Whether or not you want to hear it, you’ll hear it all December long: Christmas music. Are you walking in a winter wonderland yet?
Each year, discourse over which Christmas songs are “good,” “bad” and “problematic” begins again. This time last year, YouGov surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to find out: which Christmas songs do you like or dislike?
The ranking is not a typical “top 10” list, since YouGov only listed songs for which at least 50% of participants were aware of and had opinions about. While a few songs received the same scores, the top two least favorite were clear: “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” in at second place, while “Santa Baby” claimed the top spot.
9. “Jingle Bells”
8. “Little Drummer Boy”
7. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
6. “Mary Did You Know”
5. (three-way tie) “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
5. “All I Want for Christmas is You”
5. “Last Christmas”
4. “Wonderful Christmastime”
3. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
2. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”
1. “Santa Baby”
Many of these selections appear as repeat offenders on other “most-hated” or “worst” Christmas song lists, especially “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” The 1979 track originally by husband-and-wife duo Elmo & Patsy appeared on recent lists by Rolling Stone and Yahoo!
You may not know a little about some of the other most-hated holiday tracks.
What’s the deal with ‘Santa Baby’?
Eartha Kitt, the original live-action Catwoman, brought the anti-heroine’s sex appeal to her unique 1953 hit, “Santa Baby,” which features its female narrator urging a suitor — not actually Santa Claus — to buy her various luxury gifts for Christmas.
The song was most notably covered by Madonna in 1987 — an even more sensual version of Kitt’s song — which the pop star delivers in a Brooklyn-accented baby voice. Thematically, the song is similar to Madonna’s earlier hit, “Material Girl.”
A.V. Club writer Caroline Framke writes Kitt herself was not a fan of Madonna’s polarizing version, reportedly telling a crowd, “I used to have a lot of fun with this song. And then Madonna sang it.”
Various stars have also covered the flirty track, including Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Gwen Stefani, and pop icon Miss Piggy. Michael Bublé, one of the few male vocalists to cover the song, altered much of the song’s content for his 2017 cover, including changing “Santa Baby” to “Santa Buddy.”
Is it simply a wonderful time?
The 1979 holiday standard was recorded during sessions for former Beatle Paul McCartney’s 1980 album “McCartney II.” While this album also did not spawn many beloved Sir Paul solo songs, critiques over the decades view his time period as a transitioning out of his work with his group Wings and into the synth-pop of the 80s.
“Maybe we can cut McCartney some slack for being too excited about his electronic synthesizer in 1979, as he crafted the song by himself by juggling varying degrees of spacey synth tracks with jingle bells,” A.V. Club‘s Gwen Ihnat writes.
Others haven’t been so kind.
On Nov. 1, Twitter user @KLobstar tweeted: “Halloween has passed, which means it is now time to start my yearly crusade NOT to hear the worst song ever recorded — “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney.”
“Several major artists, including pop stars Kylie Minogue and Harry Styles, have covered wonderful Christmastime.” Forbes estimates McCartney has made around $15 million from the song since its release and about $400,000-$600,000 per year in royalties.
The song got some interesting attention back in 2019 when a Twitter theory about “Wonderful Christmastime” went viral. It began with Canadian Actor Ryan George questioning whether the song may actually be about friends getting caught performing witchcraft and lying about their actions.