6 Not-So-Jolly Christmas Carols

Getty Images
Getty Images / Getty Images

You can always tell when Christmas is just around the corner. The radio starts playing cheery holiday favorites like Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song" and Eartha Kitt's version of "Santa Baby." Bands of merry carolers wander the streets harmonizing Christmas classics like "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells." But there are some Christmas songs that don't get a lot of attention because they're dark, even by non-holiday song standards.

1. Weird Al Yankovic's "Christmas at Ground Zero"

Weird Al's first crack at a Christmas tune took a decidedly darker turn than one might expect from the king of pop music parodies. According to the liner notes in his first box set Permanent Record: Al in the Box, Yankovic's label had been dogging him to do a Christmas album ever since "Eat It" had turned him into a parody zeitgeist. So he came up with a Christmas song for his 1986 album Polka Party! that people might sing if they knew World War III was just around the corner. Apparently, some radio stations were so put off by the song's dark humor that they banned the album altogether.

2. Eric Idle's "F&^$ Christmas"

The most musical member of Monty Python (not counting Neil Innes, of course) also jumped on the anti-Christmas carol bandwagon in his solo career. During his "Greedy Bastard" tour, Erik Idle just came right around and said "F@#$ Christmas"—although he didn't use the grawlix to say the "F-word." He also spared no one or nothing involved with Christmas, with lyrics like "F#$% Santa," "F#*$ holly and f#*$ ivy and f#*$ all that mistletoe" and "F#$& Rudolph and his stupid f#*$& nose." So if you haven't figured it out by now, the song performed in the video has some very naughty words.

3. The Pet Shop Boys' "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas"

The electronic pop duo's stab at a Christmas song might have a happy beat, but its lyrics are anything but—especially at Christmas. Christopher Lowe and Neil Tennant's holiday tune bemoans all the usual complaints of a typical dysfunctional family trying to make it through another holiday, complete with "families fighting around a plastic tree" and "now it's all about shopping and how much things cost." Then it launches into a lyric loop that brings it home with "it doesn't often snow at Christmas, the way it's meant to do, but I'll still have a glow at Christmas, because I'll be with you."

4. Dwight Yoakam's "Santa Can't Stay"

Dwight Yoakam's Christmas song is probably what you'd expect a super sad country song to sound like: There are drunk husbands, presents being used as weapons, and good ol' fashioned heartbreak on Christmas Eve. The song's about a boy who learns that Santa won't be visiting because Momma told him to leave. Little Bobby notices "the plate where cookies still lay" and that "a car just like Dad's pulled out and drove away." It's so sad that it'll either break your heart or make you grow one big enough to break all over again.

5. The Arrogant Worms' "Christmas Sucks"

This Canadian comedy music trio saw something funny about the unquestioning worship of Christmas and how it implores us to give, give, give until we hurt, hurt, hurt. So they decided to give the Christmas hating Scrooges and the greedy gift-taking hoarders a song to show the seedy side of the holiday season. The song has a catchy chorus: "Christmas sucks, Christmas sucks, getting stuff is much more fun, you gotta look out for number one, Christmas sucks."

6. Spinal Tap's "Christmas with the Devil"

Spinal Tap members David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls (played by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer, respectively) also couldn't resist the music industry's trend of trying to cram a Christmas song into every band's repertoire. Instead, they crammed heavy metal's brazen love for the occult and faux-devil worship into a holiday song where lost souls in Hell are celebrating Christmas with Satan himself. There, "the sugar plums are rancid and the stockings are in flames" and "the rats ate all the presents and the reindeer ran away."