ASCAP Announces Top 25 Holiday Songs

December 4, 2010

“The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting…)” Tops “Most Performed” Song List Covering Past Five Years

New York, NY, November 27, 2006: With holiday tunes already on the airwaves, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) – the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing over 260,000 music creators and copyright owners – today announced its Top 25 most performed holiday songs for the past five years, based on performance data tracked by radio airplay monitoring service Mediaguide.

Mediaguide, co-owned by ASCAP, was launched in 2002 to monitor radio broadcast music in real-time and facilitate the accurate distribution of royalty payments to composers, lyricists and publishers. Its proprietary technology and network of over 2,500 radio stations currently tracks more stations and total airplay than any other monitoring service in the U.S.

Members of the press who would like a custom week-to-week or local run of “real-time” 2006 Holiday song airplay may contact Kathleen Reynolds (CooperKatz for Mediaguide) at 212-455-8062 or

“Re-recorded and revived by each decade’s most popular artists, these holiday favorites illustrate the vital connection between ASCAP music creators and the holiday spirit, which fills the airwaves each year,” said ASCAP President and Chairman Marilyn Bergman. “For Americans and many others around the world, these classic lyrics and melodies are inseparable from the celebration of the holiday season – brightening lives year after year, and serving as a cornerstone of the ASCAP repertory.”

The most performed ASCAP Holiday song is “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).” Written by Robert Wells and the singing great, Mel Tormé, the song became a seasonal classic with the release of Nat “King” Cole’s 1946 recording. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Celine Dion, Luther Vandross, Amy Grant and James Taylor, but Cole’s version remains the most played on radio today.

Entering the Top 25 song list for the first time is “Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)” written by Midge Ure and Bob Geldof. Recorded in 1984 by Band Aid — an all-star band of British musicians — this benefit single assisted famine relief efforts in Ethiopia, and sold millions of copies over the ’84 holiday season. Twenty years later, Band Aid 20 recorded a remake to aid famine relief efforts in Africa. The single featured over 50 artists and reached #1 on the U.K. charts.

The Top 25 most performed ASCAP holiday songs are listed below. Each song includes songwriter credits, and cites the most popular artist version played on radio.
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Written by: Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
Performed by: Nat “King” Cole

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Written by: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
Performed by: The Pretenders

Winter Wonderland
Written by: Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
Performed by: Eurythmics

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Written by: Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
Performed by: Bruce Springsteen

White Christmas
Written by: Irving Berlin
Performed by: Bing Crosby

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Written by: Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
Performed by: Andy Williams

Jingle Bell Rock
Written by: Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
Performed by: Bobby Helms

Little Drummer Boy
Written by: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone
Performed by: The Harry Simeone Chorale & Orchestra

Sleigh Ride
Written by: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish
Performed by: The Ronettes

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Gene Autry

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Written by: Edward Pola, George Wyle
Performed by: Andy Williams

I’ll Be Home For Christmas
Written by: Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
Performed by: Vanessa Williams

Silver Bells
Written by: Jay Livingston, Ray Evans
Performed by: Kenny G

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Brenda Lee

Feliz Navidad
Written by: José Feliciano
Performed by: José Feliciano

Blue Christmas
Written by: Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson
Performed by: Elvis Presley

Frosty The Snowman
Written by: Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins
Performed by: The Ronettes

A Holly Jolly Christmas
Written by: Johnny Marks
Performed by: Burl Ives

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
Written by: Meredith Willson
Performed by: Johnny Mathis

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Written by: Tommie Connor (PRS)
Performed by: John Mellencamp

Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
Written by: Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman
Performed by: Elvis Presley

Carol Of The Bells
Written by: Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich
Performed by: John Tesh and the Christmas Symphony Orchestra

Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)
Written by: Midge Ure (PRS), Bob Geldof (PRS)
Performed by: Band Aid

(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays
Written by: Bob Allen, Al Stillman
Performed by: The Carpenters

Santa Baby
Written by: Joan Ellen Javits, Philip Springer, Tony Springer
Performed by: Madonna

Some facts about the Top 25 ASCAP Holiday Songs:

Oldest songs:
“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Winter Wonderland” (both 1934)

Newest song:
“Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)” (1984)

Most recorded Holiday song:
“White Christmas” with well over 500 versions in dozens of languages.

Songs introduced in Film and Television:
“White Christmas” in Holiday Inn (1942)
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
“Silver Bells” in The Lemon Drop Kid (1950)
“A Holly Jolly Christmas” in TV special Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1962)

Writer with most top Holiday songs:
Johnny Marks with three – “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”

“Sleigh Ride” is the only Holiday song written originally as an instrumental piece for a symphony orchestra. The Boston Pops Orchestra gave the first performance in a concert conducted by Arthur Fiedler at Symphony Hall in Boston, May 4, 1948. Mills Music published it that same year. The Boston Pops Orchestra recorded it in June of 1949. Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1949.

Established in 1914, ASCAP is the first and leading U.S. Performing Rights Organization representing the world’s largest repertory totaling over 8 million copyrighted musical works of every style and genre from more than 260,000 composer, lyricist and music publisher members. ASCAP has representation arrangements with over 70 music rights organizations such that the ASCAP repertory is represented in nearly every country around the world. ASCAP protects the rights of its members and foreign affiliates by licensing the public performances of their copyrighted works and distributing royalties based upon surveyed performances. ASCAP is the only American Performing Rights Organization owned and governed by its writer and publisher members.


Phil Crosland

Kathleen Reynolds
CooperKatz for Mediaguide

PRESS RELEASE LINK (went dormant 12/28/11)

So what do you think of ASCAP’s lists? Do you you see something there that shoud not be? Do you find some tune(s) that as been seriously left off the lists? Why is that so?  Use the comment section to justify your opinions.

Now won’t you please share your top three favorite Holiday tunes at this link and use comments to share your reasons for your selections.

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Filed under:Holiday Music,In Old School Music News

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 SonDan December 9, 2010 at 12:00 am

I wanted to hear your opinion on the list readers, but I can’t hold back any longer. Madonna’s performance of “Santa Baby” should NOT be on this list. Miss Eartha Kitt’s version is the ultimate classic rendition that no one can compete with! Boo! Hiss! Boo! on giving Madonna kudos re:this holiday classic. Shame on you ASCAP. Shame Shame Shame.


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