Christmas play is sweet music to tunesmiths

‘Tis the season of popular Christmas songs, and there’s no escape. They’re heard everywhere — in shopping malls, medical offices, airports and, of course, on the radio.

According to performing rights org ASCAP, the top 10 holiday melodies written or co-written by its tunesmith members were played on radio stations 470,134 times from Oct. 1 through Nov. 28. Nationwide, that’s more than 332 holiday songs an hour. And that’s before December even began.

For the second year in a row, “Sleigh Ride” ranks as the most-played holiday tune on radio, with 64,317 airings in the U.S. The only hit holiday song to have started life as an orchestral piece, it was penned by Leroy Anderson on a hot summer day in 1946. “Sleigh Ride” bowed in Beantown at a Boston Pops concert in May, 1948. Mitchell Parish added lyrics the following year.

Anderson’s recording of “Sleigh Ride” is the most popular instrumental version, and the Ronettes’ take is the fave vocal in the radio-play tally.

Rounding out the top five Christmas songs on radio: “Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

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