Bad music is usually just bad music, but when you mix in the holiday angle, it becomes bland and offensive to a punishing degree. I have memories of my mom dragging me to some mall in December because I was too young to stay home alone, and having to languish in a Macy’s or J.C. Penney’s listening to Kenny G’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I’m not saying I wanted to die at those moments, but as I sank super low in the uncomfortable chairs and imagined everywhere else I could be, it seemed reasonable to believe I was the most unfortunate person in the world. And that was like, 85 percent Kenny G’s fault. Bad holiday music kills the soul.
So as we approach Thanksgiving, it occurred to me that I should make a list of the worst possible song for every winter holiday that has inspired terrible music. We’ll start with Halloween, and work our way through the dark months to February.
1. Halloween – “Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I guess Rocky Horror isn’t technically about Halloween, but the average civilian is only subjected to its songs in late October when a rogue DJ with the holiday spirit hijacks a perfectly good radio station. (This obviously doesn’t apply if you’re the kind of person who goes to midnight showings at your indie theater every Saturday, in which case, bless your heart.) “Time Warp” is particularly annoying because it’s a dance instructional nobody knows, and it’s also catchy enough that you’ll find yourself singing “Leettttt’s dooo the timee warrpppp againnn!” over and over until you’re on the brink of insanity. It’s bubble gum pop for goths, and it’s insidious, I tell you! Insidious!
2. Thanksgiving – “It’s Thanksgiving” by Nicole Westbrook
You’ve all probably seen this by now; it went viral when it came out a couple weeks ago, and it’s basically Rebecca Black’s “Friday” for the holiday season. “It’s Thanksgiving” features a girl listing different foods you might eat, but singing them sort of suggestively despite the fact that she’s like 12. It’s bad music, super uncomfortable to watch, and so repetitive and tiring that I’m giving it credit for spawning a new genre called Tryptophan Dream Pop.
3. Black Friday – “Friday” by Rebecca Black
I know what you’re thinking—this song is called Friday and the singer’s last name is Black, but it’s not about Black Friday, you idiot. But I propose that, screw you, it is about Black Friday, if only because the song and the holiday share a certain loathsome, superficial American quality that makes you sick to your stomach. And you can’t prove me wrong.
4. Christmas – “Santa Baby” by Eartha Kitt
Man, this was a tough one. There are so many really bad Christmas songs, and I was tempted to pick “Grandma Got Run Over by a a Reindeer” just because you can’t escape it and it’s not funny, but in the end I have go with “Santa Baby.” This song sounds like what old people thought was sexy in the early 1950s, even though it just sounds girly-whiny now in a sort of Betty Boop way, and I swear I’ve seen my grandparents look at each other suggestively when it plays. Shudder. Also, people keep covering this song. Is the Santa fantasy more common than I think, either for males or females? Is this is a thing? I hope it’s not a thing.
5. Hanukkah – “The Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler
I’m pretty sure I thought this was funny as a kid, but now it’s so mainstream and inoffensive that it’s basically “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” for Chanukah. Every year, it seems like he’s performing it live, and every year the lyrics get less and less funny. WE UNDERSTAND THAT HALL-OF-FAMER ROD CAREW CONVERTED, ADAM! Worst of all, it features Adam Sandler doing the three Adam Sandler voices that Adam Sandler ever does; angry old man, slow child and naggy hysterical mother.
6. New Year’s – “Nothin’ New for New Year” by Harry Connick Jr.
I’m not exactly sure why, but something about Harry Connick Jr. makes me angry. It’s like, is he an actor? A singer? A one-man boy band for women in their early 50s? Anyway, this one’s typically bland, with a hint of melancholy that takes care not to delve too far beneath the surface.
7. Valentine’s Day – “If Cupid Had a Heart” by Selena Gomez
The worst holiday of all deserves this. It deserves it. I’m so sorry to anyone who clicks play on this video.