Toronto Mike

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

We need to talk about Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". I'm sure I heard it in the zeitgeist as a kid, but my first specific memory of this holiday staple is its appearance in 1990's Home Alone. Since then, it's seemed unavoidable.

Brenda Lee recorded this Johnny Marks song - yes, the same Johnny Marks who wrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmas" - in 1958 when she was only 13-years-old. Although released in 1958, it didn't chart until 1960 when it peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1965, it got all the way to #3.

This month that very single hit #1, making Brenda Lee the oldest artist ever to top the chart. But that's not the only record she set this month.

  • "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is the song that took the longest to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It took 65 years.
  • Brenda Lee is now the artist with the longest period of time between #1 singles. Her previous #1, "I Want to Be Wanted", peaked 63 years ago.
  • Did I mention Brenda Lee is the oldest artist ever to top the Hot 100 at age 78, later breaking the record once again one week later at the age of 79?

Brenda Lee, a hugely successful artist with over 100 million records sold around the world, was always known to me as a kid for "I'm Sorry", her 1960 #1 hit. I knew "I'm Sorry" because it would play on a various artists record collection informercial I watched over and over again. I couldn't tell you if this was one of those Time-Life collections, but there was a cutaway to Brenda Lee singing the "I'm sorry, so sorry" chorus and it stuck with me.

I'm not sure I've ever heard that entire song... until now. Sorry, Brenda.

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