Carey's "Christmas," first released in 1994, hit the top 10 for the first time last holiday season, reaching No. 9; a week ago, it bested that rank, rising to No. 7.
"Christmas" passes two No. 7-peaking Christmas-season songs, by Kenny G and New Kids on the Block, and now trails only "The Chipmunk Song" as the highest-charting such hit in the Hot 100's 60-year history:
Highest-Charting Holiday Songs in the Hot 100's History
No. 1 peak, four weeks, beginning Dec. 22, 1958, "The Chipmunk Song," by David Seville & The Chipmunks
No. 6, Dec. 22, 2018, "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Mariah Carey
No. 7, Jan. 8, 2000, "Auld Lang Syne," Kenny G
No. 7, Jan. 6, 1990, "This One's for the Children," New Kids on the Block
No. 9, Feb. 21, 1981, "Same Old Lang Syne," Dan Fogelberg
No. 11, Nov. 5, 2011, "Mistletoe," Justin Bieber
No. 12, Jan. 6, 1962, "White Christmas," Bing Crosby
No. 13, Dec. 22, 2018, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," Andy Williams
No. 13, Dec. 21, 2013, "Little Drummer Boy," Pentatonix
No. 13, Jan. 19, 1985, "Do They Know It's Christmas?," Band-Aid
No. 13, Jan. 12, 1959, "The Little Drummer Boy," Harry Simeone Chorale
No. 14, Dec. 26, 1960, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," Brenda Lee
No. 15, Dec. 22, 2018, "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby Helms
No. 15, Jan. 11, 1964, "Pretty Paper," Roy Orbison
No. 16, Jan. 31, 1970, "Winter World of Love," Engelbert Humperdinck
No. 18, Jan. 1, 2000, "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)," Christina Aguilera
No. 18, Jan. 6, 1979, "Please Come Home for Christmas," Eagles
Two other songs on the list above this week hit new Hot 100 highs: Andy Williams' "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" rises 16-13, and Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" jingle-hops 26-15 (after first appearing on the Hot 100 in 1958, a year after its original release).
As for holiday songs and their eligibility for the Hot 100 over the years, their history is a bit spotty, due in part to shifts in chart rules. As chart historian Joel Whitburn notes in his book Christmas in the Charts, "From 1963 through 1972, and from 1983 through 1985 [with minimal exceptions], Billboard published a seasonal Christmas Singles chart and did not chart Christmas singles on the Hot 100." Per current Hot 100 rules, in place in recent years, older songs, including seasonal titles, can rank in the top 50 if experiencing significant multi-metric gains, and multiple venerable holiday songs re-enter or debut each season.
Not included on the list above are songs with ties to the holiday season but more for their timing, having become hits around Christmastime, than their lyrical content. For instance, Annie Lennox and Al Green's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" peaked at No. 9 on the Hot 100 in January 1989; it was released from the Scrooged movie soundtrack, but had first been a hit for Jackie DeShannon in August 1969. "Hazy Shade of Winter" includes a lyric about a "Salvation Army band," and was a winter hit for both Simon & Garfunkel (No. 13, 1966) and The Bangles (No. 2, 1988), but is not generally regarded as a Christmas-themed song. And, The Royal Guardsmen hit No. 2 on the Hot 100 in December 1966 with "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron," but it is seasonal spinoff "Snoopy's Christmas," from 1967, that has become a holiday favorite.
Also not considered for the purposes of this research were songs related to other holidays, such as Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers' "Monster Mash" (No. 1 on the Hot 100 for two weeks in October 1962) or Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (No. 4, March 1984), each of which resurges each Halloween.
Carey's modern classic tops the Holiday 100 chart for a 33rd of 38 total weeks since the survey began in 2011 and is the top seasonal hit in all metrics; it rises 8-6 on the Streaming Songs chart, also a new best, passing its prior No. 7 high reached last holiday season (28.1 million U.S. streams, down 1 percent, according to Nielsen Music); 9-7 on Digital Song Sales (14,000 downloads sold, down 6 percent); and 32-24 on Radio Songs (34.5 million in airplay audience, up 14 percent).
Carey co-wrote and co-produced "Christmas" with Walter Afanasieff, who, in 2014, upon the song's 20th anniversary, told Billboard, "To me, it's kind of a cosmic occurrence that happens once every five billion years. Thousands of original Christmas songs have been written in the last 20 years. It's not like no one writes Christmas songs; everyone is trying to get a Christmas song. But for whatever reason, 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' just became that song."
Also helping the song's momentum in recent years, Carey began her All I Want for Christmas Is You: A Night of Joy and Festivity residency, which has run in multiple years since beginning in New York in 2014.
"I believe," Afanasieff mused, "'All I Want for Christmas is You' will be the most successful, popular Christmas song of all time."