Let’s kick this list off with a song that most of us are all pretty familiar with. Look I know somehow this one has soaked into our collective consciousness as a classic Christmas tune, but let’s take a moment to really examine this utter absurdity of a song. Don’t let the cheerful and upbeat tune distract you from the pretty dark and depressing lyrics. I mean, his grandmother died in the end, how is that something fun to sing about?
This odd country holiday anthem is aimed at all those out there who choose to leave “cold beer and pickled eggs” for the jolly man brining gifts instead of the classic milk and cookies. Ok, so this was originally intended as a gag song by writer Jeff Foxworthy, but that didn’t stop people from taking it seriously, seeing as it appeared on the Top 40 country charts every Christmas season from its launch in 1996 until 2001.
This next song is the oldest Christmas oddity to make the list. First written and released in the early 1940s, well-known satirist Spike Jones pulled the track out of obscurity, added bells, whistles and a few sound effects here and there to make it what it is today. The catchy, yet distinctively off-beat song has been covered by some of music’s great like Nat King Cole and, to add yet another layer of loopy, a duet between Michael Bublé and Sesame Street’s Elmo.
When Rudolph’s out sick, things seem to fall apart, as was clearly laid out in this strange country Christmas ditty. Perhaps the most shudder-inducing lines describe Rudolph’s rebellious pickup truck-driving cousin Leroy influencing Mr. Claus to drape his sack of toys with the Confederate Flag. Not exactly the kind of Christmas most of us had in mind, let’s hope Rudolph gets well soon.
Seeing as Grease was such a great hit, you would think that reuniting the two stars with one of the film’s songwriters would be a sure-fire way to success right? Wrong. In 2012, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John teamed up with You’re The One That I Want composer John Farrar for a holiday tune that would make even the most die-hard Grease fans cringe. Although the song is awful in its own right, the music video pushes it just the little bit over the edge, featuring the two stars driving around in a Grease Lightning-esque car and handing out presents all dressed in outfits reminiscent of the movie’s final scene.
Because Christmas and unicorns are a match made in heaven. Who needs Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé when you have indie staple Sufjan Stevens to give you his take on the holiday season? This song has got it all: religion, consumerism, mistletoe and of course, unicorns. Don’t get fooled into thinking that this is a light-hearted track about magical horses, it actually paints a much darker and more negative picture of the once jolly holiday. This one is for all you angsty-types out there.
Now, if the last song got you down, maybe this one can pick you up again…just a little. Although there is a slightly more optimistic chord to this song, the overall feeling is one of sadness and a distinct lack of hope and light for the usually very happy month of December. The Christmas season is meant to be one of happiness and joy, not a time that we’re all just hoping to get over with.