In terms of airplay (at least in America), this is by far the most successful Christmas song written after 1963, when Bing Crosby recorded "Do You Hear What I Hear?
" The most popular holiday songs on American radio were all written between 1934-1963, with "Sleigh Ride
" (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 Merry Christmas
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 "Mistletoe
," 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 "Do They Know It's Christmas?
" has made #1 in some form three times since 1984.