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News Archive: 2012

ASCAP Announces Top Ten Most-Played Holiday Songs
Posted July 31, 2014

ASCAP changed their reporting of Top 25 Holiday Songs to only the Top 10 in 2012. In their press release you'll note that Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer performed by Gene Autry – or anyone else – did not make the top ten list. Johnny Marks, the composer of Rudolph, did make the list at number nine with Brenda Lee's performance of his song Rockin' Round the Christmas Tree.


ASCAP Members Reign Over Most-Played Holiday Songs List

"Sleigh Ride" Tops List of Popular Holiday Classics for Fourth Consecutive Year with Help from fun. Recording

New York, NY, December 12, 2012: It's that time of year again when holiday music takes over the airwaves and fills our homes, shops and cars with that extra bit of cheer, raising peoples' spirits and inspiring shoppers' zeal for finding that perfect gift. This year, as with many years in the past, the top ten most-played holiday songs were all written or co-written by members of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). And for the fourth year in a row, "Sleigh Ride," written by Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish, and recently covered by ASCAP Grammy-nominated indie rock trio fun., tops this list of popular holiday classics. Like "Sleigh Ride," many of these perennial favorites continue to be re-recorded by contemporary artists year after year, proving their timelessness and boosting already impressive airplay.

"Music is one of the most important and defining aspects of the holiday season. Favorites like 'Sleigh Ride' and 'Winter Wonderland' help to set the mood and brighten spirits each and every year," commented ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams. "It's no surprise that these beloved tunes have all been written by ASCAP members, America's greatest songwriters and composers. These works serve as a cornerstone of the ASCAP repertory."

Since October 1, 2012, "Sleigh Ride" has aired more times than any other holiday song this season. Though the lyrical version we know today depicts a wondrous winter scene, "Sleigh Ride" was originally composed by Leroy Anderson as an instrumental piece on a hot summer day in 1946. Mitchell Parish added lyrics to the song in 1949, and since then, it has been recorded by countless performers - perhaps a more diverse group of musical artists than any other piece in the history of western music. To this day, Leroy Anderson's recording remains the most popular instrumental version, while Johnny Mathis' recording has become the most popular vocal version. As is the case with many holiday standards, "Sleigh Ride" continues to be covered by current acts, and was just released by ASCAP members and recent Grammy nominees fun. for the compilation album Holidays Rule. ASCAP's Zooey Deschanel-fronted indie duo She & Him also recorded the carol for their 2011 holiday album A Very She & Him Christmas.

For the first time since 2008, "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" finds its way onto the top ten list. Both this holiday classic and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," #5 and #4 on the list, respectively, have noticeably different rankings this season. Performances of each were bolstered by recordings recently re-released by famed ASCAP singer-songwriter James Taylor on his 2012 Christmas album James Taylor at Christmas. Strengthening airplay even more, ASCAP's Justin Bieber also released a version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" last holiday season on his album Under the Mistletoe. It is ASCAP member Bruce Springsteen's version of the song, however, that receives the most airplay, having become a staple of rock radio since it was first released in 1985.

The top ten most-played holiday songs so far this holiday season are listed below, all written or co-written by ASCAP songwriters and composers. Each song includes songwriter credits, and cites the most popular artist version played on radio to date.

  1. Sleigh Ride
    Written by Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
    Most popular version performed by Leroy Anderson
  2. Winter Wonderland
    Written by Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
    Most popular version performed by Eurythmics
  3. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
    Written by Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
    Most popular version performed by Harry Connick Jr.
  4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
    Written by Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
    Most popular version performed by The Carpenters
  5. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
    Written by Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
    Most popular version performed by Bruce Springsteen
  6. Do You Hear What I Hear?
    Written by Gloria Shayne Baker, Noël Regney
    Most popular version performed by Whitney Houston
  7. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
    Written by Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
    Most popular version performed by Nat King Cole
  8. Jingle Bell Rock
    Written by Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
    Most popular version performed by Bobby Helms
  9. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
    Written by Johnny Marks
    Most popular version performed by Brenda Lee
  10. It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
    Written by Meredith Willson
    Most popular version performed by Bing Crosby

Note: The list represents an aggregation of all different artist versions of each cited holiday song played on radio from 10/1/12 through 12/3/12. The holiday song data was tracked by radio airplay monitoring service, Media Monitors.

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