Be of good cheer: The sounds of the season will ring out at Symphony Center over the next few weeks. With concerts by the Vienna Boys Choir (Nov. 30), Chanticleer (Dec. 3-4, at the Fourth Presbyterian Church) and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass (Dec. 18), along with the CSO’s holiday revue “Merry, Merry Chicago!” (Dec. 14-23), it’s a safe bet that some of your favorite carols and Christmas classics will reverberate throughout Orchestra Hall during the yuletide.
According to the media research film the Nielsen Co., here are the most popular holiday songs, as measured by radio airplay:
1. José Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad” (1970): Born in Puerto Rico, the singer-songwriter deliberately chose to sing the lyrics in English, so that mainland U.S. radio stations would play the tune. (It’s also on the set list for the CSO’s “Merry, Merry Chicago!”)
2. Brenda Lee, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1962): Written by Johnny Marks, the song was recorded by the leather-lunged Lee when she was just 13.
3. Burl Ives, “A Holly Jolly Christmas” (1965); A native of Hunt City, in southeast Illinois, Oscar-winning actor Burl Ives introduced this song via his role as Sam the Snowman in the stop-motion animated TV special “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1964).
4. Bobby Helms, “Jingle Bell Rock” (1962): Written in 1957, it’s a yuletide mash-up of “Jingle Bells” and Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.”
5. Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994): Step into any mall this season, and you’ll be sure to hear this millennial-era favorite.
6. Nat King Cole, “The Christmas Song” (1949): This holiday chestnut offers a double shot of Chicago: Mel Tormé, who grew up in Hyde Park, wrote this classic, which Cole, a graduate of Wendell Phillips High School on the South Side, first popularized.
7. Trans-Siberan Orchestra, “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” (1995): It’s an instrumental medley of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and the Ukrainian carol “Shchedryk.”
8. Andy Williams, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (1963): Popularized on the crooner’s variety TV series, the song was first released on his 1963 Christmas album.
9. Bing Crobsy, “White Christmas” (1944): The ultimate Christmas classic for the post-war generation, it was introduced in the film “Holiday Inn.”
10. Johnny Mathis, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (1986): During the LP era, the balladeer was one of the first to record a full-length Christmas album (“Merry Christmas,” 1958). Since then, he has released several other holiday collections; this song is from “Christmas Eve With Johnny Mathis” (1986).
A version of this article appeared previously on Sounds and Stories.