A 65-Year-Old Christmas Classic Finally Hits No. 1

Brenda Lee's 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' from 1958 tops the Billboard Hot 100
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2023 1:30 AM CST

Brenda Lee released "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" in 1958, but the classic holiday tune never hit No. 1 on the charts—until now. The song, which made it to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 each year for the past four holiday seasons, finally made it to No. 1 this week. Lee, who was just 13 when she recorded the song, had an emotional reaction to hearing the news, Good Morning America reports. The song is just the third holiday hit to reach the top spot on the Hot 100, the other two being Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" and the Chipmunks' "The Chipmunk Song" with David Seville.

The song hitting No. 1 broke a number of records, CBS News reports: This is the longest it's ever taken for a single to reach the top spot after its release, and it spent the longest time climbing the chart (it first appeared on the Hot 100 in 1960). Lee is the oldest person to appear in the No. 1 spot, and she also now holds the record for longest stretch between No. 1 hits (it's been 63 years since she hit the top spot for "I Want to Be Wanted") as well as the longest stretch between her first No. 1 hit and her most recent (it's also been 63 years since she first hit the top spot with "I'm Sorry").

NPR explains that changes to Billboard's chart calculation formula (which put more weight on streaming) have made it easier for old songs to hit No. 1, a phenomenon that is particularly relevant during the holiday season when people often stream older music. Carey's classic hit No. 1 four years in a row after that change. Lee helped push her song past Carey's, which currently sits at No. 2, by recording a new music video for it—the song's first official music video, in fact—that you can see in our gallery. (More Christmas music stories.)

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