‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’: Why Mariah Carey Almost Didn’t Record This Holiday Classic

Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'
Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'

Reign of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’

The time of the year has come when you absolutely cannot escape the jingle bells of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” During the past decades, it’s found its place in another stratosphere, making it to the top of the perennial holiday classics list with hits like “White Christmas” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” If you haven’t heard it in 2023 yet, well, it’s just a matter of time. There’s no reason to think it won’t end up as the most streamed Christmas song of the year and proudly sit on top of the Billboard’s 100 most famous pop tunes.

Mariah Carey’s Song Soars to #1

When this song first appeared in 1994, it really did quite well. But in 2023, it was a different level of success. According to Cosmopolitan, it soared to #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in its first year. It’s almost 25 years later that it reaches the peak, where it’s atop the Hot 100 chart. According to Cosmo, it holds the record for the longest journey to a #1 song.

While memes and Facebook might tell you that Carey starts thinking about Christmas songs at this time each year, “The Queen of Christmas” is more than that. When “All I Want for Christmas is You” hit the #12 spot on the Billboard chart, it was the 19th occasion that Carey reached the top spot on the charts. She actually displaced the Beatles, keeping it at #2.

Because she was enjoying so much success early in her career, Carey didn’t think at all about venturing into holiday music. She has said that she was hesitant to present seasonal music, which is often reserved for older artists. 

Creating a Christmas Classic

Carey collaborated with Walter Afanasieff, who actually co-wrote the song ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ in less than an hour. They brought in some jingles that she was working on, and Afanasieff helped arrange it musically.

Christmas Classics
Christmas Classics

“It went really quickly. All I Want for Christmas Is You‘ is a very simple song to write compared to the other songs I have written, it was a very formulaic, basic song. There were no bells and whistles, it was as simple as it could be,” Afanasieff told Billboard in a 2014 interview. “I aimed to enhance its distinctiveness by introducing some uncommon chords, which not only rendered it more unique but also added a touch of specialness.”

Christmas Hit’s Impressive Earnings

There’s a lot of speculation about how much money the song has made in the past years. A study from Economy in 2016 found that Carey makes almost $2.5 million every year from this song. And let’s be clear: this is far more famous than the time it takes. After Forbes’ estimates in 2021, it’s very possible that, based on additional growth, “All I Want for Christmas is You” has made between $80-$100 million. These figures include streaming services’ royalties where the song has been played more than 1 billion times.

Carey is ready to hit the road across the United States and Canada during the holiday season, taking “All I Want for Christmas is You” on a short tour. “One more time!” The tour starts on November 15th in California and wraps up almost a month later in New York City.


In 2023, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” continues to soar as a holiday classic, likely to be the year’s top-streamed Christmas song and a Billboard chart-topper after a long journey. Carey’s collaboration with Walter Afanasieff brought unique chords to this iconic song. It’s also been a financial powerhouse, estimated to have earned between $80-$100 million from over a billion streams. Carey is now taking her hit on tour across the United States and Canada, spreading holiday cheer.

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