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Top Christmas tunes may surprise you
Written by Jim Robertson   
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 7:12 PM

Ah yes, the sounds of Christmas. The crackling of the fire, laughter of children, jingling bells and sounds of the season emanating from the radio.

Said sounds, in some cases, have been emanating since the first of November on some stations.

But did you ever wonder what the all-time chart topper for holiday sounds is?

Now remember that Billboard magazine has only been doing top charts since the late 1940s. 
So if your guess was Brother Vindictus and the Funky Monks doing a Gregorian chant, you are out of luck.  They were a little before Billboard’s time.

It often has been said that Bing Crosby’s White Christmas is the most played of all time.

Sorry. Bing gets the number eight spot on the countdown.  Originally written for the movie, Holiday Inn, the song was released in July 1942, so a lot of Bing’s sales occurred prior to chart calculations.

Just ahead of Bing on the countdown is The Christmas Song recorded by Nat King Cole. This Mel Torme-written song begins with the familiar “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. . .”  Released in 1960, it comes in at seventh.

A song featured in the animated classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer occupies the sixth spot on the countdown.  Holly Jolly Christmas, sung by Burl Ives in his persona as Sam the Snowman, enlivened the 1964 classic.

In 1970, Jose Feliciano released Feliz Navidad, which occupies fifth place on the count. The original record was pressed in red vinyl, and was covered a few years ago by Jon Secada who took it to the number three spot on the Adult Contemporary chart in 2006.

Bobby Helms holds the number four spot with 1957’s Jingle Bell Rock. The record charted in the Hot 100 at Christmastime in 1957, 1958, 1960, 61 and 62.  The “b” side of the single was Captain Santa Clausv(and his Reindeer Space Patrol). Pretty futuristic considering that the US didn’t have a successful satellite in orbit when the record was released.

Number three is occupied by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s recording of Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24. It did modest business in 1996 when it was released, but since has become a staple on Adult Contemporary playlists.

Fourteen-year-old Brenda Lee recorded Jingle Bell Rock in 1958. The song, her first hit, makes the runnerup spot on our list.

The champ is Mariah Carey with All I Want for Christmas is You.  The song was not released as a single in 1994 but was an album cut.  She already had 10 number one hits before the release of this seasonal hit.

Some other notables in the countdown has Andy Williams at 10 with It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, released in 1963.

The song never fails to cheer me up especially when used in the back-to-school Staples commercial, which has the dad performing feats of skill on a shopping cart while the depressed young’uns look on.

The second 10 features some real downers. The Christmas Shoes comes in at 12, Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon is at 13 and Elvis belts out Blue Christmas at 18.  The Eagles’ version of Please Come Home for Christmas is at 19.

The two happy songs in the second 10 are Wonderful Christmas Time by Paul McCartney and the rockin’ Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  Happy listening.

Jim Robertson is a longtime Harrison resident, a member of Harrison City Council, and a weekly columnist for The Harrison Press.