Hot 100 Christmas Songs, 1955-2004

Ross Bagdasarian

These are the top 10 Hot 100 Christmas Songs in the rock and roll era, starting in 1955. While there was a particular Christmas chart from 1963 to 1972 and again from 1983 to 1985, the songs here charted on the pop charts.

Many of these will be quite familiar to you, though I’ll admit to being totally unaware of the NKOTB track, the only one I don’t own in a physical form.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – The Chipmunks, #1 for four weeks in 1958. My family owned the single. I particularly liked it because I thought l did a passable imitation of the rodents. Ross Bagdasarian also had a #1 hit in 1958 with Witch Doctor as David Seville.

Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms, #6 in 1957. Background vocalists were the Anita Kerr Singers. The electric guitar was by Hank Garland.

Nuttin’ for Christmas – Barry Gordon with the Art Mooney orchestra, #6 in 1955. I never heard this until I heard it on a compilation CD. Fingernails on a blackboard.

This One’s For The Children – New Kids On The Block, #7 in 1989

White Christmas – Bing Crosby, #7 in 1955. This is the 1947 version, which supplanted the 1942 version.

Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte, #12 in 1956. The remarkable Jester Hairston, who had a fascinating life as a composer and actor, wrote the song.

The Little Drummer Boy – the Harry Simeone Chorale, #13 in 1958. We owned this single growing up, too. There was a 1965 remake of this song, which takes the ending much slower; I prefer the original.

Also Paul Young

Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid, #13 in 1984. It features members of Kool & the Gang, U2, The Boomtown Rats, Genesis, Ultravox, Bananarama, Culture Club, Heaven 17, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Wham!, Status Quo, The Police, The Style Council and others

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee, #14 in 1960, and #1 in 2023!

Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison, #15 in 1963. I never heard this until I bought Orbison’s Greatest Hits CD collection.

More Xmas music – percussion, rodents

A Very Special Christmas

Little Drummer BoyWhen I grew up, I believe we had exactly two Christmas singles. The Little Drummer Boy was a tune I sang at church when I was young and cute. The version by the Harry Simone Chorale actually made the pop charts between 1958 and 1962, at #13, #15, #24, #22, and #28, respectively. It also made it to #6 on the adult contemporary charts in both 1961 and 1962.

Then it had a run on the Xmas charts between 1963 and 1970. It went #2 for four weeks, #1 for three weeks thrice in a row, #2, #1, #2, #3, respectively. A new version got to #9 in 1972, ##20 in 1973, and #10 in 1983, all on the Xmas charts.

The other single is well-loved or well-hated.  The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) was by David Seville and the furry creatures. In 1958, it went to #1 on the POP charts for FOUR weeks, and #5 on the rhythm and blues charts to boot. Then #41, #45, #39, and #40 on the pop charts in 1959 through 1962, respectively. It went #5 Xmas in 1963, and #6 Xmas in 1964.

We did have a few Christmas albums. But it seemed that most of them were rather generic. One exception was a series of albums by some name artists, put out by the Firestone tire company. At least two of them featured Julie Andrews. And by far, my favorite song was The Bells of Christmas, this particular version.

Some other songs

Getting Ready for Christmas Day – Paul Simon. Interesting that the sermon sampled was delivered in 1941, the same year Paul was born.

Jingle Bells – The Fab 4. NOT the Beatles.

Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi Trio. I read a bio about Vince some years back.

From that first A Very Special Christmas album, which appeared on various charts between 1987 and 2002:
The Coventry Carol – Alison Moyet.
Gabriel’s Message  – Sting. I had a girlfriend who HATED Sting’s voice.

Christmas All Over Again – Tom Petty. From that second A Very Special Christmas album in 1992, which charted between 1992 and 1998. I still miss Petty.

Mary’s Boy Child – Harry Belafonte. My late father incorporated elements of Belafonte in his folk-singing career.

Hamildolph! – Eclipse 6

Clones and other technology; and music

I didn’t think much of the Monkees, the original Prefab Four.

More of those Ask Roger Anything answers.

clonesMy colleague Ed asked:

So, if the technology existed (it will sooner or later) that would do the following 2 things:
1) As soon as you are born a clone would be created with your DNA. This clone would grow in a chamber inanimate until it is needed when you die.
2) From the moment of birth everything that ever happens in your life will be uploaded in real time to storage.

Premise one: You step off of the curb to cross the street and are struck and killed by a bus. At the exact moment of impact you real-time data is downloaded to your growing clones brain and the clone is activated. The clone sits up exacerbated and screams “Oh My God” in regard and reaction to the last memory recorded just a millisecond ago and then relaxes and realizes what happened and that he has just been killed but also been reanimated. Every single memory and experience from life in his previous body intact. Two main questions (this is from a scientific and logic perspective)

Q:1 – Is that clone really you? Has your life been extended?

