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"Rhythm of the Rain" rose to number three on the US pop chart on March 9, 1963, and spent two weeks at number one on the US Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 4 song of 1963.
The song was also a top 5 hit in March 1963 in the United Kingdom and, in May 1963, was a number-one single in Ireland. In Canada, the song was on the CHUM Chart for a total of 12 weeks and reached number 1 in March 1963. In 1999 BMI listed the song as the ninth most performed song on radio/TV in the 20th century. The Cascades' recording was used in the soundtrack of the 1979 film Quadrophenia and included in its soundtrack album.
The song arrangement features distinctive use of a celesta. The celesta or celeste is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard. An idiophone is any musical instrument that creates sound primarily by the instrument as a whole vibrating, without the use of air, strings, or membranes. It looks similar to an upright piano (four- or five-octave), but with smaller keys and a much smaller cabinet, or a large wooden music box (three-octave). The keys connect to hammers that strike a graduated set of metal (usually steel) plates or bars suspended over wooden resonators. One of the best-known works that uses the celesta is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from The Nutcracker. The sound of the celesta is similar to that of the glockenspiel, but with a much softer and more subtle timbre. This quality gave the instrument its name, celeste, meaning "heavenly" in French.