Recently some part of Yahoo! posted a list of what they (whoever "they" are in this case) consider the 5 Worst Christmas Songs Ever. And although I didn't see it originally, I heard about it, and... well, that's why I have this post.
Their quintet of what they considered worst were:
5. Everclear's cover of "Santa Baby"
4. The Jackson 5's take on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
3. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" (which they attribute to Dr. Elmo)
2. Donny Osmond taking on "Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas"
1. "Domenic the Donkey"
I don't believe I need to explain why this list sucks, but let's delve into it a bit.
So, we have three covers and two novelty songs. The list maker is not alleging that the covered songs are bad; it's suggesting the versions that are bad (even though, with the exception of Donny, they're not bad), and thus the title of the post is inaccurate. And putting novelty songs on the list is inapplicable; something has to try to be good and fail in order to be on any "worst" list.
Focusing on #3 in particular (because I remember it too well): To consider "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" to be one of the "worst" Christmas songs is to completely miss the point of the novelty tune. It's a quasi-satirical take on conventional Christmas songs, not an actual earnest song attempting to celebrate the holiday. It's an intentionally bad song, and thus it cannot be criticized for being bad; to put it on a list of "worst" Christmas songs is even more ridiculous than the song itself is.
I don't care for it, but that doesn't change what it is.
To put it on a list of worst Christmas-themed novelty songs would be appropriate. To put it on a list of songs that should have faded into obscurity: absolutely. To put it on a list of songs that never should have spawned an animated holiday special: oh, for crying out loud, yes. But on a list with Christmas songs lacking any irony whatsoever: no.
And the worst part of its inclusion on a worst list is how that implicitly legitimizes it in a manner that cannot be justified.
Moreover, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" is not a song to be deconstructed. Yes, it's maudlin to consider the demise of an elderly woman but for that to come at the hooves of Santa's team of flying quadrupeds clearly pushes the song into such absurdity that there's no emotionally identifying with the characters in the track.
However (you had to see this coming), if one must analyze the lyrics at all, that Grandma dies falls well behind the fact that the narrator and his family allow a drunken old woman to go out alone into the cold. There wasn't a single able-bodied grandchild in attendance to run the errand for her, or at least accompany her and keep an eye out for low-flying reindeer?
And let's be realistic about the accident: Doesn't it seem more likely a sled weighed down with presents would be the actual "murder weapon"? Seems more like Ol' Saint Nick is trying to make one of the reindeer the fall guy. Which should be hard to do for a creature that can defy gravity.
So it could also make a list of songs with titles that place the blame in the wrong place.
Any list of worst Christmas songs that does not take into consideration Fear's 1982 punk single "F*** Christmas" is incomplete.
I'm sure Lee Ving would be disappointed were they not on such a list. Almost seems like that's what they were going for when they wrote it.
Besides, everyone knows that Paul McCartney's "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" should be atop that list. Duh.