Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ tops Billboard Hot 100, 65 years after release


The 78-year-old Brenda Lee has beaten perennial winner Mariah Carey’s 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. Photo: TNS

US singer Brenda Lee has been heavily promoting her not-at-all new song Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree in recent weeks and it worked: the song has landed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 65 years after its initial release.

Lee, for the first time since Billboard began allowing re-releases of Christmas songs to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, has beaten perennial winner Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You.

Lee’s label UMG Nashville convinced Lee to release her first music video of the song last month.

She recorded it in Nashville, Tennessee, in October with her friends Tanya Tucker and Georgia native Trisha Yearwood. She is also set to perform the song on NBC’s Christmas At The Opry on Thursday. She even recently joined TikTok where Dolly Parton feted her.

The 78-year-old Nashville resident told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution how much she enjoyed recording the song in 1958 when she wasn’t even a teenager.

Over the years, she said she assumed her No. 1 1960 song I’m Sorry would be her signature song. Instead, this cheery song, penned by Johnny Marks, has become her enduring legacy.

The song was released in 1958 and 1959 but didn’t chart on the Billboard chart until 1960 after I’m Sorry had topped the chart. It peaked at No.14 that year. Since 2019, when Billboard began allowing older songs to return to the chart, it had previously peaked at No.2 in 2019 and 2022.

Because of the quirks of Billboard rules, Rockin’ is only the third holiday song to land at the top of the chart. The Chipmunk Song did so in 1958 and All I Want for Christmas has totalled 12 weeks at No.1 collectively since 2019.

This is Lee’s first No.1 since I Want To Be Wanted in October 1960, more than 63 years ago, making her the artist with the longest gap between No.1 songs. Cher previously held the mark between 1974′s Dark Lady and Believe in 1999.

It is also the longest gap between a song release and hitting the top of the Billboard chart, shattering the record previously held by Carey.

Lee is also the oldest person to ever top the chart at age 78, surpassing Louis Armstrong, who was 63 when Hello, Dolly! was No.1 in 1964.

On the separate Holiday 100, she supplants Carey for the first time. Carey had been at the top of that chart for 43 consecutive weeks going back to 2015.

Four of the top five songs on the BIllboard Hot 100 this week are Christmas songs. Carey is at No. 2, followed by Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock at No.4 and Wham’s Last Christmas at No.5. Jack Harlow is the only non-holiday song in the top 5 at no. 3 with Lovin’ On Me. – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Tribune News Service

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