A History of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”

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One of the most popular Christmas songs to play every year during the holiday season is the powerfully sung “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by one of the most familiar voices in the music industry. Mariah Carey’s famous Christmas song has been heard for over two decades now, and has seen quite the rise in chart history. Released in 1994 as a promotional single for radio play, the song introduced Mariah Carey’s first Christmas album, Merry Christmas. Unlike most other singles during that time, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was not available as a single in retail stores, which, at that time was a requirement for songs to qualify on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Because of this, the song failed to make the Hot 100 but charted on multiple airplay-based charts.

Four years later in 1998, the Hot 100 welcomed non-commercially available songs and Carey’s single hit No. 83 on the chart dated January 8, 2000. In 2012 the charts allowed older songs to chart if ranked in the top 50 and showed continued growth. After this, Carey’s famous Christmas song rose to No. 21. This year, the single hits its highest rank ever at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the chart dating January 2, 2016.

The song was written by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff and was the third song written for Merry Christmas (after “Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)” and “Jesus Born On This Day”). Afanasieff, who had previously worked with Carey on Emotions and Music Box, began to play a “rock ‘n roll piano” tune, which would eventually evolve into the now familiar song played on radios and in stores, restaurants and parties everywhere. With “Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)” and “Jesus Born On This Day” falling into the Christmas song categories of ballad and traditional, respectively, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” served to be the upbeat follow-up. As a result, Merry Christmas has become the most successful Christmas album of all time.

If you haven’t heard it enough times this year, you can listen below.

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