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Appendix E

ALL TIME CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

(Top 40 most popular Christmas seasonal songs based on the Billboard charts.)

(1940 - 1971)

Broadcast 25 December 1971

Christmas singles charted on the pop charts from 1940-1962. From 1963-1971 Christmas singles charted on the Christmas Singles chart. Peak positions for the biggest versions and its biggest year (these often charted in multiple years) are listed. If a song made the Christmas Singles chart it is listed with an "X". (example #3X/63)

How compiled: All versions of a song were added together. Rank based on sales (as reported by the RIAA and record labels) and on chart performance (as reported by Billboard).

 SongArtist with Biggest VersionVersion's chart history
1White ChristmasBing Crosby#1/42 #9/43 #6/44 #9/45 #2/46 #3/47 #6/48 #7/49 #16/50 #16/51 #21/54 #18/55 #65/56 #34/57 #66/58 #59/59 #26/60 #12/61 #38/62 #3X/63 #3X/64 #3X/65 #3X/66 #2X/67 #3X/68 #1X/69 #5X/70
2Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerGene Autry and the Pinafores#1/49 #3/50 #16/51 #70/57
3The Little Drummer BoyThe Harry Simeon Chorale#13/58 #15/59 #24/60 #22/61 #28/62 #2X/63 #1X/64 #1X/65 #1X/66 #2X/67 #1X/68 #2/69 #3/70
4The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)Nat "King" Cole (The King Cole Trio)#7/46 #80/60 #65/62 #13X/63 #6X/64 #4X/65 #5X/66 #4X/67 #2X/68 #1X/69 #9X/70
5Jingle Bell RockBobby Helms#6/57 #35/58 #36/60 #41/61 #56/62 #3X/63 #13X/64 #4X/65 #2X/66 #5X/67 #16X/68 #1X/69 #5X/70
6Silver BellsJimmy Wakely and Margaret Whiting (Supremes version played)This version was cited by AT40 as been the biggest selling version, but it never charted.
7Winter WonderlandPerry Como (Ray Conniff's version played)#10/46
8Santa Claus Is Coming To TownBing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (The Four Seasons version also played)This version was cited by AT40 as the biggest selling version, but it never charted.
9Blue ChristmasElvis Presley#1X/64 #4X/65 #12X/66 #5X/67 #8X/68 #2X/69 #4X/70
10The Chipmunk SongDavid Seville and the Chipmunks*#1/58 #41/59 #45/60 #39/61 #40/62 #5X/63 #6X/64
11Jingle BellsGlenn Miller (Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters version was played)#5/41
12Frosty the SnowmanGene Autry#7/50
13Sleigh RideLeroy Anderson and the Boston Pops Orchestra (The Ronettes version was also played)#24/49
14Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)Gene Autry (Bobb B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans version also played#9/47 #8/48 #24/49
15I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa ClausJimmy Boyd*#1/52
16Please Come Home For ChristmasCharles Brown*#76/61 #4X/63 #3X/64 #2X/65 #3X/66 #3X/67 #3X/68 #4X/69 #3X/70
17Rockin' Around the Christmas TreeBrenda Lee*#14/60 #50/61 #53/62 #12X/63 #4X/64 #3X/65 #4X/66 #8X/67 #14X/68 #4X/69
18Nuttin' For ChristmasArt Mooney with Barry Gordon (Ricky Zahnd and the Blue Jeaners version also played)#7/55
19You're All I Want For ChristmasFrankie Laine (not played)#11/48
20I'll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams)Bing Crosby#3/43
21All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)Spike Jones and His City Slickers (George Rock)*#1/48 #18/49
22Merry Christmas BabyCharles Brown*#4X/64 #5X/65 #4X/66 #6X/67 #2X/68 #4X/69 #8X/70
23Christmas In KillarneyDennis Day (Bing Crosby version was played)#10/50
24(There's No Place Like) Home For the HolidaysPerry Como*#18/54
25It's Beginning To Look Alot Like ChristmasPerry Como and the Fontane Sisters (The Chipmunks version was played)#23/51
26I Yust Go Nuts At ChristmasYogi Yorgesson#5//49
27Santa BabyErtha Kitt*#4/53
28Mary's Boy ChildHarry Belafonte*#12/56
29Christmas Dragnet (Parts 1 and 2)Stan Freberg*#13/53
30Pretty PaperRoy Orbison#15/63 #27X/64
31Snoopy's ChristmasThe Royal Guardsmen* (not played)#1X/67 #15X/68 #11X/69
32Little Saint NickThe Beach Boys*#3X/63 #6X/64
33Baby's First ChristmasConnie Francis*#26/61 #13X/65
34Santo Natale (Merry Christmas)David Whitfield*#19/54
35Santa and the Satellite (Parts1&2)Buchanan and Goodman*#32/57
36Little Alter BoyVic Dana (Andy Williams version played)#45/61
37The Happy ReindeerDancer, Prancer and Nervous*#34/59
38Santa Claus Is Watching YouRay Stevens*#45/62
39Merry Christmas PolkaThe Andrews Sisters and Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians* (not played)#18/49
40If Every Day Was Like ChristmasElvis Presley*#2/66 #12/67

*=Means the artist had the only version of the song in which points were totalled.

