The most popular Christmas songs are much loved timeless classics which have become part of tradition. They have sold millions of copies worldwide with their messages of celebration, happiness and romance. Performed by many of music’s most iconic stars their popularity transcends time and generations.
Band Aid was the super group formed by Bob Geldof in 1984 to raise awareness and money for the famine in Ethiopia. Their Christmas number 1 ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ sold over 3.5 million records in the UK alone and involved artists such as George Michael, Boy George and Paul Young. It was an impromptu affair with the studio only giving Bob Geldof 24 hours to record most of the song.
On the 25th of November many of the biggest recording artists in the UK visited SARM studios, Notting Hill to record their performances. The single later went on to cause controversy when Bob Geldof promised every penny made by sales would go to charity. The government responded by refusing to donate the VAT, Mr Geldof lambasted the act and made a public appeal which gathered support across the country. This led to the government backing down and donating the tax to the appeal.
One of the best selling Christmas singles is called ‘Candle in the Wind’ and was written and performed by Elton John in 1997 as a tribute to Princess Diana who died earlier in the year, the song sold almost 5 million units in the UK and over 33 million copies worldwide. It was originally written for Marilyn Monroe and released in 1973 by Elton John. but did not even nearly enjoy the same amount of success. As a sincere gesture Elton John later stated that he would only ever perform the song live at the request of Prince William and Harry of Wales.
According to the Guinness Book of records and selling in excess of 50 million copies worldwide, Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ is considered the best selling single of all time. The song was originally written by Irving Berlin and was performed and released by Bing Crosby. The song initially spent 11 weeks at number in the US Billboard charts in 1942, but was re-released reaching the top of the charts again in 1945 and 1946. Bing Crosby went on to release two other well known Christmas anthems ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Jingle Bells’ with both exceeding sales of over 30 million copies worldwide. They are to this day thought to be two of the most popular Christmas songs in history.
Another golden oldie which has sold millions of copies is ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ written in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward department stores, it was originally created as a promotional gift for the store’s customers. Gene Autry later recorded and released it in 1949, since that time it has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and continues to be a staple of Christmas tradition.