Saturday, December 9, 2023

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” hit #1 – 65 years after it was released

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Brenda Lee

Writer(s): Johnny Marks (see lyrics here)

Released: November 24, 1958

First Charted: December 11, 1958

Peak: 11 BB, 11 ST, 16 AC, 62 CW, 4 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 1.8 UK, 25.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 76.4 video, 945.48 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Brenda Lee was only 12 years old when she first charted with “One Step at a Time,” which peaked at #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1957. The next year, she released “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” but it didn’t catch on until 1960 when she topped the charts with I’m Sorry” and “I Want to Be Wanted.” Then the song peaked at #14. However, it became a perennial Christmas classic, selling ore than 25 million copies worldwide by 2008. WK

When Billboard changed its charting policies in 2014, the song started annually re-charting, reaching #2 during the 2019 holiday season. For the next three years, the song would reach the runner-up position behind Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” racking up a total of nine weeks at #2.

In 2023, the song accomplished its most remarkable feat of all – 65 years after its first release, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending December 9, setting the record for the longest time between a song’s release and hitting #1. WK She also set the record for the longest period between #1 singles (63 years). WK At 78 years old, she was also the oldest artist to ever top the Hot 100. WK It’s only the third Christmas song to top the Hot 100 after 1958’s “The Chipmunk Song” by David Seville & the Chipmunks and Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” SF

The rockabilly song about “a yuletide dance party” SF was written by Johnny Marks, who was no stranger to Christmas classics, having previously penned “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” He specifically wanted Lee to sing it, although she said she had no idea why. WK He told Lee he was inspired by seeing pine trees swaying in the wind on a beach in New York. SF She recorded the song in July with famed producer Owen Bradley. She said, “He had the studio all freezing cold with the air conditioning and he had a Christmas tree all set up to kind of get in the mood.” SF


First posted 12/6/2023.

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