Christmas songs we love to hate

    After fleeing the pharmacy because I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to one more rumpa-pum-pum, I asked my Facebook friends: “What’s your least favorite Christmas song?”

    The first response? “Grandma got Run Over By A Reindeer.”

    Quickly followed by: Any song by Pat Boone.

    A third pal responded with my own particular nemesis: “Little Drummer Boy.” I’ve hated it since I was four.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    After this, the song suggestions came fast and furious. Clearly, I’d touched a nerve.

    For some reason, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time” makes me want to throw myself off a cliff and straight into a forest of the world’s spiniest conifers. Every. Single. Time.
    “There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays.” If I hear that song one more time… ARRGG.
    “Fairytale of New York.” *HATE* it.
    So many shopping hours! So much bad music! But I’m going with Pa-rumpa-pum-pum.
    That terrible Beach Boys song “Merry Christmas Baby.” Loathe!
    Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” UGH.
    For me the worst song is… whichever one I happen to be listening to at the moment.
    That crap cover of “Christmas Wrapping” by the Spice Girls makes me want to rip off an arm to have something to throw at the radio.
    With new technology comes new annoying music. For instance?
    “Text me Merry Christmas.” Perfectly awful.

    But it was the older stuff that most folks griped about:

    “Hark! How The Bells.” A song on just one note. Save me!
    Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time.” Shoot me.
    “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Feh.
    “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” ARRGH.
    “The Little Drummer Boy.” Love the message. Hate the song.
    Do bad Hanukah songs count too? I nominate “I Had A Little Dreidel.” Simple tune, simple lyrics, for simpletons.

    And the suggestions kept rolling in:

    Whoever wrote “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” should be run over by a reindeer.
    “All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth!”
    “Dominick the Donkey?” Without a doubt, the worst Christmas song ever written.
    “I Saw Mom Kissing Santa” will be playing in hell when I get there.
    “The Chipmunks Christmas Song!”
    “Feliz Navidad.” I detest that song.
    James Taylor’s version of “Jingle Bells.”
    If I never hear Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” again, I’d be very happy.
    I am getting really sick of hearing “Last Christmas” by Wham.
    Old school crooners, bands and choruses did Christmas covers best. Anyone born after 1940 needs to find another holiday to sing about.
    “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” What a dreary song for a happy holiday.

    I received 50 responses within an hour. On the basis of that small sampling, the most loathed holiday songs by far are “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”

    But my impromptu song poll also taught me something else. For every person who wants to flee the room screaming when a particular holiday song starts up, there’s another listener whose heart is filled with joy:

    I, for one, love “The Little Drummer Boy.” When I was a kid listening to it, I imagined myself in the role.
    Johnny Mathis signing “Chestnuts” helped sustain me during Christmas in the first Gulf War when everyone knew we were heading into Kuwait and Iraq. That’s a most welcoming song … best done by a crooner instead of a group IMHO.

    Nevertheless, the haters seemed happy for a chance to vent about the seasonal music that drives them nuts. And I’m pleased to know that I’m not alone in my aversion to rumpa pums.

    I’m less thrilled about the fact that we’ve got weeks more of this seasonal soundtrack to endure. From now on, when I shop, I’m taking along my iPod. You can listen to rumpa pum pum. I’ll be enjoying “Happy,” “Instant Karma,” and my own favorite Christmas song, Jonathan Coulton’s “Chiron Beta Prime.”

    Roz Warren is the author of “Our Bodies Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor.”  This essay first appeared on

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal