The Strangest Christmas Specials in TV History

Should we just Cancel Christmas Specials?

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Christmas is an impossible holiday for pop culture to get right.
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Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan with the Pogues in the 1980s

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Many years ago I traveled with my best friend to Dublin to see the Pogues play their Christmas show at The Point. We dossed at The Morrison Hotel on the River Liffey, and the night we had there began and ended with a long session with the man Himself.
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Now, Now Try to Find the Holiday Magic with "Lonely Christmas"

The synth-pop duo return with an original holiday song.

Photo by: little plant / Unsplash

Considering it's supposedly the most wonderful time of the year, there sure are a lot of heartbroken Christmas songs.

There's something about the romanticism and familial connotation of winter that can make the season feel upsettingly isolating—a solitude that the band Now, Now are all-too familiar with. The Minnesota indie duo voice their blues on "Lonely Christmas," their latest original track for the holidays, which finds singer KC Dalager so mournful that she can't even feel the bitter cold.

Now, Now - "Lonely Christmas"

"I can't cry anymore for you, baby," singer KC Dalager coos. "No I can't think about the new year / And I won't write another song for you, honey / But I'm still wishing." Over poppy synths and the steady chug of jingle bells, the track builds off the shimmer of Now, Now's latest record Saved, peppered with festive effects.

"This song came about because I always get really lonely and bummed out during the holidays," Dalager explained, "I try every year to overcome that, so writing this song is another attempt to reclaim the magic of the season." For those who feel a little estranged when the leaves change color, Now, Now offer a slice of togetherness.

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The 7 Most Annoying Christmas Songs Everyone Actually Hates

Nobody actually like Christmas music and you can't convince me otherwise.

Photo by: little plant / Unsplash

Honestly, I don't think anybody actually likes Christmas songs.

The only person I could imagine maybe, possibly, sincerely enjoying Christmas songs is a grandparent who paradoxically claims to love their grandchild but also believes that global warming isn't real, and let's be honest, that demographic doesn't need to be pandered to outside of Fox News. I'm convinced that, as a culture, we keep playing Christmas songs entirely out of obligation to the capitalist idea of Christmas, antithetical to the enjoyment of literally everyone. This makes going anywhere in December an absolute chore, as Christmas music plays everywhere for the entire month. So to work out some of my undying hatred for holiday music, I've decided to dissect seven of the absolute worst Christmas songs that need to be purged from human history (in no particular order). Yes, this is my own personal War on Christmas.

1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Jackson 5

Jackson 5 - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Official Lyrics Video)

Okay, here's a cool song premise: Imagine a child, right? It's Christmas Eve and he creeps downstairs to try to catch a glimpse of Santa Clause, but he gets a whole lot more than he bargained for. Sure, Santa's there, but you know who else is with him? The little boy's mother! And they're snoggin' and they're smoochin' and the little boy stays to watch. Does it get graphic? Oh yes it does. Mommy tickles Santa Clause and the little boy repeats this fact many times, while imagining how funny it would be if his father was also there to catch his mother cheating. He never explains why it would be funny, but one can assume that, on top of getting off on peeping on his mother's sexual escapades, the boy also enjoys the idea of watching his broken father smack her around. Christians will love this.

2. Dominick the Donkey - Lou Monte

Dominick the

I didn't think it was possible for a white person of a particular ethnic background to commit a hate crime against other white people of the same ethnic background, but lo and behold, "Dominick the Donkey" exists. Sung by Lou Monte, an Italian American singer who betrayed his entire heritage in the 1950s and '60s with a series of Italian-themed novelty records, "Dominick the Donkey" is cloying like a commercial jingle, and also very, very racist. The chorus features Lou Monte shouting, "jingity-jing / It's Dominick the Donkey" in an accent that can only be described as a very bad impression of a man flipping a pizza. He also makes "Hee Haw" noises, which is frankly just horrible. I still don't know exactly what "jingity-jing" means, but I wouldn't say it out loud anywhere in Little Italy.

3. Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas

Look, I'm not going to denigrate Paul McCartney's legendary songwriting ability for the purpose of a quip, but holy hell, "Wonderful Christmas Time" is a hollow heap of nothing. How did the same guy who wrote "Let it Be" also write, "Simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime / We're simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime?" Who cares what kind of Christmastime you're having, Paul? What about me when I hear your sh*ttiest song a billion times every December? Do you think I'm simply havin' a wonderful Christmastime, you big, talented sell out? Spoiler: I'm not, and it's at least one seventh your fault.

4. Little Drummer Boy - Pentatonix

[Official Video] Little Drummer Boy -

I already hate the "Little Drummer Boy" song for literally every reason that anyone could hate anything, but Pentatonix's rendition is particularly egregious. I'm actually having a hard time picturing a worse experience than watching these cheesing weiners sing "Little Drummer Boy" a cappella on a hillside cityscape in what appears to be warm weather. Also, I'm not trying to single anyone out here, but when that dude in the orange beanie with try-hard earrings sings, "Little Baby/ Pa rum pum pum pum," I get the sense that there's some weird baby Jesus fetish stuff going on in his head and I don't like it one bit.

