Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” just topped the charts 65 years after its initial release.
Debuting in 1958, with a 13-year-old Lee belting the holiday classic, the song has finally reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although it didn’t take off upon its first release, the upbeat song did break into the top 20 in late December 1960.
Then, in 1990, the song experienced a resurgence: A savvy Kevin McCallister staged a holiday party scene to trick burglars staking out his house in the classic Christmas movie “Home Alone,” and Lee’s song blasted from inside the home. Lee recently told Entertainment Tonight that she thinks “Home Alone” was the catalyst that pushed the song into the mainstream.
The multiplatinum holiday hit was in regular rotation on oldies radio stations of yore, and in 2014, streaming services helped boost its chart status. It’s been a mainstay every year since, spending nine weeks at No. 2 just last year.
Now, Lee, 78, the oldest person to officially top the Hot 100, has surpassed Louis Armstrong’s long-held record for “Hello, Dolly!” that he scored in 1964 at age 62. The “Jingle Bell Rock” and “I’m Sorry” singer also remains one of a small number of female artists to have been inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“If I could jump out of my clothes, I would,” Lee told Variety of her song topping the charts. “I have wonderful, wonderful fans that have been with me from the first time I opened my mouth to sing, and they’ve stayed with me, and everybody’s been loyal, and I’m more happy for them than I am for me. You can’t keep a good song down.”
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” the soundtrack to many a-Christmas-party-hop, was written by Johnny Marks, who also wrote “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Lee credits the song’s success to the team of musicians and producers that made it the complete Christmas package.
“Well, you know what? [The appeal] is not necessarily me,” she told Variety, noting that famed producer Owen Bradley was “such a genius” and had “the A-Team of musicians, with Boots Randolph, who’s got the [sax solo] on that song, and the Anita Kerr Singers.”
“You put those kind of people together and it’s magic, and it happens every time you play it,” she continued. “I don’t normally listen to myself ever once I’ve recorded a song. This one I can listen to, and I don’t know why. . . It’s just a magical thing for me.”
The 65-year gap between the song’s original release and its acme position is the longest in history, according to Billboard. The record was previously held by Mariah Carey in 2019 when “All I Want for Christmas is You” topped the charts 25 years after its initial release.
When Lee was recently asked if she rocks to her own holiday hit, she confirmed that she does.
“I wonder if Mariah does though, or if she rocks to hers?” she mused, about the self-styled Queen of Christmas.
Last month, after more than half a century, Lee finally released a music video for “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” in which she sings along with her 13-year-old self, dances merrily and clinks glasses with her “girlfriends” Tanya Tucker and Trisha Yearwood.
The song has also been making the rounds on TikTok as many users expressed their disbelief that Lee was only a teenager when she provided the mature-sounding vocals to the seasonal hit.
Kate Middleton spotted after rampant speculation about her post-op whereabouts
Catherine has been spotted for the first time since December, months after her January hospitalization, which spawned rampant conspiracy theories, and viral suppositions about her alleged “disappearance.”
The Princess of Wales, formerly Kate Middleton, was photographed Monday by Backgrid, a photo-hosting agency, near Windsor Castle in the U.K. sitting in the passenger seat of an Audi driven by her mother, Carole Middleton, according to TMZ.
The Daily Mail reported that Monday’s princess sighting came via paparazzi pictures that were not authorized by the palace.
The casual outing — featuring the princess in sunglasses and without security — is the first time that the 42-year-old has been seen in public since she celebrated Christmas at Sandringham estate in eastern England with husband Prince William, their three children and rest of the royal family, People reported.
The senior royal was admitted to the London Clinic on Jan. 16, Kensington Palace said, for a planned abdominal surgery and successfully underwent the procedure. The palace added, however, that the princess was expected to be hospitalized for 10 to 14 days after the mystery surgery and “before returning home to continue her recovery.” She would return to her public duties after Easter — March 31 — based on current medical advice, the palace said.
“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate,” Kensington Palace said. “She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.”
Despite her desires, the announcement — coupled with father-in-law King Charles III’s simultaneous health issues — ignited even more interest in her condition and plenty of wild speculation given her absence from the public eye, as well as that of her children and parents. Amid theories about an organ donation to Charles, a Brazilian butt lift, mommy makeover or the possibility that she was in a coma, the topic (hashtag #whereiskatemiddleton) has been a talking point ever since.
As many a Redditor and casual social media user wondered, “What is going on with Kate Middleton?” the BBC analyzed the “royal dilemma” over Kate’s health, the New York Times touched on the rumors swirling around her, Vogue tracked “The Curious Case of the ‘Disappearing’ Princess,” and this newspaper tried to figure out what the frenzy over her alleged “‘disappearance’ says about the royals — and us.”
Kate left the hospital on Jan. 29 and returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor, where she was reunited with her kids. Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, temporarily stepped back from his royal duties to manage childcare but continued with other royal engagements in Wrexham and London.
Last week, the 41-year-old prince — who is also expected to take on more royal duties after his father’s cancer diagnosis — provided further fodder for the rumor mill when he cited a “personal matter” for his absence from the funeral of his godfather, King Constantine of Greece.
Nonetheless, a spokesman reiterated the palace’s stance that there would be no “running commentary” provided on Kate’s health despite Internet rumors.
That, according to the Telegraph, was testing the Firm’s policy of “never complain, never explain.”
“From our perspective, we were very clear from our statement at the start of this in January that the Princess of Wales planned to be out of public action until after Easter, and that hasn’t changed,” a spokesperson for the family told the Telegraph.
“We were always clear we wouldn’t be providing updates when there wasn’t anything new to share,” the spokesperson said. “The last thing anyone wants is a running commentary of the Princess of Wales’s recovery. Nothing has changed from that approach in January.”
