In a remarkable testament to its enduring appeal, Brenda Lee’s iconic holiday anthem, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” has ascended to the No. 1 spot on the US Hot 100 chart, a full 65 years following its original release in 1958. This milestone marks a significant moment in music history, underscoring the song’s timeless charm and widespread popularity.
Johnny Marks, renowned for other Christmas favourites like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” penned this classic. Interestingly, Brenda Lee recorded it at the tender age of 13. Initially, the song faced challenges in gaining widespread popularity but eventually climbed to the US Top 20 in 1960, propelled by Lee’s rising stardom in the pop scene.
The track experienced a resurgence in popularity in 1990, thanks to its feature in the blockbuster movie “Home Alone.” Its real comeback, however, came with the advent of streaming services in 2014, leading to its consistent presence in the US charts during subsequent holiday seasons.
At 78, Brenda Lee now holds the record for being the oldest artist to achieve a No. 1 spot on the US Hot 100 chart, a record previously held by Louis Armstrong in 1964. The 65-year interval between the song’s release and its chart-topping achievement in 2023 is unprecedented, surpassing Mariah Carey’s record with “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in 2019. This feat also sets a new benchmark for the longest duration between an artist’s first and most recent No. 1 single, eclipsing the records previously held by artists like Cher.
In a revealing interview, Brenda Lee shared her astonishment at “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” becoming her signature song, despite having other major hits in her career. The song’s success is notable in the US, where Christmas-themed songs rarely dominate the charts, unlike in the UK, where such themes are more common. In the UK, the song peaked at No. 4 and was at No. 14 at the time of this achievement.
This incredible journey of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” from its humble beginnings to becoming a chart-topping phenomenon decades after its release, is a testament to the timeless nature of great music and the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry. Brenda Lee’s achievement is a personal triumph and a milestone in music history, illustrating the enduring appeal of classic holiday tunes and their ability to resonate across generations.