Chestnut Roasters, Part 1


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Bing. Nat. Dean. John and Paul. Darlene. Mariah. Ariana. Musicians so famous, with so many classic hits, you don’t even need their last names. Now here are a few more, with fewer hits: Vince Guaraldi. José Feliciano. Donny Hathaway. The Waitresses. What do all of these acts have in common? Years from now, each of them may be known primarily for a single holiday chestnut. In fact, in the streaming era, some of them already are consumed largely in December.

In this holiday episode of Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy dives deep into radio, streaming and Billboard chart data to compare these acts’ long hitmaking histories to the majority-merry ways they are consumed today. And none has been more condensed by Christmas than another artist who was once famous enough to go by her first name: Brenda. A ’60s chart dominator and double–Hall of Famer, Brenda Lee is now mostly known for that tune about Christmas tree rockin’. How did the legendary “Little Miss Dynamite” become Santa’s little helper? And will she ever pass Mariah and go back to No. 1?

Podcast production by Asha Saluja.

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