News and Culture Notebook
2:20 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

The worst Noel? Some Christmas songs are merrier than others

Christmas music is like any other genre of music in that while some of it touches the heart, a few tunes miss the mark.

An informal poll of KETR staff revealed that - unsurprisingly - those Christmas songs cited as "least favorite" are those that have little to do with the religious aspect of the day and more to do with the secular mish-mash of commercial icons that, for better or worse, are now part of the holiday.

Basketball and football play-by-play announcer Charlie Chitwood finds limited humor and even lass value in Elmo and Patsy's 1979 anti-classic, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

"Simply ghastly," Chitwood said.

The voice of the Lions is far from alone on this point. A well-funded 2007 poll of most-loved and most-hated Christmas songs, discussed here by the Washington Post, found that the ballad of a boozy grandmother's accidental demise was near the top of the most-hated list. 

By the way, the poll results' most-hated song? The version of Jingle Bells barked by dogs. Well, I don't know about hating it, but I do suppose it's the sort of thing you don't need to hear more than once. Strangely, the article said that the doggy Jingle Bells was a Danish (!) recording from 1955 (!!) - who knew? It got lots of radio airplay in the U.S. after it was re-released in 1970.

Moving right along...KETR's Delta County and Hopkins County contributor Cindy Roller got a bit too heavy a dose of Elvis Presley's Blue Christmas around the house as a little girl. 

"If you were a young child in growing up in our house having to hear my mom (who is in her 70s now) sing and shake her hips to 'I'll have a blue Christmas without you' it might also warp your likeness for Elvis too," Roller said. "I love my mom, but that LP record with her in her 'fancy' Germanfest T-shirt singing was a bit much. However, I'm sure the same could be said of me now."

KETR Operations Manager Kevin Jefferies likes Eartha Kitt's version of Santa Baby, but cringes when other artists attempt the song. 

"Kitt’s version is spot on and makes a tune I otherwise dislike (on many levels), really, really sexy," Jefferies said. "Much like Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song, there’s never any need for another version of Santa Baby.  Ever."

The 1984 charity anthem Do They Know It’s Christmas? inspires KETR General Manager Jerrod Knight to make the distinction of love the message, but hate the music.

"First, yes, probably (they do know)," Knight said. "The rest of the world doesn’t hide that it’s Christmas very well. Second, if the world needs feeding, why don’t we tackle that any time, all the time? Why wait and hold the campaign music for the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Also, what a terrible song to begin with. And end with. It’s just a terrible song, even if the purpose was good, even if what it stands for is good."

Movie critic Alice Reese laments the earworm quality of Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad.

"Too repetitious!" Reese said. "It gets stuck in my brain and ruins my holiday mood."

And speaking of earworm, my own least-favorite has to be the Beach Boys' Little Saint Nick. With all due respect to Brian Wilson, whose genius as a songwriter doesn't get enough recognition, that song is a sugary mistake. And like many of the Beach Boys' tunes, it can lodge in one's head with all the ferocity and permanence of Mark Twain's "Punch, Brothers, Punch!" couplet.

The poor Beach Boys. They are represented twice on KETR's musical naughty list. Football color announcer Brock Calloway feels his inner Grinch coming on when he hears the Beach Boys' The Man With All The Toys

"The song itself is actually ok, it's the jarring, repeated 'BOP' in the background the steals a piece of my sanity each time they sing it," Calloway said.

Don't worry, KETR listeners, we're not all Scrooges around here. Soon we'll have another post in which staff share their favorite Christmas songs. 

Oh, and by the way - Merry Christmas, Paul McCartney. Your infamously treacly Wonderful Christmastime didn't make anyone's list.