This countdown was done in conjunction with the year-end countdown for 1971 which came the following week.

The first of two attempts at a Christmas countdown, it would soon prove to be one of the most popular since the idea was both timely and novel. Christmas songs had been hitting the Billboard charts since the beginning. Their short chart stays obscured the fact that many of these singles were huge sellers. Many sold in the millions of copies, but they sold them only in the weeks up to Christmas, plus they sold each Christmas over the years if the label re-issued the record. So they rarely made such charts as the year-end charts. Add this to the fact that some times dozens of artist might record a song. So the time was right to see just exactly what Christmas songs (and in some cases what version of them) were the most popular on the charts and in copies sold.

Since many of the songs came from the 40s or 50s, playable copies of these records could not be found. Where noted, alternate versions were played.

ALL TIME CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

(2nd take)

(Top 40 most popular Christmas seasonal songs based on the Billboard charts.)

(1940 - 1973)

Broadcast 22 December 1973

Artist with the biggest version of a song is in bold type. Christmas singles charted on the pop charts from 1940-1962. From 1963-1973 Christmas singles charted on the Christmas Singles chart. Peak positions for the biggest versions and its biggest year (these often charted in multiple years) are listed. If a song made the Christmas Singles chart it is listed with an "X". (example #3X/63)


 
 SongArtist(s)
1White ChristmasBing Crosby (#1/42)/Gordon Jenkins (Bob Carroll)/Charlie Spivak (Carry Stevens)/Freddy Martin (Clyde Rogers)/Frank Sinatra/Jo Stafford/The Drifters/Andy Williams/Otis Redding
2Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerGene Autry and the Pinafores (#1/49)/Spike Jones/Bing Crosby/The Chipmunks/The Melodeers/Jackson 5/The Temptations
3The Little Drummer BoyThe Harry Simeon Chorale (#13/58)/Johnny Cash/Johnny Mathis/Joan Baez/Kenny Burrell/Lou Rawls
4The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)Nat "King" Cole (The King Cole Trio) (#7/46)/Les Brown (Doris Day)/James Brown/Herb Alpert/Jose Feliciano/Tony Bennett/Jackson 5/Johnny Mathis
5Jingle Bell RockBobby Helms (#6/57)/Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker/Brenda Lee
6Silver BellsKate Smith/Diana Ross and the Supremes/Ray Conniff /Bing Crosby and Carol Richards/Earl Grant/Al Martino
7Winter WonderlandPerry Como (#10/46)/The Andrews Sisters/Ray Conniff/Johnny Mercer/Ramsey Lewis/Tony Bennett/Darlene Love
8Blue ChristmasElvis Presley (#1X/64)/Russ Morgan/Hugo Winterhalter/Ernest Tubb//The Browns
9Jingle BellsGlenn Miller (#5/41)/Les Paul/Ray Conniff /Roger Williams/The Singing Dogs/Perry Como/Ramsey Lewis/Booker T. and the MG's
10Santa Claus Is Coming To TownBing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters/Burl Ives/The Four Seasons/Jackson 5/The Crystals
11The Chipmunk SongDavid Seville and the Chipmunks (#1/58)
12Frosty the SnowmanGene Autry(#7/50)/Nat "King" Cole/The Beach Boys/The Ronnettes/Guy Lombardo (Kenny Gardner)
13Please Come Home For ChristmasCharles Brown(#1X/72)/The Uniques
14Sleigh RideLeroy Anderson and the Boston Pops Orchestra (#24/49) /Andy Williams
15Here Comes Santa Claus (Down Santa Claus Lane)Gene Autry (#8/48)/Bobb B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans
16Rockin' Around the Christmas TreeBrenda Lee (#14/60)
17I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa ClausJimmy Boyd (#1/52)//Molly Bee/The Four Seasons
18Nuttin' For ChristmasArt Mooney with Barry Gordon (#7/55)/Ricky Zahnd and the Bluejeaners /The Fontane Sisters/Joe Ward/Stan Freberg
19You're All I Want For ChristmasFrankie Laine (#11/48)/Frank Gallagher (#25/48)
20I'll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams)Bing Crosby (#3/43)/The Brothers Four/Elvis Presley/The Beach Boys
21Merry Christmas BabyCharles Brown (#4X/64)/Chuck Berry/Otis Redding
22All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)Spike Jones and His City Slickers (George Rock) (#1/48)
23Lonesome Christmas (Part 1)Lowell Fulsom (#6X/66)
24Christmas In KillarneyDennis Day (#10/50)/Percy Faith
25(There's No Place Like) Home For the HolidaysPerry Como (#18/54)
26It's Beginning To Look Alot Like ChristmasPerry Como and the Fontane Sisters (#23/51)
27I Yust Go Nuts At ChristmasYogi Yorgesson (#5/49)
28Mary's Boy ChildHarry Belafonte (#12/56)
29Santa BabyErtha Kitt (#4/53)
30Pretty PaperRoy Orbison (#15/63)
31Snoopy's ChristmasThe Royal Guardsmen (#1X/67)
32Merry Christmas DarlingThe Carpenters (#1X/70)
33Little Saint NickThe Beach Boys (#3X/63)
34Baby's First ChristmasConnie Francis (#26/61)
35Merry Christmas PolkaThe Andrews Sisters with Guy Lombardo (#18/49)
36Little Alter BoyVic Dana (#45/61)
37Santa and the Satellite (Parts1&2)Buchanan and Goodman (#32/57)
38Santa Claus Is Watching YouRay Stevens (#45/62)
39A Marshmellow WorldBing Crosby (#24/50) /Darlene Love
40The Happy ReindeerDancer, Prancer and Nervous (#34/59)
Second and final time for this countdown. As with the 1971 countdown, this one was done in conjunction with the year-end countdown which came the following week. Since in 1974 AT40 went to 100 position year-end countdowns, future Christmas countdowns became impossible to do. Nevertheless, these countdowns were popular and Casey actually did one like it again in the 80s on his TV "America's Top Ten" show. Of course there it was a top 10 only countdown.

