Music

Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ Jingles Back to No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100

Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” rebounds to No. 1, from No. 2, on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart. The holiday classic adds a third week at the apex, four weeks after it led the list for the first time – 65 years after its release. It became Lee’s third Hot 100 No. 1, and her first since 1960.

Meanwhile, the Hot 100’s top eight titles are holiday songs for the first time ever. A year ago this week, the top seven were seasonal songs. Plus, nine of the top 10 are holiday hits for the second time, matching the festive feat first achieved three years ago this week.

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The Hot 100 blends all-genre U.S. streaming (official audio and official video), radio airplay and sales data, the lattermost metric reflecting purchases of physical singles and digital tracks from full-service digital music retailers; digital singles sales from direct-to-consumer (D2C) sites are excluded from chart calculations. All charts (dated Jan. 6, 2024) will update on Billboard.com tomorrow (Jan. 3, a day later than usual due to the New Year’s Day holiday Jan. 1). For all chart news, you can follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both X, formerly known as Twitter, and Instagram.

Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” on Decca/MCA Nashville/UMe, drew 57.3 million streams (up 16%, good for the Hot 100’s top Streaming Gainer award for a second consecutive week) and 22.2 million radio airplay audience impressions (down 7%) and sold 4,000 downloads (down 10%) in the Dec. 22-28 tracking week – thus, encompassing four days leading up to and including Christmas Day – according to Luminate.

The single holds at No. 1 for a fifth consecutive and sixth total week atop the Streaming Songs chart (after it first ruled the last frame of the 2022 holiday season); rises 8-6 on Digital Song Sales, after reaching No. 4; and lifts 24-22 on Radio Songs, where it has hit a No. 17 best.

The song was originally recorded and released in 1958. Written by Johnny Marks and produced by Owen Bradley, it first hit the Hot 100 in December 1960 and reached an original No. 14 peak two weeks later. It went on to spend nine weeks at No. 2 between December 2019 and last holiday season prior to its coronation over the latest holiday season.

For its 65th anniversary in 2023, Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” received its first official video, featuring cameos from country stars Tanya Tucker and Trisha Yearwood, Nov. 3. Plus, Lee performed it on NBC’s Christmas at the Opry, which aired Dec. 7. She has also joined TikTok, where she has been sharing posts about the song and her career.

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Lee reminisced to Billboard on Dec. 4 about recording the carol, when she was 13, after learning of its ascent to No. 1 at last from Universal Music Group Nashville chair/CEO Cindy Mabe. “The producer cut the air way down in the studio,” Lee recalled. “He had a big Christmas tree and everyone was there – the Anita Kerr Singers and the ‘A-team’ [of Nashville studio musicians], as we called them. It was like a little touch of magic kind of sprinkled in, and it turned out to be magic. It really did.”

The song is just the third holiday No. 1 ever on the Hot 100, with all three having led for multiple weeks. “The Chipmunk Song,” by The Chipmunks with David Seville, also from 1958, spent four weeks on top beginning that December and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” released in 1994, has notched 14 weeks at No. 1, from its first scaling of the summit in December 2019 through last week’s Dec. 30, 2023-dated chart.

With another week at No. 1, Lee extends her record for the longest span of an artist topping the Hot 100: 63 years, five months and three weeks, from her first frame at No. 1 with “I’m Sorry” (July 18, 1960) through the latest list.

Plus, Lee, at 79 years and three weeks of age, expands by another week her mark as the senior-most artist to have ruled the Hot 100. Concurrently, Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” leads the multi-metric Holiday 100 chart, which uses the same methodology as the Hot 100, for a third total week.

Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” dips to No. 2 on the Hot 100, with 54.8 million streams (up 13%), 26.5 million in airplay audience (down 16%) and 7,000 sold (down 1%). With its 2019 triumph, Carey claimed her 19th No. 1, extending her record for the most among soloists and moving to within one of The Beatles’ overall record 20. The single also reigns as the No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Holiday 100 Songs retrospective.

The rest of the Hot 100’s top five holds in place: Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” released in 1957, at its No. 3 high; Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” from 1984, at its No. 4 best; and Burl Ives’ “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” from 1964, at No. 5, after reaching No. 4.

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Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” from 1963, rises 7-6 on the Hot 100, having hit No. 5. The late singer now sports a record span of 64 years and three months from his first week in the top 10 with “Lonely Street” in October 1959 through his latest week in the bracket.

Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!,” from 1959, ascends 8-7 for a new Hot 100 high and José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad,” from 1970, dashes 9-8, after logging a No. 6 peak.

Jack Harlow’s “Lovin On Me” slides 6-9 on the Hot 100, five weeks after it became his third No. 1. The chart’s top nonholiday title scores a seventh week each atop the multi-metric Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap Songs charts.

Wrapping the Hot 100’s top 10, The Ronettes’ “Sleigh Ride,” from 1963, parks at No. 10 for a second straight week, after reaching No. 8. The act now boasts a span of 60 years, three months and two weeks in the top 10, dating to its iconic No. 2-peaking “Be My Baby” in September 1963 – the longest among groups. (Excluding holiday fare, The Beatles broke the record for the longest top 10 span among all acts in November: 59 years, nine months and three weeks, from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in 1964 to the debut of their newly-released single “Now and Then.”)

Again, for all chart news, you can follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on Billboard’s social accounts, and all charts (dated Jan. 6), including the Hot 100 in its entirety, will refresh on Billboard.com tomorrow (Jan. 3).

Luminate, the independent data provider to the Billboard charts, completes a thorough review of all data submissions used in compiling the weekly chart rankings. Luminate reviews and authenticates data. In partnership with Billboard, data deemed suspicious or unverifiable is removed, using established criteria, before final chart calculations are made and published.

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