Modern Christmas has become a confusing mashup of pagan tradition and hedonistic consumerism masquerading as a Christian festival*, so it should come as no surprise that some Christmas music is, at best, “problematical”.
With your indulgence I hereby make the case that, if you want your children to grow up well-adjusted, and without any strange ideas about free will, authority, consent or basic geography, then you won’t let them listen to any Christmas music. At all. Ever.
Exhibit A) Once in Royal David’s City
Four “lowly”s in six verses are indicative of the Victorian obsession with class, but verse three is where it really goes awry:
And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly mother
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all should be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
Leaving aside the fact that it wasn’t mild obedience that got Jesus tortured and publicly executed by the political elite, let’s take a moment to consider the legacy of centuries of encouraging children to unthinkingly acquiesce to authority within the institution of the Church.
Exhibit B) Baby it’s cold outside
When you absolutely positively have to normalise rape culture in a specifically yuletide fashion, accept no substitute. This song makes “Blurred Lines” look like a thoughtful paean to consent in healthy relationships.
If you get as far as the line “Say what’s in this drink?” and still think he’s just being hospitable, you belong to the Bill Cosby school of seduction technique and you are excused from DJing the Christmas party.
Exhibit C) I Saw Three Ships
Bethlehem is 2,500ft above sea level and 20 miles from any large body of water. You didn’t see three ships. You’re up a mountain. This is the kind of bullshit whitewashing that occurs when Europeans (from the similarly landlocked county of Derbyshire, in this instance) appropriate a Middle-Eastern religion and twist its symbols and mythology in support of an authoritarian system of imperialist government with little regard for basic geography.
Exhibit D) Santa Baby
In religious Christmas music, you get to dismiss all the bits you don’t like by saying “it’s allegorical”. In secular music, there’s less flexibility to sidestep the appalling implications of what is being said.
Exhibit E) Little Donkey
This school nativity staple is a disaster of woolly logic that would be a triumph of style over substance if it weren’t also a shitty song about a donkey. In verse one, we’re on a road and Bethlehem’s in sight. Why, then, are we later following a star? This is like when you’re too busy looking at the GPS to notice you just drove past the inn. If Joseph had just stopped and asked for directions instead of relying on celestial navigation, they might have arrived in time to get a room. Also, if there’s a star, why are the “wise” men “waiting for a sign to bring them here”? Maybe they’re still trying to sail their ships up a mountain?
If they weren’t so busy being mild and obedient, even the kids would point out this is utter bullshit.
Exhibit F) Santa Claus is Coming to Town
If you’re ever wondering how Christmas tipped over the edge from “bastardised religious festival” into “pagan cult of consumer electronics” then look no further than this song about the vengeful Catholic Santa of the Old Testament, embodied with powers of omnipresence (“he sees you when you’re sleeping”), omniscience (“he knows if you’ve been bad or good”) and a sinister hint at omnipotence (“so be good for goodness sake”).
In this song, the fourth member of the Trinity is a third-Century Turkish bishop who sneaks into your house to punish or reward children so impatient to experience supernatural judgement that eternal damnation is just too damn far off. Of all the bullshit with which we coerce our children, this is the absolute worst.
Exhibit G) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Top marks to this carol’s anonymous 16th century authors for getting Satan into the first verse of an otherwise jolly song about rest, merriment, comfort, joy, and a winged serpent who tricks humans into doing wrong so he can torture them in perpetuity.
Exhibit H) It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
A pair of hop-along boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben,
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen,
Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.
Repeat after me: they’re not stereotypes. They’re examples. Extremely stereotypical examples.
Exhibit I) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph looks different so he is subjected to bullying in the workplace until he redeems himself by undertaking additional work in a hazardous environment. If you’re not reading this normalisation of out-group hostility as an allegory for white supremacy, you’re part of the problem.
See also http://www.vulture.com/2016/12/rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeers-gay-subtext.html
Exhibit J) Away in a Manger
You don’t have to be a hardline disciple of attachment parenting to realise that a feeding trough in a stable filled with semi-domesticated animals is not a place to put a newborn baby, especially in the middle of winter. This is a time for bonding, skin-to-skin contact, and the safe regulation of body temperature. The baby-safety-industrial-complex has worked hard to sell us the idea that babies need cribs, but if there was ever a time for co-sleeping, it’s when you’re sharing your hotel room with livestock.
