It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas. Along with the return of beloved holiday songs like White Christmas and Jingle Bell Rock, there’s the inevitable return of festive clunkers that should never have been recorded in the first place. Here’s seven of the worst offenders.
- John Denver: Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas)
- Jose Feliciano: Feliz Navidad
- Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Christmas Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)
- Bruce Springsteen: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
- Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmastime
- Wham!: Last Christmas
John Denver: Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas)
The late folk-pop singer John Denver reveals too much in this downbeat holiday ditty. Denver folded the song into his 1975 holiday album Rocky Mountain Christmas, right alongside his cheery covers of Silver Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Beyond the mournful lyrics (“You came home a quarter past eleven/Fell down underneath our Christmas tree”), Denver performs the song as though it were a funeral dirge.
Jose Feliciano: Feliz Navidad
Royalties from this irritating song will put Jose Feliciano’s great, great grandchildren through college. Released by the Puerto Rican singer in 1970, Feliz Navidad is traditionally deployed by radio stations to ease into holiday airplay (possibly because most listeners have no idea what it means). Nothing particularly offensive with the song’s message or lyrics; it’s just that Feliciano’s nasal delivery is so chipper, like a resort waiter looking for a tip. It’s also the only holiday song covered by both David Hasselhoff and Dora the Explorer.
Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Be wary of rock stars bearing charitable gifts. This song was penned by peripheral pop figures Bob Geldof and Midge Ure during the 1984 holiday season to raise money for famine victims in Ethiopia. The song enjoyed huge sales around the world and raised more than a hundred-million pounds toward famine relief, but the accompanying music video only enforced the snooty caste system of U.K. pop music. More than 50 pop stars took part in the singalong, but inordinate screen time went to A-listers like Bono, George Michael, Sting, Boy George and Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon. Everyone else was background scenery.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Christmas Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)
Curse you, Ross Badgasarian Sr. The Armenian-American music producer and entrepreneur performed and released this novelty single in late 1958 and the song went on to top North American music charts and, incredibly, win three Grammy Awards. Next came the animated kids series, the merchandising and, more recently, the freakishly successful film franchise (Alvin and the Chipmunks 4 is due for release next year). Nothing wrong with a touch of cute during the holiday season, but repeated playings of this song will raise your blood sugar to dangerous levels.
Bruce Springsteen: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Don’t you hate it when an artist you admire and respect does something painfully uncool? Springsteen performed this song at a Long Island gig back in 1975 and sanctioned its release as a promo single a few years later. Since most rock icons rarely deign to perform holiday music, rock stations have seized upon the song and play it incessantly this time of year. Most unforgivably, The Boss’s sanctioning of the song somehow made it alright for Justin Bieber to release his own version last year.
Paul McCartney: Wonderful Christmastime
From the late, great John Lennon, we got the soulful, moving Happy Xmas (War is Over); from his former Beatle bandmate, we got this synthesizer confection that apparently still earns Sir Paul a boatload of money each holiday season. Weirdly, McCartney recorded the song as a solo effort but filmed the music video with the members of his post-Beatles band Wings. A few weeks after the song’s holiday chart success in 1979, McCartney was busted at a Japanese airport for having eight ounces of marijuana in his luggage and served 10 days in jail.
Wham!: Last Christmas
Holiday music doesn’t get much cheesier than this 1984 song released by the British pop duo known as Wham! The video depicts George Michael and his musical partner Andrew Ridgeley heading out for a sexy ski-chalet weekend with some generic model-types. It’s immediately apparent that Ridgeley’s lady friend was the former squeeze of Michael, who stares at her longingly across the dinner table. Snowball fights ensue, everyone changes Benetton outfits repeatedly and Michael’s bouffant hairstyle remains intact at all times.