Thursday, April 25, 2024

Happy Birthday, 60s Superstar Brenda Lee, Age 76: Her “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree” — from 1958– is Number on 1 iTunes


Yes, yes, we all know Christmas is Mariah Carey’s holiday. Her perennial Phil Spectorish “All I Want for Christmas” is back at the top of the charts. Mariah’s even released a new single, a version of her “Oh Santa,” with Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande that’s full of fun and great vocals. Mariah, who can’t sell a record during the rest of the year, has become Mrs. Christmas.

But wait– this year Mariah has some competition. For some reason, Brenda Lee’s perennial hit, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” is back with a vengeance. Recorded and released in 1958 when Brenda was just 13 years old, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” has been around a long time. But it’s never seen action like this.

The single was number two last week on the streaming charts, and made $105,916. It was just a nose behind Mariah’s “All I Want.” Right now it’s the number 1 song on iTunes– on the pop charts!– not just the holiday charts! By comparison, Mariah is at number 5 and 16 with “Oh Santa!” According to Buzz Angle, “Tree” sold 114,000 copies between December 4th and December 8th. Last week, it sold 135,000 copies.

Who is Brenda Lee, you young people are asking? She was the Mariah of 1958-66. So many hits! “I’m Sorry” was the biggest, aside from “Christmas Tree.” But she was a very cool rockabilly-country singer with a timeless sound and instrumentals. She turns 76 tomorrow– December 11th — and lives in Nashville. She’s a national treasure.

So happy birthday, Brenda Lee. What a lasting tribute to her talent!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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