Songs that climbed the charts way after their release

Brenda Lee's 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' hits number one after 65 years!

Stars Insider

05/12/23 | StarsInsider

MUSIC Sleeper hits

One of the most amazing things about music is the way it can thread in and out of public memory or fame, changing and adapting meaning over time while also maintaining a slice of the context in which it was made for future generations to enjoy.

It’s certainly great consolation for artists who release a song or an album and don’t receive the immediate feedback they were hoping for, as the possibility always remains for their music to reenter the pop culture conversation at any point in what’s called a “sleeper hit.”

While Brenda Lee's 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' has been a Christmas classic for decades, it has only just climbed its way to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the first time. The song, first released in 1958, has suddenly become a chart-topper after 65 years. That's a serious sleeper! Lee was just 13 years old when she sang the song, written by Johnny Marks, and is now 78. This makes her the oldest woman ever to top the Hot 100, far surpassing Mariah Carey's record.  Coincidentally, her song 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' made it to number one in 2022 when she was 53. What is it about holiday songs that gives them eternal life? 

"I cannot believe that ‘Rockin’’ has hit No. 1 65 years after it was released, this is just so special!" Brenda Lee said in response to the surprise. "Thank you to the team at UMG/UMe who worked so hard to celebrate the song’s anniversary this year. But most importantly, thank you to the fans who keep listening." In celebration of the anniversary, Lee released the first-ever music video for the song in November, along with an EP that included several other Christmas classics. 

There are so many other sleeper hits and for varying reasons. Click through to see some of the slowest hits that climbed the charts way after their release.

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