‘Tis the season once again, and while we may throw in a few regular “rewinds” from time to time this month, we want to take the month of December to revisit some Christmas favorites in popular music. Speaking of popular, none is more fitting to kick off this holiday series than Bobby Helms’ version of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Originally written by a public relations man in his 50s and an ad man in his 40s (Joseph Carlton Beal and James Ross Boothe, respectively), this song was a pioneer of sorts in bringing holiday music out of the crooner era into the current popular culture, referencing the likes of “Rock Around the Clock” and the “hop.” Interestingly, while we typically associate this tune with 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, the man who first made it a hit, Bobby Helms, was a country singer—and the tune is actually rockabilly, not rock ‘n’ roll.
Regardless of genre confusion, ever since Helms released this song in 1957, “Jingle Bell Rock” has become an indelible part of American culture, not to mention a holiday favorite that shows up on an infinite number of Christmas playlists. The song has since been covered by everyone from Hall & Oates to Rascal Flatts, but no version is better remembered than this one.
Bobby Helms, incidentally, continued to perform and record for several decades, but never saw the same level of success that “Jingle Bell Rock” brought him.
Enjoy the song, and enjoy the season!