A not-so-wonderful Christmastime


Art by Veronika Maynard

This story was originally published in the second edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 13th, 2021).

Christmas music has never been revered for its lyrical and musical complexities. In fact, this is not a problem in regards to Christmas music; Christmas music was not made to be critically acclaimed, necessarily. Christmas songs serve as warm, festive celebrations of the season, not complex, gripping masterpieces. 

However, this does not mean that Christmas music can be nauseating, inducing anger in anyone who hears it. Unfortunately, former Beatle member Paul McCartney manages to do just that. It is almost a cliché to hate this song, as it is so widely disliked. It is one of the most polarizing songs ever made; one either believes it is a festive, fun, celebratory Christmas song or one of the worst songs to ever be produced- an insult to Christmas, synthesizers, and the ears of listeners. 

McCartney’s 1979 Christmas single “Wonderful Christmastime” utilizes synthesizers, which could be an interesting and refreshing take on Christmas music, as synthesizers were just becoming popular in music at the time the song was recorded. 

Instead of crafting notable and catchy synth melodies like many musicians did in both that time and the decade following it, McCartney opts for a dull, trite, forgettable sequence of notes. The song is a string of monotonous, repetitive synths, with Paul McCartney sounding less than thrilled to be singing over them. 

It is the antithesis of what Christmas music is supposed to represent. Christmas songs are sentimental, yet enjoyable representations of the holiday and​​ the season as a whole. “Wonderful Christmastime,” however, represents vapid, joyless experimentation with synthesizers.

While Christmas music is not known for genius lyrical compositions, the lyrics of “Wonderful Christmastime” are derivative and unoriginal. There is no lyrical experimentation or originality. It is simply a rehash of every other popular Christmas song. It begs the question- why go out of your way to listen to this song, instead of other, better Christmas songs? 

There are countless older, classic Christmas songs such as “Jingle Bells” or “White Christmas” that one could listen to, or perhaps more contemporary Christmas songs. No matter what kind of Christmas music one prefers, it is clear that there is nothing about “Wonderful Christmastime” that sets it apart from other mediocre Christmas songs. There is nothing special or enjoyable about it that would make one go out of their way to listen to it.