CHRISTMAS SONGS TO RETIRE

Strike them from the playlist, PLEASE! by Rich Paschall

There are plenty of “Novelty” Christmas songs. As a matter of fact there are far too many. Some are amusing to the point of being endearing. Some are a bit weird or odd sounding. Some are just obnoxious and need to be removed from the Christmas playlist, permanently.

Endearing novelty songs might include “The Chipmunks Song.” It certainly was a favorite when I was a kid. Alvin was my favorite chipmunk and it seemed perfectly OK to play the 45 (look it up) over and over, much to my mother’s chagrin. In later years, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” struck me as quite amusing. I guess it is funnier after a few spiked eggnog. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” may have many good versions, but the original recorded from 1952 should remain locked in the vault. Also, radio stations will bring out the irritating “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas,” and the overplayed “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” recorded originally by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, a novelty act if there ever was one.

The all-time most obnoxious novelty song that ought to be put away forever is definitely “Dominick the Donkey.” What record executive thought that an Italian Christmas Donkey was amusing? To top it off the 1960 recording by Lou Monte sets new standards in irritating. The song could have died a well deserved death, but the geniuses at Amazon decided in 2011 it should be rereleased, starting another round of annoyance:

Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.

Some songs are just long and repetitious. Chief among these is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” After a while the litany of gifts is just too much. All versions of this song should be put away except, perhaps, the version by The Muppets. At least the popular Sesame Street characters get the joke and can carry it out to its funniest. That is much better than the many serious versions of the song that hit the airwaves at this time of year. The Muppets might even teach young ones the exceptional skill of counting backwards from twelve, something that is sure to be useful in their chosen professions later in life.

A song that is a classic but has clearly received too many variations is White Christmas. “The Drifters” version has been heard once too often on my radio. The 1954 recording was big for the Rhythm and Blues group, and it was the first of their songs to crack the Billboard 100 singles chart on mainstream radio stations. It would have thankfully been retired had it not been resurrected by holiday movies, including Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin in his greatest role. I can pass this one up:

Ooh, doop doop, doop doo doop
Ooh, doop doop, doop doo doop

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where those treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow, the snow

Then I, I, I am dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright
(Read more here: The Drifters – White Christmas Lyrics | MetroLyrics )

Actually, every version besides the Bing Crosby version should be put away. Admit it, whenever you hear “White Christmas” you think of Bing Crosby. Every version is automatically compared to the iconic version that has been washed into our brain cells from infancy, unless you were born before 1941. You can not help it, the sounds of Bing Crosby whistling his way to another season of white is all you can hear. Everyone will come up short by comparison, no matter how good they are.

Recently, we gave a bit of the history of the song here. The song was a hit since Crosby introduced it on his Christmas radio broadcast.  The movie Holiday Inn helped to make it even more popular. When Crosby entertained the troops during World War II, it became a bit of nostalgic relief when soldiers where thinking of their lives back home. Bing thought the song might be making the boys sad, and he felt he did not go to entertain the troops only to bring them down. He tried eliminating the song from his show, only to have the soldiers call out for it anyway.

The original master recording of “White Christmas” wore out from all the “pressings,” the process by which vinyl recordings were made. So in 1947 Crosby recorded the song again with the original orchestra, trying to duplicate the original sound. It is the 1947 version you hear today. The recordings of the songs for the movie “White Christmas” would likely have been remastered into a Christmas Album had they not been destroyed by fire. Crosby performed the iconic Christmas song in 3 movies and countless radio and television broadcasts. There just is not another version.


Bing sang this song right to the end, after actually. The above is from his 1977 Christmas television show. It was his last Christmas special. He died after it was taped and before it was aired.

28 thoughts on “CHRISTMAS SONGS TO RETIRE

  1. You haven’t heard (or seen) “12 Days of Christmas” until you see it live by the Boston Pops at Symphony hall. It’s not your grandmother’s “12 Days of Christmas.” Honest. Personally, I think most holiday music gets so overplayed, it’s hard not to get sick of it. Even a genuinely great song will wilt under so many replays.

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    • There is no reason for the repetition but they program these stations like AM stations of yore. There is a playlist and Bing, Nat, Frank, Burl and a few other come up every few hours. Every star has made a Christmas album, let’s give the others a chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rich, the late WNEW-AM (I don’t know what the heck it is now) in New York was the classic AM standards station of the 40’s-60’s. They waited til Christmas Eve before playing a select list of the “classics” which included Nat, Bing, Mel, etc. I always looked forward to this and was saddened when ‘NEW passed away into “Make Believe Ballroom” heaven.

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        • There were several radio stations here that only played Christmas music on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I sometimes thought is was just to give the DJs and some staff the holidays off. With only a day or two of holiday music, we wanted to hear the classic songs a couple of times, not every couple of hours for months.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I think there are new Christmas songs, we just don’t get a chance to hear them through the flood of the old ones. I was actually contemplating an article on that and I wrote a few down to check out. There are also new versions of old songs I like. I have two Chicago Christmas albums that have great arrangements. I don’t hear them on the radion. There are so many Christmas lists I could compile and so few Sundays in December. On the other hand, Christmas season starts after Labor Day now so maybe I should just write Christmas articles for three months…Nah.

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  2. This will be my 17th Christmas in retail, so I’m something of a self-proclaimed holiday song expert. I would like to point out that I believe you transposed The Chipmunk Song (Easily the most annoying piece of “music” ever created) and Dominick the Donkey (One of my favorite holiday songs EVER, and I wish they still played it at work) in your otherwise wonderful piece.

    And in response to the previous comment…. Madonna’s “Santa Baby” is the only good version! You can’t hear Madonna’s version without realizing “Santa Baby” was meant to be a “blonde bimbo” song, with apologies to the more sultry Ms. Kitt…

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    • I disagree. When Eartha Kitt came on the scene in the early 50’s she had a persona of the sultry, sophisticated seductress, a siren with a soft voice leading rich men into the rocks in Tiffany’s she wanted them to buy for her. Although the Christmas list may sound like an over the top cliché today, back in 1954 it was the height of sophistication. No dumb blond hanger-on would have a list like that. They gave that song to her instead of someone like Blossom Dearie for a reason. I don’t know if Blossom was on the scene yet, but if she was she would have been the choice for a dumb-blond voice. Listen to her version of Cole Porter’s “Alway’s True to You Darlin in My Fashion”. In my opinion, the Madonna version of “Santa Baby” is like a very, very exaggerated version of Blossom Dearie on this song.

      One thing – When Eartha sang “Santa Baby”, that was her. When Blossom sang “I’m Always True to You Darlin” it was her. When Madonna sang “Santa Baby”, it was not her. It is way too exaggerated and so goes beyond parody. I think Madonna, like most singers, is at her best when she is herself.

      Anyway, just my opinion.

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  3. Christmas songs are like Shakespeare: that’s where you find out who can actually sing (act) .. and who can’t. Did you ever hear Neil Diamond’s version of Silent Night? Phewwwww! Mariah Carey? Yuk! It’s a very long list.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post. Actually there is a really funny version of The Twelve Days of Christmas done by some Irishman. I can’t remember who it is so google it. You have to get past the accent but the words are hilarious. Plus he doesn’t repeat the whole song all the time. My favourite is Snoopy’s Christmas by the Royal Guardsmen. 😀

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  5. Pingback: CHRISTMAS SONGS TO RETIRE | Sunday Night Blog

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