(NEXSTAR) — The time of the year has arrived where it’s impossible to escape the sure-to-get-stuck-in-your-head tune that is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Over the last decade, it’s skyrocketed into another stratosphere, taking its place among the list of all-time holiday classics like “White Christmas” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” If you haven’t heard it yet in 2023, it’s only a matter of time. There’s no reason to think it’ll be dethroned as the year’s most streamed Christmas song and top the Billboard’s list of 100 hottest pop tunes.
When the song came out in 1994, it did really well. But it wasn’t the smash hit it is in 2023. According the Cosmopolitan, it peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 list in its debut year. It would reach the mountain top some 25 years later when it landed the top spot in the Hot 100 list. It actually holds the record for the longest journey to a #1 song, according to Cosmo.
While memes and Facebook jokes would tell you Carey gets “defrosted” about this time each year to perform Christmas songs, the “Queen of Christmas” is much more than that. When “All I Want for Christmas Is You” landed that top billboard spot, it was the 19th time Carey had a tune at the top of Billboard’s charts. That puts her at #2 overall behind The Beatles.
Because she was finding so much success early in her career, Carey says she wasn’t sure about putting out the song or Christmas music at all. She’s gone on record saying she was hesitant to put out seasonal music – which can often be reserved for older singers.
“I didn’t feel, from a strategic point of view, that it was time to do something like that,” Carey told Entertainment Weekly during an interview in 2019. “As much as I love Christmas, I thought that the record company was off. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Believe it not, Carey actually co-wrote the tune with songwriter Walter Afanasieff in less than an hour. She brought some lyrics she had been working on and Afanasieff helped set it to music.
“That one went very quickly. It was an easier song to write than some of the other ones. It was very formulaic, not a lot of chord changes,” Afanasieff said in a 2014 interview with Billboard. “I tried to make it a little more unique, putting in some special chords that you really don’t hear a lot of, which made it unique and special.”
There’s much speculation about how much money the tune has made over the years. A 2016 study from The Economic found Carey brought in about $2.5 million per year from the song. And let’s be clear: It’s far more popular than it was back then. It’s entirely possible to tune has generated between $80-$100 million dollars, based on additional growth following a 2021 estimate from Forbes. The figures include royalties from streaming services where the song has been streamed well over 1 billion times.
Carey is set to take “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the road during a short holiday tour across the US and Canada. The “One and All!” tour begins on November 15 in California and comes to an end about a month later in New York City.