Jingle Bells. Silent Nights. Chestnuts Roasting on Open Fires. Christmastime (i.e. any day after Halloween) is when your radio is filled with these wholesome, spirit-lifting songs about family, faith, and a jolly fat man in a red suit. But appearances can be deceiving. We often forget that Frosty the Snowman dies once March rolls around. Or that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was probably one hate crime away from pulling a Columbine. Many of the world’s best-loved Christmas songs are nothing more than upsetting tales of death, helplessness, and despair. Take off your rose-colored glasses, kiddies, because here is the ugly reality of some of your favorite Christmas songs.
HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS (written by Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane, 1944. Performers include Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and James Taylor)
The original lyrics were written with the opening lines, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/ It may be your last.” Since that sounds like a violent threat, Meet Me in St. Louis star Judy Garland nixed the lyrics from the soundtrack for being too depressing (the girl had instinct, despite a crippling drug problem). So the writers brightened up the song a bit for her, although it’s still anything but a happy tune – the fact that Judy’s young co-star is sobbing throughout the scene where the song is sung won’t exactly warm your heart. And the final verse (“Someday soon we all will be together/ If the fates allow/ Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow”) sums up the song’s harsh message – Let’s enjoy this fleeting holiday while we can, because life is going to start sucking again real soon.
SANTA BABY (written by Joan Javits & Philip Springer, 1953. Performers include Eartha Kitt, Madonna, and Kellie Pickler)
First of all, this is about the sluttiest Christmas song in existence. It’s about a woman flirting with Santa Claus so he’ll give her money and fancy gifts (whether said woman is a stripper is up for interpretation). A young attractive woman trying to sleep with a disgusting old man for money? Sounds like it could have been written by Anna Nicole Smith circa 1994. Madonna’s 1987 version is particularly disturbing, from her Betty Boop-inspired vocalization to hearing her not-so-subtly ask Santa to “come and trim my Christmas tree.” I know that quote is taken out of context, but it just seems so obvious that Madonna is talking about her vagina.
I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS (written by Tommie Connor, 1952. Performers include The Jackson 5, John Mellencamp, and Amy Winehouse)
The premise is that a boy comes downstairs on Christmas Eve to see Santa, but instead finds his mother tongue-kissing the man in red under the mistletoe. And we are led to believe that Santa is actually the boy’s father dressed up in a costume, so it’s all a jolly misunderstanding when the boy goes back to bed under the impression that his mother is a whore. But nowhere in the song does it explicitly say that “Santa” is actually the narrator’s father. It could be anyone, really. A neighbor with a fetish for red satin. An elderly Salvation Army volunteer. Or the real Saint Nicholas (he is real, right?). And so what if it was the boy’s father? Walking in on your parents having sex is an awful enough memory, but seeing them role-playing on your favorite holiday is something that could ruin your Christmas memories forever.
DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS? (written by Bob Geldof & Midge Urie, 1984. Performed by Band Aid, Band Aid II, and Band Aid 20)
Band Aid was put together by musician Bob Geldof as a charity group to raise money for African hunger relief. This depressing little holiday ditty became the anthem for the group, which originally included Bono, Sting, and George Michael. In 1989 Geldof recorded the song again, with Kylie Minogue, Bananarama, and Lisa Stansfield in the new group, Band Aid II. And again in 2004, Band Aid 20 (including Chris Martin, Robbie Williams, and Joss Stone) made the song a hit.
And what’s not to love? Oh right, the fact that the song contains some of the most depressing lyrics in any song, let alone a Christmas song. Band Aid was here to let us know that people were starving to death in Africa, and because we are all enjoying Christmas goose and figgy pudding, we are all to blame. Because Sting and Simon LeBon let us know that in Africa, “the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears.” Thanks, boys. Merry Christmas to you too.
But wait! There’s more! Good ol’ Bono lays the guilt trip on even thicker when he tells all the whities that, “tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” Yes, Bono. Exactly what I was thinking. My making snow angels and sipping cocoa must mean that I’m thankful all the Africans are dying. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is the musical equivalent to those sad puppy commercials with Sarah McLaughlin. There’s nothing holly (nor jolly) about it.
I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (written by Buck Ram, Kim Gannon & Walter Kent, 1943. Performers include Bing Crosby, The Carpenters, and Gloria Estefan).
Like starvation in Africa, this song is rooted in real life misery. Written during World War II (side note, is it just me or is co-writer Buck Ram way too aptly named to not be a porn star?), this song was about a soldier’s hope that the war will end soon enough for him to be home in time for the holidays. Okay, fair enough. Wanting to be with your loved ones is what the holiday is about. It’s hopeful, it’s touching, it’s almost a happy song. But if that was the case, I wouldn’t be talking about it. No, the hope comes crashing down with the last line, “I’ll be home for Christmas/ If only in my dreams.” So after building up all that hope, he knows he won’t make it home for Christmas. Spoiler alert?
PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (written by Charles Brown & Gene Redd, 1960. Performers include The Eagles, Jon Bon Jovi, and Aaron Neville)
Much like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” this song is a depressing realization of spending Christmas alone. This song makes you understand why Christmas is often cited as the time of year where depression and suicides rates go up. When the singer pleads “my baby’s gone/ I have no friends” it hardly fills you with holiday cheer. Even the addition of Cindy Crawford in the video (Santa boner!) doesn’t make the song any less depressing.
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (written by J. Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie, 1934. Performers include The Crystals, Bruce Springsteen, and Mariah Carey)
These five words are utterly terrifying enough to land this song on the list:
“He sees you when you’re sleeping”
BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE (written by Frank Loesser, 1944. Performers include Rod Stewart & Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson & Nora Jones, and Nick Lachey & Jessica Simpson)
This famous winter duet is what I like to refer to as “an ode to date rape.” The premise? A woman is at a man’s home. She wants to leave. He wants to have sex. He uses the weather as an excuse to force himself upon her. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some of the “he said, she said” lyrics:
Woman: Really I’d better scurry.
Man: Baby, it’s bad out there.
Woman: Say, what’s in this drink?
Man: Mind if I move a little closer?
Woman: The answer is no.
Man: Baby don’t hold out.
First, her eggnog has obviously been roofied. And most importantly, I think the phrase “THE ANSWER IS NO” should have been his first clue to back off. But what do I know? Apparently she was just playing hard to get.
Guess no doesn’t mean no after all. At least, not at Christmas.
Article originally published at ezinearticles.com