Part 5 in a 25 Part Series: Maryann's Favorite Christmas Things


Part 5 is a guilty pleasure: Christmas songs that I love to make fun of for being really terrible.  It might be the lyrics, it could be the way it's sung or arranged.  This will barely scrape the top of the Christmas Song trash heap, but these are my top 5:

5) "Christmas Shoes" by Newsong

Now, I know that this song might have loads of personal meaning for people all over America.  I myself have many a Christmas song that makes me tear up.  This is not one of those songs.  The intended sentiment and story is sweet, it's true.  But oh my God, the way this song is written.  It's the Christmas version of "Butterfly Kisses."  First of all, it's narrated.  We're in 'the shoes' (get it?) of the guy standing in line at the store who sees the boy with the shoes.  If that was just the intro and from there the song focused on the story, it might not be so bad.  But no. It all turns out to be a morality lesson for our anonymous shopper given by a modern day Dickensian urchin who literally says, "Daddy says there's not much time, you see, she's been sick for quite awhile."  How does this not sound like a Fagin situation?  A women's footwear-obsessed Fagin who sends children into stores to plead for other people to help buy their "dying mother" a pair of shoes so she can look pretty for Jesus.  Why didn't your 'dad' say, "Hey, your mom might meet Jesus tonight, so let's skip the Christmas shopping so you can be here with her."  If this comes on the radio, you can bet I'm switching to another station.  Sorry, Delilah.

4) "Mistletoe and Wine" by Sir Cliff Richard

No description I could write would roast this song as well as its own video.  Watch it.  It's a time for giving, a time for getting, a time for forgiving and for forgetting.

3) "Jesus Oh What A Wonderful Child" by Mariah Carey

By all counts this is a fun, powerful gospel song.  And Mariah Carey has a very good voice.  But the arrangement that Mariah uses with the gospel choir takes the name 'Jesus' heights.  To my count, "Jesus" is sung at least 119 times in this version.  It's said so often it starts to breach the Third Commandment.  But that's not all.  Mariah decides she wants to sing the name Jesus in as many variations as she can create: "JEEEEsus, JEESUUUUUUUUS, JE-JE-JE-JE-JE-JE-JE-OOOH JESUS, JESUAHS, JESUAHS, OOOH JESUAAAAHS..."  Even in high school when I was at the farthest end of my Christian faith spectrum, the self-righteous/fundamentalist/Bible-thumping/Attempt-To-Measure-How-Much-God-Loves-You-And-Then-Try-To-Loathe-Yourself-That-Same-Amount end, this was my response to hearing this song:

2) "The Cat Carol" by Meryn Cadell

In 2000 my parents bought a CD called Christmas Songs in order to own the Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."  We ended up liking many of the other songs, like Dido's "Christmas Day" and "Gaudete" by Mediaeval Baebes.  However, there was one song that when we listened to it, we decided would never be played again.  The tune isn't bad to listen to.  But once you hear the lyrics, you can never un-hear them:

The cat wanted in to the warm, warm house
but no one would let the cat in.
It was cold outside on Christmas Eve,
she meowed and meowed by the door.
The cat was not let in to the warm, warm house,
and her tiny cries were ignored.
'Twas a blizzard now, the worst of the year,
there was no place for her to hide.
Just then a poor little mouse crept by,
he had lost his way in the snow.
He was on his last legs and was almost froze,
the cat lifted him with her paw.
She said, "Poor mouse do not be afraid,
because this is Christmas Eve.
On this freezing night we both need a friend,
I won't hurt you--stay by my side."
She dug a small hole in an icy drift,
this is where they would spend the night.
She curled herself 'round her helpless friend,
protecting him from the cold.
When Santa came by near the end of the night,
the reindeer started to cry.
They found the cat lying there in the snow,
and they could see that she had died.
They lifted her up from the frozen ground,
and placed her into the sleigh.
It was then they saw the little mouse wrapped up,
she had kept him warm in her fur.
"Oh, thank you Santa for finding us!
Dear cat, wake up we are saved!"
..."I'm sorry, mouse, but your friend has died,
there's nothing more we can do.
On Christmas Eve she gave you her life,
the greatest gift of them all."
Santa lifted her up into the night sky,
and laid her to rest among the stars.
"Dear mouse, don't cry you are not alone,
you will see your friend every year.
Each Christmas a Cat Constellation will shine,
to remind us that her love's still here."

