Creepy Christmas Songs

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Decorations go up, mulled wine is on the boil and Christmas songs are playing on repeat from November 1st till just after New Years.

Whether it’s Mariah Carey dashing through the snow in a red onesie or Frank Sinatra crooning White Christmas, there’s something for everyone.

We’ve heard these songs so many times, we feel as though we could sing them in our sleep. But listen a little closer, and you might be surprised by some of your favourite festive lyrics…

Baby It's Cold Outside

The debate around Baby It’s Cold Outside has become as much of a tradition as the bad jokes in Christmas crackers. Is it harmless banter or humourless coercion? Is it anything more than the festive forefather of Blurred Lines?

Composer Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1944 for him and his wife Lynn to perform at parties. It was a fun way for them to signal to everyone that it was time to go home. What started as a private joke soon became a huge hit.

Once upon a time, Baby It’s Cold Outside was considered progressive. Women in the 1940’s were expected to reject all sexual advances from men, even if they fancied them, because women were not supposed to want sex. Like in black and white movies, where a broad might slap a man wearing a fedora for getting fresh: “not for me, I’m a lady!”

As the female part sings in Baby It’s Cold Outside the woman is worried about what “the neighbours might think”. She knows she’s not supposed to want to stay over, that she “ought to say no” to his advances… but she’s having a nice evening, so she agrees to “half a drink more”.

The man in the song is doing his best to persuade her to spend the night with multiple arguments: from there being no cabs, to the more dramatic possibility of catching pneumonia and dying.

What was once thought of as liberal, now sounds pretty problematic. With greater awareness about the importance of consent, lyrics where a woman sings “say, what’s in this drink?” come off as predatory, not playful.

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: on the original sheet music the two parts were listed as ‘wolf’ for the man, and ‘mouse’ for the woman. Creepy or what?

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Is it just us or is there definitely something gross about this one? Maybe it’s the high squeaky voice. Or maybe it’s the thought of Santa Claus, a man beloved by thousands of children, getting off with your mum. Shudder.

The song was commissioned by the department store Saks Fifth Avenue in 1952 to compliment a Christmas card featuring a picture of Santa Claus kissing a woman while holding a very surprised looking child. Isn’t that weird enough without a song to go with it?

The song is harmless enough – Mummy can do what she wants – but more than fifty years later there is no male equivalent. Her kid imagines “what a laugh it would have been…if Daddy had only seen” which is pretty weird to say the least, giggling at the thought of ol’ Saint Nick breaking up their parents’ marriage. Cool.

But for all we know ‘Santa Claus’ is just her husband, kindly indulging one of her festive fantasies as an early Christmas present. If you ever wanted to really laugh about sexist representations of Santa, just search ‘Men’s Santa Costumes’ and ‘Women’s Santa Costumes’…