My Least Favorite Christmas Songs Ever

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.

Plus, I'm 99% sure it was not a snare drum. Nor was there snow on the ground. Or adorable baby forest creatures.

Plus, I’m 99% sure it was not a snare drum. Nor was there snow on the ground. Or adorable baby forest creatures.

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.

This kind of "Santa Baby"...totally acceptable. Not what I'm talking about here.

This kind of “Santa Baby”…totally acceptable. Not what I’m talking about here.

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?


  1. Totally agree with The Little Drummer Boy and Do You Hear What I Hear? You rewrite is amazing! 🙂 I have heard some versions that I can stand, but other times I skip these on CDs. Guess we should skip these during our Christmas Eve sing along huh?! 😉

  2. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. The very next day, you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to someone special.”

    We have 2 possible scenarios here:
    1. Last year, you gave your heart to someone that you knew was not special.
    2. You learned nothing last year and still think that if someone seems special at first, they will never hurt you.
    Either way, you’re an idiot. Your repetitive singing and stupidity make me want to bang my head against a wall and/or throw up.

  3. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” If you’re looking for ridiculously long and repetitive, I’ve found a song for you.
    Also “Last Christmas” (for much the same reasons as Kristina. I mean, does she never learn?!) and “Santa Baby.” Both are awful.
    And I’ve never really liked “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” either.

    1. Bahaha. Laura, the only reason I like “The 12 Days of Christmas” is because my extended family sings it every year, one person to a day, and we all do strange things to make it interesting.

  4. Seriously, no one’s mentioned Feliz Navidad?? Aside from really dumbed-down lyrics, I don’t have a huge problem with the song itself. Just the fact that everyone plays the SAME cover all the time and no one tries to remake it. The same annoying cover that gets stuck in your head worse than gum on your shoe.

  5. I regret to say i “mildly like enough to perform” to “die-hard love” every song you listed.
    But hey, to each their own Christmas carols.
    Here are my despised songs people dare to call Christmas songs.
    The Muppet’s 12 days of Christmas. I despise muppets.
    Grandma got run over by a reindeer is possibly the dumbest Christmas song I’ve ever heard the beginning of and and screamed for someone to change the station.
    Blue Christmas. What is the idea of depressing Christmas songs?! You’d think ELVIS could at least write a catchy one!
    All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth. A terrible attempt at beating Alvin and the Chipmunks’ classic Christmas song.

    1. Yep, to each their own! I actually love the Muppets. That said, I agree with the other choices you made. My Grandma hates “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” for obvious reasons.

  6. Oh my word – yes to The Little Drummer Boy! People will tell me that’s one of their favorite Christmas songs and I don’t know how to react since it pretty much can ruin my day ;).

    The Christmas Shoes song also gets my vote. Most depressing song ever written!

  7. how on earth has no one mentioned that stupid chipmunk song??? it makes me want to hit something every time i hear it! and the christmas song about chestnuts on an open fire. and i agree with the christmas shoes. it’s depressing and so saccharine that it could be it’s own brand of sugar substitute

  8. Nope. I gotta stand up for Muppets’ 12 Days of Christmas. It’s the only version that’s worth listening to, because it’s a silly song already. Why not make that the point?

  9. Right with you on the Little Drummer Boy. It’s been overdone in my opinion.
    I’d also like to add “Mary Did You Know?”. While it is a nice song and points to all that Jesus would become, if you look at what Mary was told, she actually did know most of those things the song brings up. Check out what Simeon tells her in Luke 2:33-35.
    Yes she didn’t completely get it while everything was happening (Mark 3:31ff) but the Bible scholar in me wants to yell “YES!” after every question in that song. The introvert in me stifles that urge though.

  10. OK, OK, I agree with you on most of these ‘Christmas’ ditties, even the lyrics of ‘Away in a Manger’, but you’ve gotta give me a little space on that one, because I’ve always enjoyed playing the music, both by William J. Kirkpatrick and James R. Murray, on the oboe, and now on the flute. So, is it alright if I keep my tradition of playing ‘Away in a Manger’ at Christmas time? (I’ll try to avoid the other nonsense to nerve racking ones.)

    1. Totally acceptable, Grandpa. To be honest, there’s a simplicity to “Away in the Manger” that I appreciate, especially when kids sing it. Despite a few over-the-top-sweet lines.

  11. Another hated Christmas song that tops my list is “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Was Mommy having an affair? The child obviously thinks so. There is nothing remotely “cute” about this song, from the lyrics to the fake adult-singing-like-a-child soloist. I don’t care which rendition it is. They are ALL horrible! shiver…

  12. One last song, and I promise (I’ll try) to leave you alone and go to bed! “There’s a Song in the Air” Oh my goodness. No one in the history of the world can sing that song in tune. “There’s a song in the air, there’s a star in the SKY!” Screech, warble, shriek! Oh, it’s just like fingernails on a chalkboard! But at least the Baby does cry in this song, unlike another carol already mentioned. And the line: “And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,” Just terrible. We’re all going to be burned to death by the star, and the only people who are allowed to sing are the beautiful ones–guess you won’t be hearing from me. What a DREADFUL song! 🙂 And don’t even get me started on “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” (Turn the computer off and just walk away, Robin, or you’ll be here all night….)

  13. Thank you, Robin! I can’t believe that song appeared so far down the list! It used to properly disturb me for obvious reasons. And Amy, I must say I am so grateful for the analysis on “Away in a Manger” – just recently, for those very reasons, it has begun to bother me enough that I feel we should exclude it from all church worship and confine it to where it is appropriate, children’s Christmas plays, where the sentiment is acceptable and endearing.

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