a mess from start to finish. It starts with the backup singers singing "Jing-a-ling, jing, jing-a-ling" and goes downhill from there. My biggest complaint is the music. Close your eyes, concentrate on just the music and not the vocals, and then imagine listening to Rod Roddy describes the prizes in the showcase showdown. It is straight out of the Price is Right. (RIP Rod Roddy. Wesside.) .
TRACY: I take your Andy Williams “Sleigh Ride” and raise it by one Debbie Gibson’s “Sleigh Ride.”
How we let this one get past us for so many years is a gross oversight--one that I will rectify immediately. This one is so painful, it makes my ears hurt to even recall it. Now I never had a problem with Debbie Gibson in the 1980s. I wasn't a huge fan of mall pop, but I sympathized with the media's manufactured rivalry between her and Tiffany, and I respected that she wrote her own mall pop songs. But then she became an obnoxious adult who pretty much sets my teeth on edge every time I see her on my television. Watch the Broadway-themed extra on the Beauty and the Beast Blu-ray, and you'll see what I mean. Everyone else says something along the lines of, "I loved playing this role so much, and having it on stage was awesome." But not Debbie. Debbie is all, "Blah, blah, blah, me, me, me, I was Belle on Broadway, me." And her back-talking stint on Skating with Celebrities still makes me want to jab my eardrums out.
So I was driving along the other day, and this horrible, horrible version of "Sleigh Ride" came on. After about two seconds, I said to myself, "Who is this insipid person who is ruining one of the most beloved Christmas carols of all time?" I looked down at my satellite radio display, and sure enough: Debbie Gibson.
If her nasal, entitled voice isn't enough to make you take a hammer and chisel to your radio, then the backup singers shrieking "SLEIGH RIDE! SLEIGH RIDE!" every second beat might just do the trick. (SLEIGH RIDE!) Because unless you're playing this version (SLEIGH RIDE!) for a group of people with severe short-term memory problems (SLEIGH RIDE!), there is absolutely no reason to yell the name of the song (SLEIGH RIDE!) over and over and over again.
TOM: C'mon, this is the woman who gave the world "Shake Your Love." What a delicate genius!
My next pick is a two-parter. These are both from the long lost Star Wars Holiday Special. I am a huge Star Wars fan, but I can't bear to watch this craptacular. The first is the song that Princess Leia does. I don't even know the name, but the Unintentional Comedy Scale is off the charts. I don't know where to start--the Wookies in Snuggies, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill trying to look interested like it is a deep song, or trying to figure out how coked up Carrie Fisher is.
TRACY: (Answer: SO coked up. Bless her heart.
TOM: The scenes from Star Wars that have been crowbarred in are a nice touch. We should have never let George Lucas be in charge of the prequels after seeing this:
The other song is Bea Arthur's appearance as a bartender in the special. She serves as a great example by letting aliens pounding on tables influence her to ignore the legal bar time and serve up another round. Plus she does it on the house! Not only does she flaunt her disregard for the laws of the government, but she also is harming the company's bottom line! Plus, she doesn't call a cab for the huge, obviously drunk alien at around the 2:30 mark. Hey, and is that Greedo in there?! I though he was dead! The most egregious thing is that they writers thought "Hey! Let's take the Cantina Band Song that everyone loved from Star Wars, slow it down and take down a key, and make a new song!" Booooooooooo!
TRACY: I’d add my own take, but I’m laughing too hard. Let the nation be warned—you don’ta mess wit’ the Star Wars. Or suffer the wrath of Tom.
Boney M makes an appearance for the second year in a row with it's "Mary's Boy Chil'/O My Lord." .
TOM: I believe Boney M. is a two-time winner! .
TRACY: This song is a franken-mess of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," a group of insane people humming, a Davey Jones impersonator, and a very poor group of singers with exaggerated Caribbean accents--set to steel drums and a "reggae" (I use that term loosely) beat.
My Christmas wish is for Germany to deport these people someplace where there is no studio recording equipment.
TOM: “A Child is Born,” by Rihanna: Yes, I get that she is from the Bahamas, but I still don't like this Rasta sounding song. When I hear it, I think of the Baby J, in a manger with dreds, watching Cool Runnings and drinking Red Stripe beer. If a stereotype had a sound, this album would be it.
