The Five Worst Holiday Songs, Ranked

Dan Canon
5 min readDec 21, 2022
Photo by erin mckenna on Unsplash

An opinion columnist should not simply share stuff they’ve been thinking about. Readers have every right to expect an op-ed writer to purvey informed opinions; to answer the big questions of the day not with Kerouac-style riffing, but with reasoned logic supported by research, interviews, statistics, and whatever else it might take to give the reader a basis to form their own informed opinions.

If not for columnists like me, people might hear one little news story about some legal or political matter, develop a half-assed opinion on it without knowing how things really are, and go blissfully about their day. My job is to insulate readers from this sort of tragedy. I dive into grim topics and bring you horrible, unvarnished truths — truths which tends to be considerably worse than you might have otherwise thought.

And so it is with bad holiday music, a topic which is not unlike law or politics. People talk about it, they have opinions on it, they think they know something about it. But the few of us who dig a little deeper discover that reality is quite different from what they assumed. Trust me on this: Just because you have a mild distaste for “Little Drummer Boy,” or you’ve been annoyed by a rendition of “Twelve Days of Christmas” in your dentist’s office, or you’ve decided to read your own relationship issues into “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” that doesn’t mean you know bad holiday music. Here for your displeasure is a polemic on the worst of the worst.


There are plenty of hair-band Christmas songs that could have made this list. Danger Danger’s “Naughty Naughty Xmas,” which promises to “deck the halls with Amber and Holly and all those naughty girls,” is a notable contender, as is AC/DC’s “Mistress for Christmas,” which — I swear to god — rhymes “jingle all the day” with “grope you in the hay.” I get that some of these songs are played for laughs, but this should make them no more redeemable to discerning listeners, especially if they aren’t funny.

This cover is more unforgivable than other misogynistic schlock because it’s a classic example of what happens when you filter a decent soul song through the pale cheesecloth of keyboard rock made exclusively by and for people of European ancestry. And gentle reader…

Dan Canon

Civil rights lawyer, law professor, and high school dropout. Writes about the Midwest, class struggle, and the untold horrors of the legal system.