It only took Paul McCartney a couple of minutes to write one of the most festive rock ‘n’ roll Christmas songs ever, “Wonderful Christmastime.” The song still brings in the big bucks, over $15 million, to be exact, even though some fans think it’s one of the worst Christmas songs ever.
Paul McCartney wrote ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ in 10 minutes during July
According to the Sunday Post, Paul wrote “Wonderful Christmastime” in about 10 minutes on a “boiling hot day in July” during a recording session for McCartney II.
The lyrics include, “The mood is right. The spirits up. We’re here tonight. And that’s enough. Simply having a wonderful Christmastime. Simply having a wonderful Christmastime. The party’s on. The feeling’s here. That only comes. This time of year.”
Judging by the simplistic lyrics, it’s easy to understand how Paul wrote the song so quickly. He was recording his first solo album following the split of his band, Wings, that fall. However, the band performed the song live during one of their last shows and even appeared in the song’s music video.
It became Paul’s first solo single since 1971’s “Eat at Home,” and he released it in November 1979, just in time for the holiday season.
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‘Wonderful Christmastime’ has made Paul over $15 million
In 2010, Forbes reported that “Wonderful Christmastime” had made Paul about $15 million, which has risen in the last 12 years.
Since Paul recorded the song by himself, he receives royalties as a songwriter and performer.
“The song is what we in the industry call an evergreen, because it gets played all the time,” entertainment attorney Bernie Resnick told Forbes. “[McCartney’s] publishing royalty check every fourth quarter probably has a lot of zeros on the end.”
Forbes’ other industry source said Paul earns between $400,000-$600,000 annually. Paul probably recorded “Wonderful Christmastime” to make money after his “disastrous” experience with The Beatles.
Since 2010, streaming services have likely made Paul even more money for the song. “If you listen to ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ it sounds like it’s from another century,” Resnick said. “‘Wonderful Christmastime’ doesn’t sound dated, and it’s more than 30 years old. McCartney was smart because not only did he write and record the song himself, but he created a song that will stand the test of time.”
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The Christmas song might be one of the most hated
Despite the festiveness of “Wonderful Christmastime,” it has garnered some hate from fans over the years. Some argue that it must be horrible if it was written in 10 minutes.
In 2014, USA Today (per iHeartRadio) ran an article saying that Paul’s efforts on the song were “akin to being the writer of an Adam Sandler movie.”
Meanwhile, Esquire wrote, “It’s a love song between a middle-aged man and the new Casio keyboard he got in his stocking. A song whose awesome black hole of musicality is almost powerful enough to suck the life out of everything McCartney did before.”
Harsh words for such a simple cherry song. However, the simplicity of “Wonderful Christmastime” could be the reason for all the hate. Mental Floss writes that such strong reactions to the tune could have something to do with its structure, “or lack thereof.”
Musicologist and performer Nate Sloan said “Wonderful Christmastime” is “simple to a fault.” Sloan explained, “It moves through the verse section of the song faster than a sleigh with no brakes. Before you know it, ‘that’s enough’ and we’re off to the titular chorus. It’s like you’ve barely finished your eggnog before someone shoves a plate of ham in your face.
“The only variation comes with the bridge section, ‘the choir of children sing their song,’” Sloan continued. “Is their song ‘ding dong?’ Or are bells ringing simultaneously? Either way it’s not the most inventive passage.”
Other fans might hate the synthesizer, which Sloan points out is not commonly used in holiday songs. Later, when USA Today took a poll in 2016, “Wonderful Christmastime” received a 62% approval rate.
While some dislike the song’s simplicity and synthesizer, others hate it because they think it’s about witchcraft. However, Paul’s not complaining about the hatred of the song. He earns a pretty penny in royalties for it every Christmas.
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