Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
"Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" is a Christmas song. It was written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours.
The earliest known recorded version of the song was by banjoist Harry Reser and his band on October 24, 1934 (Decca 264A) featuring Tom Stacks on vocal, the version shown in the Variety charts of December 1934. The song was a sheet music hit, reaching #1. The song was also recorded on September 26, 1935, by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra.
The song is a traditional standard at Christmas time and has been covered by numerous recording artists. The 1951 version by Perry Como was the first measurable hit; Gene Autry, the country-western artist, recorded a Christmas album with this title and featuring the song in 1953; and in 1963 the Four Seasons version charted at #23 on Billboard. In 1970 Rankin-Bass produced an hour-long animated television special based on the song, with narrator Fred Astaire telling the original story of Santa Claus. In 1970 Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 delivered a chart-topping Motown arrangement, and many contemporary artists have recorded and performed various versions of the song, including a rock version by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. The song was recorded in a 1975 live version and eventually released first in 1982 as part of the Sesame Street compilation album In Harmony 2 and again in 1985 as a B-side to "My Hometown", a single from the Born in the U.S.A. album. Live performances of the song by the band often saw the band encouraging the audience to sing some of the lyrics with or in place of the band singing them (usually the line "be good for goodness sake", though the band would also sometime encourage the audience to also sing the key line "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" as well), and sometimes to sing along with the song completely, though many times crowds would do so even without the encouragement and the band would do nothing to dissuade those audiences who did so, and it remained a crowd favorite during the months of November and December when the group would perform. The band is among the few that would keep the song in their roster of songs during the holidays. Luis Miguel recorded the song in Spanish as "Santa Claus Llegó a La Ciudad" for his Christmas album Navidades (2006). His version of the song peaked at #26 on the Billboard Latin Pop Songs chart.
Other well-known versions of this song include:
- Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (1943)
- Frank Sinatra (1948)
- Johnny Mercer and The Pied Pipers (including creating completely new last verse/bridge/verse) (1949)
- Ray Conniff Singers (1959)
- Alvin and the Chipmunks (1961)
- Ramsey Lewis Trio (1961)
- The Four Seasons (band) (1962)
- The Crystals (1963) - first to change the melody of the chorus
- The Beach Boys (1964)
- The Platters (1964)
- The Supremes (1965)
- Lou Rawls (1967)
- The Jackson 5 (1970)
- The Carpenters (1974 slow version & 1978 short, fast-paced version)
- The Pointer Sisters (1987)
- Dolly Parton (1990)
- Neil Diamond (1992)
- Björn Again (1992)
- Cyndi Lauper & Frank Sinatra from the album A Very Special Christmas 2(1992)
- Mariah Carey from the album Merry Christmas (1994)
- Glen Campbell (1995)
- George Strait (1996)
- Cartoons (1998)
- CKY from the album Volume 2 (1999) - Parody with different lyrics.
- Luis Miguel (2006) "Santa Claus Llegó A La Ciudad"
- Faith Hill (2008)
- Miley Cyrus (2008)
- Andrea Bocelli (2009)
- A Rocket to the Moon (2009)
- Wilson Phillips from the album Christmas in Harmony (2010)
- Love Händel from Phineas and Ferb (2010)
- Justin Bieber (2011) - Contains Replayed Samples from "I Want You Back" & "ABC", both performed by the Jackson 5.
- Cimorelli (2011)
- Michael Bublé (2011)
- Mark Salling and Cory Monteith on Glee (2011) - Musical Arrangement based on Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's cover version.
- Colbie Caillat (2012)
- Johnny Ruffo from the album The Spirit of Christmas (compilation album) (2012)
- Rod Stewart from the album Merry Christmas, Baby (2012)
- Richard Marx featuring Sara Niemietz (2012)
- Tamar Braxton (2013)
- Dannii Minogue (2013)
- Pentatonix (2014)
- Kylie Minogue in a virtual duet with Frank Sinatra from the album Kylie Christmas (2015)
In popular culture
The song is used to ironic effect in the 1949 motion picture Battleground where it's sung by a soldier chopping up camouflage cover during a blizzard.
- "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town Composed by Haven Gillespie / J. Fred Coots". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Collins, Ace (5 October 2010). "4 Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas. Zondervan. p. 224. ISBN 0310327954. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 237.
- "The Greatest Rock Roll Christmas Songs Pictures - Bruce Springsteen, 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'". Rolling Stone. 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- "Navidades - Luis Miguel: Overview". AllMusic / Rovi. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- "Navidades - Luis Miguel: Awards". AllMusic / Rovi. Retrieved 2013-05-14.
- Chery, Carl: XXL: Michael Jackson Special Collectors Edition, page 99. American Press.
- Trust, Gary (2013-04-02). "Ask Billboard: Belinda's Back, JT Too, Mariah Carey's Album Sales & More". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
- Colbie Caillat Christmas In the Sand album on allmusic.com
- "Richard Marx and Sara Niemietz - Santa Claus Is Coming to Town". Richard Marx YouTube Channel. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (20 August 2014). "Richard Marx Christmas Spirit". All Music. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Video on YouTube
- Copsey, Robert. "Dannii Minogue, Ronan Keating Unveil Christmas Duet - Listen". www.digitalspy.co.uk. DigitalSpy. Retrieved 28 January 2015.