Radio's Top Holiday Songs This Year? More Than Just Mariah.


It's the most wonderful time of the year, and looking at this holiday season's most-played Christmas songs by radio format, it's also the most interesting, especially when you get past the perennials.


Overall, to quote an act without a Christmas song, it's the same as it ever was. Based on Mediabase-monitored airplay, there are seven members of the '30,000 club,' as in total station spins year-to-date in 2021: Mariah Carey's “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (the only member of the '40,000 club'), José Feliciano's “Feliz Navidad,” Bobby Helms' “Jingle Bell Rock” (the oldest of the seven, released in 1957), Wham!'s “Last Christmas,” Brenda Lee's “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,” Burl Ives' “A Holly Jolly Christmas” and, yes, Andy Williams' “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” Coincidentally, just below that mark are Paul McCartney's “Wonderful Christmastime” and John Lennon's “Happy Christmas (War Is Over).”


Checking out what's jingling at most major formats is where it really gets interesting, especially when factoring in newly-released holiday songs. Standing out among those is Ed Sheeran and Elton John's “Merry Christmas,” a cross-format success with more than 5,000 spins primarily divvied up among Adult Contemporary (approximately 2,400), CHR (1,400) and Hot AC (1,100). That's still not enough to match this year's most-played new holiday recording, Michael Bublé's “Let It Snow! (10th Anniversary),” with over 6,000 spins, mostly at AC.


While AC's most-played Christmas songs for the most part match Mediabase's overall ranking, given it's where most of the all-Christmas formats are, two additional new holiday songs have racked up impressive spins: Kelly Clarkson's “Christmas Isn't Canceled” (3,300 spins) and Rob Thomas' “Small Town Christmas” (2,200). At CHR, Carey's “All I Want...” is far-and-away the leader with close to 3,900 spins, ahead of the Sheeran/John collaboration and, also new this year, “It Was A... (Masked Christmas)” from Jimmy Fallon featuring Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion, both in the 1,400-spin range.


Carey leads at both Hip-Hop/R&B and Rhythmic formats, tied with Chris Brown's take on “This Christmas” at the former and Run-D.M.C.'s “Christmas In Hollis” at the latter. New for this season at Rhythmic is Tanille's “Santa Don't Pass Me By” with a third of Mariah and Run-D.M.C.'s year-to-date spins. At Adult R&B stations, the original “This Christmas” from Donny Hathaway gets the most airplay, followed by the Temptations' “Silent Night” and Boyz II Men's “Let It Snow,” while Mariah Carey's newly-released “Fall in Love at Christmas,” featuring Khalid and Kirk Franklin, is not far off the mark with its 1,500 spins to date.


At Country radio, the holidays' top three are Lee's “Tree,” Helms' “Jingle” and Taylor Swift's version of “Last Christmas,” while new entries from Dan + Shay, Lainey Wilson, Brett Eldredge and Carrie Underwood have anywhere from 200 to 500 spins. On Rock formats, the leaders are Trans-Siberian Orchestra's “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” Lennon's “Happy Christmas” and Bruce Springsteen's “Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town.”

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