The song, “The Christmas Song”, was originally recorded by Nat ‘King’ Cole in 1946
“The Christmas Song”, or “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, was written by Mel Tormé (1925-1999) and Robert Wells (1922-1998) in the hot Summer of 1945, apparently in an effort to stay cool! It was first recorded by Nat ‘King’ Cole and his trio in 1946 and has been a perenial favourite ever since. Nat actually recorded the song FOUR times throughout his career. First in July 1946, then on his own in August 1946, in August 1953 and finally in March 1961, which is the version most associated with him and the one that features on Christmas compilations.
Unsurprisingly, “The Christmas Song” has been recorded by hundreds of artists and bands across the decades, mostly for festive studio albums as well as some one-off performances. Bing Crosby also contributed a version in 1946, while more closer to modern times, Alexander O’Neal in 1988, which reached No.30 in the UK singles chart, Toni Braxton, Luther Vandross, Justin Bieber and Celine Dion for her 1998 holiday album, “These Are Special Times“. Although the song was not commercially released as a single, the album became, and remains so far, the fourth biggest selling Christmas album in the world with sales of fifteen million copies, to date!
The following year, Christina Aguilera had a go and recorded the song for her album, “My Kind Of Christmas”. The track was released as a single and it made No.18 on the US singles chart. Canadian ‘Crooner’ Michael Buble added his version to his 2003 EP, “Let It Snow”, and made No.32 in America and No.71 in the UK. The five-track collection has sold over a million copies to date. In 2020, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello recorded the song as a duet and took it to No.59 on the Canadian singles chart and No.16 in New Zealand and although it has yet to make an appearance on the US or other global sales charts, the song has been streamed many millions of times.
Which version of “The Christmas Song” is your favourite, or indeed the best recording?