‘Christmas Song’ > Most Performed Song

The image of chestnuts roasting on an open fire continues to be a favorite image of Christmas.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers announced “The Christmas Song”, known by many as “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, is the most-performed holiday song in the past five years. That includes all versions of the song. It was also the most performed holiday song last year, as well as the year before.

It was written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells when Tormé was just 19 and Wells was 22. It was widely popularized with the release of Nat King Cole’s 1946 recording. Cole’s version remains the most popular on radio today. Other popular recordings include versions by Celine Dion, Luther Vandross and Natalie Cole, according to the ASCAP.

“The Christmas Song” beats out “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” which is No. 2. “Winter Wonderland” is third, followed by “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “White Christmas.” “White Christmas” is also ASCAP’s most recorded holiday song, with more than 500 versions in dozens of languages.

ASCAP tracks the number of times songs are performed to determine royalty payments. Its list, which encompasses the past five years, does not include songs in the public domain, such as “Silent Night.”

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, this benefit single assisted famine relief efforts in Ethiopia and sold millions of copies throughout the 1984 holiday season. Twenty years later, Band Aid 20 recorded a remake to aid famine relief efforts in Africa. The single featured more than 50 artists and reached No. 1 on the U.K. charts.

Fun 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)

Songs Introduced In Motion Pictures:
“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 The Most Top Holiday Songs: Johnny Marks with three: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.”