We’ve all listened to the classic “Feliz Navidad” at least a hundred times. Even if you are not Spanish-speaking, you’ve probably found yourself humming along to it on the radio or at a Christmas gathering. But what’s the story behind it? Jose Feliciano is the one to thank, and this year marks the song’s 50th anniversary.
The simple song with just 20 words has been covered by Los Lobos and Celine Dion, among others, and has become part of the most popular Christmas playlists of all time as the first bilingual Xmas song to ever exist. In order to properly celebrate the 50th birthday of this classic, there was a livestream event earlier today entitled “José Feliciano & Friends: ‘Feliz Navidad’ 50th Anniversary Concert.” Guest artists included Colombian singer-songwriter Andres Cepeda, soulful singer Haley Reinhart and country artists Austin Jenckes and Kalsey Kulyk.
When asked what he thinks about the song’s success, Feliciano believes the simplicity and catchy beats are what made it a mainstream holiday hit. “I think the reason ‘Feliz Navidad’ has done so well is because anybody can whistle the tune, and if it’s that catchy it can be a hit and have a long life.”
Feliciano recently released his first-ever revamped version of “Feliz Navidad” (available on Amazon Music) produced by Rudy Pérez and featuring 30 artists including CNCO, Isabela Merced, Shaggy, Jon Secada, Jason Mraz, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rachael Ray, Gloria Gaynor, Big & Rich, Michael Bolton, Los Temerarios, Sam Moore and Styx.