Problematic Christmas Songs

A series of timeless Christmas songs that are often deemed controversial.

January 25, 2022

Holiday classics serve as an absolute necessity during the Christmas season. Every December, decades-old music is brought back to life, adding a magical touch to the holidays. However, in recent years, some songs have been traced back to controversial lyrics and outdated themes; thus, it is crucial to analyze such lyrics to discern whether they are detrimental.


All I Want for Christmas is You 

The lyrics of this classic break away from Christmas materialism. This can be viewed as a positive aspect of the song as it is better to value love than a present snatched off a shelf. Nevertheless, despite being the anthem for holiday romantics everywhere, Mariah Carey’s 1994 classic states the best present a woman can receive is a man. Carey expresses herself as a pining girl when she questions, “Santa won’t you bring me the one I really need? Won’t you please bring my baby to me?” The notion of independence and women empowerment has been wholly disregarded in these verses. 


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

This timeless tune is seemingly perfect for cranking in your car the day after Thanksgiving. Regardless, upon diving deeper, it is difficult to ignore the blatant gender stereotypes in the third verse: “A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots is the wish of Barney and Ben; Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk is the hope of Janice and Jen.” Influencing adolescents by advising them about the type of present they desire pushes harmful stereotypes on these impressionable minds. Perhaps Barney happens to love playing with dolls, and Janice desires a pistol. Yet, the lyrics present in this song promote – instead of eradicating – the existing gender stereotypes in society. 


Do They Know It’s Christmas?

This Christmas song was produced to fight famine in Ethiopia. Nevertheless, its lyrics generalize the entire African continent in an offensive and factually incorrect manner that people have protested its inclusion on today’s radio channels.


All in all, the lyrics of these fan-favorite songs contain a more profound meaning that can be detrimental in the progression of our current society. Yet, of course, we still want them to remain enjoyable to the public. Everyone should be able to appreciate these childhood classics without fear of supporting outdated themes. The analysis of Christmas music leads to the conclusion that contemporary artists must transition these obsolete classics to the modern era. We reside in a time of progressive thinking, and these values must be reflected in our Christmas carols as well.

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