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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Top Ten Christmas Songs of All-Time

Bing Crosby's #1 Christmas Song

By TERRY LYONS -- All-Time Top Christmas Songs: (as chosen by Terry Lyons, co-founder of - Creator, founder and editor-in-chief of and principal of Terry Lyons Sports & Entertainment Marketing LLC, not to mention partner in the popular "West End Johnnie's" in Boston.  Here is my list with short notes, mostly courtesy of info via Wikipedia:

10. "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow" - The tune is often referred to as simply "Let It Snow", is a song written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in 1945. The song was written in July 1945 in Hollywood, California during one of the hottest days on record. First recorded by Vaughn Monroe, it became a popular hit, reaching number one on the Billboard music chart the following year (1946). One of the best-selling songs of all time, "Let It Snow!" has been covered countless times by many artists. Due to its seasonal lyrics, it is commonly regarded as a Christmas song. However, despite the song's cheery, holiday feel, it is a love song that never mentions Christmas. Despite that fact, it comes in at #10 on my list.

9. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Interesting song, as it was composed by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor's radio show in November 1934.  It was played by the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and later recorded by Andy Williams, probably its most popular rendition until Bruce Springsteen came along and sang the song, quite regularly, during his Christmas time concerts. Celine Dion recorded the song in French and Mariah Carey included it on her popular Christmas album.

The song has been covered by everyone from Ray Charles to The Temptations, from the Ray Coniff singers to the Pointer Sisters or The Supremes.  Nat King Cole did a famous rendition as did Bing Crosby.  It is probably the most popular song across all generations.

8. "Silver Bells" - The best seems to me to be the Johnny Mathis version. Silver Bells is a classic Christmas song, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Bob Hope did one of the very first recordings with Marilyn Maxwell in the movie Lemon Drop Kid in 1951. Bing Crosby covered it a few years later and, since then, it's been covered by everyone from Wilson Pickett to Kenny G.  

7. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - The Frank Sinatra version is the best. Judy Garland recorded the song for the motion picture, "Meet Me in St. Louis."  The song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.  It is often listed among the Top Three Christmas songs of all-time. Christina Aguilera did a popular rendition most recently.

6. "Little Drummer Boy" - The carol was originally known as "Carol of the Drum" is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. It was recorded in 1955 by the Trapp Family Singers of "The Sound of Music" fame and further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. 

5. "Sleigh Ride" - "Lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you" - Arthur Fiedler & Boston Pops version tops out as the all-time best.  Here's the brief history:  The popular light orchestral piece was composed by Leroy Anderson. The composer had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July 1946 but actually finished the work in February 1948.  The lyrics, about a person who would like to ride in a sleigh on a winter's day, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra.

4. "Jingle Bells" - is one of the best-known and most-commonly sung winter songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont in 1822 and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857. Even though it is commonly thought of as a Christmas song, it was actually written and sung for Thanksgiving.  Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters took the song to its heights in 1943 on the old Decca label. Benny Goodman, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Ella Fitzgerald did very popular covers while Les Paul's guitar version is pretty amazing.

3. "O Holy Night" - This carol might be one of the most beutiful songs of the season.  It is often sung as the closing hymn at many Christmas Masses around the world because of its highly emotional tone and true Chritmas meaning. The very well-known hymn was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chr├ętiens" (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau (1808–1877), a wine merchant and poet, who had been asked by a parish priest to write a Christmas poem. Later, Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855. In both the French original and in the two familiar English versions of the carol, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus  The song has been performed by the very best in the world, including Tenor Enrico Caruso who recorded a version in 1916 still available today. In 1984, the great Luciano Pavarotti's title record was his first to go platinum.

2. "It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas" - Bing Crosby version is my fave, of course, but let's not forget Perry Como. It is a classic Christmas song, written in 1951 by Meredith Willson. The song was originally titled "It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas" and it has been recorded by many artists, but was a major hit by Perry Como and The Fontane Sisters with Mitchell Ayres & His Orchestra on September 10, 1951. Bing Crosby's version was recorded on October 1, 1951, and is widely played. Pretty amazing as they were recorded just a few weeks apart.

1. "White Christmas" - Bing Crosby version is often thought of as "second to none" for any song, anytime.  The tune is the great Bing's #1 Christmas carol and was the centerpiece of the film, "White Christmas" starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, but it was first used in the picture, Holiday Inn, which consequently won the 1942 film an Academy Award for Best Original Song.  It was written as an Irving Berlin tune, reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.

Please send comments with your favorites of some others to be added to the list or considered for the Top Ten next year?

Honorable mention and apologies go out to:  "Alvin and the Chipmunks" songs and covers.  Sorry guys. Some others: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," 

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