Sinatra, Bruce … Jonas Brothers? Most popular Christmas songs by NJ artists
For some it's still too early, but many across New Jersey are already listening to nonstop Christmas music at this point in the year.
The Garden State is no stranger to iconic Christmas classics, even whole albums full of them. The 1957 LP "A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra" was certified platinum, signifying sales of more than a million units, by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2003.
There is also a Jersey flavor to the original, quadruple-platinum "A Very Special Christmas" from 1987, with contributions from Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, and Bruce Springsteen, with members of the E Street Band additionally backing the Pointer Sisters on their very Bruce-like version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."
While sales of individual Christmas songs, not all of which are released as singles, can be tough to determine, a holiday music aficionado can get a good idea of what's popular by looking at Spotify streaming statistics.
So here are the most popular Christmas selections from artists who've called the Garden State home. All Spotify numbers are accurate as of Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.
Frank Sinatra with the B. Swanson Quartet — "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" (398,228,361 streams)
The 1957 re-release of 1948's "Christmas Songs by Sinatra," under the album title "Christmas Dreaming," was the first pressing to include Ol' Blue Eyes' 1950 recording of this standard by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. From the aforementioned "Jolly Christmas" album, other popular Sinatra yuletide selections include "Jingle Bells" (the famed "J-I-N-G-L-E Bells" version, 130,364,179 streams), "Mistletoe and Holly" (128,061,415 streams), "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (84,213,565 streams), and "The First Noel" (72,609,457 streams).
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band — "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (170,125,162 streams)
Based on the Crystals' 1963, Phil Spector-produced take (and pointing the way to the future Pointer Sisters version), the Boss — with a little help from Clarence "Santa" Clemons — brought this to the masses via a concert recording at C.W. Post College in December 1975, at the height of "Born to Run" mania. Quickly a favorite among live show bootleggers and radio programmers alike, it wouldn't see official commercial release for six years, on the Children's Television Workshop fundraiser "In Harmony 2," and then as the B-side to the "My Hometown" single in 1985.
For the record, resident New Jersey 101.5 newsroom Springsteen expert Jen Ursillo prefers "Merry Christmas Baby," from the original "Very Special Christmas" album, but that's garnered only 6,083,936 streams.
Jonas Brothers — "Like It's Christmas" (108,140,872 streams)
Capitalizing on the success of their comeback album "Happiness Begins," the Jersey-born and raised JoBros dropped this for the 2019 holiday season. According to our research, it's the only non-Sinatra or Springsteen Christmas song out of the Garden State to surpass 100,000,000 streams on Spotify, owing both to the siblings' enduring popularity and the song being released in, for the most part, a digital-only era.
Whitney Houston — "The First Noel" (27,061,952 streams)
It's entirely forgivable to think the choice here would have been Whitney's 1987 reading of "Do You Hear What I Hear," which was released at the pinnacle of her fame and became so definitive that Jordin Sparks' version on the 25th anniversary "Very Special Christmas" album, which came out just months after Houston's death, copies it nearly note for note. But at 22,657,009 streams, it comes in second to the leadoff track of "One Wish / The Holiday Album" from 2003.
Jon Bon Jovi — "Please Come Home for Christmas" (11,241,330 streams)
It all comes back to the "Very Special Christmas" franchise. While JBJ recorded this for the second edition of the Special Olympics fundraiser (the green one) in 1992, it pales in comparison to the Eagles' cover of Charles Brown's song on which the Bon Jovi version is based — about seven-and-a-half times more Spotify users would rather hear Don Henley sing it.
Bon Jovi did contribute to the first "Very Special Christmas" release (the red one) with a live cover of Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa," but that was replaced on some later pressings by an original, "I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas." The discrepancy hurts the streaming numbers of both songs: "Back Door Santa" is restored to the album on Spotify, but "I Wish Everyday..." isn't even on the platform.
The Four Seasons — "Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1,487,129 streams)
The last of the million-streamers we found, the early-60s recording of this song (it predates even the Crystals' version) came long before the group was credited as Frankie Valli &...
Other Jersey connections in the hundred-thousands on Spotify include Patti Smith's 1997 "Very Special Christmas 3" interpretation of "We Three Kings" (524,591 streams), a Dionne Warwick-Aloe Blacc duet of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas" (413,499 streams), and perhaps most curiously, Lauryn Hill and Rosie O'Donnell collaborating in 1999 on "The Little Drummer Boy" (324,445 streams).
Merry Christmas, New Jersey!