The Most Popular Holiday Songs

It seems like everyone has a different favorite when it comes to holiday songs. If you spend some time shopping during December, there is a pretty good chance that you may hear it at some point, too, since retailers make effective use of Christmas and holiday music to put people into the buying mood. However, wouldn’t it be nice to have a final answer if you want to know the most popular holiday songs? Well, it turns out that ASCAP, the songwriting organization also known as The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, keeps track of the most-played holiday songs in theUnited States.

The most recently published list of holiday song popularity was last December, and it tracked how many times songs were played during the Fall 2010 holiday season, using statistics from more than 2,500 radio stations across the U.S. The most popular song? It may surprise you to find out that the clear winner was “Sleigh Ride,” which was played 43,168 times during that period. This was almost 5,000 more than the #2 finisher, “Winter Wonderland,” which still had a whopping 38,415 plays across the country in the 2010 holiday season.  The top five spots for 2010 were rounded out by “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (#3 – 32,616 plays), “Jingle Bell Rock” (#4 – 31,020), and “White Christmas” (#5 – 26,929).

With holiday songs that are mostly decades old, it might seem like the same songs would be the most popular every year, but that’s not totally the case. In 2005, ASCAP released the most played holiday songs of the first five years of the new millennium, and the results were quite different from the 2010 list. On that list, the number one spot was held by “The Christmas Song” (often known by its familiar phrase “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”). Songs #2 and #3 were also not on the 2010 list: “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” (#2) and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (#3). The last two spots on the list of most popular holidays songs from 2000-2005 did have crossover from the most recent list. “Winter Wonderland” was #4 and “White Christmas” was #5.

So how did the list change when the results of the entire first decade of the 2000s were tallied? It is not too surprising that four of the top five songs for the whole decade appeared in the top five of the first half of the decade. The one song that was not in the 2005 list was “Sleigh Ride” (coming in at #3 for the decade), so clearly this carol has been very popular for the last five years. The most popular holiday song, in terms of radio plays, for the 2000s was “Winter Wonderland.” This is pretty amazing, in one sense, because it is also one of the oldest modern holiday songs, having been written in 1934. The one song to drop from the top five of the first half of the 2000s, “White Christmas,” was still very popular, being the sixth most played holiday song of the first decade of the 21st century.

ASCAP also keeps track of the most popular holiday song on different formats, so if you’re curious of the most popular holiday song in 2010 on Urban radio (“Let It Snow), Country (“Jingle Bell Rock”), or Latin (“Feliz Navidad”), you can find a list tracking those results. So the answer to a seemingly simple question of what is the most popular holiday song actually depends on a lot of factors like year, region, and style of music. Obviously, there are also many different versions of popular holiday songs, performed by dozens of different singers over the years, though all of those versions count in the tallies on these lists. For more information, and to see the songs beyond the top five on these different lists, visit www.ascap.com and search for “holiday songs.”

Do you think that there should be different songs at the top of the lists? Please let us know in the comments what are your favorite Christmas and holiday songs.  Happy holidays from all of us here at: Silver Mine Gifts

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