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Paul McCartney knows how to write a simple, catchy song, even a Christmas one. There’s not much to his holiday hit “Wonderful Christmastime,” except some effortless yet effective lyrics and a 1980s synth beat to keep it all together. No wonder it only took Paul a couple of minutes to write.

Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, walking a horse in the snow during Christmas time, 1979.
Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, walking with a horse during Christmas time | Jim Sugar/Corbis via Getty Images

Paul McCartney wrote his Christmas song ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ in 10 minutes during July

Surprisingly, Paul wrote “Wonderful Christmastime” late into his solo career. Well, later than many fans expected. In 1980, during the recording sessions for McCartney II, Paul wrote the tune. However, the song became Paul’s first single since 1971. He released it in November 1979, just in time for the holiday season.

According to the Sunday Post, Paul recorded the song by himself and wrote it in about 10 minutes on a “boiling hot day in July.”

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.”

So, it’s clear how a songwriter of Paul’s caliber could write such easy lyrics in a matter of minutes. Paul took Christmas in July seriously that year. Is it easier to write a holiday tune in the boiling heat of the summer?

It’s also worth pointing out that the song came during another turning point in Paul’s career. He was recording his first solo album since his band Wings had disbanded that fall. Yet the band performed the song live during one of their last shows and even appeared in the song’s music video.

The simplicity of the lyrics have garnered hate over the years

Even though its lyrics are straightforward and cheery, “Wonderful Christmastime” has garnered some hate from fans over the years. If it was written in 10 minutes, it must be horrible.

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 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.”

They talked to musicologist and performer Nate Sloan, who said, “Wonderful Christmastime” is “simple to a fault.” Sloan continued to explain, “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.”

Another reason fans might hate the song is its synthesizer, which Sloan points out is not a common instrument used in holiday songs.

The song has accumulated so much hate that its forced some to people to write counter arguments, defending it. Later, when USA Today took a poll in 2016, the song received a 62% approval rate. 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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Paul McCartney makes millions for his Christmas hit

No matter what anyone says about “Wonderful Christmastime,” the song is popular. It’s usually played on the radio a million times during Christmas and consistently appears on holiday playlists.

Which is why Paul receives a ton of money a year for it. In 2010, Forbes reported that “Wonderful Christmastime” earns Paul between $400,000 and $600,000 in royalties a year.

Not bad for a simple song that everyone seems to enjoy hating on.