There are some beautiful Advent hymns that make me appreciate exactly what it means that God came down to live among us. And there are some delightful just-for-fun holiday tunes that get stuck in my head and make me smile.
And then there are these songs. As much as try, I just can’t appreciate them.
These five Christmas songs, in no particular order, are sure to get a groan out of me whenever they play on the radio or (heaven forbid) show up in a church worship service.
The Little Drummer Boy: I’m pretty sure this song gets on Christmas albums solely because bands want to show some love to their drummers and give them an epic percussion solo. But if you can sing “par-rum-pa-pum-pum” without feeling like a total idiot, well, I applaud you. Also, the lyrics make absolutely no sense. Maybe there’s some Middle Eastern cultural tidbit I just don’t know about. Maybe the shepherds watching their flocks by night employed a kid playing drums to, I don’t know, keep them awake or scare wolves away or something. Or maybe there was a shepherd who wanted to be just like David when he grew up, only with a drum instead of a harp. But I doubt it.
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town: Let’s put aside my rant about how talking about an omniscient, kind, mythical figure who rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior (but only shows up once a year) sets up a terrible theological foundation for understanding God. But come on, guys. “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake”? This is Twilight-level stalking going on here. Not okay. Also, let’s not tell children that the reason they should be good is to get toys. That is a terrible basis for ethics.
Do You Hear What I Hear?: Yes, yes I do. I hear a really annoying and repetitive song. That is completely logically inconsistent with the actual gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. Like, what’s with the verse about the king telling all of the people to pray for peace? I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. Maybe if we modified it a little. Like this: “Said the king to the people everywhere. ‘Listen to what I say! I’m going to kill your sons, people everywhere. Listen to what I say! A child, a child, send the wise men as my spies. Let us make sure everyone dies! Let us make sure everyone dies!” Catchy, I know.
Santa, Baby: I don’t think I should even have to defend this one. There is nothing even remotely okay about this song. It is creepy on basically all levels possible.
Away in a Manger: First of all, much like our national anthem, there is no good way to pitch this so that a person with a normal vocal range can sing it. (Every time I try, I remember the line from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever that the song “always starts out sounding like a closet full of mice.”) Also, yes, most carols idealize the nativity scene, but this one might be the worst. I mean, come on, “The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.” Gag. And “no crying he makes”? I think Mary would beg to differ. The whole point of the incarnation was that Jesus became human in every way, not that he was a silent adorable little bundle of holy perfection with a pre-fitted halo who never cried or fussed or needed a diaper change.
How about you? Is there a Christmas song or carol that gets on your nerves? Why?