Q:2 (slightly different scenario) What if you stepped off and jumped back on the sidewalk just in time and didn’t get hit and killed, BUT the process still ran at that exact moment to activate your clone as detailed above) Now, is that you? Or are you you?
I ask this because it seems to me that all of our thoughts and ideas on how to really extend life to the point of negligible immortality believe it to be your mind and memories alone that make you, you. I believe my Q:2 with scenario 2 disproves that idea. There has to be more to it.

Hey Rog, you said to ask a question – I did 🙂

I say no, and certainly no. Because the YOU, in scenario #1, never recovers from that bus accident. You are always You. The other you might be You 2.0.

Incidentally, in Things Movies and TV Always Get Wrong About Human Cloning, item #5, Exact Duplicates notes- “If you look at twins in the real world, even identical twins who share the exact same DNA, they are never exactly the same. That’s because genetics are only part of what makes someone unique. Things like nutrition, environment, parenting, physical injury (or lack thereof), and personal choice can change someone’s appearance drastically.”

So I reject the premise of the question. But I am fascinated by the notion of clones.

It seems that I evoke the notion of wishing I had a clone under two very divergent scenarios. 1) I’d like the clone to do the boring, tedious task, such as mowing the lawn, so that the Real Me can ride the bike with the daughter. 2) I want to do two pleasurable things simultaneously, such as, at 9:30 Sunday morning, both attend choir rehearsal AND the adult education class; in this case, I obviously want to experience BOTH events.
The distinguished SamuraiFrog wonders:

What obsolete technology do you still like to use and will never get rid of?

Never say never, I suppose, but, in all likelihood:

Books, including quite a few reference books on music, movies, and TV, because I can find the info nearly as fast as online, assuming I can get it on a webpage at all.

A watch. The argument I have actually been given: “Why have a device that does only one thing?” Because I don’t need to DO but one thing in that moment, and that’s to get the time, literally with the flick of my wrist.

A record player. I still have over 1500 LPs, and some of the music is NOT available in other forms.

A landline phone (probably). This is more a function of not knowing where my cellphone is or forgetting to charge it, for days at a time, and not particularly caring that much about the loss.
Amy, the Sharp Little Pencil:

OK, you asked, so now I am asking… er…

Who is your absolute, alltime, stuck-on-a-desert-island-with-one-CD favorite singer?

You are a cruel woman.

I was thinking about Ray Charles, but I ended up picking Nat King Cole. I have this album of early Ray Charles, titled “the Early Ray Charles,” and he sounded amazingly like Nat; BTW, that album got me in a bit of trouble.

My late mother had a bunch of Nat 78s; I’m sure she had a crush. In his own way, he was a television pioneer. That he died young because of cigarettes broke my heart.

LISTEN to The very best of Nat King Cole.
Jaquandor ponders:

If John and George were still alive, would the Beatles reunion have already taken place? If so, where and when?

Almost certainly. After John’s five-year self-imposed musical exile to help raise his second son, Sean, he’d want to see how his music was received. And it would have done fine, not as well as Double Fantasy did as a result of his death, unless, of course, he went on the road, which he seemed to be planning to do.

Then Milk and Honey would have been released (ditto), and he’d figure that he didn’t need to prove anything. He might show up on a Ringo album, or have George guest on one of his. Eventually, they’d all get together. It might be a small gig in Liverpool, or a larger one in London, but probably something in New York City, the location that propelled Beatlemania.

LISTEN to some Beatles songs.
Arthur@AmeriNZ wants to know:

Pop Culture: Have there been any recording artists who you loved, then later in their career you though, “Hm, no, that’s just not any good.”

I’m hard-pressed to think of one. I think whoever they were met my needs at the time. Take the Chipmunks, who I thought were terribly funny, but find much less so now. Still, David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.) gets mondo props for controlling speeds to create an effect.

Or, the opposite: Artists you formerly loathed and grew to appreciate or even like?

Would not go as far as loathe, but I didn’t think much of the Monkees, the original Prefab Four, who eventually DID play their own instruments and write their own songs.

They were also EXTREMELY successful. Their first album, in 1966, was #1 for 13 weeks, More of the Monkees for 18 weeks, Headquarters for one week – probably because the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper then came out and dominated for 15 weeks. But then Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd. ended 1967 on top for five weeks.

In 1966, the Beatles had the #1 album in the US for 18 weeks, the Monkees for 7; in 1967, the Beatles – 15 weeks, the Monkees – 30.

LISTEN to The Monkees The Singles Collection

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