"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958 on Decca 9-30776.
Despite her mature-sounding voice, Lee recorded this song when she was only 13 years old. Despite the song's title, its instrumentation also fits the country music genre, which Brenda Lee more fully embraced as her career evolved. The recording features Hank Garland's ringing guitar and Boots Randolph's swinging solo sax break.
An instrumental version of the song appears as background music in the 1964 television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which exclusively featured music written by Marks. It can be heard in the scene where Rudolph first arrives at the Reindeer Games and meets another reindeer named Fireball. The song was also used in the 1990 film Home Alone during a scene when Kevin McCallister pretends that there is a holiday party taking place in his house, and discourages the burglars from robbing it.
Chart performance and sales
Although Decca released the single in both 1958 and again in 1959, it did not sell well until Lee became a popular star in 1960. That Christmas holiday season, Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. It continued to sell well during subsequent holiday seasons, peaking as high as No. 3 on Billboard's Christmas Singles chart in December 1965.
For decades, Brenda Lee's recording was the only notable version of the song. Radio stations ranging from Top 40 to Adult Contemporary to Country Music to Oldies to even Adult Standards played this version. Lee's recording still receives a great deal of airplay, and has since turned into a perennial holiday favorite.
As of December 25, 2011, Nielsen SoundScan estimated total sales of the digital track at 679,000 downloads, placing it fourth on the list of all-time best-selling Christmas/holiday digital singles in SoundScan history.
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- "Papa Noël" (Roy Botkin) – 2:25
Kim Wilde and Mel Smith version
A version of the song by Kim Wilde and Mel Smith (credited as "Mel & Kim" as a parody of then-popular sister act Mel and Kim), featuring Pete Thomas, reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart during the Christmas season 1987. The track was recorded to raise funds for Comic Relief. Its accompanying video featured the two hosting a Christmas party with guests including The Mekon.
Bob Rivers parody
Bob Rivers did a parody of the song entitled "Shoppin' Around for a Christmas Tree," released on his White Trash Christmas album in 2002.
The following artists have each recorded a cover version of the song:
- 1968: Bill Haley & His Comets, for the U.S. label United Artists Records (not released commercially at the time)
- 1970: Lynn Anderson, for her album The Christmas Album
- 1971: The Partridge Family, for their album A Partridge Family Christmas Card
- 1983: Lou Ann Barton, for the compilation album An Austin Rhythm and Blues Christmas
- 1986: Mickey Gilley, for the compilation album The Nashville Christmas Album
- 1992: Amy Grant, for her album Home for Christmas
- 1992: Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love, for the charity compilation album A Very Special Christmas 2
- 1993: Dion DiMucci, for his album Rock n' Roll Christmas
- 1994: Alvin and the Chipmunks and Patty Loveless, for the album A Very Merry Chipmunk
- 1995: Gary Hoey, for his album Ho! Ho! Hoey II
- 1997: Hanson, for their album Snowed In
- 1998: Cyndi Lauper, for her album Merry Christmas... Have a Nice Life
- 1999: Alabama, for their album Christmas Vol. II (this cover version peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart)
- 1999: Element, for the compilation album "Happy Christmas Vol. 2."
- 2000: Green Day, posted for their fans on their website greenday.com
- 2000: Jessica Simpson with Rosie O'Donnell, for O'Donnell's album Another Rosie Christmas
- 2000: Mek Pek, for his rockabilly-project Mek and the X-Mas Peks
- 2004: LeAnn Rimes, for her album What a Wonderful World (this cover version peaked at No. 3 on Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, No. 48 on Billboard Country Singles chart, and No. 30 on Billboard's Holiday Songs chart)
- 2006: Rhonda Vincent, for her album Beautiful Star: A Christmas Collection
- 2007: Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana, for the Hannah Montana Soundtrack (Holiday Edition)
- 2007: Toby Keith, for his album A Classic Christmas
- 2007: 1910 Fruitgum Company, for their album Bubblegum Christmas
- 2008: Davie Allan & the Arrows, for their album Fuzz for the Holidays
- 2008: Joe Lynn Turner and others, for the album We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year
- 2009: Lotta Engberg (titled "Julen Är Här"), for the album Jul hos mig
- 2011: Chicago, for their album Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three
- 2011: She & Him, for their album A Very She & Him Christmas
- 2011: 3 Voices & Beatur, for their album It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
- 2012: Victoria Justice, for the compilation album Merry Nickmas
- 2012: Bella Thorne, for the compilation album Disney Channel Holiday Playlist
- 2012: Mike Cannistraro, for the compilation album Boston's Best Holiday Hits
- 2012: JOE-BOY, for debut download single release.