New York/Berlin (dpa) – Brenda Lee was only thirteen years old when she recorded the song “Rockin’around the Christmas Tree.” Shortly before, the girl, who was born in the American city of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1944, had signed her first record contract after appearing on radio shows and talent competitions for several years. Songwriter Johnny Marks, who died in 1985 and who had previously created the songs “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” is said to have specifically wanted Little Lee to record his new Christmas song.
This year, the song, released in 1958, turns 65, and singer Lee turns 79 on Monday (December 11) – and now “Rockin’around the Christmas Tree” has reached the top of the US charts for the first time. The Christmas hit, which has also been sung by stars such as Kim Wilde, Cyndi Lauper, LeAnn Rimes, Justin Bieber and Kelly Clarkson, has reached the US charts repeatedly over its 65 years, including in the past four years. For years it reached number two, but now it reaches number one for the first time since its release.
The song recently ranked ninth in the German charts. It achieved its highest ranking to date at number four in the week before Christmas 2022.
A music video was recorded for the first time
This year, in the USA, it probably helped that Lee recorded his debut video for the song’s 65th birthday – which then went viral. In it you can see an old lady in a red dress swaying next to a festively decorated Christmas tree. Lee also posted a video on Instagram explaining how she discovered that her song was now at the top of the charts. “This is amazing, wow,” says the musician, wiping tears from her eyes. “All these years. Mr. Marks would be proud.”
Lee has also set records with her chart success: the longest period between releasing a song and reaching the top of the charts, and she is now officially the oldest woman to hold the No. 1 spot in the history of the US Billboard charts.
However, this isn’t her first leap to the top of the charts: she already achieved it in the 1960s with the singles “I’m Sorry” and “I Want to Be Wanted.” In all, Lee, who has been married for 60 years and has two children, brought nearly 50 songs to the Top 100 charts of the 1960s, sold more than 100 million albums, won awards like the Grammys, and made the rock ‘n’ roll charts. “Roll Hall of Fame as well as Country Music.”
How did Brenda Lee start her career?
In Germany she appeared at the opening show for The Beatles. Lee comes from a poor background and was able to use her success to help support her family. In the 1980s, things became quieter for Lee, but every now and then she released a new album or single.
In recent years, the undisputed “Queen of Christmas” has always been Mariah Carey. “All I Want for Christmas is You,” the 54-year-old’s hit song that was first released in 1994, reached the top of the charts for the first time in 2019 and again every year until 2022. In Germany, it jumped Carey is back at the top of the charts again this year on Friday (December 8) – the fifth year in a row, marking the Christmas song’s 14th week total at No. 1.
In the USA, Carey is currently at number two, with Christmas songs making up more than half of the top ten. This year, Lee surprisingly established herself as the “Queen of Christmas” with the song “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” — and Carey immediately sent her flowers for it, Lee announced in an Instagram photo. “Dear Ms. Brenda, congratulations on your historic number 1. Have a wonderful birthday. With love, Maria,” the accompanying card said — and he sent me birthday greetings via Instagram.
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