Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Greatest Performed Holiday Songs Of The Last Decade

In my last post, we listed the "Five Greatest Christmas Songs Ever Written" and a recent report from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) listed the 25 most performed ASCAP songs of the decade, and I thought this list would be of interest to readers of this blog. The report from ASCAP also listed the songwriter credits and the most popular played version. As I reviewed the list, I have to admit that it was somewhat sad to see that "White Christmas" the favorite of both mine, Zelda and millions of other lovers of the Great American Songbook has fallen to 6th place according to the ASCAP report. All I can say is that just because a Christmas song is played a lot does not automatically make it the best song of all times. That's my story, and I am sticking to it. I found the most popular artists of these songs interesting as some of the more popular current singers have claimed some of the old favorites. Also interesting is that Johnny Marks is the writer with the most songs on the top 25 list with three, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas". Well, here is the "Ten most performed Christmas songs of the last decade:

1. Winter Wonderland
Written by: Felix Bernard, Richard B Smith
Performed by: Eurythmics

2. The Christmas Song
Written by: Mel Torme', Robert Wells
Performed by: Nat King Cole

3. Sleigh Ride
Written by: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
Performed by: The Ronettes

4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Written by: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
Performed by: The Pretenders

5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Written by: Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
Performed by: Bruce Springsteen

6. White Christmas
Written by: Irving Berlin
Performed by: Bing Crosby

7. Let It Snow!
Written by: Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
Performed by: Michael Buble'

8. Jingle Bell Rock
Written by Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
Performed by: Daryl Hall & John Oates

9. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Gene Autry

10. Little Drummer Boy
Written by: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
Performed by: The Harry Simeone Chorale & Orchestra


  1. Songs recorded within the last decade may or may not have any relationship with TOTAL recordings over the life of any particular song. I don't have the actual facts at hand, but certainly anything done by the Eurythmics or Sprinsteen results are skewed by current record purchases vs. "overall" purchases. I am having trouble believing that White Christmas, when viewed from this perspective doesn't still rank number 1. Your stats from ASCAP are presumably correct for the last 10 years ..., but what about overall sales or covers (as the case may be)?

    BTW ..., I've not heard of "Jungle Bell Rock" by Hall and Oats? If this is the same as Jingle Bell Rock originally performed by Bobby Helms in 1957 then this ranking of #8 also falls into the same statistical category as my above comments about White Christmas. I'm a member of ASCAP and I love them dearly but you have to be wary of the stats that they produce.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

  2. My information is that ASCAP measures plays on any particular song not sales. On that basis, I would guess their numbers on Christmas songs are most likely correct. Plus, think about all the outlets on radio that cover the current popular music and compare that with the very few outlets that cover the Great American Song Book. On this basis, it's really is a wonder that "White Christmas" is still in the top 10 most played after all these years.
    The song is "Jingle Bell Rock" ,sorry for the spelling error and it is the same song as performed by Bobby Helms.
    I have a question, doesn't ASCAP keep track of the royalties due the composers and recording artists?
    If so, then maybe their play numbers might be be solid.

    Merry Christmas to you as well!

  3. ASCAP measures both plays and sales, which is not an exact science so some results are statistically derived and are intended to be "actual" and generally accepted as actual (somewhat like TV Nielsen ratings). I have no doubt that the ASCAP results you reported are correct, my point was that if you measure plays and sales from the beginning of the songs life as opposed to only the last 10 years the results might be markedly different. As an example, if you measured plays and purchases for only the past month (as ASCAP does regularly), White Christmas might not even appear in the top 50 - except that this particular past month being just before Christmas would produce skewed results compared to any previous month in the summer where White Christmas probably wouldn't appear at all. However, if you measured plays and sales over the past 50 years, then the contemporary artists covers shown in the ASCAP list you presented might not appear at all on the 50 year list. Make sense?

    ASCAP does indeed keep track of royalties due to both artists and composers, but this also is not an exact science as mentioned above. Having said all of the above, generally speaking ASCAP and BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated, an exact similar competitor to ASCAP) are usually considered the "Bibles" of performing rights organizations - and for the song facts they compile.

  4. This subject has been interesting to me ..., so I just checked the ASCAP web and found the very list you originally presented. If you read a bit farther down the list it does report that White Christmas is the most recorded Christmas song of all time with well over 500 versions in many different languages. Thus supporting my contentions about measurement over different time periods. White Christmas does indeed appear to be number 1 afterall. There you go.

  5. You are right on target saying "White Christmas" is the most recorded Christmas song of all times. And if you measure using "The most recorded Christmas song of all times", it would indeed be our number one.
    Your comments on ASCAP are very interesting and now I understand a little better why composers and artists are always complaining about being somewhat ripped off when it comes to the royalties. I wouldn't want to be paid on the basis of guess work of any kind.
    Thanks again to "Thebassman" for all the good intel.


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