The 7 Worst Christmas Song Covers, from Justin Bieber to Jim Carrey
Slapping together an album of Christmas standards is one of the easiest ways for an artist to make some quick cash during the holidays. That means there are a disproportionately high number of Christmas song covers out there, and they run the gamut from festive to insufferable.
To complement our list of the best classic Christmas songs for your driving playlist, here’s our ranking of the seven worst Christmas song covers, which should be avoided at all costs.
“Drummer Boy” by Justin Bieber ft. Busta Rhymes
“The Little Drummer Boy” isn’t that great of a song to begin with, but it becomes especially bad when “modernized” by Justin Bieber. The Biebs seems to miss the point of the song when he raps that he’s “Playing for the king/Playing for the title,” which makes it sound like he’s challenging baby Jesus to a drumline competition to decide which of them is the true son of God.
Doing a Christmas duet with Justin Bieber seems like a new low for Busta Rhymes, until you remember that he also once rapped about minivans in a Toyota Sienna commercial.
“Santa Baby” by Michael Bublé
“Santa Baby” is a fun, flirty song about a gold digger who is willing to overlook Santa’s sizeable love handles in exchange for some very lavish gifts. Except, of course, when the song is sung by Michael Bublé, who wants to make it very, very clear that he and Santa are “just friends.”
“Santa buddy?” “I’ll wait up for you, dude?” “Santa pally?!?” This song is about having sex in exchange for presents, Michael Bublé, and if you’re not OK with that arrangement, then don’t bother singing the song. Santa’s not going to give you a yacht just because you’re a real clutch bro.
“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s decision to go electric in 1965 was met with boos at the Newport Folk Festival. His decision to go Bing Crosby in 2009 was met mostly with snickers, and for good reason. Not only does Christmas music seem out of character for the iconoclastic (and Jewish) performer, but years of constant touring has essentially destroyed his singing voice (which was always a bit polarizing to begin with). Dylan’s present-day croak is best suited for bluesy ballads, not for crooning out holiday standards.
Any song that requires him to hit the high notes is especially hard on the ears. Exhibit A:
Not all of the songs on this album are a failure, though. In fact, the upbeat polka “Must Be Santa” belongs on every Christmas driving playlist (and the music video is pretty fun, too).
“O Holy Night” by Christina Aguilera
Though this song is clearly meant to be taken seriously, Christina Aguilera’s oversinging on “O Holy Night” borders on self-parody. The song really goes off the rails in the last minute and a half, right after Christina delivers her spoken-word version of the Lord’s Prayer:
Clearly, Aguilera recorded this before she got some career advice from Peter Griffin.
“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Smash Mouth
Though best remembered for their hit song “All Star,” Smash Mouth had a surprising amount of success churning out very 90s-sounding covers of classic pop songs, like The Monkees “I’m a Believer” and War’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” Their cover of Darlene Love’s 1963 holiday hit “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” never really caught on, though—probably because none of the Shrek movies are set during Christmas.
“Last Christmas” by Crazy Frog
The early 2000s were a weird time, kids. Case in point: in 2003, a computer-animated character from Sweden named Crazy Frog (originally known as “The Annoying Thing”) took the world by storm with covers of pop songs that featured “ding ding” noises.
Crazy Frog is best remembered for his chart-topping Eurodance version of the Beverly Hills Cop song “Axel F,” but he also tried his amphibious hand at Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells.”
Crazy Frog also covered “Last Christmas” by Wham! It’s not good.
“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by Jim Carrey
I know that Jim Carrey’s manic, schizophrenic rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” is supposed to be funny, but it’s actually just supremely obnoxious and unpleasant. Kind of like the entire live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie, which turned the beloved Dr. Suess children’s book/cartoon special into a bloated, joyless, and shamelessly cynical cash-grab.
This song was clearly recorded for people who enjoyed Carrey’s “comical” take on “I Am the Walrus” (which is to say, no one):
Honorable mention goes to the hip-hop song “Grinch (2000)” by Jim Carrey and Busta Rhymes (making his second appearance on this list!), in which Carrey’s Grinch gives “a shout-out to the west side of Whoville.”
No, seriously, this is a real thing.
Patrick Grieve was born in Southwestern Ohio and has lived there all of his life, with the exception of a few years spent getting a Creative Writing degree in Southeastern Ohio. He loves to take road trips, sometimes to places as distant as Northeastern or even Northwestern Ohio. Patrick also enjoys old movies, shopping at thrift stores, going to ballgames, writing about those things, and watching Law & Order reruns. He just watches the original series, though, none of the spin-offs. And also only the ones they made before Jerry Orbach died. Season five was really the peak, in his opinion. See more articles by Patrick.