Christmas, Thoughts

christmas songs: rated and reviewed | penny snarks the holidays

Tell the truth: when did you start listening to Christmas music this year? The first local station to turn entirely over to Christmas started on November 1, but I wasn’t quite ready then. I held off until about halfway through the month until I couldn’t resist drifting down the dial until I reached that station…after all, if it just happened to be on the radio, then it wasn’t really in my control, right? But now December has officially arrived and there’s no shame in going full festive!

Of course, there is some shame if your taste in holiday music is terrible. To help you finetune your Christmas party playlist, I’m here today to rate and review Christmas songs. From modern pop jams to classic favorites, no song is safe. Let’s go!

Sleigh Ride
Rating: 7/10

The best part of this song is the whipcrack sound effect. Not that the rest of the song is bad, but that whipcrack is fresh as hell. This is a solid standby – it’s not going to get me super hyped up for holiday cheer, but I enjoy it when it’s part of a good mix of tunes.

We Need A Little Christmas
Rating: 9/10

First introduced to me as the song that opens a Muppet Family Christmas, this showtune-turned-carol is criminally underplayed in my opinion. Haul out the holly, indeed!

Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Rating: 0/10

Quite possibly my least favorite Christmas song. I’m usually all about the 80s, but this whiny, insipid piece of pillow soft rock is too dumb for me to deal with. Of course it’s not going to snow in Africa. It’s Africa. This isn’t meaningful, that’s just how the Earth works.

Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy
Rating: 9/10

Here’s your word of the day, kittens: quodlibet. This term refers to the musical conglomeration of two songs. (It was basically the Renaissance version of a mash-up.) Obviously adding David Bowie to anything makes it so much better, and I think that the addition of the “Peace on Earth” melody sung in counterpoint to “Little Drummer Boy” really jazzes up a kind of so-so song. In the interest of full disclosure, I was scarred as a child by the Rankin-Bass version of The Little Drummer Boy, which might be impacting my feelings on this song. (“I hate people. All people!”)

Last Christmas

Solid tune. This one benefits from being 80stastic and not “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (see above), but it’s also pretty dopey and lacks some basic internal logic. Didn’t you think this person was special when you gave them your heart last year, George Michael? What’s to prevent the same thing from happening again???

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Rating: 6/10

A middle-of-the-road score for a song that you’re really enjoying until you get halfway through and realize that they decided not to bother with another verse and just go around that proverbial Christmas tree again.

Wonderful Christmastime
Rating: 2/10

This song sounds like someone repeatedly plucking a digital rubber band. Pass.

White Christmas
Rating: 10/10

A high-quality standard. Warm without being cloying, just a touch of melancholy with the right singer. Forget the overdramatic wishes that other carols aim for: what more do we need than days that are bright and Christmases that are white?

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindoor
Rating: 1/10

Just no.

12 Days of Christmas
Rating: 5/10

This is another one that starts strong but starts to lose steam a good while before the song is actually over. By the time we’re getting to the geese a-laying, I’m ready to be a-switching the station. Note: this rating applies only to listening to the song. Shouting your way through the 12 Days of Christmas with family and friends is a true Christmas treasure.

My Favorite Things
Rating: ????

This is not a Christmas song. Not even a little bit. You can’t just take a song that mentions winter once and snowflakes once amongst a whole laundry list of other things and throw it in the holiday blender. Don’t put twigs on my floor and tell me it’s Christmas.


All I Want For Christmas Is You
Rating: 9/10

One of the only true holiday bangers, in my opinion. Anyone who acts like they don’t love singing (or at least lip-synching) along with the opening and pretending like they can hit the whistle notes at the end is a damn dirty liar and definitely on the naughty list.

Christmas Wrapping
Rating: 1/10

I have three questions: Why? What? And finally, why?

Silver Bells
Rating: 8/10

This is another sleeper hit for me. I forget how much I like until it comes on again. There’s a gentleness to it that I find very soothing, much unlike the actual sound of jingling bells.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Rating: 7/10

Kind of a bummer, but guess what, Deb? Sometimes life is a bummer. Deal with it. That said, I have to deduct points for the constant confusion about where the presents are. On the tree? By the tree? Under the tree? Who even knows.

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24
Rating: 13/10

I will stand before God, Jesus, and my mother (hi, mom!) and make this promise: there is no other Christmas carol that makes me say “oh HELL yes” out loud to myself in my car when it comes on the radio. I don’t care if this makes me a #basicbitch, but Christmas Eve and Other Stories is the only single-artist holiday album that I regularly listen to, and this song is the ULTIMATE Christmas jam.

What are your favorite Christmas songs? Your least favorites? I’m sorry if I #roasted one of your faves, but variety is the spice of life, right? Feel free to debate me in the comments!

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3 Comment

  1. Reply
    D (@frailcourage)
    December 1, 2017 at 9:45 am

    “I’ll be Home for Christmas” always gets me right in the feels because my Dad worked on a towboaters my entire childhood and whether or not he’d be home for Christmas was, in fact, a toss-up.

    1. Reply
      Penny Snark
      December 6, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Aww, yes. I think a lot of us can’t help but think of people who may not be home for Christmas when we hear that one.

  2. Reply
    December 20, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Great list! I also like T-Rex – “Christmas Bop” and Louis Armstrong – “‘Zat You, Santa Claus?”

    I made a spotify playlist of lesser-known, non-overplayed Christmas music:

What do you think?