Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
Judging Christmas songs can be difficult. You must use an entirely different metric than you would when judging an ordinary song. Now, there are many songs that actually don't have much to do with the birth of Christ that I can enjoy. The one about Snoopy and the Red Baron. I'll sing along to that any day in December. The Grinch? I've never once turned it off.
So I'm just telling you that I'm not that guy who rages against the radio if the Christmas song doesn't have the word "manger" in it. But there are some Christmas songs that are just the opposite of Christmas songs which are for some reasons beyond my comprehension played incessantly in December between "O Holy Night" and "Little Drummer Boy." These aren't just songs that don't have anything to do with Christmas. These are songs that are sadder and crueler than your typical Ultimate Fighting Championship undercard and have no place being even remotely associated with the birth of Christ.
1) Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg - This song about an aging rock star who's out roaming around a grocery store aisle at some odd hour (probably looking for booze) and happens upon an old girlfriend (also probably looking for booze.)
When she recognizes him, she drops her purse causing them to laugh until they cried which probably means they're both drunk as heck already. So what do they decide to do? They hop into a car, drive around and can't find an open bar and decide just to sit in the car and drink themselves happy and maybe forget how miserable they both are.
They toast to their innocence which is kind of ironic as they're sitting in a car drinking and likely contemplating adultery and they soon realize that they're so drunk they can't figure out what to say to each other so she starts kvetching about her marriage and he says how much he hates touring because you know the life of a rock star is just sooooooooo unbearable.
And you just know that all the great Christmas songs are really about rock stars complaining in the frozen foods aisle.
Anyway, after all the beers are gone he allows this past flame who just drank her face off and is so completely emotionally unstable that she was laughing and crying over spilling her purse to hop into her car and drive away probably run someone over.
Nothing says Christmas like a drunken hit and run.
If that's what Dan Fogelberg does to those he loves, I'd have to imagine he amuses himself sucker punching pedestrians Grand Theft Auto style on other holidays. Word has it there's a great Labor Day song where he strangled a union member just to watch him die.
2) Baby It's Cold Outside - I had the most surreal experience last weekend. I was with my kids at the mall and Santa Claus comes walking by, presumably on break, singing to himself "Baby It's Cold Outside."
I have zero clue how this song worked its way into Christmas airplay. There's no mention of the baby Jesus. No baby at all, except maybe nine months after the song. This is the furthest thing from a Christmas song.
It's a song about a dude attempting to convince a girl into making some very shortsighted decisions. At least Dan Fogelberg had the decency not to pounce when he got his lady friend all liquored up. This song is a duet about a girl who keeps insisting she must go home while the guy uses every excuse to keep her there saying that it's cold outside. He could just be a gentleman and go turn her car on and warm it up. Or call her a cab. But no.
I mean, this song is about one step short of the guy slipping a roofie into her drink and her waking up three days later shackled up to her bathtub faucet. Actually, isn't this exactly what we were warned about in Humanae Vitae?
3) Feed the world - You might remember the European rock stars got together for an orgy of self righteousness and hairspray that couldn't be outdone even by Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones a few months later. Let's face it, as soon as Bono and Bob Geldof got into the same room they had America beat. Those guys are just sunglasses, greasy hair, and more self righteousness than an episode of The View. But with more hairspray.
This song is so bad that even its creator Bob Geldof has called it the worst song ever. It's like Dr. Frankenstein forsaking his monstrous creation only to have it keep returning to torture him.
Besides being the worst song ever...it's not just very Christmasy. At all.
The song kicks off urging us to "say a prayer, pray for the other ones." Nice, right? Good start. But sadly, it seems the barbiturates kicked in shortly into the writing process because the song goes wildly off the rails shortly after.
It continues, "There's a world outside your window, and it's a world of dread and fear where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears. And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom."
Wait, what? Not many Christmas songs mention the Christmas bells of doom? When were they invented? One would have to imagine they sound something like Boy George, right?
But then comes the real kicker. The one that seals it for me. After painting the worst possible scenario of the world outside, Bono crows meaningfully, "Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you."
I mean, rock stars are assumed dumb, right? These lyrics are so dumb I don't think a one of them could stand trial for any crimes they commit. I'm no theologian but that doesn't seem something we should be thanking God for. "Hey, at least I'm not him."
The thing is - this is not Euro-rock stars just mailing it in. This is more horrendous because they think it's an important thing they're doing. You can tell because some of them appear to have not teased their hair - that means they're serious.
The lyrics continue with "And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime. The greatest gift they'll get this year is life. Where nothing ever grows. No rain or rivers flow. Do they know it's Christmastime at all?"
Wait, Africa can't grow anything? Anything? Nothing at all? No rain or rivers flow? Wait, are they singing about Mars? Wait, scratch that, I think they actually found water on Mars. It's like the only thing they've ever seen of Africa was a Sally Struthers commercial.
And then you get the refrain of "Do they know it's Christmas time at all?"
How seriously dumb do they think people in Africa are? Because it's not snowing Africans don't know it's Christmas? What?! Yes, Africa needs Boy George to remind them when Christmas is every year. Come on, were these lyrics a first draft?
But hey, all that self righteousness served a good cause, right? Yeah, it at least partially funded arms for <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259061/Sorry-Bob-Geldof-Band-Aid-millions-DID-pay-guns.html">warlord rebels</a>. Yay. That's nice to know that your favorite Christmas song funded African warlords. Because nothing says Christmas like armed warlords.
(Thanks to Joe G. and Casey for the idea)