Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra
Writer(s): Irving Berlin (see lyrics here)
First Charted: October 3, 1942
Peak: 114 US, 110 HP, 77 CB, 11 HR, 12 GA, 3 AC, 13 RB, 5 UK, 120 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 50.0 US, 1.01 UK, 56.01 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 12.32 video, 319.5 streaming
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About the Song:
“White Christmas” isn’t just a seasonal favorite – the DMDB ranks it as the #1 song of all time. Much of its rating can be attributed to an estimated 56 million sales worldwide, putting it nearly 20 million ahead of its closest competition, Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997.”
The song was recorded by Bing Crosby, who “was without doubt the biggest star of the first half of the 20th century, arriving when radio was entering its golden era and beginning his recording career just as the electric microphone was introduced, allowing for a close-up ‘crooning’ style of singing.” TB
His recording of “White Christmas” topped the charts for 11 weeks in 1942. It recharted eleven times over the next dozen years, even picking up two more weeks at #1 in 1945 and a fourteenth overall week on top in 1947. The song logged over 100 weeks on the pop charts over 20 Christmas seasons.
Irving Berlin, who was often insecure about his work, referred to “White Christmas” not just as the best one he’d ever written, but the best anyone had ever written. LW He wrote his “beautiful, longing ode to snow and the Christmas spirit” BC for the film Holiday Inn, starring Crosby. It won the Academy Award for Best Song. Much of the song’s success had to do with its addition to the Armed Forces Radio playlist. NPR The song “captures both the celebration and underlying melancholy present for many at the holiday,” BC a theme which resonated with soldiers yearning for better times when they were back home. LW
The song also took on a life beyond Bing’s recording. The five million in sales for the sheet music made it one of the ten best-selling sheet music songs of the first half of the century. PM With over 500 versions in dozens of languages, “White Christmas” has also become the most recorded Christmas song. BC At the end of 1998, ASCAP named it the most-performed holiday song of the century. The song is also notable for helping to usher in the era in which performers outdistanced the songwriters in popularity. “Tin Pan Alley had passed into history.” NPR
First posted 10/31/2011; last updated 3/23/2023.