Rewinding the Charts: In 1942, Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' Reigned at No. 1

Bing Crosby, White Christmas
George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Bing Crosby in White Christmas.

The crooner's version of this classic, which Irving Berlin wrote in just 18 minutes, is the best-selling record of all time.

"If Decca [Records] can meet the demand, dealers say Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' will be 1942's top-selling record," Billboard reported in the Nov. 14, 1942 issue.

Talk about an understatement.

After topping sales charts that year, Crosby's version of the holiday classic went on to become the best-selling record ever -- 50 million copies globally, according to Guinness World Records.

The song -- which Irving Berlin wrote in only 18 minutes -- was featured in the film Holiday Inn starring a then-39-year-old Crosby. Released in July 1942 at the height of World War II, the tune's soothing tones and reflective lyrics struck a chord with consumers. The single sailed to No. 1 on Billboard's Best Selling Retail Records chart on Oct. 31, 1942, and spent 11 consecutive weeks there.

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The following year, "White Christmas" won the Academy Award for best original song and returned to the top 10 in every subsequent holiday season through 1949.

Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974, "White Christmas" topped the Holiday Airplay chart in 2008 and has revisited the top 10 of the chart in every holiday season between 2002 and 2016. It's also the most-covered holiday tune of all time: According to streaming service Slacker Radio, nearly 1,500 acts have recorded it, including Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.


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