Rockin’ in The Holiday Jams

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With the Christmas season here, a lot of people are cranking out their winter gear and decorating their homes with their classic holiday favorites of lighting trees, drinking hot cocoa and among other people, listening to music. Below is a list of Christmas songs that have made it within the top 15 tunes on the Billboard music chart provided with background of each. 

1. All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey

Alongside her partner, Walter Afanasieff, Mariah Carey wrote the hit Christmas single All I want For Christmas is You. In 1994, Carey recorded it and while it didn’t quite reach the top 100 in the United States, it was among the top 2 in the United Kingdom. However, in 2017, it sold over 16 million copies and ranked number 11 as a single. 

The inspiration behind the song was notably aimed at producer Phil Spector. Spector happened to be behind the ‘Wall of Sound’ technique from the 1960’s which was the style Carey and Afanasieff were going for. 

In 2010, Carey re-recorded it for her second Christmas album and then a year later recorded it with Justin Bieber for his holiday album. While All I Want For Christmas Is You, is a hit single, multiple artists such as Ariana Grande, Indina Menzel and Michael Bublé and others have created covers the song.

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2. Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms

Two days before Christmas in 1957, Bobby Helms released the hit, Jingle Bell Rock. Again in 1958 and 1960, the song was re-released making it to the charts all three times. The hit holiday classic was also considered the first rock n’ roll Christmas song among not originally having a bridge of the song. Helms made a lot of changes to his songs over the years, but in Jingle Bell Rock, he made the change by writing a bridge to the song. 

3. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

Written by Johnny Marks, Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree has seen a lot of artists covering the song. It was first released in 1958 but never made the charts until 1960 when Brenda Lee performed the song, initializing the tune as a Christmas classic. 

Among those who have performed the song, Kelly Clarkson ended up portraying Lee in 2004 on the TV show, American Dreams. Those who have also done covers of the song include Kim Wilde, Cyndi Lauper, LeAnn Rimes, Toby Keith, Miley Cyrus and others.

4. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives

Although written by Johnny Marks, Burl Ives took two approaches to the song, first singing it in a regular pace in his album: “Ruldoph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. In his second soundtrack, “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Ives took a much slower approach to the song which is now regarded as the more common version to hear. 

5. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

Among the most popular holiday tunes, The Christmas Song was first recorded in the spring of 1946 by Nat King Cole. Over many different recording sessions and compilations of the song, Cole ended up performing his most famous version in 1961 with a full orchestra and a stereophonic tunes. The original 1946 version of the song made it into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974 and has ever since remained a popular holiday favorite.

6. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams

Being one of the most popular Christmas songs, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year was written in 1963 by Edward Pola and George Wyle. In the same year, pop singer, Andy Williams recorded the song and included it in his first album. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year was not used as the official single to promote his album and his version of White Christmas was used instead. 

7. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer by Gene Autry

Marks yet again wrote a song about the 1939 hit classic story of a reindeer with a unique red nose: Rudolph. The song didn’t include an introduction with all the names of the eight reindeer until later. Alongside Marks, Montgomery Ward helped adapt the famous story into a song. 

The song was first sung by Harry Brannon in November of 1949 before Gene Autry sang the song, making his version reach No. 1 on the charts in the United States the week of Christmas. Autry’s version of Rudolph sold 12.5 million copies and there has been more than 150 million copies (covers included) sold worldwide. Autry’s version is ranked as the second largest hit next to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.   

8. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! by Dean Martin

In July 1945, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote Let It Snow! during a heat wave in Hollywood, California. Cahn and Styne wrote the song, imagining cooler conditions in the area with no hint of it ever becoming a classic holiday song. Since the theme of the song was aimed at the winter season, it started to be regarded as a Christmas song in North America. 

Let It Snow was first recorded by Vaughn Monroe and eventually reached No. 1 on the Billboard music chart. Among other covers of the song, Frank Sinatra released his version in 1950, but most recently Dean Martin’s version of the song hit the top 100 in 2018.

9. Last Christmas by Wham!

Released in 1984, Last Christmas reached No. 1 in Denmark, Slovenia and Sweden, reaching No. 2 in eight other countries. Last Christmas was written, performed and produced by George Michael whom was a member of the band, Wham! 

Michael started writing the song in 1984 his childhood bedroom when him and Andrew Ridgeley were visiting his parents. In August that year, Last Christmas was finally recorded in London, England and has sold over 1.8 million copies.

10. Sleigh Ride by the Ronettes

Covered by dozens of artists, Sleigh Ride was first an instrumental piece later receiving lyrics from Mitchell Parish in 1950. In 1963, Phil Spector produced the recording of the song with the Ronettes performing. Among other popular versions of the song, the Andrews Sisters and the Spice Girls performed Sleigh Ride. 

11. Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano 

Puerto Rican singer, Jose Feliciano, wrote the iconic cultural traditional holiday song, Feliz Navidad in 1970. The holiday verse ‘Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad’ translates into the simpler English verse ‘I wanna wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.’ In 1997, Feliz Navidad, reached number 70 on the chart and was later re-charted into the top 40 in 2018. This would become Feliciano’s first top hit song since 1968.

12. White Christmas by Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby’s’ White Christmas is ranked as the number one Christmas hit of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The classic hit also is the highest grossing holiday single, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide as Crosby’s single with more than 100 million copies including cover versions. 

In May of 1942, Crosby recorded the original song for Decca and then in 1947, re-recorded it almost identical to the original because the classic was “worn out” due to the high demand for the song. Not only is White Christmas a hit single, but is also a classic holiday film in which Bing Crosby stars in.

As there are multiple Christmas songs out there, these are just a few of the most popular holiday songs that anyone can plug in and listen to. 

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