It is perhaps the most cherished, euphoric and vocally impressive Christmas song of all time, but Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You had never reached the US No 1 spot – until now.
When it was released as part of an EP in 1994, US chart rules meant it couldn’t compete with singles. Later reclassified as a standalone song in 2000, it has been a seasonal fixture in the charts ever since – and after 25 years has finally reached No 1.
It is Carey’s 19th US No 1, inching her closer to the Beatles’ record of 20. It is also the first Christmas song to top the US charts since The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) in 1958.
“We did it,” Carey tweeted, adding, in a New York Times interview: “It’s something my die-hard fans think about, and people that are really close to me are talking to me about it literally all year. But I don’t need something else to validate the existence of this song. I used to pick it apart whenever I listened to it, but at this point, I feel like I’m finally able to enjoy it. I just truly love the holidays – I know it’s corny, and I don’t care.”
Carey has benefited from the growth in streaming, with the song included on major Christmas playlists by Spotify, Apple Music and others. Music industry analysts Nielsen state that streams of the song during the Christmas period have gone from 12.6m in 2014 to 61m in 2016, and 185m in 2018. Its US radio plays almost doubled over the same period.
This year, Carey released a new version of the music video, whose views, along with two pre-existing videos, all count towards its chart placing. As well as creating a children’s book and animated film based on the song, Carey has also used it as the basis for a Christmas-themed tour in recent years. “Splashiness, sentimentality, sparkle with all the trimmings – Carey is in her element here,” critic Caroline Sullivan wrote of its arrival in the UK in 2017.
The song – famously written by Carey with Walter Afanasieff in less than an hour – has still never reached No 1 in the UK. It spent three weeks at No 2 in 1994, but was kept off the Christmas top spot by East 17’s ballad Stay Another Day. But as in the US, All I Want for Christmas Is You has charted strongly in the UK in recent years via streams and downloads. It first returned in 2008, reaching No 4, and has reached No 2 for each of the last two years.
With an extra boost in the UK via a Walkers crisps advertising campaign, it is currently at No 6 in the midweek charts. Carey faces competition from LadBaby’s single I Love Sausage Rolls, which is currently at No 1 and riffs on Joan Jett’s I Love Rock’n’Roll to benefit food bank charity the Trussell Trust. It would be LadBaby’s second Christmas No 1 in a row after a similarly sausage-roll themed hit, We Built This City, in 2018. He would become only the third artist to score back to back Christmas No 1s, after the Beatles and Spice Girls.
Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy’s non-seasonal Own It is currently at No 2, and Last Christmas by Wham! – which, like Carey’s hit, has never reached the top spot – is at No 3. Also in the running is Jarvis Cocker’s expletive-laden Running the World, which is benefiting from a satirical social media campaign in the wake of the Conservatives’ general election win.