Film review: Ru brings Kim Thúy's beloved novel to achingly beautiful life — Stir
AUTHOR KIM THÚY’S Governor General’s Award–winning novel Ru gives unique access to the refugee experience, following her family from Vietnam across the ocean to a new life in Canada. But what makes the book, and the extraordinary new movie based on it, so touching is the specific mix of that story with the French-Canadian culture that the family learns to call its own.
In his new screen adaptation, Canadian director Charles-Olivier Michaud finds the warmth and humour in everything from a stepdance welcome in a community gym to the healing magic of maple taffy made on fresh snow. Or ham decorated with canned pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries. Or a fridge full of donated shepherd pies.
The story is told nonchronologically, through the eyes of preteen Tinh (a remarkably unaffected Chloé Djandji) and following her family’s harrowing journey from upper-class comfort in Vietnam to the refugees once known as “boat people”, eventually starting over again in Canada. The culture shock is immediate: upon arrival in Quebec, the trip into Granby is by bus, through a blizzard, following a snowplow. In one of Michaud’s poetically surreal moments, a wide-eyed Tinh spots a new bride, crying and drinking champagne, still wearing her long white gown, on the hall floor of the motel the family calls home for many weeks.
The script (by Thuy working with Michaud and Jacques Davidts) uses restraint but never glosses over the trauma the parents and their children carry with them into their new lives. Via flashbacks, we see soldiers ransacking the family’s books and belongings, and witness the inhumanity of the dank boat hold. Through assured visual storytelling, Ru lets us in on the experience of forced migration—specifically, the trials, big and small, that “boat people” faced—whether it’s a parent sewing money into shirt hems or a camera slowly panning through a garment factory. In one scene, Tinh’s mother (a steely Chantal Thuy) stares from the ship hull, up a long ladder to the first daylight she’s seen in weeks. It’s a complex mix of despair about what’s behind her and fear of the unknown that awaits at the top of the hatch. Later, she refuses to speak to her daughter and two young sons in anything but French, and drives them to study harder. At the same time, the parents’ sacrifices are moving, the educated father (a quietly dignified Jean Bui) mopping cathedral floors and delivering Chinese food. What’s so poignant is that everyone’s too busy to pay too much attention to the growing pains and trauma that Tinh is quietly navigating herself—at a time when PTSD wasn’t a term yet, and everyone, even children, were expected to tough things out.
To his credit, director Michaud chooses not to tell this story through a lot of dialogue, but rather through imagery and often achingly beautiful visual details. A perfect symbol of all of the cultural upheaval comes with recurring shots of a second-hand toaster, which a kind Quebec sponsor assumes will be a necessity for the Vietnamese family’s breakfasts, but that becomes a chopstick holder abandoned in a corner.
Oscars rewind — 2004: Why the hair and makeup winners apologized to their cast
Many of the Academy Awards categories have long histories that stretch back nearly 100 years. That’s not true for the hair and makeup artisans, though. Their artistry was left out of the awards prior to 1981, when a groundswell of support for the recognition of the work done on 1980’s “The Elephant Man” led to the creation of a makeup-only category (and “Elephant” wasn’t the first winner). Hair wasn’t included until 1993, and is still considered part of the package deal, now known as the Academy Award for makeup and hairstyling.
Meanwhile, hair and makeup nominees are chosen slightly differently than most other categories — a shortlist of seven titles are selected by the academy’s makeup branch, then winnowed down during a “bake-off” into a final list of nominees (usually three). Such was the case for the 2004 Oscars, held on Feb. 29 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood: Three nominees, one winner.
The winners likely surprised no one in the audience. By the time the award was handed out by Scarlett Johansson to Richard Taylor and Peter King, their film “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” was already well on its way to earning all 11 awards for its 11 nominations. It was Taylor’s second chance on stage that night; earlier in the evening he’d picked up his first Oscar for the film’s costume design, an award he shared with Ngila Dickson. He also has previous Oscars for makeup (shared with Peter Owen) and visual effects (shared with Jim Rygiel, Randall William Cook and Mark Stetson) from 2002 for the first film in the trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”
Taylor shared the applause in his speech, crediting several other crew members who were instrumental with the manufacture and care of over 10,000 prosthetics used during the “Lord of the Rings” series of films. He also then spoke to the various former Middle Earth residents in the audience, giving credit to “the cast that had to wear it all over all those months. I apologize for the rubbery feet and funny noses but cheers to you all.”
King was picking up his first (and so far, only) Oscar; he’d go on to be nominated again in 2013 for “The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey.” “God, it’s scary up here,” he said. After thanking the studio and fellow crew, he added, “I’d like to thank my gorgeous wife Sarah for being there every night with a glass of wine when I got home. I thank my gorgeous daughter for just being gorgeous.”
The other two nominees that went home certainly presented formidable competition, but it was hard to deny “King’s” dominance. Edouard F. Henriques and Yolanda Toussieng had been nominated for “Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World.” This was Henriques’ second of three nominations; he would be tapped in 2011 for working on another Peter Weir-helmed film, “The Way Back,” and his first nomination came from work on “The Cell” in 2001. Meanwhile, Toussieng won two Oscars in back-to-back-years: 1994 for “Mrs. Doubtfire” and 1995 for “Ed Wood”; she also would be nominated for working with Henriques and Greg Funk on “The Way Back.”
Completing the trio of long-titled nominated movies were Ve Neill and Martin Samuel, who were nominated for their work on “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” Neill already was well-stocked with Oscars — she has three, from “Beetlejuice” (1989, shared with Steve LaPorte and Robert Short); “Mrs. Doubtfire” (shared with her competitor this year Toussieng and Greg Cannom); and “Ed Wood” (shared with Toussieng and Rick Baker).
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