Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

"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
Songwriter(s) Johnny Marks
Producer(s) Owen Bradley
Brenda Lee singles chronology
"Rock-a-Bye Baby Blues"
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
"I Want to Be Wanted (Per Tutta La Vita)"

"Rock-a-Bye Baby Blues"
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
"I Want to Be Wanted (Per Tutta La Vita)"
Music video
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (audio) on YouTube

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" is a Christmas song written by Johnny Marks and recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958; it has since been recorded by numerous other music artists. By the song's 50th anniversary in 2008, Lee's original version had sold over 25 million copies with the 4th most digital downloads sold of any Christmas single.

Original recording by Brenda Lee

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 Lee more fully embraced as her career evolved. The recording features Hank Garland on guitar, Grady Martin on guitar, Boots Randolph on sax, and veteran session player Buddy Harman on drums. 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. A fully sung version of the song would later appear in Rankin/Bass's 1979 sequel Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. 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

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 - it peaked at No. 63 on Sunday 15 December 2013. In 2017, it reached number 9, its highest position since 1963.[2]

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, and beginning in 2015 has returned annually to the Billboard Hot 100 chart:

YearDebut chart dateTotal
2015December 26[3]330
2016December 24[4]327
2017December 23[5]430

As of November 25, 2016, Nielsen SoundScan estimated total sales of the digital track at 1,000,000 downloads, placing it fifth on the list of all-time best-selling Christmas/holiday digital singles in SoundScan history.[6]

Track listing

Side A
Side B
  • "Papa Noël" (Roy Botkin) – 2:02


Other recordings

Kim Wilde and Mel Smith version

"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
Songwriter(s) Johnny Marks
Producer(s) Stuart Colman
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"Say You Really Want Me"
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
"Hey Mister Heartache"

"Say You Really Want Me"
"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
"Hey Mister Heartache"
Music video
Mel & Kim
"Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree"
on YouTube

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.[7] 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, carol singers played by the band Curiosity Killed the Cat and Spitting Image puppets of Bette Midler and Tina Turner.

Kim Wilde and Nik Kershaw

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

Bob Rivers parody

Bob Rivers did a parody of the song entitled "Shoppin' Around for a Christmas Tree," released on his White Trash Christmas album in 2002.[8]

Other versions

The following artists have each recorded the song:
1968   Bill Haley & His Comets, for the U.S. label United Artists Records (not released commercially at the time)
1970   Lynn Anderson, for her album The Christmas Album
1971   The Partridge Family, for their album A Partridge Family Christmas Card
1983   Lou Ann Barton, for the compilation album An Austin Rhythm and Blues Christmas
1986   Mickey Gilley, for the compilation album The Nashville Christmas Album
1992   Amy Grant, for her album Home for Christmas
123456  Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love, for the charity compilation album A Very Special Christmas 2
1993   Dion DiMucci, for his album Rock n' Roll Christmas
1995   Gary Hoey, for his album Ho! Ho! Hoey II
1997   Hanson, for their album Snowed In
1998   Cyndi Lauper, for her album Merry Christmas... Have a Nice Life
123456  Dion, from the various artists Christmas compilation album Cruising Christmas
1999   Alabama, for their album Christmas Vol. II (this cover version peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart)[9]
1999   Element, for the compilation album Happy Christmas Vol. 2
2000   Green Day, posted for their fans on their website
123456  Jessica Simpson with Rosie O'Donnell, for O'Donnell's album Another Rosie Christmas
123456  Mek Pek, for his rockabilly-project Mek and the X-Mas Peks
2004   LeAnn Rimes, for her album What a Wonderful World (this cover version peaked at No. 3 on Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, No. 48 on Billboard Country Singles chart, and No. 30 on Billboard's Holiday Songs chart)[10]
2006   Rhonda Vincent, for her album Beautiful Star: A Christmas Collection
2007   Hannah Montana for the Disney Channel Holiday soundtrack
123456  Toby Keith, for his album A Classic Christmas
123456  1910 Fruitgum Company, for their album Bubblegum Christmas
123456  Helena Vondráčková on her album Vanoce S Helenou - To Nej as "Vanoce Jak Hrom" Czech
2008   Davie Allan & the Arrows, for their album Fuzz for the Holidays
123456  Joe Lynn Turner and others, for the album We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year
2009   Lotta Engberg (titled "Julen Är Här"), for the album Jul hos mig
2011   Vanessa Neigert, for her album "Ich geb 'ne Party"
2011   Chicago, for their album Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three
123456  She & Him, for their album A Very She & Him Christmas
123456  3 Voices & Beatur, for their album It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
2012   Victoria Justice, for the compilation album Merry Nickmas
123456  Bella Thorne, for the compilation album Disney Channel Holiday Playlist
123456  Mike Cannistraro, for the compilation album Boston's Best Holiday Hits
123456  JOE-BOY, for debut download single release
2013   The fictional New Directions glee club, for the Glee episode "Previously Unaired Christmas" and album Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 4
123456  Il Volo for their album Buon Natale: The Christmas Album [11]
2015   The Brian Setzer Orchestra, for their album Rockin' Rudolph
2015   Jann Arden on her album A Jann Arden Christmas
123456  Kaitlyn Baker, for single release.[12]

  Chasing Deer, as a B-Side to their "Together at Christmas" single.[13]


  1. 1 2 Rees, Dafydd; Crampton, Luke; Lazell, Barry (1989). Guinness Book of Rock Stars. Guinness Books. p. 293. ISBN 0-85112-872-6.
  2. White, Jack (15 December 2017). "Christmas classics reach new all-time highs on the singles chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  3. "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 26, 2015: #44)". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  4. "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 24, 2016: #37)". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  5. "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart (December 23, 2017: #37)". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  6. Billboard Staff (November 25, 2016). "What Are the Top-Selling Holiday Songs?". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
  7. "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee Songfacts". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  8. "50 Greatest Christmas Songs Ranked". FanSided. 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  9. Alabama's charting singles at AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  10. LeAnn Rimes's charting singles at AllMusic. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  11. "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree: Il Volo: MP3 Downloads". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  12. "Kaitlyn Baker Releases New Version of 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree'". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  13. Hodkinson, Rob (2015). "Chasing Deer release 'Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree'". Archived from the original on 2016-12-20.
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