Christmas Past

The fascinating stories behind your favorite Christmas traditions

The Stories of How Some of the Biggest Christmas Hits Came to Be

Striped socks by the Christmas tree

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Adam Maidment of MusicNGear, a product recommendation tool for musicians and music aficionados. Enjoy!

Can you hear those sleigh bells jinglin’, ring ting tinglin’ too? Christmas songs are a bit of a rarity in the sense that many come and go, but only a small selection manage to find their way into our festive playlists each year round. For every “All I Want for Christmas” or “Jingle Bell Rock,” there’s a “Proper Crimbo” or dodgy cover version to remind us that the old songs really are the best.

Speaking of the oldies, some of the biggest Christmas classics we all know and love have had an interesting start in life. We’ve discovered how some of our most-loved Christmas bops came to be.

Wham! – Last Christmas

The George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley track is just as popular today as it was upon its first release back in 1986. In fact, in the UK alone, the track rocked up two million streams on Spotify in the two biggest days of the Christmas calendar (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, of course).

“Last Christmas” started its life out of sheer creativity. As the duo visited Michael’s parents, the melody found its way into George’s head and he disappeared upstairs to bring it to life. An hour later, he had his sights set on festive history. Recorded in August 1984, the track was a George Michael classic through-and-through as the star not only wrote and produced the track, but he also played every single instrument too.

As if that weren’t enough, all profits from the original recording were donated to Ethiopian famine relief.

Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

Just like the Wham! classic, AIWFCIS was recorded in a music studio in August. To get Carey in the holiday spirits, the music studio was dressed head-to-toe in festive decorations. Thankfully, it all paid off as it’s estimated that Mariah has earnt herself way over $60 million in royalties from this track alone.

Since its release in 1994, the track has been remixed, covered, sampled, and even turned into a made-for-television animated movie and book. The track is officially regarded as the 11th best selling single in the world, with more than 16 million sales.

Brenda Lee – Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Upon its release in 1958, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” looked set on becoming a long-forgotten Christmas gem after initially only selling a mere 5,000 copies. However, things would change a year later as Brenda Lee started to become a household name. With radio playing the track during the holidays thanks to her newly-found star power, the track finally found its audience.

The track was written by Christmas music legend Johnny Marks, who is perhaps best-known for penning other iconic tracks including “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” If anyone knew their way around making a Christmas hit, it was Johnny Marks.

Fast-forward to 60 years later and the tree-themed track has sold more than 25 million copies, continuing to be held in high regard.

Take a read of MusicNGear’s infographic below to find out more about how some of your festive favourites became so well-remembered.

Christmas hits infographic

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