Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
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Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
Single Brenda Lee-Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree cover.jpg
Single by Brenda Lee
from the album Merry Christmas from Brenda Lee
"Papa Noël"
Released1958 (US),
December 1962 (UK)[1]
Format7-inch
RecordedOctober 19, 1958
GenreChristmas, country, rockabilly
Length2:02
LabelDecca 9-30776
Johnny Marks
Owen Bradley
Brenda Lee singles chronology
"Rock-a-Bye Baby Blues"
(1957)
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
(1958)
"I Want to Be Wanted (Per Tutta La Vita)"
(1960)
Music video
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (audio) on YouTube

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958; it has since been recorded by numerous other music artists. By the song's 50th anniversary in 2008, Lee's original version had sold over 25 million copies with the 4th most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single.

Original recording by Brenda Lee

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" was written by Johnny Marks, who had previously penned "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas".[2] In spite of her mature-sounding voice, Lee recorded the song when she was only 13 years old. In a 2019 interview with The Tennessean, Lee recalled that she didn't know why Marks wanted her to sing it: "I was only 12 [sic], and I had not had a lot of success in records, but for some reason he heard me and wanted me to do it. And I did."[2] The song's declaration of a rock and roll sound notwithstanding, its instrumentation also fits the country music genre, which Lee more fully embraced as her career evolved. The recording features Hank Garland and Harold Bradley on guitar, Floyd Cramer on piano, Boots Randolph on sax, Bob Moore on bass, and veteran session player Buddy Harman on drums.[3] The song is written in the key of A-flat major.

An instrumental version of the song appears as background music in the 1964 television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which exclusively featured music written by Marks. It can be heard in the scene where Rudolph first arrives at the Reindeer Games and meets another reindeer named Fireball. A fully sung version of the song would later appear in Rankin/Bass's 1979 sequel Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. The song was also used in the 1990 film Home Alone during a scene when Kevin McCallister pretends that there is a holiday party taking place in his house, and discourages the burglars from robbing it. The song was also featured in The Christmas Special episode of Regular Show in 2012.[] The song was also used in D-TV set to the Disney cartoons, Pluto's Christmas Tree and Mickey's Christmas Carol.

Chart performance and sales

Although Decca released the single in both 1958 and again in 1959, it did not sell well until Lee became a popular star in 1960. That Christmas holiday season, Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" placed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time, eventually peaking at No. 14. It continued to sell well during subsequent holiday seasons, peaking as high as No. 3 on Billboard's Christmas Singles chart in December 1965. Lee said, "It was magic, and I think we all knew it. It took a few years to take off, but once it did, it really did."[2]

Lee's 1958 recording still receives a great deal of airplay, as radio station formats ranging from top 40 to adult contemporary to country music to oldies to even adult standards have played this version. It has since turned into a perennial holiday favorite, and due to rule changes in 2014 has returned annually to the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching an all-time chart peak of No. 2 during the 2019 holiday season.[4]

Year Chart debut/re-entry
date
Peak chart
position
Ref.
1960 December 12 14 [5]
1961 December 11 50 [6]
1962 December 15 59 [7]
2014 January 4 50 [8]
2015 December 26 30 [9]
2016 December 24 27 [10]
2017 December 23 34 [11]
2018 December 8 9 [12]
2019 December 7 2 [4]

The song reached over one million in digital downloads by 2016 according to Nielsen SoundScan, making it fifth on the list of all-time best-selling Christmas/holiday digital singles in SoundScan history.[13] It has sold 1,170,000 copies in the United States as of December 2019.[14]

On the official UK Singles Chart, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" peaked at No. 6 when it was released in the United Kingdom in 1963. In 2013, due to downloads, it became one of a number of songs to re-enter the UK Singles Chart near Christmastime each holiday season. The single peaked at No. 63 on Sunday, December 15, 2013. Then in 2017, it reached No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart, its highest chart position since 1963.[15]

Charts

Chart (1958-2020) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[16] 35
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[17] 25
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[18] 3
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[19] 9
France (SNEP)[20] 55
Germany (Official German Charts)[21] 26
Greece International Digital Singles (IFPI)[22] 9
Hungary (Single Top 40)[23] 12
Hungary (Stream Top 40)[24] 3
Ireland (IRMA)[25] 4
Italy (FIMI)[26] 31
Latvia (LAIPA)[27] 2
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[28] 7
Norway (VG-lista)[29] 25
Portugal (AFP)[30] 19
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[31] 46
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[32] 4
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[33] 77
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[34] 9
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[35] 7
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[36] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[37] 2
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[38] 16
US Holiday 100 (Billboard)[39] 2
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[40] 62
US Rolling Stone Top 100[41] 2

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[42] Gold 25,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[43] Gold 10,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[44] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Track listing

Side A

Side B

  • "Papa Noël" (Roy Botkin) - 2:02

Personnel

Other recordings

Kim Wilde and Mel Smith version

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Mel & Kim.jpg
Single by Mel & Kim
"Deck the Blooming Halls"
ReleasedNovember 23, 1987
Format7", 12"
GenreChristmas music
Length3:38
LabelTen
Johnny Marks
Stuart Colman
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"Say You Really Want Me"
(1987)
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
(1987)
"Hey Mister Heartache"
(1988)
Music video
Mel & Kim
"Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree"
on YouTube

A version of the song by Kim Wilde and Mel Smith (credited as "Mel & Kim" as a parody of then-popular sister act Mel and Kim), featuring Pete Thomas, reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart during the Christmas season 1987. The track was recorded to raise funds for Comic Relief.[45] Its accompanying video featured the two hosting a Christmas party with guests including The Mekon and an appearance from Smith's comedy partner Griff Rhys Jones, carol singers played by the band Curiosity Killed the Cat and Spitting Image puppets of Bette Midler and Tina Turner.

Kim Wilde and Nik Kershaw

Kim Wilde recorded a new version of the song on her 2013 holiday album Wilde Winter Songbook together with Nik Kershaw.[]

Other versions

Many artists have recorded the song. Among the most notable of those are:

References

  1. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Crampton, Luke; Lazell, Barry (1989). Guinness Book of Rock Stars. Guinness Books. p. 293. ISBN 0-85112-872-6.
  2. ^ a b c Thanki, Juli (December 9, 2019). "'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' singer Brenda Lee on the song's origin and legacy". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ American Federation of Musicians (October 26, 1958). No. 34784 (Report). American Federation of Musicians. Bradley's Studio 16th Ave So., Nashville, TN; 10/19/58 3:00 - 5:00 PM
  4. ^ a b Trust, Gary (December 23, 2019). "Mariah Carey No. 1, Brenda Lee No. 2 in Billboard Hot 100's First-Ever 'Christmas' Double Up". Billboard. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 12, 1960: #64)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 11, 1961: #85)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 15, 1962: #89)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (January 4, 2014: #50)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 26, 2015: #44)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 24, 2016: #37)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 23, 2017: #37)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 8, 2018: #23)". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ Billboard Staff (November 25, 2016). "What Are the Top-Selling Holiday Songs?". Billboard. Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ Bjorke, Matt (December 8, 2019). "Top 30 Digital Country Tracks - Pure Sales: December 9, 2019". Rough Stock. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ White, Jack (December 15, 2017). "Christmas classics reach new all-time highs on the singles chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2017.
  16. ^ "ARIA Australian Top 50 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. December 31, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ "Austriancharts.at - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  18. ^ "Brenda Lee Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  19. ^ "?NS IFPI" (in Czech). Hitparáda - Digital Top 100 Oficiální. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: Change the chart to CZ - SINGLES DIGITAL - TOP 100 and insert 201851 into search. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  20. ^ "Top Singles (téléchargement + streaming)". Syndicat National de l'édition Phonographique. Retrieved 2019.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  22. ^ "Official IFPI Charts - Digital Singles Chart (International) - Week: 52/2018". IFPI Greece. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ "Archívum - Slágerlisták - MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  24. ^ "Archívum - Slágerlisták - MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Stream Top 40 slágerlista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  25. ^ "The Irish Charts - Search Results - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  26. ^ "Top Singoli - Classifica settimanale WK 52" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 2018.
  27. ^ "M?zikas pat?ri?a tops gadu mij?" (in Latvian). LAIPA. Archived from the original on October 10, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  28. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. December 30, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  29. ^ "VG-lista - Topp 20 Single uke 52, 2018". VG-lista. Retrieved 2018.
  30. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". AFP Top 100 Singles. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  31. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  32. ^ "?NS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda - Singles Digital Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: Select SINGLES DIGITAL - TOP 100 and insert 201851 into search. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  33. ^ "Top 100 Canciones - Semana 52: del 21.12.2018 al 27.12.2018" (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved 2019.
  34. ^ "Veckolista Singlar, vecka 52". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 2019.
  35. ^ "Swisscharts.com - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  36. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  37. ^ "Brenda Lee Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  38. ^ "Brenda Lee Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  39. ^ "Brenda Lee Chart History (Holiday 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2018.
  40. ^ "Brenda Lee Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved December 20, 2018.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Songs". Rolling Stone. December 13, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  42. ^ "Italian single certifications - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  43. ^ "New Zealand single certifications - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 2018.
  44. ^ "British single certifications - Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2019.
  45. ^ "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee Songfacts". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved 2017.
  46. ^ Alabama's charting singles at AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  47. ^ LeAnn Rimes's charting singles at AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2011.

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