For every timeless holiday standard, there’s a horribly overplayed single to plague your stocking-stuffer run. We asked nine of our editors to divulge which radio-but-not-ear-friendly holiday jam rips them right out of the Christmas spirit.
“All I want for Christmas is you”
Ugh, where do I start? First, it’s majorly overplayed. Every store I visit while holiday shopping seems to be playing it, almost like it’s following (and haunting) me. And everyone includes it on their holiday playlist. Second, despite my dislike, this song is catchy as hell. If I hear it once, I’m done for the rest of the day – it’ll play on an endless loop in my head — to the point I find myself mindlessly singing it to my dog.—Laura Brown, managing editor
“Baby it’s cold outside”
The lyrics to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” have likely been burned into your brain over so many holidays that you can sing along without a second thought. But give the jaunty holiday song a close listen, and it sounds like a serenade for a date rape.—Sarah Boesveld, senior writer
“The Chipmunk Song”
Released in 1958 (yes, it’s been around that long), The Chipmunk Song is an aggravatingly catchy staple of the modern Christmas canon. Three chipper chipmunks — first created for a novelty record, and later animated for TV and movies — troll shoppers everywhere with a nasally tune begging for Christmas to arrive on time. First it lulls you into listening, then comes the nostalgia-induced headache. If this is the first time you hear it this year, consider it a win.—Heather MacMullin, associate food editor, digital
David Hasselhoff’s version of “The Christmas Song”
It’s a toss-up between that one, or his “Silent Night” in German. But The Christmas Song video circa 2010 was the clincher — he seduces the camera through a soft-focus lens (Hoff-style). Look for the strange appearance of clucking hens and little girls petting kitty cats in the snow — a spectacle of the worst kind.—Soo Kim, food editor
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
White Christmas, white privilege: that’s Band Aid’s earworm in a chestnut shell. But before we roast it over an open fire, let’s first acknowledge all the good it’s brought to the world: the supergroup’s original version, released in 1984, raised millions for anti-famine efforts. And it’s helped countless holiday celebrants think outside themselves at a time of rampant materialism. But even Bono now cringes at the well-meaning tone-deafness of the lyrics (his wailing line, “Tonight thank god it’s them instead of you,” got updated in a Band Aid 30 performance in 2014 to “Well, tonight we’re reaching out and touching youuuuuu” which is still kind of weird, if you ask me).—Sarah Boesveld
“Good King Wenceslas”
I have a few issues with this song. First, the convention of pronouncing “cruel” as “cru-well” and fuel as “fu-well” has always annoyed me — I’m sure there’s a good reason for it, but I don’t enjoy it. The other is more personal: I had a very grouchy piano teacher when I was about seven years old, and this was the song I played at my one (and only) holiday piano recital. I associate it with flat notes and disappointment.—Lianne George, editor-in-chief.
“Jingle Bell Rock”
I spent many of my university years working part-time at a chain coffee shop or in retail, and this song — upbeat and resolutely inoffensive — was (and still is) a favourite on December workplace playlists. That inhumane repetition, coupled with “Rock’s” bland jolliness, make it a fiendishly perfect soundtrack for the hellscape that is the service industry over the holidays.—Gillian Grace, senior managing editor, digital
The whiny lyrics centre around a sappy subject who can’t move on. Come on — it’s been a year since you “gave your heart away” and you’re still moping? And if they came back, you’d really make the same mistake again? The rhymes are uninspired, there’s repulsive repetition, and the way Wham! sings, “I’ll give it to someone special” gives me the goosebumps. It sounds like a cat crying at night: sad and creepy. Every year I hope the song goes away, and yet it comes back. I don’t understand how it’s survived for 32 years.—Diana Duong, assistant editor
I strongly dislike all versions, but particularly Madonna’s, which she recorded for a 1987 charity album. Her sexy-baby voice, a sugar bomb of New York–inflected faux naïveté, triggers mild nausea, like I’ve just read Lolita while mainlining Christmas sweets.—Rachel Heinrichs, features director.
This may expose my leftover anxiety from all those teenage retail jobs, but this non-song was the soundtrack for me icing countless Christmas cupcakes for strung-out shoppers. (Read: Makes me feel a little murder-y.) But even listened to outside of a jam-packed grocery store, this Christmas standard remains objectively terrible: The janky opening ‘pyoo-pyoo’ of the synths and half-hearted lyrics like “The choir of children sing their song / ding, dong, ding dong” are reminiscent of something I once wrote for my elementary school holiday pageant, not a royalty cash cow from Paul McCartney. Like, dude, weren’t you a Beatle? Do better.—Katie Underwood, associate editor