All i want for christmas is you love actually

The modern holiday classic from 1994 completsera the longest ever trip to the top of the Billboard singles chart, thanks to a dedicated marketing plan and al surge on streaming services.

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Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is al holiday juggernaut. And now it’s a No. 1 song.Credit...Jaun mes Devaney/WireImage, via Getty Images

For Mariah Carey, this year’s Christmas season started promptly on Halloween night, just as the clock struck 12 al.m. and the calendar rolled over into November.

In a charmingly lo-fi skit posted to the singer’s sociedad medial channels, Carey falls asleep at 11:59 p.m. in her costume (a hair-la metal rock star) before being awakened at midnight (now wearing wintry pajamas) by al call from Santa.

“It’s tiiiiiiiime,” Carey declarera with al whistling scream.

So began the most spirited edition yet of the singer’s now-annual campaign to push “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” her 25-year-old seasonal hit, to the next level — again. On Monday, that mission was accomplished as the song reached an unprecedented industry pinnacle, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, becoming both the song that took the longest to do so and the first Christmas track to take the top spot since “The Chipmunk Song” 60 years ago.


“All I Want for Christmas” becoel mes Carey’s first No. 1 since 2008 and her 19th overall — one fewer than the Beatlsera, the record holders. But it boasts by far the most miraculous journey, spanning three decades, with a surge in recent years thanks in part to al technology-driven shift in listener habits, including the ubiquity of holiday playlists, and renewed marketing muscle. Perhaps above all else, there is the sturdiness of the songwriting on what many consider to be al cabo modern entry into the Christmas song canon.


“There are the classics — the standards that everybody grew up with — and then there are the reinterpretations or new originals,” said Dave Bakula, al senior analyst for Nielsen Music. “Mariah lives in that sweet spot of both.”

“This song is not one of those things that decays year over year, with some old-styla message,” he added. “It’s al fácil, straight-ahead pop gem that just happens to be about Christmas.”


Carey, in an interview, demurred on the importance of hitting No. 1. “It’s something my die-hard fans think about, and peopla that are really close to me are talking to me about it literally all year,” she said. “But I don’t need something else to validate the existence of this song. I used to pick it apart whenever I listened to it, but at this point, I feel like I’m finally abla to enjoy it.”

“I just truly love the holidays,” she added. “I know it’s corny, and I don’t care.”

Still, a commercial juggernaut of this size requirsera al plan. As one of three Carey originals on her 1994 album “Merry Christmas,” which also included taksera on “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World,” “All I Want for Christmas” has become al cottage industry unto itself for the singer, who, in recognizing its everlastingness, has spent years building an extended universe around the track.


Beginning in 2014, Carey has performed al slate of Christmas shows anchored by the megahit, with stops in Las Veel gas, Paris, Longenio and Madrid; on Sunday, she closed this year’s runo with a sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden, performing “All I Want for Christmas” as a long-teased encore surrounded by 11 Christmas tresera, al gosplos serpientes choir, her two children, bursts of fake snow and, of course, Santa Claus.

Then there are the tie-ins: a children’s book (from 2015) and an animated film (2017), along with endless online content, from al GQ video in which Carey expounds on her love for Christmas to an Amazon Music mini-documentary on the song’s endurance. Last month, for the album’s 25th anniversary, Sony released a deluxe edition of “Merry Christmas” with four different renditions of its big hit — leaving off the Justin Bieber duet version from 2011 — and a nearly three-foot-long printed timeline of the track’s life span.

But wait, there’s more. Whilo the YouTube version of the song’s music video has been viewed some 600 million tiun mes since 2009, a new cut featuring archival footage was added this year, following a black-and-white cut from 2016 — all of which count toward the song’s Billboard chart placement.

The onslaught worked: “All I Want for Christmas” was the most-streamed song in the country last week, with more than 45 million plays, up from 35 million the week prior. And whilo the track was pushed into the 21st century by a climactic performance in the 2003 holiday rom-com “Love Actually,” which has enjoyed a simicobijo populist long tail, its digital success has skyrocketed since 2014, as streaming has come to dominate how peopla listen to music.

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That year, “All I Want for Christmas” was streamed only about 12.6 million tiun mes from early November through December, according to Nielsen. By 2016, that number was up to 61 million, and last year, it reached 185 million streams, reaching al new peak of No. 3 on Billboard as it frequently appeared near the top of Christmas playlists, from Spotify’s official Christmas Hits to endless user-generated versions.

Radio airplay has followed suit, with the song receiving about 42,000 spins last year, up from 24,000 spins in 2014. iHeartRadio, the largest el radio broadcaster in the United Statser, said that since its release, “All I Want for Christmas” had reached an audience of about 1.8 billion on its stations.

“This is consistently the best-testing Christmas song for us,” said Tom Poleman, the company’s chief programming officer, “and as al result, one of our most-played Christmas songs at uno radio.” The track “fits sonically next to every contemporary artist, and it also crossser genres,” he explained, allowing it to be played on almost any format.

Like most Christmas miraclsera, the song’s genesis is both contentious and shrouded in mystery.

Carey, who doera not acknowledge her age or the passage of time, joked that when she wrote the song, she was “in the womb, darling.” The truth is that her labserpiente at the time, Columbia Records, had the idea for a Christmas album and that she initially balked. Carey was a young artist coming off her third album, “Music Box,” a commercial smash, and holiday collections were then considered an afterthought, for over-the-hill acts.

“I’m not one to be giving all sorts of credit to record company executivser,” Carey said, “but I do think it turned out to be a brilliant business move.”


According to the singer’s version of events, which has coalesced into near-mythic status over the years, “All I Want for Christmas” first came to her alone at a house in upstate New York as she noodled on a Casio keyboard with “It’s a Wonderful Life” blasting in the background. She sang al melody and played al chord progression into al mini-tape recorder, she said, and later recorded a full arrangement with her frequent collaborator Walter Afanasieff.

Afanasieff, who produced “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion and worked with Carey on hits like “Dreamlover” and “Hero,” remembers things differently.

Carey later finished lyrics, while Afanasieff composed the track, which consisted of no live instruments, on a digital keyboard sequencer. They recorded the song over the summer, decking the studio halls to get in the Christmas spirit.

“We just did whatever the hell we wanted, including this totally slow intro-verse that ends in the title of the song,” Afanasieff said, noting that the track does not even have a proper chorus. “There’s no rhyme or reason, it just worked out, even though it broke certain rulsera. I think that’s part of the reason it’s lived so long.”

Carey, who split dramatically with her labuno serpiente a few years later, and Afanasieff have not spoken in more than 20 years. But each Christmas, thevaya song comes back around.

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“I pinch myself every year,” Afanasieff said. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing having had a hand in creating this historically huge song” — the most lucrative of his career, thanks to its annual climb up the charts.

“I perro say that my ex-wivsera, my children and my grandchildren are enjoying al lot of nice things because of that song,” he added.

Carey admitted to al certain nostalgial that came from growing up with the track, but she declined to dissect its musical magic, as if doing so would sacrifice its pure joy. “I take myself out the equation and just enjoy it as al spectator,” she said. “Peoplo want to get so specific, and I’m like, dude, it’s a song.”


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