NEW YORKAs the year 2005 draws to a close and seasonal music fills the air, The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the worlds largest performing rights organization, recently announced its Top 25 most-performed holiday songs for the first five years of the 21st century based on their most recent performance data. Recorded over and over, and revived by each decades most popular artists, these holiday favorites remain timeless classics, appealing to young and old alike.
The most-performed ASCAP holiday song of the 21st century is The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), written by Robert Wells and singing great Mel Tormé. The song, written when Tormé was 19 and Wells was 22, became a seasonal classic with the release of Nat King Coles 1946 recording. Coles version remains the most popular on radio today. Other popular recordings include versions by Celine Dion, Luther Vandross and Natalie Cole.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town, written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, was a close second. This perennial, originally written in 1934, was recorded the same year by orchestra leader George Hall, and is frequently heard today in versions by Bruce Springsteen, and the Crystals.
Santa Baby, written by Joan Javits, Philip Springer and Tony Springer and Paul McCartneys Wonderful Christmastime have established themselves as seasonal favorites. Originally a hit for Eartha Kitt in 1953, Santa Baby was given new interest via the popular recording by Madonna. McCartneys holiday classic is of comparatively recent vintage, first recorded in 1979.
A song on the move is Its The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, by Edward Pola and George Wyle, written in 1963 and first recorded by Andy Williams. Other popular recordings include versions by Amy Grant, Garth Brooks, and Peabo Bryson.
Marilyn Bergman, ASCAP president and chairman of the board, said: More than anything else, music sets the mood for the holidays, evoking the magic of the season and memories of holidays past. These timeless classics have been recorded by artists in every genre, yet each song retains the original stamp of its creators.
ASCAPs top 25 holiday songs
1. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
2. Santa Claus Is Coming To TownFred Coots, Haven Gillespie
3. Have Yourself A Merry Little ChristmasRalph Blane, Hugh Martin
4. Winter WonderlandFelix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
5. White ChristmasIrving Berlin
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
7. Rudolph The Red Nosed ReindeerJohnny Marks
8. Jingle Bell RockJoseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
9. Ill Be Home For ChristmasWalter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
10. Little Drummer BoyKatherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
11. Sleigh RideLeroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
12. Its The Most Wonderful Time Of The YearEdward Pola, George Wyle
13. Silver BellsJay Livingston, Ray Evans
14. Rockin Around The Christmas TreeJohnny Marks
15. Feliz NavidadJosé Feliciano
16. Blue ChristmasBilly Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
17. Frosty The SnowmanSteve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins
18. A Holly Jolly ChristmasJohnny Marks
19. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa ClausTommie Connor (PRS)
20. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman
21. Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like ChristmasMeredith Willson
22. (Theres No Place Like) Home For The HolidaysBob Allen, Al Stillman
23. Carol Of The BellsPeter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich
24. Santa BabyJoan Ellen Javits, Philip Springer, Tony Springer
25. Wonderful ChristmastimePaul McCartney (PRS)
Facts about the top 25
Oldest songs: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town and Winter Wonderland (both 1934)
Newest Song: Wonderful Christmastime (1979)
Songs introduced in motion pictures: 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)
Writer with most Top Holiday Songs: Johnny Marks with threeRudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, and A Holly Jolly Christmas
Most recorded Holiday Song: White Christmas with well more than 500 versions in dozens of languages
Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. performing rights organization representing the worlds largest repertory totaling more than 8 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 225,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members.
ASCAP also represents the repertories created by the international affiliates of 70 foreign performing rights organizations.
ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances.
ASCAP is the only American Performing Rights Organization owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. More info: www.ascap.com.
From the Dec. 21-27, 2005, issue