As mentioned in Rob Durkee's "American Top 40" book, the 1973 countdown tried to resolve some problems that were apparent in the 1971 version. First of these were the removal of some very obscure hits that were on the 1971 show and replacing them with songs a little more well-known. The second was securing playable copies of the songs. The 1971 show was plagued by its inability to locate radio playable copies of about 3 or 4 of the songs. The 1973 show improved on this and only 1 song was not played due to the lack of a playable copy, that being "You're All I Want For Christmas" by Frankie Laine at #19.

Some explanation of Christmas singles and the charts: From 1940 to 1962 Christmas records could and did hit the pop charts. In fact many times a Christmas record may return for many years after its initial release. "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby charted every year from its initial release in 1942 to 1962. For the most part, the songs were only on the chart for 1-5 weeks and quickly rose and fell.

In 1963 Billboard decided to remove seasonal titles from the Hot 100 and instead create a Christmas singles chart that ran for a few weeks during the holiday season. Although the exact reasons are not known, it is my opinion it was done because these songs disrupted the pop charts too much. Most record store owners and radio stations weren't too interested in having "White Christmas" and related tunes clogging the Hot 100 year after year while other pop hits were squeezed out. This holiday chart varied in length but was about 25 positions. Many of the songs on this countdown come from this chart and is why you see its position marked with an "X". Starting in 1974 the Christmas chart was discontinued and Christmas songs were allowed once again to chart on the Hot 100, although very few ever did. In fact between 1974-1991 only about 10 Seasonal titles made the Hot 100 and only three made the Top 40: "Please Come Home For Christmas" by the Eagles in 78-79, "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid in 84-85, and "This One's For the Children" by New Kids On the Block in 89-90.

Some trivia:

"I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" by Yori Yorgesson was not played in its entirety. Casey cited that the record sounded a bit too dated.

One song from the 70s was in the countdown: 1970s "Merry Christmas Darling" by the Carpenters at #32. A notable famous 70s Christmas song missing from the countdown was John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" from 1971.

Much is made in the countdown of "Silent Night" by Bing Crosby which was initially released in 1935. Decca (now part of MCA) records longed maintained that this song was a bigger seller than "White Christmas". Of course 1935 was well before the Billboard charts so Casey could not put it on his countdown "officially", but he did play it at the end of the countdown. A re-recorded version by Bing Crosby did make the Top 100 chart in 1957 (#54), the Hot 100 in 1960 (#54) and the Christmas charts in the 60s and 70s.

Although "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby is far and away the biggest Christmas song ever and by all accounts the biggest selling single of all time, there are actually two versions of the song. The original was from 1942 but is not much heard on radio anymore. The more well known version was recorded in 1947, and this is the version on virtually all copies of the recording you can find nowadays. Sales figures have always combined the two versions. Casey actually played the original 1942 version in this countdown.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry has the dubious distinction of being the only single ever to be at #1 and then fall completely off the chart the following week. This was in 1949 when during the week of 31 Dec the song climbed into #1 during its 6th week on the chart. The following week on 7 Jan 1950 "I Can Dream, Can't I" by the Andrew Sisters takes over #1 while "Rudolph" falls completely off the Top 30 Best Selling Singles.

Source: Special Countdowns Page [Link broken as of 8 January 2004]

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Collections of Christmas Carols & Poetry
Compiled and Edited by
Douglas D. Anderson

Victorian Visions
A Christmas Poetry Collection

Divinely Inspired
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The Bridegroom Cometh
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What Sudden Blaze Of Song

The Christmas Poems of Rev. John Keble

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The Christmas Poems of Catherine Winkworth

A Victorian Carol Book

Favorites from the 19th Century —
Still favorites today!

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Devotions for the Advent – 2009
A new edition for 2010 is being prepared.

The Lenten Sermons of Martin Luther, Second Edition

Descriptions of all these volumes can be seen at
Books by Doug Anderson


Christmas is a wonderful, cheerful holiday.  Whether we spend it by a real tree or some Balsam Hill artificial Christmas trees, at the end of the day what matters is that we enjoy our time together with our loved ones. 


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Douglas D. Anderson

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