The GuardianThe Guardian

I’m dreaming of a bestseller: What makes Christmas songs stick?

By Carmen Aguilar García, Michael Goodier, Lucy Swan and Pamela Duncan

20 Dec 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Year after year, we return to the same Christmas hits, only to loathe them by January. Here, the Guardian breaks the classics down into their elements and highlights the power of nostalgia.

When composer Irving Berlin finished writing White Christmas in 1940, he reportedly told his musical secretary: “Not only is it the best song I ever wrote, it’s the best song anybody ever wrote.”

If musical greatness can be measured by record sales, he was correct. Recorded by Bing Crosby and released in 1942 on his compilation album Merry Christmas, White Christmas would go on to become the bestselling single of all time. The song is still one of our most-listened on the 24 and 25 December, more than 80 years later.

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