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“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” Tops Holiday Chart

Updating its annual list, ASCAP’s Williams says music makes the holidays

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has published its list of the most-performed holiday songs of the century as part of its 100th birthday celebration. The list is led by “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” written by Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie.

“Music reminds us that the holidays are supposed to be about togetherness and good cheer,” stated ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams.

“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” became a hit when Eddie Cantor sang it on a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade radio broadcast. It sold 30,000 copies of Cantor’s version and another 100,000 copies of the sheet music within a day of the broadcast, the organization said. Perry Como, the Four Seasons, Luis Miguel and Bruce Springsteen have recorded classic versions of the song over the decades; recent covers by ASCAP members Justin Bieber (2011), Rod Stewart (2012) and Sufjan Stevens (2012) have kept it relevant 80 years later.

Below is the list of the 30 most-performed ASCAP holiday songs of all time. It represents an aggregation of recorded versions ranked by data from radio, television and Internet performances.

1. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (1934) — Written by Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
2. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” (1944) — Written by Mel Tormé and Robert Wells
3. “White Christmas” (1941) — Written by Irving Berlin
4. “Winter Wonderland” (1934) — Written by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith
5. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (1944) — Written by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
6. “Sleigh Ride” (1948) — Written by Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish
7. “Jingle Bell Rock” (1958) — Written by Joseph Carleton Beal and James Ross Boothe
8. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1949) — Written by Johnny Marks
9. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” (1945) — Written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
10. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (1943) — Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent
11. “Little Drummer Boy” (1941) —Written by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone
12. “Silver Bells” (1950) — Written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston
13. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958) — Written by Johnny Marks
14. “Frosty the Snowman” (1950) — Written by Steve Nelson and Walter E. Rollins
15. “Blue Christmas” (1964) — Written by Billy Hayes and Jay Johnson
16. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (1963) — Written by Edward Pola and George Wyle
17. “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (1951) — Written by Meredith Willson
18. “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)” (1947) — Written by Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman
19. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (1962) — Written by Gloria Shayne Baker (SACEM) and Noël Regney (SACEM)
20. “Carol of the Bells” (1904) — Written by Mykola Leontovych and Peter Wilhousky
21. “Feliz Navidad” (1970) — Written by Jose Feliciano
22. “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” (1965) — Written by Johnny Marks
23. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (1952) — Written by Tommy Connor (PRS)
24. “Last Christmas” (1984) — Written by George Michael
25. “Home for the Holidays” (1954) — Written by Robert Allen and Al Stillman
26. “Wonderful Christmastime” (1979) — Written by Paul McCartney (PRS)
27. “Happy Holidays” (from Holiday Inn) (1942) — Written by Irving Berlin
28. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994) — Written by Walter Afanasieff and Mariah Carey (BMI)
29. “Santa Baby” (1953) — Joan Javits, Philip Springer and Tony Springer (SOCAN)
30. “This Christmas” (1970) — Written by Donny Hathaway and Nadine McKinnor