With sales exceeding 50 million copies worldwide as of 2007, Irving BerlinÂ’s "White Christmas," as sung by veteran crooner Bing Crosby, is the best-selling single of all time--not just among Christmas songs, but songs in all genres--according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
With sales exceeding 50 million copies worldwide as of 2007, Irving Berlin’s "White Christmas," as sung by veteran crooner Bing Crosby, is the best-selling single of all time--not just among Christmas songs, but songs in all genres--according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
First performed by Crosby on his popular NBC radio show The Kraft Music Hall on Christmas day, 1941, in May of 1942 he recorded the song with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers for Decca Records, releasing it in July as part of an album collection of six 78-rpm songs from the film Holiday Inn.
Though initially slow to catch on, by the end of October, "White Christmas" topped the "Your Hit Parade" chart and remained there well into the new year, spending eleven weeks on top of the Billboard charts. Resonating strongly with listeners with sons and daughters over seas (in World War II), the Armed Forces Radio Network was innondated with requests for the song.
Following its popularity in Holiday Inn in which Crosby sings the song as a duet with actress Marjorie Reynolds, "White Christmas" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1942. Crosby, one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, was associated with the Christmas favorite for the remainder of his career. Another Crosby vehicle--the 1954 musical White Christmas—was the highest-grossing film of 1954.
Re-released by Decca Records in subsequent years, "White Christmas" returned to the #1 spot during the holiday seasons of 1945 and 1946, becoming the only single in history with three separate runs at the top of the US charts. The recording became a perennial favorite, reappearing on the pop chart twenty separate times, prompting Billboard magazine to create a separate Christmas chart for seasonal releases.
On April 30, 1975, as a secret, pre-arranged signal precipitating the US evacuation of Saigon, the song was chosen to be broadcast on the radio.
With more than 500 recorded versions as of 2011, "White Christmas" is the most-recorded Christmas song in history. In the 1940s alone, Gordon Jenkins and his Orchestra (with Bob Carroll on lead vocal), Charlie Spivak and his Orchestra (with Garry Stevens on lead vocal), Freddy Martin and his Orchestra (with Clyde Rogers on lead vocal), Frank Sinatra (with backing orchestration by Axel Stordahl), Jo Stafford (with backing vocals by the Lyn Murray Singers and backing orchestration by Paul Weston), Eddy Howard and his Orchestra, Perry Como (with backing orchestration by Lloyd Shaffer), the R&B vocal group The Ravens, and country singer Ernest Tubb (with female backing vocals by The Troubadettes) all had considerable hits.
In subsequent years, many notable performers recorded this classic including Eddie Fisher, The Drifters, Elvis Presley, David Seville (Alvin and the Chipmunks), Andy Williams, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Jim Reeves, Doris Day, The Supremes, Bob Marley, Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand, Otis Redding, The Partridge Family, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, Michael Bolton, Martina McBride, Chicago, Linda Ronstadt, Bette Midler, Michael Bublé, LeAnn Rimes, Dionne, Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Al Jarreau, Jackie Evancho, and Lady Gaga--so there’s a version to suit any musical taste!
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