According to Guinness World Records, who is the singer on the best-selling single of all time?
And the answer: Bing Crosby.
Written by Irving Berlin, the song "White Christmas" was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1942 and introduced in the movie Holiday Inn. The single was released later that year as part of a collection of holiday songs. "White Christmas" has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide.
Within the heart of nostalgia and longing for Christmases of days past lies one song known to nearly every American: "White Christmas." Unexpectedly, the song forever changed the world of Christmas music, as artists realized they, too, could write and create secular Christmas songs that still contained the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Before 1942, Christmas songs and films had come out sporadically, and many were popular. However, popular culture had not yet realized the unique market available to them in the themes of home and hearth, centered on the Christmas holiday. The success of the song set a new tone, and one that resonated with viewers for decades to come.
In 1942 alone, Crosby's recording spent eleven weeks on top of the Billboard charts. The mix of melancholy and comfort appealed greatly to listeners during World War II, and the Armed Forces Network was flooded with requests for the song. Crosby's nephew later described Crosby's most difficult experience of the song's popularity:
"I once asked Uncle Bing about the most difficult thing he ever had to do during his entertainment career… He said in December, 1944, he was in a USO show with Bob Hope and the Andrews Sisters. They did an outdoor show in northern France… he had to stand there and sing 'White Christmas' with 100,000 G.I.s in tears without breaking down himself."
"White Christmas" remains a beautiful, albeit painfully wistful reminder of the hardship of years past while inspiring hope for the future.
This holiday season, may your days be merry and bright. Sing along to "White Christmas" below.