It's roughly two weeks until Christmas and Americans have been subjected to nearly two months' worth of Christmas songs. This recession-style holiday season has been a Clockwork Orange-style assault on the senses, with hapless shoppers, commuters and television viewers bombarded by all things Bing and Blitzen.
Concealed in these carols and jingles, amid subliminal messages to keep shopping until you've poured every dollar of your tax cut back into Mama Economy, are some of the most horrendous holiday verses this side of Sarah Silverman's "Give The Jew Girl Toys." While there were far more examples of holiday sentiment that falls just short of peace on earth and good will toward men, these 10 show just how much of a jerk you can be around the holidays without anyone giving you hell for it. Argue all you want, but you have an uncle out there who flashes a schadenfreude smile every time one of these lines is uttered. Call him on it.
1. "And the Christmas bells that ring there, are the clanging chimes of doom. Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you."
"Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid
Because that's exactly what the holidays need: More passive aggression. While we've come to expect this kind of treatment from Bono in the decades since Bob Geldof got a bunch of Brit rockers out of their cocaine-induced slumber to sing this ode to African starvation, the snarkiness seems less merited since we've gotten older. After all, Paul David Hewson, we're not the ones saying Africa is "where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow" when many of the continent's struggles are based around resources. Ask a villager in Nigeria how he or she is benefiting from the oil that country's exported, or ask homeless residents of Eastern Congo how much the coltan and copper mines are worth when rebels and corporate security forces have destroyed their homes. How about forgiving Africa's debt for Christmas? It beats getting all snarky with us every year.
2. "I really can't stay/Baby, it's cold outside."
"Baby It's Cold Outside," written by Frank Loesser
My sister often translates this verse to "I really can't stay/TAKE OFF YOUR PANTS!" It's clear that the woman in this song has had enough of Johnny ComeOnTooStrong's lame holiday party and is willing to brave a blizzard just to be rid of him. The male lead, meanwhile, seems like the kind of guy who'd dispense with the singing and offer up some Roofie Nog were this exchange taking place in modern times. This crooning tactic might work in an episode of Mad Men, but in a fair world the only warm sensation this low-rent version of Christopher Walken's "Continental" character from Saturday Night Live should feel this holiday season is from the pepper spray boiling his retinas.
3. "But the last time I played Father Christmas, I stood outside a department store/A gang of kids came over and mugged me and knocked my reindeer to the floor." " Father Christmas" by The Kinks
The British like to get really violent in their holiday songs, which makes this only the first beatdown tune on our list. One would expect this from the Davies brothers, who aren't averse to jabbing the occasional kitchen utensil into each other, but few expect a great Christmas song in which Santa is the biggest asshole walking. "Just remember the kids who got nothin' while you're drinkin' down your wine," Ray Davies growls before retelling the story of Santa's mugging and making us all feel like a bunch of overfed dandies in the process. And you thought the bell ringers were aggressive.
4. "All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games."
"Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry
Reindeer are bastards, plain and simple. They mock their nasally illuminated colleague until he does all their work for them and then blow sunshine up his tail only when he's finished. Was being included in a game of "Eat The Tundra" or a crappy Ben Affleck film really worth schlepping fat boy around the globe all night? No. With any luck, Rudolph's red-nosed friend Ted Kennedy will deny Santa's homogeneous little North Pole corporate operation a bailout on grounds of discrimination. Enjoy your new life as a political adviser.
5. "Last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away." "Last Christmas" by Wham!
This song is a direct rebuttal to people who say nobody gets hurt by day-after-Christmas exchanges and sales. Let's just say George Michael's heart was, oh, a 15-piece fondue set. Let's further say that the person he gave it to had blathered on all year about wanting to throw a fondue party where he/she could use the cheddar chipotle fondue recipe they'd seen on the Food Network. George Michael was not only a good friend all year by listening to that terrible story over and over, but thought about that person enough during December to actually do something about it. Now imagine that person exchanged said fondue set for towels. Damn right he's giving it to someone special next year, you selfish prick.
6. "I have no gift to bring (parumpapum-pum), to lay before the king (parumpapum-pum)." "Little Drummer Boy" by the Harry Simeone Chorale
Congratulations, Little Drummer Boy, you're now worse than the "wise" man who brought myrrh to the manger. Not only did you come empty handed, but the racket you're making with that drum is probably going to keep that baby up until the wee hours. That thing Mary said about your playing? She was saying it to be nice. A few seconds earlier, she was all "Oh great, the Little Drummer Boy" to Joseph before sticking two fingers down her throat and making a puking sound. Don't you know who this kid's father is? Good luck playing that drum in the Brimstone Marching Band next to snare drummer Pol Pot and bass drummer Idi Amin, you cheapskate.
7. "I'm so hard to handle, I'm selfish and I'm sad and now I've lost the best baby that I ever had." "River" by Joni Mitchell
If there was a Lehman Brothers Christmas party this year, this track would play on repeat. This somber-assed song is difficult enough to stomach as it is, but Joni's admission that it's her own fault makes it even worse. Just because a certain blonde Canadian songstress couldn't get it together and work things out with a guy she has pretty obvious feelings toward doesn't mean that every party in the Christmas-celebrating world should be brought to a screeching halt by this downer anthem. Somebody introduce her to Dan Fogelberg's male lead from "Same Old Lang Syne" so they don't come crying to us each holiday season.
8. "Trevor liked the music, but not the unity, so he unwound Haji's turban and dropped him to his knees." "Oi To The World" by The Vandals
The second brutal holiday beating on our list comes from a band that only wishes it were British: Southern California's own Vandals. Before ethnic violence gained cachet in post-9/11 America, the Vandals made it into a Christmas carol about an oi band frontman of vague ethnicity who found himself at odds with a local skinhead. The two decide to settle their differences on Christmas morning in a rooftop fight featuring swords and nunchucks. As in most Christmas carols, a resolution is achieved when Haji uses his turban to stop Trevor's bleeding and the two adjourn for drinks. To recap: Racism + Violence + Oi punk + Bourbon = Christmas cheer.
9. "I came to Earth via meteorite, to rock you all on the mic."
"Christmas Rappin'" by Kurtis Blow
In fairness, this 1979 track was hip-hop's first foray into the holiday format. It was also a noble effort by Kurtis Blow, who had to figure out a way to rock a party and tell the story of Santa Claus over a disco beat. Christmas isn't Krush Groove, though, and braggadocio that moves Sprite just sounds kind of silly when you're rhyming about St. Nick. Fortunately, Run DMC would set the template and secure hip-hop's place in Christmas lore nearly 10 years later with their holiday in Hollis.
10. "Fuck Christmas, Fuck Christmas, Fuck Christmas, Fuck Christmas..."
"Fuck Christmas" by Fear
With the exception of one appearance on Saturday Night Live back in 1981, you get the impression that Fear didn't make it up to Rockefeller Center too often. The holiday spirit, however, might have moved them to piss on the tree.
Merry Christmas, everybody!