Let's start with a blizzard of chart stats about Carey's "Christmas."
Streams, Sales & Plays: First, the numbers that result in "Christmas" (on Columbia/Legacy Records and co-written and co-produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff) hitting the Hot 100's top 10. The song gains by 4 percent to 25.2 million U.S. streams in the week ending Dec. 14, according to Nielsen Music; dips 8 percent to 19,000 downloads sold in the same tracking span; and lifts 28 percent to 34 million in airplay audience in the week ending Dec. 17. Those totals place "Christmas" at No. 7 on the Streaming Songs chart, No. 13 on Digital Song Sales and No. 36 on Radio Songs.
Notably, streaming is the most prominent driver of the song, accounting for 70 percent of its chart points this week.
Carey's 28th Top 10: Carey collects her 28th Hot 100 top 10. "Christmas" is her first since "Obsessed" reached No. 7 in 2009. She tallied 19 top 10s in the 1990s and eight in the 2000s. (Of those, 18 hit No. 1, the most among soloists; only The Beatles have more, with 20.)
Carey ties Stevie Wonder for the fifth-most Hot 100 top 10s in the chart's history (which dates to its Aug. 4, 1958, inception):
Most Top 10 Hot 100 Hits
34, The Beatles
29, Michael Jackson
28, Mariah Carey
28, Stevie Wonder
27, Janet Jackson
27, Elton John
Top 10s in the '90s, '00s & '10s: Carey joins an elite list of acts with Hot 100 top 10s in the '90s, '00s & '10s. Its previously-inducted members: Christina Aguilera, Dr. Dre, Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias, Michael Jackson, JAY-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Snoop Dogg, Britney Spears and Usher. Two of those acts boast streaks dating even further back than the '90s: Jackson ('70s-'10s) and Madonna ('80s-'10s).
(As for Houston, she charted top 10s in the '80s, '90s and '00s and re-sent her 1992-93 No. 1 "I Will Always Love You" to No. 3 in 2012 following her passing that February. All the other acts above sent at least one song to the top 10 for the first time in each decade.)
'Christmas' in the Top 10: Perhaps surprisingly, Carey charts one of the few holiday top 10s in the Hot 100's history. "The Chipmunk Song" by The Chipmunks with David Seville led for four weeks beginning Dec. 22, 1958; Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne" reached No. 9 in February 1981 (after debuting in December 1980); and New Kids on the Block's "This One's for the Children" rose to No. 7 in the 1989-90 holiday season.
No other such song reached the top 10 until Kenny G's "Auld Lang Syne" (No. 7, Jan. 8, 2000). Between that New Year's Eve anthem and Carey's "Christmas," Justin Bieber came closest to the top 10 with "Mistletoe," which hit No. 11 (Jan. 5, 2011).
Carey's hit is, thus, the first Hot 100 top 10 with the word "Christmas" in its title.
Notably, for several years in the Hot 100's history (1963-72; 1983-85, barring occasional exceptions), holiday songs were not eligible to chart, instead appearing on separate holiday rankings. Other classics fell just shy of the Hot 100's top 10, including The Harry Simeone Chorale's "Little Drummer Boy" (No. 13, 1958); Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" (No. 12, 1962, after it was originally released in 1942); Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" (No. 14, 1960); Roy Orbison's "Pretty Paper" (No. 15, 1964); Eagles' "Please Come Home for Christmas" (No. 18, 1979); Band-Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (No. 13, 1985); and Aguilera's "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" (No. 18, 2000).
(Honorable mention to Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song," the only holiday top 10 ever on the Radio Songs chart, which began in 1990. The track hit No. 10 on the tally in the 1995-96 season.)
As for the Chart History of Carey's 'Christmas': So, what are the details behind a song from 1994 just hitting the Hot 100's top 10 now, for the first time?
Upon its initial release, on Carey's album Merry Christmas (released on Nov. 1, 1994; coincidentally, that marked the 100th anniversary of the first Billboard magazine, dated Nov. 1, 1894), the song was not a commercially available single and, per rules at the time, was ineligible to chart on the Hot 100; it did reach No. 12 on the Radio Songs chart that season. In December 1998, album cuts became eligible for the Hot 100 and "Christmas" dented the chart for the first time on Jan. 8, 2000, spending a week at No. 83.
