When you are a columnist, sometimes you have to take a stand on the “big issues,” no matter how controversial. So, here’s today’s bold stance: “Wonderful Christmastime” is the worst Christmas song of all time.
There. I said it. Actually, I’ve said it before – in columns and to anyone who is in earshot when the damn thing comes on. The lovely yet formidable Marcia is so sick of me saying it that before the second note plays she’s jabbing a pointer finger at me and saying, “Don’t!”
I wouldn’t bring it up now if it weren’t for a column in Salon.com that people forwarded to me because they knew it would annoy me. The piece was titled “In defense of Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime.’” In it, writer Annie Zaleski says, basically, yes, the song sucks, but it’s really not that bad.
“Sure, the song’s certainly not as emotional or epic as ‘Hey Jude,’ ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Live and Let Die.’ (But) it sounds like a 1979 single, from the slightly foggy production to the soft-glow keyboards. Those are hardly fatal flaws.”
She then blurbles on in music critic-speak about how the song “takes its cues from … the minimalist synthpop bubbling up from the U.K. underground at the time” and how its vocals are “malleable instrumental color to enhance overall sonic expression and convey feelings such as alienation or fear of modernity” before concluding with this: “But it’s perhaps more precise to say that ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ represents one of McCartney’s biggest post-Beatles pivot points — a low-pressure song where he reasserted his independence and started a metamorphosis that would linger for years.”
Clearly, I cannot let this dangerous nonsense go unchallenged. What if impressionable people believe her? What if several of those impressionable people are radio DJs, who then play the song even more than it already is? Think of the children.
So, let me counter Ms. Zaleski’s critique with one of my own: “Wonderful Christmastime” is not only the worst Christmas tune of all-time, it’s the worst song of any kind ever made, with the possible exception of “Ebony and Ivory,” also by Sir Paul, which was so bad and so treacly that, according to a medical study I just made up, any time it plays on the radio 1,500 people go into insulin shock. (To be fair, I could also go for “Muskrat Love” as the worst ever, which, if you’re too young to have heard it yet, let me just say you are in for a treat. Here’s just one line: “Muskrat Suzie, Muskrat Sam, do the jitterbug out in Muskrat Land.” Had enough? I thought so.)
To understand why “Wonderful Christmastime” surpasses them all in terms of wretchedness, however, all you have to do is read the pivotal lyrics, which are, and I quote:
The choir of children sing their song
They practiced all year long
Ding dong, ding dong
Ding dong, ding dong
Ding dong, ding dong, dong, dong, dong, dong
Ding dong, dong, dong, dong? My god, people, what else do you need?
And by the way, they had to practice THAT song all year to get it right?
That’s one dumb choir.