6. Elmo and Patsy, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”
If this were based on a tragic true story (ex: “Edna Kay Young of St. Louis never knew what hit her when she went walking home on Christmas Eve, but the hoofprints in her back led police to suspect a certain jolly man dressed in red”), it would be a much cooler origin story than any other Christmas song. Alas, “Grandma Got Run Over” is simply a clever novelty song recorded by the married duo of Elmo and Patsy Shorpshire in 1979. By 1984, the song was such a staple that the duo re-recorded it. Elmo went solo and helped keep the song alive by participating in an animated special based on the song in 2000 (because the world was finally ready for such a thing, apparently), in which Grandma lived to tell the tale and point the finger at gold-digging Cousin Mel. The song continues to have a special place in Christmas-music lore, for Elmo’s bizarre singing and for the story of how the family coped with Grandma’s passing (should they keep her gifts or send them back?). You can offer scientific proof that there’s no such thing as Santa, but as for me and Grandpa, we believe. Merry Christmas, y’all.
So what do you think, are these songs classics or classically bad Christmas songs? What songs did I miss? Feel free to make your case for your favorite holiday tune.
Email Trevor at tlseigl at yahoo dot com.
Wait…Frosty the Snowman is supposed to be the mutant product of nuclear fallout? Like Godzilla??? This blows my mind.
Also, while I do like the “Love Actually” version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” there’s still a special place in my heart for the Mariah version. It’s become an annual sing-along event in my office. No joke. Did I mention I work for the government?
Great list. Like Mark, I also really love the shit out of Mariah’s version of “All I Want for Christmas is You” (but I’m in general a huge fan of pre-1997 uptempo Mariah singles).
My personal favorite is “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9KpNznVLlY, from Crosby’s 1977 Christmas Special. Crosby sounds great, Bowie’s counterpoint (written for this recording) is beautiful, and the silly patter before the clip is priceless (and is exactly the sort of thing that Colbert riffed on perfectly in “A Colbert Christmas).
Great list. I submit Fairytale of New York by the Pogues, though have been told on occasion that it “doesn’t really count.”
If that were the case 24Frames, then dozens of Christmas songs wouldn’t count. I wholeheartedly agree with you on Fairytale of New York.
I nominate The Eagles’ “Please Come Home For Christmas”
I second Fairytale of New York. When I saw the title, it was the first and only song that came to mind.
“Alfie the Christmas Tree” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by John Denver and The Muppets. The latter amazingly by John and Rowlf.
“My Little Drum” and “Christmastime is Here” by The Vince Guaraldi Trio for A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Thank you for putting “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” on your list. You have brought a sense of validation to the perverseness in me that likes kitschy, strange, and slightly dark stuff.
Having said that, I am a big fan of the traditional Christmas songs, and not generally into holiday songs about the death of a close relative (the writers of “The Christmas Shoes” should be flogged). But for some reason, I just love the heck out of this dumb song. It is it’s irreverence and silliness that gets me, and I smirk every time it gets to the part about grandpa showing that he’s holding up okay by “drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel”.
In the same vein as “All I Want for Christmas” from Love Actually, I must also submit, “Christmas is All Around,” by Billy Mack (Bill Nighy.)