It's finally the holiday season! That means lots of shopping and, of course, a Christmas music playlist on repeat.
TL;DR Below are listed four Christmas songs with problematic lyrics or histories.
Many of our favourite tunes date to the very beginning of the twentieth century, if not earlier. This "old-timey" feeling gives these songs a charge of nostaligia; it's why some have endured as holiday classics.
There are other songs, however, that have not aged well. While the subjects of these songs may have been deemed appropriate at the time of their writing, they are problematic by today's standards. There are other songs that were just never okay.
Below we've compiled a list of four songs with controversial lyrics or histories. In the end, it's up to individuals to determine whether they shoud stop listening to these songs.
"Baby It's Cold Outside"
The problems with this song are well-published. The premise of "Baby It's Cold Outside" is that a man is pressuring a woman to stay at his place, presumably for sex. When the woman asks "hey, what's in this drink," the song really crosses a line. The "joke" is that the man has roofied the woman's beverage. This behaviour has always been completely inappropriate, but in recent year's it's become abundantly clear that we need to ditch this song entirely.
This seemingly innocuous Christmas-time favourite actually has racist origins. According to a Boston University professor, "Jingle Bells" was first a feature at minstrel shows, where performers in blackface mocked what they perceived as the strange behaviour of black Americans in the snow. This is, of course, racist preconception.
The song has been so disassociated from this history that it no longer overtly perpetuates racist stereotypes. For this reason, it's probably ok to continue to play at holiday parties and blast on car stereos. Though it never hurts to be mindful of the problematic beginnings of some of our favourite tunes, sayings, and products.
"Do They Know It's Christmas?"
This song is just cringeworthy. Written in 1984 to raise awareness of a famine in Ethiopia, "Do They Know It's Christmas" employs the worst and most tired tropes. Firstly, it refers not to Ethiopia, but the entire continent of "Africa" like it's some homogeneous blob of despair. The very title of the song also assumes the population is ignorant and needs to be taught or "saved." Ethiopia has a majority Christian population, so its people are, in fact, familiar with Christmas.
"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer"
This song is, apparently, anti-feminist. Sung from a male perspective, its lyrics cast "Grandma" as a woman who in life and death impedes the celebration of her family members, according to Folio. She is killed in a hit-and-run for which Santa faces no consequences. It's a silly scenario but speaks to a larger social phenomenon by which men are excused for their wrongdoings.