78-Year-Old Brenda Lee Makes History As The Oldest Woman To Top The Billboard Hot 100

Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” skyrocketed to the top of the all-genre chart this week.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

December 4, 2023

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Brenda Lee; Photo by Alexa King Stone

Brenda Lee’s beloved holiday hit, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” is making chart history 65 years after its debut. 

Hundreds of artists have gone on to cover this merry tune over the years, but Lee’s version has always reigned supreme. Last year, her rendition became the second highest-streamed Christmas song with 240M streams and received a 5x platinum certification by the RIAA

Today, Universal Music Group Nashville announced that the Rock and Roll Hall and Country Music Hall of Famer’s iconic tune has topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time ever since she released it to the world in 1958.

This milestone achievement means that Lee has broken several records that were previously held by Mariah Carey and Cher. This week, Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” surpassed Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” as it claimed the third holiday No. 1 ever on the Hot 100 chart. A recent press release also revealed that Lee and her song now hold the record for the longest climb to the top of the Hot 100. 

“This is amazing! I cannot believe that ‘Rockin’’ has hit No. 1 65 years after it was released, this is just so special,” Lee shared in the release.

YouTube video

Lee Surpasses The Record Previously Held By Cher And Mariah Carey

Johnny Marks is responsible for penning “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” as well as many other well-known Christmas classic such as “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year” and more. Lee was only 13 years old when she recorded “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” in 1958 and since then, the song has gone on to become a staple in homes during the holiday season. 

All these years later, Lee is getting to celebrate the song’s resurging success at almost 79 years old, meaning she is the oldest woman to lead the Hot 100, trumping previous record-holders Cher (“Believe,” age 52) and Carey (“All I Want for Christmas is You,” age 53).

It took the musical icon 63 years to earn her third No. 1 hit and as a result, she now holds the record for the longest gap between an artist’s first and most recent week at No.1 on the Hot 100. Her other smash hits include “I’m Sorry” and “I Want to Be Wanted,” both of which rose to the top of the chart in 1960.

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” Finds New Life 65 Years Later

This year, to celebrate its 65th Anniversary, Lee gave the song a new life by releasing the first-ever “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” music video. The nostalgic clip places Lee as the star as she shines under the warm lights of the tinsel-covered Christmas tree while donning a bright red Christmas attire. Also featured in the video are country stars Tanya Tucker and Trisha Yearwood.

In Lee’s recent statement, she went on to share her appreciation for everyone who played a part in bringing this tune back to life, from the team at Universal Music Group Nashville who “worked so hard to celebrate the song’s anniversary this year” and “most importantly,” her fans for continuing to listen to this song each year. 

“The song came out when I was a young teenager and now to know that it has resonated with multiple generations and continues to resonate – it is one of the best gifts I have ever received. Keep on Rockin’ and Merry Christmas,” Lee said in conclusion. 

Brand-New EP, A Rockin’ Christmas with Brenda Lee

Along with the music video, she debuted a brand-new accompanying EP, A Rockin’ Christmas with Brenda Lee. This collection features a mix of the Atlanta, GA native’s holiday favorites including “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” “Jingle Bell Rock” “A Marshmallow World.” The final track on the project offers a fresh version of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” reimagined by Filous.

To keep the celebrations going, Brenda Lee will perform her latest chart-topping hit on the upcoming NBC television special “Christmas at the Opry.” The two-hour holiday event hosted by Wynonna Judd at Nashville’s historic Grand Ole Opry House will feature performances by some of the best and brightest voices in country music. 

Fans can tune into NBC to see Brenda Lee’s performance and more during the broadcast airing Thursday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and stream the next day on Peacock.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.