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Christmas Carols: Treasures and Travesties

Troy Mathew | Thursday, December 2, 2010

While driving to school after Thanksgiving break, my friend and I noticed a decidedly happier car atmosphere. Was the plethora of baked goods I had crammed into my backpack responsible? Partly, yes. However, it was the constant stream of holiday cheer pumping out of the car speakers that sent us into a caroling frenzy. During this drive of four-plus hours, I heard nearly every Christmas carol, ranging from the fantastic to the immediate-scan worthy. This diverse array of songs led me to craft a list: the songs that are Christmas favorites, and the ones that will surely induce holiday displeasure.  


The Worst:


“The Christmas Shoes,” NewSong (2001)

This melodramatic tune tells the utterly ridiculous story of a boy who wants to buy shoes for his near-death mother. Because if there’s one thing a dying person needs, it’s a new pair of shoes (obviously). This is like a Lifetime movie set to music.


“Grown Up Christmas List,” Amy Grant (2002)

A favorite amongst middle-aged women, this song describes the outrageously sappy desires of Amy Grant. This list includes world peace, relief for a world in need and every other cliché you can think of. Headlining my very own grown up Christmas list is more FlexPoints and a worldwide radio ban on this song.


“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” Jackson 5 (1970)

As the name suggests, this incredibly annoying carol is told from a child’s point of view, as he stumbles upon his adulterous mother under the mistletoe with a shameless Santa Claus. Strange narration from a young Michael Jackson adds to the song’s unsettling nature.


The Best:


“All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey (1994)

Bells, lively background singers and a wailing Mariah Carey — everything about this holiday gem is perfect.


“Winter Wonderland,” Dean Martin

Classic and simple, this song deserves a place on any holiday playlist. Unfortunate covers by Selena Gomez and Jason Mraz only highlight this version’s jazzy brilliance.


“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” David Bowie and Bing Crosby (1982)

Bowie and Crosby’s harmonious classic provides a dose of Christmas sentiment without overdoing it (take note, Amy Grant).


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Troy Mathew at [email protected]