TRACY: Even though Jessica Simpson's album "ReJoyce" (still don't know who Joyce is) was quite enough, thankyouverymuch, Papa Joe Simpson, the world's creepiest father who is not a child molester, had to trot Jessica out one more time for yet another round of Christmas carol massacre. And so we get "Happy Christmas" (because obviously she now thinks she's British), a collection of holiday favorites set to the dying gasps of her career.
.Our brother Troy subjected us to said album (much like the people in that notorious group-think experiment were subjected to increasing bursts of electroshock) this past Thanksgiving, and I can safely say I will not be hurrying over to iTunes to purchase it.
The biggest Christmas sin on this album (besides her porn star version of "Happy Christmas (War is Over" and bringing in sister Ashlee to "sing" with her) was the breathless baby voice she uses for EVERY FREAKING SONG. Two seconds of Madonna's "Santa Baby" is about all any sane person can take of a grown woman infantilizing herself by singing like a two-year-old with a speech impediment. The world did not need an entire album of that kind of mess.
My least favorite (and it was quite the competition) would have to be her version of "Mary Did You Know?" I already discussed the idiocy of this song's lyrics last year, when I chose any and all version of it as one of my least favorites.
(Recap: ["My biggest problem with this song] would be lyrics like this one: 'Mary, did you know that your baby boy is lord of all creation?' "I'm just taking a stab here, but after receiving a prediction from her cousin Elizabeth, a VISIT from an ARCHANGEL, a giant star floating over her head for days on end, three kings visiting her in a freaking stable, and a heavenly choir of cherubim and seraphim singing in the sky shortly after she gave birth, I'm guessing that she does, Captain Obvious.")
But Jessica's version now has the honor of rising above the rest as my most hated version of this song. She sounds like she wants to make out with Mary, and that's just WRONG, people.
TOM: This is where I need to insert a song that HAS to be made: John Mayer doing "This Christmas. It doesn't exist, but it needs to just for the fact that I would love to see Jessica Simpson listening to it at home thinking, "Please let it be this Christmas, John. Waaaaaahhh!" That would be just punishment for this basura!
My next actual pick is an album. Actually, the music on this album isn't so bad—my problem is the name of the album. When it was released, it was probably okay, but now, it could be the scariest Christmas album in history. It is "A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector."
Thanks, Phil, for the Ronettes and Darlene Love! And, is that a gun in your hand? What is up with the weird hair? You want to put the gun in my mouth?
I would love to see the sales figures on iTunes from that one.
TRACY: I've gained a lot more respect for Josh Groban since he poked fun of his own image on Glee and added his vocal stylings to Sarah Silverman's "I'm F---ing Matt Damon." (Hilarious!) So even though I've bashed him pretty much ever year since we started doing this, I decided to give him another try when he popped up on Sirius singing "O, Holy Night." Let the record show that I tried, people.
I think he needs to change the name of his version of the song to "O . . . . Holy . . . . Night." Because he sings … so … slowly … it's a wonder that the lyrics don't start coming out of his mouth backwards. "O Holy Night" is one of my favorite carols ever, but I can't take Josh Groban making it sound like a funeral dirge. Whatever happened to raising me up, Groban? Your "O Holy Night" just makes me want to dress in sackcloth and ashes and go mourn something.
That's all we've got this year! Please feel free to add your un-favorites below. And if you want to check out our Worst Christmas Carols Ever lists of years' past, find 2009 here: http://community.eharlequin.com/content/worst-christmas-carols-ever-2009-edition
2008 here: http://community.eharlequin.com/content/more-worst-christmas-carols-ever-part-2
and a Hall of Shame combining 2007 and 2006 here: http://community.eharlequin.com/content/worst-christmas-carols-ever
- Caridad Piñeiro's blog
- Her Random Scribbling
- Hollyworld! (Holly Jacobs)
- Intrigue Authors
- Jen's Blog (Jennifer Mckenzie)
- Melrose St.
- Michelle Monkou's blog
- No rules. Just write. (Brenda Coulter)
- Queen of the Frozen North (Cathy Pegau)
- Sharron McClellan's Fly Grrrl
- Spinsters and Lunatics (Paula Graves)
- The Bandwagon
- • All Through the Night
- • Force of Nature
- • Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows
- • Magic Hour
- • New News Out of Africa
- • One Train Later
- • Secret Contract
- • Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe
- • The Count of Monte Cristo
- • The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
- • The Last Great Dance on Earth
- • The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.
- • Washington Square