Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Best Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 24

Musical tastes are as diverse as the number of people in the world.  I have listened to thousands of Christmas songs, not only over the years but in preparation for this Inside the Rock Era special.  I do hope that I've touched upon songs that you find enjoyable.  Only one more day to go, 12 more songs, so let's get right to them!

  "Opera of the Bells"
by Destiny's Child

"Carol of the Bells" was the original Ukrainian composition.  An alternate English version features more Nativity-based lyrics.  Destiny's Child renamed it "Opera of the Bells" for inclusion on their album 8 Days of Christmas.  

"Away in a Manger"
by John Denver

Denver's Christmas album, A Rocky Mountain Christmas, contains many great Christmas songs on the same album.  Few artists have been able to include so many great recordings on one Christmas album.  Denver adds his touch to this spiritual favorite.

"Handel's Messiah"
by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

No list of the Top Christmas Songs would be complete without this song, an oratorio written by George Frideric Handel in 1741.  It includes a scriptural text written by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  It was first performed in Dublin, Ireland on April 13, 1742 and has since become one of the best-known and most performed choral works in Western music.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
by Brenda Lee

I'm sure you and yours will do some rocking around the Christmas tree while this song is played in the background.  It was written by Johnny Marks, who has three of his compositions in The Top 150*.  When Brenda first introduced this in 1958, it didn't do much but finally in 1960, after she had enjoyed success with "I'm Sorry" and "Sweet Nothin's", the song took off and hasn't looked back.  It has now gone over eight million in sales.

"The Christmas Song"
by Nat King Cole

Cole originally recorded this song in 1946, then re-recorded it later in the year with a small string section.  It became a massive hit.  He then recorded a third version in 1953 and this one, on March 30, 1961 at Capitol Studios in New York City.  It is this fourth recording that is the most famous.  The instrumentation is nearly identical to that of the 1953 recording, but the vocals are much deeper.  It has remained not only the definitive version of the song, but one of The Top 10 Christmas Songs of All-Time ever since.

"White Christmas"
by Bing Crosby

This all-time favorite written by Irving Berlin reached #1 in 1942, 1945 and 1946 although the version you are used to hearing isn't the original.  There was so much demand for the song at the record plant that the original master was actually destroyed from overuse!  So Bing and group went into the studio and re-recorded it in 1947, essentially remaking the song perfectly.  This song is the biggest-selling single of all-time.

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