The Mariah Carey phenomenon
Uncovering how Carey’s hit song became a recurring Christmas favourite.

It really cannot be Christmas without hearing Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want for Christmas is You,” but what makes it so addictive during the holiday season? It took Carey and songwriter Walter Afanasieff 15 minutes to create the song, but despite the short process, the 15-minute miracle has broken three Guinness World Records. This hit has earned the titles of “highest-charting holiday (Christmas/New Year) song on the Billboard US Hot 100 by a solo artist,” “most streamed track on Spotify in 24 hours (female),” and “most weeks in the UK singles Top 10 chart for a Christmas song” since its release in 1994. However, the song did not become number one on the Billboard Hot 100 until 2019. 

Since 2017,  “All I Want for Christmas is You” made over $60 million in royalties, earning $600,000 to $1 million for Carey every December. As of 2021, the song has over 979,000,000 streams on Spotify

Due to its popularity, the song was adapted into a children’s book in 2015 as well as an animated short film in 2017, not to mention there are dozens of videos of goats screaming along to her whistle tones and modified TikTok audios for Generation Z humour. 

So, what is the hype year after year?

One factor that contributes to the song’s popularity is its focus on the more mature aspects of Christmas, like romance (which fuels Hallmark movie lovers everywhere), instead of Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman. However, as love is a universal feeling at any age, especially during the holidays, the song relates to everyone. 

Another factor is that because the song came out in 1994, it is nostalgic for the generations that never had to live in a world without Carey’s hit song. Especially as the song is featured in popular Christmas movies, like Love, Actually and Merry Nickmas, the first notes of the catchy tune revive the pleasant feeling of being curled up in front of the TV in comfy pyjamas, sipping a cup of hot chocolate. 

Finally, the underlying success of “All I Want for Christmas is You” is in Carey’s nickname—“the undisputed queen of Christmas.” Carey goes all out for the holidays, performing her hit song at Christmas festivities across the U.S. and publicly tweeting her disgust with her ex-husband, Nick Cannon’s, lack of Christmas spirit. 


Carey’s energy toward Christmas is fuelled by her hit song’s 31.5 million streams so far this year, which leads us to wonder, how many times does she listen to her own song? Did Cannon file for divorce because she had it on repeat from November to January? Unfortunately, we will never know, but we can confirm that each of us will contribute to at least one stream of the song throughout the holiday season, whether we like it or not. It is inevitable, all thanks to the undisputed queen of Christmas.

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