‘Tis the season for gift-giving, avoiding your family and, for our most sacrosanct pop stars, putting out a holiday album in the name of “why the hell not?” Sure, some artists put in enough effort to make something genuinely good—Justin Bieber’s chart-topping Under the Mistletoe is an impressive pop album that, yes, was about Christmas, but also braced fans of My World 2.0’s bubble-gum pop for the more lyrically and sonically mature Believe. But the other 90 percent of these albums are hastily made, filled with cheesy-isn’t-the-half-of-it lyrics like “And we’ll all join hands/ To celebrate the goodness/ That shines inside of everyone.”
So in that spirit, we’ve compiled a list of some of the worst original Christmas songs our dear pop leaders have delivered.
“Christmas Conga,” Cyndi Lauper
Luckily, this horror story disguised as a Christmas song really only lives in the deepest, darkest alleys of the Internet, alongside this “Cooking by the Book” remix with Lil Jon. And there it should stay. With a tawdry Latin beat and a chorus that goes “Bonga, bonga, bonga/ Do the Christmas Conga,” it’s a song that’d sound more at home during the apocalypse than Christmas dinner.
“Do They Know It’s Christmas,” Band Aid
Yes, all its profits went to fighting famine in Ethiopia—but as well as it may have meant, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is really, really bad. It’s sort of like the Christmas-song version of New Year’s Eve—there are entirely too many artists (40, to be exact) contributing lines that are sloppy at best. It’s also pretty tone-deaf and comes off overly preachy with lines like Bono’s: “Well, tonight, thank God it’s them instead of you.”
“My Only Wish (This Year),” Britney Spears
Back in 2000, fresh off Oops! I Did It Again and not long after what was arguably the most important moment of her life, Britney was clearly going for her own “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” And she… didn’t quite succeed.
The entirety of New Kids on the Block’s Merry, Merry Christmas—especially “Funky, Funky Xmas”
Merry, Merry Christmas is proof that, when you’re the year’s indestructible pop force and the majority of your audience hasn’t graduated elementary school, you can do just about anything, and they’ll buy it. This thing is lazy, yet it went double platinum and had a top 10 single with the bathetic “This One’s for the Children.” But the worst here isn’t that track, or even the sappy “I Still Believe in Santa Claus”—it’s “Funky, Funky Xmas,” which has totally uncalled for rapping and, by default, some of the worst lyrics you’ve likely ever heard. Thought I give the Kids props for “it’s snowing outside but we ho-ho-hoing,” because that one at least leaves you wondering.
“Wonderful Christmastime,” Paul McCartney
The only redeemable thing about this song is that Paul McCartney at least seemed to know he had to make the simplest, least experimental pop song in order to write something marketable to folks who just love Christmas music. And he was successful, even though the lyrics seem to be a huge wink. There’s the chorus, of course, and then the line “We’re here tonight/ And that’s enough,” which is Paul’s way of saying, “Just doin’ the bare minimum here.”
“I Guess It’s Christmas Time,” NSYNC
Considering they were still riding off of their immensely successful self-titled debut—which gained the group an army of pre-teen girls clamoring for more—a Christmas album from NSYNC was inevitable. And while Home for Christmas is a lot better than NKOTB’s Merry Merry Christmas, it’s still pretty terrible. Take “I Guess It’s Christmas Time,” which is just about as heedless as its title suggests, the sonic equivalent of a shrug emoticon. This thing oozes with cheese, and even goes there with the line, “Feel the magic in the air/ Christmas is all around.” Wait—I thought that was a joke!