I have reached the final installment of my take on the 15 greatest Christmas recordings of all time. These five selections should be very recognizable to all.
5. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
If anybody was ever born to sing, it was Brenda Lee. At a very early age, she could take a note and absolutely nail it to the wall. When she recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” in 1958, it is no surprise that the song became the biggest holiday hit ever by a female artist. Lee, who is the only female to be inducted in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is an accurate definition of a true entertainer.
4. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
Although it is officially titled “The Christmas Song,” most listeners prefer to call it by the opening line ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.’ Nat King Cole put his crooning touch to this classic in 1946. Written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells, this has long been a holiday favorite of many.
3. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms
Bobby Helms recorded “Jingle Bell Rock” in 1957, and it has been a popular song ever since. Known for the country hits “Fraulien” and “My Special Angel,” Helms put his near honk-tonk style to this peppy toe-tapper, and listeners loved it. Helms reached number six on the charts with “Jingle Bell Rock,” and it still garners a lot of airplay each December.
2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
Kids everywhere have been singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for nearly six decades. Recorded in 1949 by Gene Autry, this is a Christmas-time staple. For some time after his original recording, Autry’s version average selling about two million copies a year. Known as “The Singing Cowboy,” Autry seemed to do it all. He remains the only entertainer to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one each for radio, records, movie, television, and theatrical performances.
1. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
To be perfectly honest, there was never a doubt about what the top song on the list would be. In 1942, Bing Crosby sang “White Christmas” in the movie Holiday Inn. Five years later, he recorded it again because the original was worn out due to the tremendous amount of pressings. In 1954, he recorded “White Christmas” a third time for the movie by the same title.
Today, it is an absolute standard, and possibly, the only Christmas song that is ranked up there with the best pop recordings of all-time. The inviting and easy listening lyrics are enough to please any listener, but when the well-written tune is combined with Crosby’s classic vocal touch, it is a masterpiece. Hearing Crosby sing “White Christmas” makes me wonder how you could not like this recording, because it is as timeless as any piece of music.
Beebe native Charles Haymes is a member of the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.