Mel Smith Kim Wilde

COVER vs ORIGINAL: ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’

The song, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”, was originally recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958

Seasonal favourite “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” was written by Johnny Marks (1909-1985), who also wrote “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”, and recorded by Brenda Lee (b.1944) in 1958, when Lee was just 14 years old. The song never actually charted until 1960, when it peaked at No.14, but has since climbed much higher, its highest, to date, being in 2019, when it made No.2. The song has sold 1.2 million copies Stateside and also been a huge hit globally, making the top ten in most countries.

Two notable covers exist, the first came in 1987, two years after Marks’ death, in the UK when comedian Mel Smith (1952-2013) and singer Kim Wilde joined forces for a charity recording for Comic Relief along with Smith’s long time partner, Griff Rhys-Jones providing intermittent ‘backing vocals’. They were billed as ‘Mel and Kim’ (a parody on sister act Mel and Kim, who had topped the chart earlier that year with “Respectable”) taking their version to No.3 in the UK.

In 2020, Justin Bieber recorded a version as a one-off promotional single, recorded for Amazon Music,which charted in both the US and the UK and will, no doubt, be revived and played for many years to come.

But which version is the best? BRENDA LEE’s original, MEL & KIM’s charity single or JUSTIN’s new version?

Take a look at some of the other posts in this series and don’t forget to follow the playlist.

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So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!