Thursday, December 7, 2023

No. 1 After 65 years

Did you hear that finally there's a new Christmas song queen this year ?

Brenda Lee now
The song that Brenda Lee recorded as a 13-year old teenager in 1958, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree is the No. 1 song on the current Billboard Hot 100 for the first time beating out Mariah Carey's long-standing holiday tune, All I Want for Christmas, now at No. 2.

The 78-year old Lee is also the oldest artist to achieve this milestone. It's a tall one for the under 5-foot tall singer. It was 65 years ago in 1958 when Lee recorded the holiday song after signing a contract with Decca Records. In 2019, it peaked at No. 2. The song's 2023 triumph is partly credited to a newly released music video coinciding with the song’s 65th anniversary. Carey's holiday tune took 25 years to reach No. 1, released in 1994 it hit the top spot in 2019.

Home Alone 1990
The song was featured in the 1990 now classic Christmas movie, Home Alone. Coincidentally, this past week actor Macaulay Culkin, who starred in the film as the 8-year old Kevin McCallister reached permanent placement on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

This current No. 1 holiday status marks Lee's third career first top spot on the chart, her first since 1960, when she topped the charts with I’m Sorry and I Want to Be Wanted. During the 1960s, Lee had 37 U.S. chart hits, a number that's surpassed only by Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Ray Charles and Connie Francis.

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree was written by Johnny Marks, who specialized in writing Christmas songs despite being Jewish and not celebrating. His other holiday hits include Rudolph the red-Nosed Reindeer, A Holly Jolly Christmas, Silver and Gold, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Marks is also credited with Run Rudolph Run written by Chuck Berry but credited to Marks due to his trademark on Rudolph.

Internet source
The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the U. S. for songs and is published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, online streaming, and radio play in the U.S.

The 2023 triumph of Lee's Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree has been credited to a newly released music video coinciding with its 65th anniversary. Lee, who turns 79 on December 11, pushed to help it climb the chart by recording the song's first official video, featuring cameo appearances by country superstars Tanya Tucker and Trisha Yearwood. The song has become an online sensation, according to online sources, with over 8 million views, nearly 35 million streams and 21 million radio plays to date this year.

In 2018, Billboard reconfigured its chart calculation formula, giving more weight to streaming and so catalog recordings, released a year ago or many years ago, would have a chance to chart alongside new material, as listeners are likely to stream old favorites repeatedly. During the holidays, artists usually don't release new tunes, more listeners turn to a shared body of well-loved holiday songs.

Mariah Carey 1994 Christmas album
Those Billboard changes impacted holiday music big time and in December 2018, All I Want for Christmas Is You went to No. 6 on the Hot 100, the highest position it had ever reached on the singles chart. Although it had debuted in 1994 on her 
fourth studio album and first holiday album, Merry Christmas (Columbia Records) it wasn't released as a commercial single and due to chart rules at the time, it was ineligible. 

All I Want for Christmas Is You has topped the Hot 100 every holiday for years. In December 2019, it went to No. 1 for the first time holding that spot for the next three years. It was Carey's first-ever No. 1 song on the chart. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree annually peaked at No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 1960, then at No. 2 between 2019 and 2022.

There's $$$ in that hit holiday tune too. Carey, who co-wrote All I Want for Christmas Is You with Walter Afanasieff, has profited $60 million from a tune that she said took 15 minutes to write. On average, she earns around $3 million each holiday season. That sum is higher up when she performs holiday concerts and tours and does holiday specials and endorsements.
Olivia Olson in 2003

Coincidentally, just like Lee's holiday tune, Carey's tune was prominently featured in another popular holiday movie. 
The character of Joanna Anderson (Olivia Olson) sang it towards the end of Love Actually (2003) at a school concert and had everyone in the film cheering. Reportedly, Olson's singing was so good that the film's producers had to ask her to tone it down to make it more believable. She had such an amazing voice that writer and director Richard Curtis had it edited so it sounded more like a child singing.

The Chipmunk Song
 As of this week, several other holiday favorites are in the top 10 list as well. Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms) is No. 4, Last Christmas (Wham!) is No. 5, A Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives) is No. 6 and It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams) is No. 10. 

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree is only the third holiday song to go all the way to No. 1 after All I Want for Christmas Is You. That's because Christmas Don't Be Late (The Chipmunk Song) which was also released in 1958 (like Rockin') three weeks later topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was written by Ross Bagdasarian (stage name David Seville) who sang and recorded the song and varied tape speeds to produce high-pitched chipmunk voices. Vocals were credited to Alvin, Simon and Theodore, Seville's cartoon chipmunk group.

Merry Christmas to Brenda
It Christmas wishes do come true, Brenda Lee got hers early this year, after 65 years.

Here's some of my holiday favorites: I'll Be Home For Christmas and White Christmas🎄(1941, 1943 Bing Crosby), Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (1944 Judy Garland)The Christmas Song (1961 Nat King Cole), It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (1963 Andy Williams), Christmastime Is Here (1965 Vince Guaraldi Trio), Merry Christmas, Darling (1970 Karen Carpenter)Last Christmas (1984 George Michael), Believe (2004 Josh Groban), Carol of the Bells (various artists).

🎄The first public performance of the song was by Crosby on Christmas Day, 1941, on his NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall, a few weeks after the Pearl harbor attack.

Plus, some holiday non-favorites: All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, Christmas Why Can't I Find You?🎄 Mele Kelikimaka, Blue Christmas, Dominick the Donkey, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Little St Nick, Jingle Bells (barked by dogs), Santa Baby, Christmas Don't be Late, Is Zat You Santa Claus?, Happy Xmas (War Is Over!), Do They Know It’s Christmas?

🎄Written by Mariah Carey, James Horner, Will Jennings for the 2000 film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and sung by Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen).

