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Drunk Daddies and Penguin Spies: The 10 Most Bizarre Country Christmas Songs

From the head-scratching to the just plain bad, these are the low points in country holiday music

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney performs during the 2003 "Christmas in Washington" concert in Washington, D.C.

Theo Wargo/WireImage

We’ll spare you any coal-in-the-stocking puns when it comes to these holiday songs, all of which have at least one foot planted in country music. Just know that they are tracks that always raise an eyebrow when they show up in our iTunes library this time of year.

From John Denver’s buzz-killing “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” to Kenny Chesney’s SPF-light “All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan,” these 10 twang-and-tinsel tunes are as off-the-wall as the gift you’ll receive from your one weird aunt. But at least you can always return that.

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Brad Paisley, “Penguin, James Penguin”

Sorry, Rudolph — you just got replaced. There's a new animal in Santa's workshop, and he's modernizing Mr. Claus' operations by adding a GPS unit to the sleigh and bringing wireless Internet to the North Pole. Co-written by Brad Paisley (who recently redeemed himself with a rollicking take on "Run Run Rudolph" with Steven Tyler) and released in 2006, this Christmas tune was clearly recorded with a tongue-in-cheek approach… but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow. 

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NewSong, “The Christmas Shoes”

Laced with an unhealthy amount of cheese, this song takes place in the most festive of locations — the check-out line at a department store — where the narrator is reminded of the true spirit of Christmas by watching a boy buy a pair of shoes. The message may be genuine, but "Christmas Shoes" still feels like a blatant attempt to tug at heartstrings, with the candy-cane-sweet production taking away any sort of bite.  

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Sugarland, “Little Wood Guitar”

Jennifer Nettles and self-proclaimed Christmas fanatic Kristian Bush, the song's co-writer with Ellis Paul, take us on a confusing sleigh ride through Christmases past and present, starting with the year the narrator received her first acoustic guitar from Santa. She's all grown-up by the second verse, where she proudly states, "I'm a singer; I'm a waitress." When she adds that "people come to hear [me] from miles around," though, you start to wonder if lead singer Nettles skipped a verse — the one where she made the transition from bar singer to popular concert draw, perhaps — or if she's simply the most popular waitress this side of True Blood's Sookie Stackhouse. 

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Jeff Foxworthy, “Redneck 12 Days of Christmas”

"Somebody done gone to the Walmart!" So begins this ode to the hillbilly holidays, aimed at anyone who "leaves cold beer and pickled eggs for Santa Claus." Released in 1995 as the first single from Foxworthy's Crank It Up: The Music Album, "Redneck 12 Days of Christmas" became an honest-to-God Top 40 hit several times over, reappearing on the country charts every Christmas until 2001. 

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Kenny Chesney, “All I Want for Christmas Is a Real Good Tan”

Chesney's latest holiday song, "Christmas in Blue Chair Bay," is a welcome addition to this year's crop, but this 2003 attempt just treads water. "Instead of turkey, we'll have mahi-mahi grilled," croons Chesney. Occupying the gray area between the Beach Boys' "Kokomo" and Jimmy Buffett's B-sides, the song is actually a plea to Chesney's girlfriend, whom he's trying to convince to ditch the States and enjoy Christmas in the tropics instead. It's gonna take more than piña coladas and cheeseburgers in paradise to sell this sleepy tune, though. 

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GEORGE, WA - AUGUST 02: Joe Diffie performs on stage at the Watershed Music Festival 2014 at The Gorge on August 2, 2014 in George, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic)


Joe Diffie, “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer”

Bad things happen when Rudolph calls in sick. His understudy is a pickup-driving, overalls-sporting, "down home party animal," who follows Christmas carols with the rebel yell. It gets worse; in the most cringe-worthy of this 1995 song's lyrics, Leroy the Redneck Reindeer prompts Santa to drape his toy bag with the Confederate flag. Beyond any holiday lists, this is one for the country music hall of shame.

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John Denver, “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)”

John Denver struggled with alcohol for much of his career, making this holiday hiccup from 1973 — during which a sloshed dad stumbles into the house on Christmas Eve and passes out beneath the Christmas tree — either a startlingly honest exercise in self-examination or a fine example of the pot calling the kettle black.

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Elmo and Patsy, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”

We're pretty sure this one is on the Grinch's iPod playlist. Recorded in 1979 by a Bay Area veterinarian named Elmo Shropshire and his first wife, Patsy, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" was a regional hit until the early Eighties, when the song's music video — which Shropshire financed himself — became a hit on MTV. One year later, he signed a distribution deal with Epic Records, a move that helped "Grandma Got Over By a Reindeer" outsell Michael Jackson's Thriller during the 1984 holiday season. Oh, the humanity. 

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John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, “I Think You Might Like It”

It's the low-budget music video that really makes (or breaks) this holiday duet, which was written by "You're the One That I Want" composer John Farrar and released in 2012. In the three-minute clip, John Travolta flies his own airplane into town(!) and meets up with Newton-John, both of them wearing black outfits similar to those in the Grease finale. To celebrate the Christmastime get-together, the two do an awkward line-dance in someone's driveway before cruising around town in a Greased Lightning knockoff stacked high with fake presents. No wonder Rizzo skipped out on this reunion. 

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