Beginning in 2012, and coinciding with the addition of streaming to the Hot 100's formula, the song has hit the Hot 100 annually, as, per current rules, older songs are eligible to debut or return if ranking in the top 50 and are gaining in multiple metrics with a significant reason for their resurgences. In the 2015-16 holiday season, "Christmas" hit a prior No. 11 Hot 100 high, which it matched last week before hitting the top 10 at last this week. Again, with streaming contributing 70 percent of the song's Hot 100 chart points this week, the metric has clearly helped the track reach the top 10 at last.
Meanwhile, "Christmas" is believed to be the first song to have taken as many as 23 years from its recording to reach the Hot 100's top 10.
An Even Merrier 'Christmas': That two-decade-plus journey to the Hot 100's top 10 for Carey's "Christmas" has been aided by various offshoots of the song in recent years, including this year. The animated movie All I Want for Christmas Is You was released Nov. 14, four days after the arrival of its soundtrack, which includes the title song. The movie is based on a 2015 children's book of the same name, inspired by the song.
A year earlier, in December 2014, Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You, a Night of Joy and Festivity, an annual residency at New York's Beacon Theatre, began and she's continued it each holiday season since; this year, the show expanded to include dates in Paris; Manchester, England; and Las Vegas.
Even before this decade, "Christmas" benefited from adult contemporary radio's expansion to 24/7 yuletide music on many stations throughout the holiday season, a strategy that began around the early 2000s.
Holiday 100 Chart Queen: Beyond its new Hot 100 honor, Carey's "Christmas" crowns the Holiday 100 chart, which ranks seasonal songs of all eras (using the same measurement metrics as the Hot 100), for a 29th week. No other song has led for more than two frames since the list's 2011 launch.
Of course, there are nine other songs in the Hot 100's top 10 this week, including one that completes a much shorter trip to the tier than Carey's …
Sheeran and Beyoncé's "Perfect" (on Atlantic Records) tops the Hot 100 for a second week. First released as a solo song by Sheeran on his album ÷ (Divide), which debuted atop the Billboard 200 dated March 25, the new duet version was released Nov. 30. In its second full tracking week, it sold 98,000 downloads (down 46 percent), as it spends a third week at No. 1 on the Digital Song Sales chart.
"Perfect" pushes 3-2 on Radio Songs (117 million in audience, up 13 percent, good for the Hot 100's top gain in airplay) and bullets at No. 3 on Streaming Songs (39.7 million U.S. streams, up 14 percent).
The rest of the Hot 100's top five likewise remains in place, with Post Malone's "Rockstar," featuring 21 Savage, at No. 2 for a second week after eight weeks at No. 1. It tops Streaming Songs for a 12th week (43.9 million, down 12 percent) and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Rap Songs charts for a 10th week each.
Camila Cabello's "Havana," featuring Young Thug, holds at No. 3 on the Hot 100, after reaching No. 2, and tops Radio Songs for a second frame (132 million, up 5 percent); Lil Pump's "Gucci Gang" keeps at No. 4 after hitting No. 3; and Imagine Dragons' "Thunder" is steady at No. 5 after climbing to No. 4, while leading Hot Rock Songs for a seventh week.
Migos, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B's "MotorSport" wheels 15-6 on the Hot 100 for its first week in the top 10, following the Dec. 7 arrival of its official video. The track charges 9-5 on Streaming Songs (31.7 million, up 40 percent) and 43-25 on Digital Song Sales (15,000, up 44 percent), as it posts the Hot 100's top gains in streaming and sales, and rises 37-34 on Radio Songs (35 million, up 10 percent).
Migos earn their second Hot 100 top 10, following "Bad and Boujee" (featuring Lil Uzi Vert), which led for three weeks beginning Jan. 21; Minaj tallies her 15th Hot 100 top 10, extending her record for the most among female rappers; and Cardi B becomes the first female rapper to send her first three Hot 100 entries to the top 10, following her own "Bodak Yellow (Money Moves)," which spent three weeks at No. 1 in October, and G-Eazy's "No Limit," on which she's featured with A$AP Rocky. The latter track dips to No. 10 from its No. 7 high.
Above Carey's "Christmas" and G-Eazy's "Limit," Sam Smith's No. 4-peaking "Too Good at Goodbyes" slips 6-7 and Halsey's "Bad at Love" holds at its No. 8 Hot 100 peak to date.
Find out more Hot 100 news in the weekly "Hot 100 Chart Moves" column and by listening (and subscribing) to Billboard's Chart Beat Podcast and Pop Shop Podcast, all posting this week. And again, be sure to visit Billboard.com tomorrow (Dec. 19), when all charts, including the Hot 100 in its entirety, will refresh. The 2017 year in music issue of Billboard magazine is on sale Friday (Dec. 22).