Season's Greetings! Each day in December leading up to Christmas, we'll be presenting another nugget of pop-Christmas magic: some of it good, some of it terrible, some of it by Bryan Adams. Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas Polka

The Three Suns, 1952

Okay, maybe Christmas polka is a good idea. Wow, are we done already? Merry Christmas, everyone! See you next year!

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

Liberace, 1974

Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about, he’s just eccentric. Lots of guys wear fur coats and diamond rings and eye makeup.

He's Gonna Take Away Our Christmas

Robert Goulet, 1969

I’ll cut right to the chase: a reindeer told Robert Goulet that Santa Claus, like the old testament God of the Israelites, is angry with the world’s evil and iniquity, and is therefore canceling Christmas indefinitely. Like a modern-day Jonah, Robert Goulet is burdened with the responsibility to go into the world and warn of Santa’s impending judgment. Wait — what the hell?

What You Want For Christmas

69 Boyz, Quad City DJ’s, and K-Nock, 2000

Hey Player! If you’re like me, you’re terrible at providing your friends and family with a reasonable list of items you might like to receive as gifts. My lists always include things like a new car and a case of beer. This song features not one, but two lists, chock-full of helpful holiday suggestions. Check it out.

Santa Must Be Polish

Bobby Vinton, 1987

Christmas polka? Who thought this would be a good idea? “Santa must be Polish/All dressed in red and white/Slipping down the chimney/While you’re asleep at night.” Is the Polish Defamation League aware of this?

This One's For The Children

New Kids on the Block, 1989

I can’t believe anyone ever took these guys seriously. It would be such brilliant self-parody if only they weren’t serious. I mean, they announce within the first two TR-808 clave hits that they are, in fact, serious. Following in the footsteps of their forefathers New Edition, the New Kids tried to add a meaningful social message to their holiday single, but I’m not sure they know exactly what that message is supposed to be. It has something to do with children. The children of the world.

Beatnik's Wish

Patsy Raye, 1959

So I guess this is what hipsters were like in the late fifties. That is, if hipsters wrote poetry about Christmas and performed them with a muffled trumpet.

Silver Bells

William Hung, 2004

This isn’t really fair, because William Hung’s entire career is based on the fact that his singing is terrible. And to be honest, I wasn’t all that amused by the whole thing the first time around; for an Asian guy doing awful karaoke versions of popular songs, he wasn’t particularly interesting or innovative. I had a Grinch-style change of heart when I realized that Silver Bells absolutely belongs to William Hung. Like Jeff Buckley covering Hallelujah, Hung has made the definitive version of the song — for better or worse — and all future versions will be measured against it.

Barefoot Santa Claus

Sonny James, 1966

I don’t really have anything clever to say about this one, except that those kids on the chorus make my ears cry. Instead of conjuring images of childhood innocence and the warmth of Christmas, I can only think of horror-movie kids, like those blonde kids or that movie about the corn. The only thing keeping me listening is that virtuoso celesta (like a glockenspiel; less German, more Mister Rogers), which is a little creepy in and of itself. Creepy good.

R2-D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas

C-3PO, Jon Bon Jovi, and some Star Kids or something, 1980

First of all, yes, this is a Star Wars Christmas song. And yes, the whole record is terrible — and I mean truly, deeply terrible. But that’s not the half of it: it’s also Jon Bon Jovi’s first-ever commercial recording (he’s credited as John Bongiovi), in which he’s commissioned by C-3PO to lead an intergalactic boys choir in singing Christmas greetings to R2-D2. It boggles the mind.

Honky Tonk Christmas

Johnny Paycheck, 1993

Johnny Paycheck is probably the greatest country singer you’ve never paid attention to. What I love about this tune is that slight tinge of bitterness and anger he brings to an otherwise trite and emotionless song. It’s as if his family kicked him out years ago, saying, “Go spend Christmas at one of those honky tonks you always go to.” We’ll have a honky tonk Christmas, all right. All night long.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Girl

New Edition, 1985

New Edition is indirectly responsible for unleashing a whole lot of crap on the world. From establishing the template for the whole boy band thing, to launching the pop/r&b careers of Bobby Brown and Bell Biv DeVoe, it’s hard to deny their influence on the pop world. Then there’s this 1985 Christmas feel-good-a-thon, which set the gold standard for schmaltzy Christmas pop — a standard we have yet to really improve upon. Thanks, guys.

Little Fir Tree

Captain Kangaroo, 1962

Captain Kangaroo explains puberty to a fir tree. “Little fir tree, don’t cry so much/You’ll be a Christmas tree next year/You’ll grow so big/You’ll grow so stout/All your little twigs will soon branch out.” Ewww…

Christmas Time Again

Extreme, 1992

Isn’t Extreme supposed to be a metal band? Has anyone heard an Extreme song that’s even remotely — in the hard rockin’ sense — extreme? No, these gentlemen are known for their softer side, and Christmas Time Again is no exception. It’s like More Than Words' home-schooled little sister, full of sentimental notions that completely miss the point, and occasionally tries to rhyme “time” with “time”. (Nuno, it doesn’t rhyme; it’s the same word.)

