Quick, can you name a Christmas song that gets virtually no radio airplay, yet was streamed more than 57 million times last year?
It’s one of the insights in a report from P1 Media Group and MRC Data, which reported on America’s top Christmas songs and dug into what data about music streaming can tell radio programmers.
The companies tested the appeal of the 40 most-played and 40 most-streamed Christmas songs from the 2020 holidays, which ended up being 60 unique songs. They used BDSradio, an MRC Data tool; and P1 Media Group conducted a survey with 400 radio listeners in top markets who were likely to listen to a local all-Christmas radio station.
For the fifth consecutive year “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms is America’s #1 testing Christmas song, they reported.
But eight songs from the top 40 most-streamed list tested better with likely Christmas radio listeners than eight songs from the top 40 most-played songs list. “The data suggests these eight songs can be played more on all-Christmas radio stations,” the companies said:
- Frank Sinatra – Jingle Bells (ranked #47 on the 2020 BDS Airplay chart)
- Jimmy Durante – Frosty the Snowman (#50)
- Perry Como – It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas (#69)
- Chuck Berry – Run Rudolph Run (#70)
- Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby (#78)
- Donny Hathaway – This Christmas (#84)
- Michael Bublé – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (#182)
- Nat King Cole – Deck the Halls (#1,119)
Classic songs dominate the top 20 including “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” two versions each of “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Rock,” and three versions of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” from 1994 is the newest song in the top 20.
Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me” from 2014 and Kelly Clarkson’s “Underneath the Tree” from 2010 are the highest testing original Christmas songs from the Millennium, at #46 and #48.
Intriguingly, four of the top 40 most-streamed songs received very little radio airplay in 2020. Three are “Deck the Halls” by Nat King Cole, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” by Kristen Bell and “What Christmas Means to Me” by John Legend.
And the fourth is the answer to the question posed at the top of this article: The song that got only 1,736 total spins last year by radio but was streamed 57.5 million times was Dean Martin’s “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” P1 Media Group co-founder Ken Benson noted: “Radio all but banned this classic song from the airwaves in 2018 due to the ‘Me Too’ movement.”
The companies have posted their full list of “America’s Top 60 Testing Christmas Songs” for 2021.