10 OF THE MOST OVER-RATED & OVER-PLAYED CHRISTMAS SONGS

“What a bright time, it’s the right time to rock the night away.”

Bobby Helms

Like many of you, I have those Christmas songs that I never tire of. For me, that would be “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Believe”, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, “O, Holy Night”, “Holly Jolly Christmas” and the like. Thanks to my local radio stations, there are also those songs I’m so over that I end up tuning out the radio altogether during the holidays.

Once upon a time, I’d call in or email the radio station to make a request to play a specific song. The DJ (or whoever answered the phone) would either say “sorry, that’s not on our playlist” or “let me see what I can do for you”. After listening for an hour, I’d finally realize that was just to get me off the phone.

Inspired by the rejection of corporate radio to play something different than the same songs over and over again, the internet now provides the opportunity to become my own DJ. Creating a Spotify playlist is simple and customized to my tastes.

Several years ago, I did a month-long feature I called “An Uncommon Christmas”, highlighting for my readers songs I have enjoyed for years but never get much airplay on the radio. This year, I’m doing another volume of the same with new songs. If you want to check out the list, you can find it under the “Advent Playlist” button at the top of the page.

Going one step further, I decided to create a post highlighting ten songs that have been either over-rated or over-played for years. Not necessarily bad tunes, just songs that I don’t need to hear at the top of every hour.

So today, join me as I publicize (like they need it) our list of ten of the most over-played and/or over-rated Christmas songs of all time. Here I present ten holiday hits in no particular order. If you have an annoying selection that didn’t make the cut (or disagree with our list), feel free to share your thoughts within the comments. We’ll definitely take a listen!

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU (1994) – MARIAH CAREY

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. This super catchy ditty from Mariah Carey is awesome from the first time you hear it. It’s when you’ve heard it 150 times a year since 1994 that it becomes a bit too much. Factor in that the iPhone’s default ring sounds remarkably like the first few notes of this Christmas classic (currently #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100), and you’ll be identifying more everyday with Ebeneezer Scrooge.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 8

LAST CHRISTMAS (1984) – WHAM!

This perennial classic from Wham! found its origins in George Michael’s childhood bedroom during a visit to his parents’ home in 1983. Not surprisingly, Michael himself played every instrument you hear on the track as well as producing it (he seemed to be a very big perfectionist). The song hit the top ten in nearly 30 countries and has been a staple on radio ever since. Additionally, it’s been covered by so many artists (from Ariana Grande to the Backstreet Boys to Taylor Swift to the cast of Glee), so much so that it is truly inescapable. On a positive note, proceeds from the single were donated to fight the famine in Ethiopia.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 9

THE CHRISTMAS SHOES (2000) – NEWSONG

Although the sentiment, empathy, and charity to others is a beautiful statement within this track from Newsong, the sugary sweetness of the storyline feels a bit emotionally manipulative during the season of giving (although I know that was not the intent of the song’s writers). You know how those Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas movies always feature a young woman forced to take over the family inn in dire straits back home because Mom and/or Dad are on their death bed? She runs into a seemingly unscrupulous guy her own age only interested in running her out of business, but in the end has a change of heart, falls in love with him, and they work together to save the inn? “Christmas Shoes” is a bit like that.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 10

FELIZ NAVIDAD (1970) – JOSE FELICIANO

Checking in as the 8th best-selling Christmas digital song in the Soundscan era, this Spanish/English hybrid recorded in 1970 never entered Billboard’s Hot 100 chart until January of 2017, eventually peaking at a high of #6 in a subsequent year. It feels as if this song has been a part of every Christmas I’ve ever known since I was a child. You hear it at Wal-Mart, in the car, at office Christmas parties, on the radio, and featured prominently on Spotify and Pandora playlists. So much so that it’s become the equivalent of Christmas elevator music.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 7

GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER (1979) – ELMO & PATSY

There was a New Year’s Eve during high school that always comes to mind when I hear this 1979 novelty Christmas song. A pretty good blizzard was brewing in my hometown that night and the bars had recently closed. The streetlights were ablaze, and you could see huge fluffy snowflakes falling under the light they cast, with frigid temperatures as well. My Dad happened to be looking outside and saw a dark form in the middle of our street and threw on his coat to investigate. A few minutes later, he walked in our front door carrying a lady who was obviously intoxicated and confused. We warmed her up with tea or coffee, and once she was coherent, her first words were “where is my bottle?” My Dad went back out and found a big bottle of something and her purse and brought them back to her. The next morning, he walked her back the few blocks to her home and I don’t think we ever saw her again…and Dad didn’t recall seeing any reindeer tracks.

This song itself is purely silly and simply gets old once you’re over 12 years of age.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 10

GROWN-UP CHRISTMAS LIST (1992) – AMY GRANT

Although this was originally recorded by David Foster and Natalie Cole, the “hit” single version was from Christian artist Amy Grant. Although the message of “no more lives torn apart” and “wars would never start” is an admirable one, it’s a bit like “Christmas Shoes” to me…or people who like unicorns and rainbows. In the world we live today, it’s a bit too good to be true.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 8

THIS CHRISTMAS (1970) – DONNY HATHAWAY

Much of my initial opinion on this song can be traced back to the atrocious cover version by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John from several years back. Although Olivia’s vocals are great as always, there’s not much she can do to save the duet (listen to her excellent “Christmas Wish” release instead). All that aside, I’ve never been fond of the song itself. Although the lyrics paint a beautiful picture of the joy of Christmas experienced by a couple, the music doesn’t seem terribly “Christmas-y” to me. Just my 2 cents!

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 8

HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) (1971) – JOHN LENNON & PLASTIC ONO BAND

Talk about a downer. It’s like John Lennon wrote “Imagine” and had extra lyrics and it was December and he was annoyed with the Vietnam war, so he wrote a Christmas song. Naturally, because it’s recorded by a former Beatle, radio plays it all the time. Not a bad song, just a bit depressing for the most wonderful time of the year.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 8

BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE (2019) – JOHN LEGEND & KELLY CLARKSON

Ooh, the controversy…is a bit foolish. This 1940’s era Oscar-winning tune is playful and in good fun, and its intent has nothing to do with literally or figuratively taking advantage of someone while they are vulnerable. Everyone from Doris Day to Bette Midler to Meghan Trainor have recorded it. It’s the cringe-y woke lyrics of the version by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson that make you realize that you shouldn’t alter history and also to remember context when rendering judgement.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 10

DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS (1984) – BAND AID

Another charity single benefiting the famine in Ethiopia, the “supergroup” Band Aid joined together over the course of one day to create a precursor to 1985’s “We are the World” single by USA for Africa. Each soloist performed their recording in front of the entire group of British and Irish hitmakers, with Phil Collins patiently waiting throughout the day to overdub drums on the recorded track. The mixed reaction from critics hasn’t stopped its ongoing popularity in December, with music paper NME stating the obvious – “Millions of Dead Stars write and perform rotten record for the right reasons”.

MOTEVENTURE’S “TOO MUCH” FACTOR: 10


So, there you have it. What are your thoughts on our list of 10 Over-Played (or Over-Rated) Christmas classics? What did we leave out? What doesn’t deserve to make the list? Leave your thoughts via a comment on the page!

Before you leave, please check out our previous entries in the “Our Ten” series here on Moteventure!

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