If you’ve nothing on your 12-25-16 agenda, come, come dine on burgers and beer with me.
And cementing MY rep as a churlish curmudgeon, I’m thinking they’re “Hopalong” boots in homage to Bill Boyd.
Yes, I’m THAT old.
As much as I enjoyed and appreciate your entertaining and easy-to-read writing style, let’s be honest: picking bad Christmas music is like shooting fish in a barrel. I’m sure you could have kept writing for days.
This is great… I have to stay the one Christmas song that truly bothers me is “Do they know it’s Christmas”… So many things in that one song that are just incredibly irritating.
It gave me my laugh for the day. “Santa Baby” irks me to no end. Way to use Santa as a sugar daddy, lady.
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Christmas sentiments come from the time when most people were ignorant of geography and exactitude, which do not bind the essential Christian message. As sung today, they do not represent paganism, hedonism or the exactitude of geographical and climatic markers. They only signify emotions through inexactitude and uphold tradition. Let your hair down and enjoy Christmas!
mmm. Too True. And I dislike Good King Wenceslas..I always wonder why I’m singing about Stephen. And as far as I know, he was a Bohemian in the true sense of the word, and everyone knows Bohemians don’t do tradition, or religion. ah ha. Well anyway, he didn’t do it for long. He was assassinated by his brother. LOL. Cheery.
Loved your post.
Wonderful… I enjoyed it… thanks ….
Hilariously true! Although I love Christmas music. 😂😂
excellent!! I do so enjoy politically incorrect article….especially when they truthfully point out the inconsistencies of the chosen subject. Loved it.
Delightfully cranky. Pentatonix is the final circle of hell.
Totally agree! And don’t you just hate it when you go to a coral service or carols by candle light and the first verse is always bellowed out like a football chant and then the following verses are unknown and quietly whispered. Maybe I’d forgive the awful lyrics if there it was only one or two verses but why does one dreary shit stain of a song need 7 verses and choruses?!
This is FABULOUS! Thanks for posting! I could add to it, but you did it so well, I’m going to leave it as is.
Happy Whatever You Celebrate!
The bigger question is when will people notice what’s wrong with the songs? Or will they?
Really intersing, I didn’t know much about this topic !
Exhibit E is brilliant! 😂
Boy, and I thought endless renditions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was bad enough. Though now that song is tolerable since I found the video last year of the response to it (seriously, who’s gonna clean up all the bird crap–the maids are too busy milking!). Can’t find the original audio with the poor woman getting crazier and more frustrated as it goes on. Found a few imitations, but can’t find the original thing–wish I remember who read it. Oh well–won’t have to hear it again til next year (yay).
Happy in Peace
I just love this. Someone else was just sharing a compulsion to beat the speakers to smithereens playing chrissie carols in her local supermarket. I can empathise. 😦 And as a comical aside, English comedian Miranda Hart was sharing recently how terrified she was as a child after being told a huge old man would be coming uninvited into her bedroom late at night while she was asleep to stuff her stocking. This was in response to someone somewhere in America invading a Santa meet and greet with a loud speaker announcing “there is no such thing as Santa Claus”
That’s was hands down the best thing I read this holiday season!
I am in love with it. Its really hard to choose the correct Christmas music actually.
Very good guide. Thanks for sharing it.
Hater GUIDE to Christmas music!! Ha ha ha! Funny m!
I agree with the words used in some Christmas carols… They’re messing up the meaning .. true meaning of Christmas. Good & Meaningful reading.
Just great. I love it. I follow you from now on.
Christmas songs tend to be so bad, oh god!
Enjoyable to read. Thats all I will say. Oh and Merry Christmas! Yea, Merry Christmas!
My children always tell me what’s fiction and fact. It is certainly myself and not them that has been brought up in a fairy tale. I used to wish that they didn’t know so much or have so many opinions, now I realise how blessed they are. My son has always questioned creationism (since about the age of four!) I’m glad they don’t believe everything they are told, I was never that confident to ask or seek another opinion.
Frankly Frankie, I’m concerned for your children. If the long-dead Bishop of Myra didn’t take a break from necromancy to break into your house on Christmas Eve, then it’s because you didn’t believe. What more proof do you need?