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Top 5 Classic Christmas Songs

Updated on May 8, 2013

Classic Christmas Songs

1. White Christmas

Like any classic Christmas jingle, "White Christmas" is full of memorable lyrics that can stay stuck in your head for hours. Although the where and when part of the story behind the situation in which the song was written varies, it is one sure thing that Irving Berlin wrote it in 1942. First appearing on the screen in the film Holiday Inn, the original version sung by Bing Crosby has had a lasting record, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, as the best selling single of all time.

Why so much hype? Well, once World War II hit, the longing words missing home and all its warm comforts really struck at listener's heartstrings. The Armed Forces Network nearly exploded with requests while the classic hung tight to the top spot on the Billboard Charts for weeks. One thing most listeners today don't realize is that what we commonly hear on the radio or in stores isn't actually the original. With so much popularity, the master was too used so it had to be rerecorded with Crosby on March 18, 1947 with only subtle differences.

2. Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer

If your childhood memories are anything like mine, the Christmas ones most definitely include singing about a twinkly nosed reindeer on stage with your elementary school class. If not there, I'm sure you saw the classic movie, Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. This, of course, is why the lyrics are so clearly etched in our minds even today. Who knew a reindeer with a glowing nose could win so many hearts and be so popular?

Most today don't realize that Santa's "ninth reindeer" first appeared not in song but in a booklet in 1939 by Robert L. May. May's brother in law, Johnny Marks, was the genius who decided to put it to song. It was first sung by Harry Brannon in November 1949 but became popular with the classic Gene Autry edition on the 25th of that same month. Autry didn't want to do it but luckily his wife talked him into it and it became the second biggest selling Christmas song of all time, next to "White Christmas" of course.

3. Jingle Bell Rock

One short, sweet, and simple Christmas song is the next on our list with lyrics that are just as timeless as the rest. Surprisingly, it took two guys to write this little ditty by the names of Joe Beal and Jim Booth. Released by Bobby Helms in 1957, "Jingle Bell Rock" took the classic Christmas carol "Jingle Bells" and mixed in more modern ideas of going to a hop while blending a newer song, "Rock Around the Clock." This mixture of old and new brought this song a ton of popularity, gave it a spot on the classic Christmas playlist for everyone, and earned it plenty of spin-offs and radio play for the holidays for decades after its release.

4. The Christmas Song

Of course, one song that cannot be forgotten this time of year is "The Christmas Song" (my emphasis). It is also known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" as its lyrics famously begin with. Written in 1944 by Mel Torme and Robert Wells, it is most famously sung by Nat King Cole. The song was first recorded in 1946, then again that same year, once more in 1953, and then finally in 1961, the Nat King Cole Trio managed to produce the version that we know and love today.

5. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was written by Johnny Marks and sung by Brenda Lee in 1958. Marks should sound familiar as he also wrote "Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer," amongst many other Christmas classics that could be listed here. Although the song was released in 1958 and 1959, it did not actually become popular until 1960. Amazingly, Lee was only 13 years old when she sang it. Although there have been many other versions made of the song, Lee's is still a classic favorite and its only notable version.

Which song is your favorite?

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© 2011 LisaKoski


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