Now, I love a good Cat-As-Messiah metaphor as much as the next person, BUT SON OF A BITCH.  Why does this song exist?  Was it commissioned by PETA?  Can reindeer even cry?  Who writes "There's nothing more we can do" as a song lyric?  Apparently it was the #1 requested song by Q107 rock radio in Toronto the year it was released.  Remind me to never go to Toronto.

1) "Jingle Bells" by James Taylor

This song had to be #1 because of how painful it is for me to acknowledge that James Taylor wrote a song that I can't stand.  I hold him in such high regard, and this falls so, so short of his potential.  The weird bluesy vibe is just...horrible.  And to top it off, it's sung by a folk singer, not a blues singer.  If I was on a desert island and the only song I could take with me was "Jingle Bells", and I had to decide between this and Barbra's cracked-out version, I would immediately pick Bab's.  James' is just so...wrong.  So, so wrong.  I love you, James.  But please, no more bluesy versions of non-Blues songs.  Please.

Honorable Mention: "Christmas in the Northwest" by Brenda White.  It's beyond ridiculous, but it didn't make it on the list because I secretly like it.


Linda said...

I sat down with "The Christmas Kitten" storybook at the library yesterday. Damn you. Why is it that so many Christmas themed stories tie in with a death or a tragic loss? And now all these songs about dying mothers and freezing homeless kitties?

So I send you this heart warming video from John Denver, to help lighten up the mood.

Maryann said...

I'm sorry Linda! I forgot that Christmas Kitten had a death in it. My apologies! But we should really be blaming James Herriott and Bruce Evans who wrote the carol! :) And I love Alfie the Christmas tree! So precious.

Linda said...

I have that John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album if you would like me to burn you a copy. Just let me know?

Dan just had me watch this Christmas tv special that he remembered fondly from childhood. It was called "Twas the Night before Christmas" and it was so odd. It's this cartoon where Santa Claus angrily sends back everyone's letters unopened because he's pissed about a letter that was printed in the local paper. It turns out this little mouse (the mice are like people in this story) wrote a letter saying that Santa and his reindeer aren't real. So the mouse father takes his mouse son around town and shows him crying orphans and sobbing sick children to show him how he has "ruined Christmas for a lot of people." And then the town clock maker tries to save the holiday by making this musical Christmas clock, and the little mouse boy goes and ruins that too. But at the last minute on Christmas Eve, he feels bad and he runs out and fixes the clock, so that Santa Claus will hear the happy Christmas song and not skip the town as he flies by. It's very strange. It's like a vengeful, Old Testament kind of Santa Claus story. If you make an entry about bad Christmas specials, I nominate it "For Your Consideration."

I was going to write a blog of my own lampooning it, but Dan really has a genuine childhood affection for it and didn't seem to appreciate my making jokes about it.

Maryann said...

I have the John Denver + Muppets album! But I appreciate you offering to burn it for me!

As for the special, that sounds convoluted and terrible. Though I have my own favorite things from childhood that to other people are ghastly, so I get where Dan is coming from. I will put it in my Youtube queue! The animation at least looks nice...? :)

jonathan edmund said...

I love this list! Ahhh what horrid songs!! But I totally forgot about that Dido Christmas song - I must have used to have the mp3 because as soon as I played it in Spotify, I realied I knew it and loved it! Yay! Thank you!!

OurSoundHome said...

You are awesome. Such a great and terrible list :)

Kristen said...

At first glance I missed this list's "songs I like to make fun of" qualifier, and I thought we were going to need a Come to Jesus moment regarding Christmas Shoes' presence on one of your top five lists.

Kristen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maryann said...

Thanks, everyone! And Kristen, that would have been a welcome Come to Jesus chastization.

OurSoundHome said...

P.S. Kyle and I actually listened to the cat song this week together. WTF?! That song is messed up. Kyle said the first verse actually sounded kind of nice - until it des! And the reindeer tears!

Despite my shock I am so glad you shared ;)

Maryann said...

It's just so overly sad! Why would you ever write a song like that? REINDEER TEARS?