December 01, 2005


"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)" Tops List

New York, NY, December 1, 2005: As the year 2005 draws to a close and seasonal music fills the air, ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), the world’s largest performing rights organization, today 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 decade's 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 the 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” Cole’s 1946 recording. Cole's 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 McCartney's "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. McCartney’s Holiday classic is of comparatively recent vintage, first recorded back in 1979.

A song on the move is “It’s 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.”

  1. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
  2. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
  3. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
  4. Winter Wonderland - Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
  5. White Christmas - Irving Berlin
  6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
  7. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - Johnny Marks
  8. Jingle Bell Rock - Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
  9. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
  10. Little Drummer Boy - Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
  11. Sleigh Ride - Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
  12. It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year - Edward Pola, George Wyle
  13. Silver Bells - Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
  14. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Johnny Marks
  15. Feliz Navidad - José Feliciano
  16. Blue Christmas - Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
  17. Frosty The Snowman - Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins
  18. A Holly Jolly Christmas - Johnny Marks
  19. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Tommie Connor (PRS)
  20. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) - Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman
  21. It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas - Meredith Willson
  22. (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays - Bob Allen, Al Stillman
  23. Carol Of The Bells - Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich
  24. Santa Baby - Joan Ellen Javits, Philip Springer, Tony Springer
  25. Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney (PRS)

Some facts about the Top 25 ASCAP Holiday Songs:

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 three - "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”

Most recorded Holiday Song:
"White Christmas" with well over 500 versions in dozens of languages.

"Sleigh Ride" is the only Holiday song written originally as an instrumental piece for a symphony orchestra. The Boston Pops Orchestra gave the first performance in a concert conducted by Arthur Fiedler at Symphony Hall in Boston, May 4, 1948. Mills Music published it that same year. The Boston Pops Orchestra recorded it in June of 1949. Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1949.