Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

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For the 2007 Arvingarna Christmas album, see Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (album).
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
Single by Brenda Lee
from the album Merry Christmas from Brenda Lee
B-side "Papa Noël"
Released 1958 (US),
December 1962 (UK)[1]
Format 7-inch
Recorded October 19, 1958
Genre Christmas, country, rockabilly
Length 2:02
Label Decca 9-30776
Writer(s) Johnny Marks
Brenda Lee singles chronology
"Rock-a-Bye Baby Blues"
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
"I Want to Be Wanted (Per Tutta La Vita)"

"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 thirteen years old. The song's declaration of a rock and roll sound notwithstanding, its instrumentation also fits the country music genre, which Brenda Lee more fully embraced as her career evolved. The recording features Grady Martin's ringing guitar and Boots Randolph's swinging solo sax break. The song is written in the key of A-flat major.

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[edit]

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.[1] It continued to sell well during subsequent holiday seasons, peaking as high as No. 3 on Billboard's Christmas Singles chart in December 1965.

It peaked at No.6 in the UK Charts, when it was released there in 1963, in 2013 due to downloads it became one of a number of songs to re-enter the UK Singles Chart near Christmas time along with Slade and The Pogues "Fairytale of New York", Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree", it peaked at No.63 on Sunday 15 December 2013.

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.[2]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
  • "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (Johnny Marks) – 2:25
Side B
  • "Papa Noël" (Roy Botkin) – 2:02

Kim Wilde and Mel Smith version[edit]

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
Single by Mel & Kim
B-side "Deck the Blooming Halls"
Released November 23, 1987
Format 7", 12"
Genre Christmas music
Length 3:38
Label Ten
Writer(s) Johnny Marks
Producer(s) Stuart Colman
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"Say You Really Want Me"
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
"Hey Mister Heartache"

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 and an appearance from Smith's comedy partner Griff Rhys Jones and carol singers played by the band Curiosity Killed The Cat.

Kim Wilde recorded a new version of the song on her 2013 holiday album Wilde Winter Songbook together with Nik Kershaw.

Bob Rivers parody[edit]

Bob Rivers did a parody of the song entitled "Shoppin' Around for a Christmas Tree," released on his White Trash Christmas album in 2002.

Cover versions[edit]

The following artists have each recorded a cover version of the song:


External links[edit]