Your Turn — do you have some likes and absolute dislikes in holiday music ?
Today, is a day to remember Pearl Harbor (Dec 7, 1941) for all the reasons already known.
Chanukah, the Festival of Lights begins tonight Dec 7 and continues to Friday, Dec 15.
Holiday Happiness is the F&P focus this month with trivia, concerts, decos and a road trip.


Bijoux said...

I also love Carol of the Bells and Mary Did You Know. And I’m one of the few who likes the Band Aid song, Do They Know It’s Christmas. I hate the hippopotamus song and the Christmas shoes one.

Anvilcloud said...

I am not a great fan of either of those two songs. In fact, I might be more of a carol guy.

DUTA said...

Brenda Lee had a very special singing voice and she deserves the honor even after 65 years.

Marcia said...

I remember this day because my mother would have been 105 today.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

I definitely remember Brenda Lee and her songs. I was quite young then, but I had older siblings, so I heard all the 50's and early 60's rock and roll songs. I don't particularly care for Mariah Carey's song...I think it is overplayed everywhere. I tend to prefer Christmas songs that are more in keeping with the real meaning of Christmas, but I do enjoy the snappy happy tunes. I used to sing "All I WAnt for Christmas is my two front teeth" for several years as I lost my two front teeth when I was 2, and of course they didn't come back until I was 7. So that was a standard song that I learned to sing very young. LOL. This was interesting. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Rita said...

I like All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth because it was on the radio all the time when mine were gone and my dad used to turn it up in the car or at home and tease me. It was already a classic by that time...must have been seven so 1958. Always has reminded of my dad--I can see him laughing and smiling at a good way. :)

Otherwise--I like most of them and all the ones you mentioned you like.

photowannabe said...

I really like the Christmas carols and some of the classics like Brenda Lee's songs. I hadn't thought about the Chipmunks song. It was irritating but cute at the same time.
Thanks for the interesting post today and Brenda looks pretty good for 79.

Marie Smith said...

I like those songs and carols too. Any Christmas music really.

Latane Barton said...

well, hallelujah.. somebody finally knocked Mariah Carey off that self-imposed throne she thought she owned. I guess you can tell I do not like her. She's a spoiled brat. Glad it was Brenda Lee who did it. And, she was 13! Blows my mind. Have a good one. Latane

Emma Springfield said...

All I can say is it's about time! It has always been a great song. And the video is so fun.

Rob Lenihan said...

This is such a great post. I had never heard of Johnny Marks and I'm amazed that he wrote all those Christmas songs.

I never cared for Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and I really dislike "Mamacita, Donde es Santa Claus?" and a real horror show called "Dominick, the Italian Christmas Donkey." Avoid at all costs.

I really enjoy Nat King Cole's version of "O Holy Night," the "Carol of the Bells," and "O, Come All Ye Faithful," to name a few.

And I'm one of the few people on earth who actually likes "All I want for Christmas is You."

My name is Erika. said...

I do have some favorites. But wouldn't it be great if someone in your family had written a Christmas carol that keeps paying? There's a book I read where the main character had that happen. I wish I could remember the book, but I haven't read this book in ages. But I also think it's great Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree has reached number one will Brenda Lee is around to enjoy that honor.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Happy Birthday Brenda Lee!

Jingle Bell Rock is a favorite holiday song. It stickes to the roof of my brain like caramel.

David said...

Hi Beatrice, I love the way that your mind jumps from topic to topic...unlike my rather straight line approach. Lots of effort in this post! Love "I'll be home for Christmas" and "White Christmas" but I've always liked "Rocking around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee. I was 16 when the song came out and Brenda was a sensation at the time. I do like some of the 'rock and roll' Christmas tunes but then again, I grew up in that early rock and roll era. Love almost anything by Nat King Cole...what a voice! Thanks for talking about Johnny Marks and his prolific output. I'd never heard of him... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Michelle said...

Nice to see Brenda Lee getting some recognition!

baili said...

my holidays were and are incomplete without music dear Dorothy :)

although i listen occasionally these days but holidays music is must because it brings so many memories along to enrich and beauty the festival :)
lovely sharing and very informative for me
hugs and blessings

Jeanie said...

I'd like to hear more from Olivia Olson. I like her version even more than Mariah's -- and I also say "Well done, Brenda! It's always been number one for me!"

nick said...

I like the irony that Johnny Marks specialized in writing Christmas songs despite being Jewish and not celebrating. Brenda Lee was one of my favourite singers when I was at school. As for my holiday music, I do get fed up with non-stop Christmas music everywhere for a good month before Christmas! And most Christmas songs strike me as rather over-sentimental, though I'll settle for Jingle Bells.

diane b said...

That was a lot of info about Christmas songs. thanks to Spotify a lot of record companies have closed down and a lot of composers are struggling to make money from their songs. Myson in law is a composer and is trying to navigate the new way music is bought and sold. My favourite is Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.

DeniseinVA said...

Wonderful post here and enjoyed very much. I grew up where Christmas Carols were sung in my family's homes and in those of my aunts and uncles, grandparents. They will always be my favorite kind of music at this time of the year. I'd like to wish you and Pat my warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season, for everyone else too.

Lois Evensen said...

What a lovely post that brings back so many memories. We're not getting out as much or decorating the way we used to, but it sure is fun to watch the Christmas movies and programs on TV. Our dogs, especially the 9 month old puppy, are keeping us busy, too. Merry Christmas!

Carola Bartz said...

I wasn't aware that there are Christmas song queens!
Around this time I miss the old German Christmas carols very much. I never really got into the Christmas songs here, but of course I know them. My favorite definitely is Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song.

Lowcarb team member said...

I think it's great that Brenda Lee is topping the charts.

All the best Jan