5. Mistletoe - Justin Bieber

Back before Justin Bieber was VERY Christian, he was just Christian enough to sell little girls on the idea that he'd be waiting to ravage them under the mistletoe while still assuring their parents that he probably wouldn't go past second base. The result was "Mistletoe," a generic early 2010s tween ballad filled with vaguely religious references to "wise men" and "miracles" that take a backseat to Bieber asserting: "I don't wanna miss out on the holiday / But I can't stop staring at your face." I realize that making fun of teen Bieber might be low-hanging fruit, but the notion that this f*cker is going to literally miss an entire holiday because he's too busy staring at my face is ludicrous. I'm a 28-year-old man. What is Justin Bieber hoping to get out of this exchange with me? This is never going to happen. Go back to your family, kiddo.

6. All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You (Official Music Video)

There are overplayed songs, and then there's Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." To call this song "overplayed" would be doing language a disservice. It's so bad and so frequent that the song gets trapped in your brain long past Christmas, rearing its ugly head in the middle of April to remind you that Mariah Carey is still stalking you. And while it's hard to say whether or not "All I Want For Christmas Is You" is, indeed, reflective of Mariah Carey's own belief system, the premise of a grown woman begging a fictional, obese winter demon to kidnap you to fulfill her weird diaper fetish is...worrisome. After all, what other interpretation could there possibly be for lyrics like this: "Santa won't you bring me / The one I really need / Won't you please bring my baby to me quickly." Get help, Mariah.

7. Last Christmas - Wham!

Wham! - Last Christmas (Official Video)

As someone who loathes every Christmas song in existence on sheer principle, naturally, I also despise "Last Christmas." Like everything else on this list, it's just another generic holiday earworm tailor-made to milk the grandma market for everything they're worth. I can just imagine a little old biddy with her holiday sweater and her knitting needles cranking up the volume for empty lyrics like, "Now, I know what a fool I've been / But if you kissed me now, I know you'd fool me again."

Wait. That's actually kind of good. I mean, to be honest, I like Wham! a lot, and I'd fight anyone who tries to say that George Michael isn't one of the best singers to have ever lived. But this is a Christmas song, and by design, Christmas songs are frosted dogsh*t. However, I will concede that the underlying synth track is really solid, and listening to it again, I had the inclination to see if anyone turned it into Vaporwave. Sure enough, they did.

Last Christmas -

Still, this is a Christmas song, and therefore no good. And yet...

And yet, there's such depth in these lyrics: "A crowded room, friends with tired eyes / I'm hiding from you and your soul of ice."

I can picture myself attending the same Christmas party as George Michael. I'm on one side of the table, he's on the other. I quickly glance over, nonchalant, and he's staring at me with his piercing hazel eyes, his hair perfectly feathered like a mythical bird. My brain flashes in tableau to memories that perhaps never really happened. George Michael and I are rolling in the snow. George Michael and I are sipping hot cocoa by a warm fireplace. George Michael and I accidentally wear matching sweaters to Christmas dinner, but it's okay because we love how similarly the two of us think. Snap to reality. George Michael is still staring. There's pain in those eyes. Someone hurt George Michael. I don't know who, but all I want, with all my soul, is to take his pain away. Yes, George Michael, this Christmas I will take your heart. More importantly, once I have it, I will always protect it. Oh my god, I love "Last Christmas."

The holidays aren't for everybody.

Known in the media world as the "Christmas Creep," Christmas advertisements emerge quietly in October and are sometimes in full force by the time Halloween costumes are tucked away. The music industry is no different. "The straight answer is the physical market," RCA Records co-president John Fleckenstein told Billboard. "Christmas albums tend to be multigenerational, and thus, they skew very heavily on the physical side." If big market stores like Target and Walmart want the albums to take off in time for the Holidays, October is the month to stock up.

But thanks to streaming, the demand for Christmas music has exploded even more, breeding some shuddering renditions as a result. It began this year with John Legend and Kelly Clarkson's gauche attempt to revitalize "Baby, It's Cold Outside" for the MeToo era. "It's your body and your choice," Legend sings.

While Christmas music may be well-intentioned, the era of streaming has produced some uncomfortable and unnecessary Christmas music. Here are the strangest holiday albums to emerge so far in 2019.

Rob Halford, Celestial

"And when I look up to the sky and let my soul release," Halford croons passionately over synth and acoustic guitar. "A warm embrace comes gently down and fills this heart with peace." Who knew Christmas could rock so hard! The British "Metal God" released Celestial this October, and its gravitas is abrasive. But maybe that's the point? Maybe some people just wanna break sh*t on Christmas instead of sipping sissy eggnog.