Why Are All These Old Country Christmas Songs Making the Billboard Hot 100?
Christmas songs are like our old tree ornaments. We take them out a few weeks before the holidays, enjoy them and put 'em away until next year. They never have a chance to become extremely popular until their time comes around next year. This year has been an exception.
In the history of recorded music there have only been a couple of Christmas tunes that were top ten hits, David Seville and the Chipmunks had the only Billboard chart topping Christmas tune until this year. The Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late"" in 1958 held the honor until Mariah Carey just hit #1 this week with "All I Want For Christmas is You". But that's not the big news.
There's not one but three Christmas themed tunes in the top 10. This has never happened before. What's even more surprising is the other two are older country tunes. Brenda Lee's 1960 tune "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is number three and Burl Ives' 1965 tune "Holly Jolly Christmas" is number ten. And -- as they say in the TV infomercials--there's more.
The 1957 Bobby Helm's holiday song "Jingle Bell Rock" is in the #15 position on the Billboard hot 100 this week and even Gene Autry's "Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer" is in the top 40. What's going on here? Even Mariah Carey's tune is an oldie. It was first released 25 years ago.
Are Americans looking fondly back to calmer times of the Eisenhower Presidency? Have we simply been exposed to these songs during so many holiday seasons that we feel naked without them? Whatever the reason we've never had this many big Christmas tunes on the Billboard all-genre Hot 100.
We should probably point out that the Billboard "Hot 100" is usually dominated by pop tunes. It's created by tabulating reports of radio airplay, sales and streaming. It is updated weekly.. Maybe it's so much easier to download a tune these days than to drive down to the record store and buy the record like we had to do in the 1950's and '60's.