It Never Snows In L.A.

Jimmy Osmond, 1976

For my money, it just doesn’t get any better than thirteen-year-old Jimmy Osmond pleading with Santa not to bring him a sleigh for Christmas. See, there’s not enough snow and ice in Los Angeles — where Jimmy Osmond lived at the time — for a sleigh to be practical, or even useful. That’s all Jimmy’s saying. It just wouldn’t make sense, would it? A sleigh, in Los Angeles? Sacramento, maybe. Sure, it’s hardly the North Pole, but you’d be close enough to the mountains that you could just drive a few miles out of town — or get one of your eight siblings to drive you, in Jimmy’s case — to the country for the occasional sleigh ride. But not in Los Angeles. That’s just silly.

Alan Parsons In A Winter Wonderland

Grandaddy, 2000

The best part about this dead-pan farce of a Christmas tune is that you get the sense that Grandaddy really does admire Parsons’ work. Why else would they devote nearly three minutes of bone-dry sarcasm to him?

Santa Mouse

Burl Ives, 1968

A brown-nosing mouse wraps up a piece of cheese as a gift for Santa Claus, who names him “Santa Mouse,” and lets him hang out on Santa’s shoulder. Also, Burl Ives is completely insane.

Rain, Sleet, Snow

Paul Revere and the Raiders, 1967

Arguably the biggest band to come out the northwest (if you ignore that whole grunge thing), Paul Revere and the Raiders made one corker of a Christmas album, with bizarre psychedelic rock punctuated by interludes from an authentic Salvation Army band. Rain, Sleet, Snow — a musing on the efficacy of the postal service — is somehow the centerpiece of the record, and it’s probably the only track that could hold its own on a best-of compilation. If you have the means, I recommend listening to this one while drunk and/or heavily sedated.

My Christmas

Tony! Toni! Toné!, 1990

This is just embarrassing. It sounds like it could easily have been an outtake from some forgotten holiday special episode of A Different World, yanked at the last minute because the song was making people irritable. It’s surprisingly religious for an early-90s R&B Christmas song. But listen to how seamlessly one of the Tonys intermixes the sacred with the profane: “So this Christmas Eve/I’m gonna lay out by the tree/Me and my girlie sharin’ the Word/Ooh, you know what I mean…/[squealing girl]/Opening up the presents.” So the song sucks, but you gotta give the Tonys some credit for their skillful use of holiday innuendo.

(Something About) Christmas Time

Bryan Adams, 1985

I told you there’d be Bryan Adams. In a shining example of the over-wrought power balladry that made your sister cry in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, who else (besides perhaps Adam Sandler) would have absolutely no problem belting out lines like “To see the joy in the children’s eyes/The way that the old folks smile/Says that Christmas will never go away”? It’s that rare combination of glittering generalities and queasy sentimentality that earns Bryan Adams his rightful place as chaplain aboard the SS Holiday Cheese.

Santa Claus Is A Texas Cowboy

Bob Loftis, 1974

The premise is simple: contrary to popular belief, Santa Claus is in fact a Texan, and something of a cowboy, though instead of roping/herding cattle, he laughs a lot and sings for his herd of reindeer. As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas, and you can’t get much bigger than Santa. This is a novel idea, of course, but Loftis presents practically zero evidence to back up his claim — even the anecdotal evidence you’d expect to be in a song devoted to the subject — so I’m unconvinced.

Another Lonely Christmas

Prince and the Revolution, 1984

Revolution-era Prince sings to his dead girlfriend, reminiscing about swimming and gambling (well, pokeno). We’re not sure if it was pneumonia or strep throat that did her in, but Prince admits to spending the last seven years drinking himself blind on banana daiquiris and admiring her younger sister. Fa la la la la, la la, la la.

Dominick, The Italian Christmas Donkey

Lou Monte, 1967

One of the most important functions of art is to help us convey complicated ideas in a meaningful way, forging relationships and bridging gaps of time, space, and culture. Lou Monte wrestled with such an idea: how would Santa’s reindeer cope with the rocky terrain of the Italian peninsula? While the answer might seem obvious (Santa’s reindeer can fly), Lou Monte goes deeper than that, and tells us a story about a donkey. A christmas donkey.

Christmas Rappin'

Kurtis Blow, 1979

Ignore the obvious pun in the title and the lack of any discernable hook, this novelty track was perhaps the first charting hip-hop single, ever. (Rapper’s Delight, the first hip-hop single to hit gold record status, was released a month or so later.) Its success launched the career of hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow, and introduced middle America to the awkward, angular cadence and barely-reinvented disco of early hip-hop. And like every other early hip-hop track, listen closely for the parts the Beastie Boys have sampled. (Hold it now…)

Christmas In My Pants

Bob Rich, 1970

We’ve seen this one before — it came to my attention last year about three weeks too late. So to start off this year’s round of holiday goodness, here it is again. Information on this track is scarce, but it sports some unapologetically deep lyrics: “I’ve got Christmas in my pants/and my hands on my hips/I’ve got Easter for a zipper/and Shakespeare’s upper lip.” Whoa.