As it says in the title, 99.99% of “xmas music” is crap. If you disagree, find somebody else to argue with.
The worst music is always forced instead of organic (e.g. writing about a predetermined and specific topic, many movie title songs). Xmas songs are worse than any other for being formulaic, sappy, overly commercial, and repetitive. It’s the same songs covered again and again. And that’s before we discuss the religious pandering involved.
Below is the list of the few “xmas songs” I can take. You’ll probably notice that all of them are originals, funny or orchestral works, no “traditional songs”. There’s only one “hit”.
The Kinks, “Father Xmas” – A man dresses up as Santa, and a bunch of hooligans shake him down for money. Thank you, Ray Davies.
The Pretenders, “2000 Miles” – This isn’t a xmas song, it was Chrissie Hynde’s tribute to the late James Honeyman-Scott.
Jon Anderson, “Easier Said Than Done” – Anderson released a xmas album in 1985…which is odd, because that was the height of his obsession with “new age mysticism” (see: 1984’s “City of Angels” album).
Darlene Love, “Marshmallow World” – I don’t know if it’s more the “wall of sound” production or Darlene Love’s voice, but this one makes me feel good. (I love Ronnie Spector, but not The Ronnettes’ “Frosty the Snowman”.)
Homemade Theatre, “Santa Jaws” (A side) and “Santa Jaws” (B side) – In 1975, the movie “Jaws” created and set the standard for all future summer movie blockbusters. Naturally, parodies came, two of them novelty songs. Dickie Goodman’s “Mr. Jaws” (from the US) was terrible and short lived, but Homemade Theatre’s “Santa Jaws” (a Canadian novelty song) was a huge hit and still gets airplay today because it’s damned funny.
Spike Jones and His City Slickers, “All I Want For Xmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)” – Many of Spike Jones’s songs contain misogyny, violence towards women and racism (“Chlöe”, “My Old Flame”, the WWII song “You’re A Sap, Mr. ___”) and are best confined to history. Others, however remain hilarious to this day (“Dance Of The Hours”, “Man On The Flying Trapeze”). “Two Front Teeth” is one of the latter.
Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir – In 2007, Chris Squire (bass player and only permanent member of Yes) decided to make a xmas album, perpetrating one of the greatest Spoonerisms of all time. There aren’t many memorable songs on it, but “Run With The Fox” (51:42) is one of them. The production is excellent, as is the talent behind it: a Prog Rock all star lineup (Squire, guitarist Steve Hackett of Genesis, keyboardist Gerard Johnson of Saint Etienne, veteran session drummer Jeremy Stacey) and the English Baroque Choir. The liner notes humourously say: “Warning: This disc containst no actual Swiss choirs.”
Les Brown and His Band of Renown, “The Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies” (from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”) – In 1952, Les Brown took one of the greatest classical music compositions and turned it into a Jazz standard that other big bands tried and failed to live up to. I love Brian Setzer’s guitar playing and music, but his cover pales in comparison.
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, performing Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” – The full Nutcracker in a single two hour performance. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky lived a short life, dying age 53 of either cholera or suicide, depending on whose opinion you listen to. Despite being one of the most renowned classical composers within his own lifetime, never mind the 20th century, 19th century Russia was not the time or place to be a gay man.