This Motown-flavored song has a simple message: Mariah Carey is not concerned about all the paraphernalia of Christmas - she just wants to be with her man. As the world became more virtual and Christmas got more commercial, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" got more and more popular. Initially released before most of us had ever heard of the Internet, decades later it connected with listeners eager to unplug and enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas. Sure, there are plenty of songs from a bygone era that can handle the task, but there's something special about it coming from Carey, a modern superstar who could probably buy up the North Pole but just wants to be with her special someone for the holiday.
"All I Want For Christmas Is You" was co-written and co-produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff, who started off as Whitney Houston's arranger and has co-produced and co-written many of Carey's hits, including "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/mariah-carey/one-sweet-day">One Sweet Day</a>" and "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/mariah-carey/hero">Hero</a>." He also won a 1999 Grammy award for co-producing Celine Dion's "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/celine-dion/my-heart-will-go-on">My Heart Will Go On</a>." Carey and Afanasieff wrote it in the summer of 1994, with him coming up with musical ideas on a piano while she developed the melody and lyrics. They set out to write an uptempo Christmas track in the style of Phil Spector's girl group productions of the '60s (Darlene Love's "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/darlene-love/christmas-baby-please-come-home">Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)</a>" comes to mind). They achieved their goal, creating a very fun and memorable song, although Afanasieff worried it was too basic. He told ASCAP in 2014: "It's a very simple arrangement. In fact, it's so simple that at the time I thought it was overly simple and I really didn't like it. Music people know: 'bah bah bah bah bah bah bah bah'... it's almost a practice interval. So, keeping that tradition and then the oversimplified melody I guess made it so easily palatable for the whole world to go, 'Oh, I can't get that out of my head.'"
In terms of airplay (at least in America), this is by far the most successful Christmas song written after 1963, when Bing Crosby recorded "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/bing-crosby/do-you-hear-what-i-hear">Do You Hear What I Hear?</a>" The most popular holiday songs on American radio were all written between 1934-1963, with "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/leroy-anderson/sleigh-ride">Sleigh Ride</a>" (1948), usually the most-played. "All I Want For Christmas Is You" was not released as a commercial single, serving instead to drive sales of Mariah Carey's <b>Merry Christmas</b> album. On airplay, the song made #12 US in 1994 when it was first issued to radio stations as a promotional single. It returned to the Airplay chart at #35 each of the next two years, establishing a place on holiday playlists. By 1999, the Hot 100 no longer stipulated that a song had to be sold as a single to be eligible, and with airplay now a factor, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" made the chart at #83. In 2010, the song found a new audience when a version by Big Time Rush (as "All I Want For Christmas") made #124. In 2011, it nicked the charts with recordings by Justin Bieber & Mariah (#86), Michael Bublé (#99), and the Glee Cast (#118). At this point, Justin Bieber's "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/justin-bieber/mistletoe">Mistletoe</a>," which reached #11 in 2011, was the highest charting modern Christmas song. In 2012, Mariah's original rendition once again charted, this time peaking at #25. Every year, the song returned to the Hot 100; it cracked the Top 10 for the first time in 2017 when it hit #9. The Christmas of 2018, it climbed to #3. Finally, 25 years after the song was first heard, it hit #1 in 2019. In the UK, the chart positions are also very impressive. It was prevented from being the 1994 Christmas #1 by "Stay Another Day" by East 17. Thanks to downloads (our friends in the UK tend to buy a lot of music around Christmas), the song made #4 in 2007, #12 in 2008, #18 in 2009 and #22 in 2010. We can't declare it the most successful UK Christmas song of the modern era because "<a href="https://www.songfacts.com/facts/band-aid/do-they-know-its-christmas">Do They Know It's Christmas?</a>" has made #1 in some form three times since 1984.
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