Sounds of the Season

And the terrible lyrics that accompany them

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which means a lot of different things to different people. Jesus Christ, Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, cold weather, hot cocoa, really whatever puts you in the holiday spirit. Unlike any other holiday celebrated in America, we are also treated to a whole genre of music that is only consumed for about one-twelfth of the year.

This isn’t a list of the best or worst Christmas songs, which has been done many times before, but, instead, an in depth look at some the dumbest lyrics ever written.

Let me gloss over a few points.

BEST: N’Sync — Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

This jam has a few things working in its favor.

1) It’s an original song, which means it hasn’t been recorded by a hundred different artists and you probably didn’t grow up singing it in school or church. Basically, your eardrums haven’t been bombarded by it every year of your life in every consumable form of media.

2) It’s by N’Sync. Say what you want, but those cats can sing and make some catchy tunes. This one is no exception.

3) It has just the right amount of blatant consumerism, political correctness, and religious reference. It covers all the bases. It’s got all the imagery of Christmas, they wish everyone else a “Happy Holidays,” and they share the Gospel (God sends you his love!).

4) The video features a hungover Santa Claus and a sober (best I can tell) Gary Coleman.

WORST: Popular opinion is that this spot is held by “Christmas Shoes.” I’m sorry, while it is not a great song, it is just about the saddest thing I have ever heard. In good conscience, I can’t call it the worst.

Many others would say that “Santa Baby” claims the spot. I agree this song is awful and deserving of hatred. But it is not the worst ever, because I think it is trying to be bad on purpose.

But gang, that’s not what we are here for. We are here to dive into some of the holiday classics that, at times, really don’t make a lot of sense.

Gene Autry — Up on the House Top

Let’s start slow, this one seems pretty straightforward. Santa lands on the roof, goes down the chimney and leaves presents. Perfectly reasonable sequence of events. But, simply put, only about 10% of the events occur on up on the house top.

Once inside the house, the second verse tells us:

“Look in the stocking of Little Bill

Oh, just see what a glorious fill!

Here is a hammer and lots of tacks,

A whistle, and a ball, and a whip that cracks.”

A glorious fill indeed, Bill, considering your sister, Little Nell, only got a baby doll that can “open and shut its eyes.” Furthermore, Bill is either being subjected to unethical child labor or the kid is up to no good.

Various Artists throughout time and space — Little Drummer Boy

Aside from the fact that half the song is just “pa rum pum pum pum,” which is plain lazy (greatest generation, eh?), this seems like a pretty good Christmas song. It takes awhile, but, I assure you, it eventually goes off the rails.

After asking permission to play his drum for the baby Jesus, the song wraps up:

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum

The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum”

HOW? How would an ox and/or a lamb keep time? By pawing of hooves? Bleating? Also, that’s kind of the drummer’s job, to keep time. Their one and only job. The sole purpose of the drum is to keep time. So why the ox and lamb? So half the words are the drum sound, and these are the words you choose for the other half?

Jackson 5 — Santa Claus is Coming to Town

I like Michael Jackson — though his adult life outside of music is something I try to steer clear of when enjoying his music. And this Christmas song from his youth is a serviceable rendition that is true to the source material.

I like singing along with my music, Christmas or otherwise, and especially Michael Jackson songs. But I will never sing the following words:

Little tin horns, and little toy drums

Root-a-toot-toot, and rumpa-tum-tums”

Can’t do it. Will not do it.

Andy Williams — Happy Holidays

Ol’ Andy takes some liberties with his lyrics that I don’t condone.

“While the merry bells keep ringing…” Merry bells? Bells are inanimate objects, ergo, they are not merry.

“The Christmas snow is white on the ground…” White on the ground? It’s white in the air, too. There is no art to describing snow like this.

“…for every good girl and good little boy” The lack of symmetry here kills me. Its either good little girl and good little boy, or good girls and boys, or something. But definitely not what he sings.

So he took some creative license to make a rat pack-esque Christmas song. Good for him. But this next part, is inexcusable:

“It’s the holiday season, so hoopty-do, and dickery dock

And don’t forget to hang up your sock.”

No one before, and no one since, has combined the phrases hoopty-do and dickery dock in poetry or prose. No soul, living or dead, has ever suggested that those 4 words have had any meaning outside of Mother Goose. Andy Williams, folks.

Bobby Helms — Jingle Bell Rock

Posted here in full, these lyrics are repeated in their entirety, unchanged, a second time for two minutes of ignorant, holiday bliss:

“Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock

Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring

Snowin’ and blowin’ up bushels of fun

Now the jingle hop has begun

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock

Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time

Dancin’ and prancin’ in Jingle Bell Square

In the frosty air

What a bright time, it’s the right time

To rock the night away

Jingle bell time is a swell time

To go glidin’ in a one-horse sleigh

Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet

Jingle around the clock

Mix and a-mingle in the jinglin’ feet

That’s the jingle bell rock”

No song claiming to be associated with rock and roll by title or by record store has ever epitomized rock less than Bobby has managed with this one. This song is nonsense from the first word. In essence, Bobby stutters the name of the song, as if it just came to him as he scribbled, and then announces that the song has started after about 20 seconds of other useless drivel.

My qualms, in order of appearance (the last stanza is a doozy):

29 seconds: Jingle bells can’t chime in jingle bell time, because jingle bells don’t understand what the construct of time even IS.

33 seconds: Rock musicians don’t prance, and wouldn’t be caught dead doing so in the “frosty air.”

45 seconds — 55 seconds: Rockin’ the night away and glidin’ in a one-horse sleigh are mutually exclusive propositions, they cannot be done simultaneously. Pick one, Bobby-boy.

58 seconds: AND WHAT IS A JINGLE HORSE? He ain’t picking up his feet because he doesn’t know you are talking to him because he is a horse, not a jingle-horse. Stop sprinkling “jingle” into every sentence, you are confusing the horses.

I know less about what the jingle bell rock is now, than I did when you started. In your own words, Mr. Helms, what exactly IS the Jingle Bell Rock?

65 seconds: “…mix and a-mingle in the jinglin’ feet — that’s the jingle bell rock!”


Hopefully revealing these silly lyrics didn’t ruin the holidays for you. Even if these songs fail to convey the meaning and spirit of the season, those of us at The Midwest Express want to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas!