ASCAP Tallies The Top 25 Christmas Songs

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Would you believe the Eurythmics’ rendition of “Winter Wonderland” is the most popular Christmas song of the past 10 years, in terms of sales and radio play?

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, has tallied up the most popular holiday songs of the past decade. The results may surpsise you. Take a look at the facts and figures below.

From the press release:

New York, NY, November 23, 2009: Even as the digital music generation embraces the latest technological innovations, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) reports that traditional favorites still rule the holiday airwaves — and the iPod. Interpreted over the years by each decade’s most popular artists, these Holiday favorites remain timeless classics appealing to young and old alike.

Topping ASCAP’s holiday songs list of the decade is one of the oldest songs on the list: “Winter Wonderland.” It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, and was an instant hit for legendary bandleader Guy Lombardo And His Royal Canadians who took it to the #2 spot on the Billboard charts the same year. Recordings by the Andrews Sisters and Perry Como, in 1946, established the song as a Yuletide favorite. Versions by the Eurythmics, Jewel and Air Supply are frequently heard on radio today.

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams knows something about holiday songs, having received an Emmy nomination this year for “I Wish I Could Be Santa Claus” from A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa, an original Christmas special with both story and songs by the renowned songwriter. He commented: “This is a tough list for any of us to break into. There’s a sense that people tend to gravitate towards tradition, especially at the holidays, and our top 25 list confirms this. So, whether you’re listening to holiday music on an iPod or a vintage record player, these time-honored favorites are sure to evoke the magic of the season and memories of holidays past.”

The Top 25 most performed ASCAP holiday songs of the decade are listed below. Each song includes songwriter credits, and cites the most popular artist version played on radio today. The data was compiled with the help of Mediaguide, the most comprehensive digital audio performance tracking technology in the world.

1. Winter Wonderland

Written by: Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith

Performed by: Eurythmics

2. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)

Written by: Mel Tormé, Robert Wells

Performed by: Nat “King” Cole

3. Sleigh Ride

Written by: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish

Performed by: The Ronettes

4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Written by: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin

Performed by: The Pretenders

5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Written by: Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie

Performed by: Bruce Springsteen

6. White Christmas

Written by: Irving Berlin

Performed by: Bing Crosby

7. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Written by: Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne

Performed by: Michael Bublé

8. Jingle Bell Rock

Written by: Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

Performed by: Daryl Hall & John Oates

9. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Written by: Johnny Marks

Performed by: Gene Autry

10. Little Drummer Boy

Written by: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone

Performed by: The Harry Simeone Chorale & Orchestra

11. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Written by: Edward Pola, George Wyle

Performed by: Andy Williams

12. I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Written by: Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram

Performed by: Josh Groban

13. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree

Written by: Johnny Marks

Performed by: Brenda Lee

14. Silver Bells

Written by: Jay Livingston, Ray Evans

Performed by: Anne Murray

15. Feliz Navidad

Written by: José Feliciano

Performed by: José Feliciano

16. Frosty The Snowman

Written by: Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins

Performed by: The Beach Boys

17. A Holly Jolly Christmas

Written by: Johnny Marks

Performed by: Burl Ives

18. Blue Christmas

Written by: Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson

Performed by: Elvis Presley

19. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Written by: Meredith Willson

Performed by: Johnny Mathis

20. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Written by: Tommie Connor (PRS)

Performed by: John Mellencamp

21. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)

Written by: Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman

Performed by: Gene Autry

22. (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays

Written by: Bob Allen, Al Stillman

Performed by: Perry Como

23. Carol Of The Bells

Written by: Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich

Performed by: David Foster (instrumental version)

24. Wonderful Christmastime

Written by: Paul McCartney (PRS)

Performed by: Paul McCartney

25. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)

Written by: Midge Ure (PRS), Bob Geldof (PRS)

Performed by: Band Aid

Some facts about the Top 25 ASCAP Holiday Songs:

Oldest songs:

“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Winter Wonderland” (both 1934)

Newest song:

“Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)” (1984)

Most recorded Holiday song:

“White Christmas” with well over 500 versions in dozens of languages

Songs introduced in Film and Television:

“White Christmas” in Holiday Inn (1942)

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

“Silver Bells” in The Lemon Drop Kid (1950)

“A Holly Jolly Christmas” in TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1962)

Writer with most top Holiday songs:

Johnny Marks with three – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”

“Sleigh Ride” is the only holiday song on the list written originally as an instrumental piece for a symphony orchestra. The Boston Pops Orchestra gave the first performance in a concert conducted by Arthur Fiedler at Symphony Hall in Boston, May 4, 1948. Mills Music published it that same year. The Boston Pops Orchestra recorded it in June of 1949. Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1949.

Mediaguide, co-owned by ASCAP, monitors radio broadcast music in real-time and facilitates the accurate distribution of royalty payments to songwriters, composers and publishers. Its proprietary technology and network of over 2,500 radio stations currently tracks more stations and total airplay than any other monitoring service in the U.S.


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