Top Ten Not-So-Jolly Holiday Tunes

Oh, the joyous season! A time when we gather with friends and family, snuggle on the couch with full bellies. Chestnuts roast, and we watch A Charlie Brown Christmas or the Wizard of Oz. Andy Williams sums it up best with his 1962 classic: "It's the most wonderful time of the year." 

Yes, indeed it is wondrous for many, but not all. So many of us have shed tears in our eggnog, haven't we? This time of happiness can be extra lonely/frustrating/alienating for those of us without a family/significant other/job. Not everyone experiences the rush of holiday cheer. Some of us want to throw eggs at Christmas carolers, or at mini vans with those obnoxious reindeer antlers.

With that in mind, let's wallow in self-pity together and listen to the ultimate not-so-jolly holiday songs. Check out our list of the 10 most unhappy holiday songs after the jump. 


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10. James Brown - "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto"
This track is confusing because it's so infectious, and who can get bummed-out with James Brown's upbeat, whip-smart delivery? Peel back the funky onion though, and you hear the King of Soul shedding light on the class division that exists in our country.

9 John Prine - "Christmas in Prison"


With raspy vocals and a hauntingly charming aura, Prine's track off his 1973 album

Sweet Revenge

is the ideal song for a totally bummer Christmas. The song's protagonist is locked up in the big house and yearning for the girl who "flows in his veins." And you thought you had it bad, eh?

8. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - "Cold White Christmas" 

The moniker for this lo-fi solo project for Owen Ashworth already hints at the misery that will ensue after pressing play. In the song, a twenty-something is having an epic downer of a holiday. He's stuck in a rundown apartment in Minnesota, struggling to make ends meet with a dead-end job at a fast food joint, and not having enough coin to travel to see family. How does he deal with the sorrow, a beer for breakfast, of course. 

7. Gruff Rhys - "Slashed Wrists This Christmas"
Here is one for all the depressed atheists out there. From Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys' 2011 EP entitled Atheist Xmas comes this harrowing tune about manic depression and suicide.

6. Dolly Parton -"Hard Candy Christmas" 

We know, you didn't see this one coming. Dolly Parton, really? Country singers have a penchant for doom and gloom. Miss Parton's no exception. This tune is written from the perspective of a lonely prostitutes during the holiday season. These girls are definitely not working nine-to-five, eh? What a way to make a living!

5. William S. Burroughs - "The Junky's Christmas"
This is much more spoken word than traditional song by beatnik maestro William Burroughs. Off his '90s record Spare Ass Annie, this is Burroughs waxing most maniacally poetic for 16 minutes as he reads the tale of Danny the Car-whipper, shuffling around NYC looking for a holiday fix.

4. They Might Be Giants - "Feast of Lights"
Quirky New York college rock stalwarts They Might Be Giants show us that dysfunctional family gatherings aren't just for the gentiles. This gem, a slice of life about a Chanukah get-together that falls apart at the seems with endless family bickering."Please be nice on this feast of lights." 

3. Sufjan Stevens - "Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserve it)"
Breakups certainly are a bitch to deal with during the holidays, aren't they? Prolific Detroit-born singer-songwriter tells a tale here about pulling the trigger on a dysfunctional relationship right at Christmas. So much for the yuletide cheer, Sufjan?

2. Fear - "Fuck Christmas" 
"Don't despair, just because it's Christmas," yelps quintessential L.A. hardcore group Fear frontman Lee Ving. This cathartic-yet-explosive piece dishes complete malcontent for the holidays. Jabbing a stiff middle finger at Christmas wreaths near and far, Ving makes the claim that not everything is oh so merry this time of year.  

1. King Diamond - "No Presents for Christmas"
All those stations playing holiday music 24-7 can drive a man insane. From the mind of Danish heavy metal warlord, Kim Bendix Petersen comes this pouncing ditty that takes all those jolly carols and flips them on their fucking head. This is the most menacing holiday-themed song of all time.

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