Performing for over 5 years with a cabaret act that skewers misogynist and absurd lyrics in pop music has an occupational hazard: I pay more attention than most to the lyrics of well-known tunes. While art should never be taken too literally, a few Christmas classics are more strange or concerning than you think!
Do They Know It’s Christmas?
As Bim Adewunmi points out in The Guardian and Laura Seay in Washington Post, Band Aid’s classic fundraising anthem (the 1980s version and the recent 2014 reboot) is patronising and inaccurate at best and downright racist if you think about it. Exhibit A:
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
With sweeping generalisations about the weather of an entire continent, the all star cast of pop stars demonstrate ignorance of the fact that millions of African people are Christian, asking Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
Baby It’s Cold Outside
Despite never mentioning Christmas, this tune is regularly trotted out for silly season fun. However, to modern ears, the lyrics sound like a man pressuring a woman into staying at his house despite her saying no. Lines like ‘say what’s in this drink’ and ‘what’s the use in hurting my pride’ make for uncomfortable listening, which is perhaps why those lyrics were changed in this version sung by Idina Menzel and Michael Buble (though why they had children perform the flirty number, I’m not quite sure).
I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus
Perhaps a carol for children of divorce, this cheerful tune bounces along as its youthful protagonist watches their Mother engaged in illicit kissing and tickling with a bearded home intruder.
Oh, what a laugh it would have been,
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night!
Minnie and Santa
In a similar vein to ‘I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus’, Cindi Lauper’s song about a woman lying in wait (clad only in a red bow) for a fictional man to come down a chimney and seduce her is odd but alarmingly catchy.
I kind of love the way this song (recorded in 1953 by Eartha Kitt) shamelessly celebrates contemporary Christmas; jam-packed with capitalist greed, the lyrics rattle off increasingly expensive gifts the singer would like.
The one I love: White Wine in the Sun
Evoking Aussie summers and ensuring anyone living overseas will have a good cry on listening, Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine in the Sun’ is fast becoming a classic secular holiday tune.