Here’s a song that I thought about not even including. “Jingle Bell Rock” has been heard by you and me so many times that we become numb to it. But when it does come on the radio or is part of a movie soundtrack, it elicts a magical Pavlov’s Dog response; the song means it’s Christmas in America.
Helms was born in Bloomington, Indiana and lived just south of Indianapolis (in Martinsville) until he died in 1997. A country singer who tasted a little success with one other top 10 hit, but had a bunch of songs that never quite cracked the Top 40 of the country charts. But this little ditty was a Top 10 pop hit in 1957 and has been rereleased at least six times since then, charting in the Top 100 five times. And that’s how you become iconic.
Though a bit of musical cheese (so are a lot of holiday tunes – dso no deduction s there), it was still a well- produced little project: echo-drenched like the Sun Records music of the time and filled with sleigh bells ringing. There’s an immediacy in the vocals, and – importantly – it is an original tune written by a Hoosier. I have to believe the middle America roots somehow has helped it undure. Next time you hear it, really listen: it’s a damn good pop song.