Charlotte Foster


How Mariah Carey’s Christmas song from 1994 keeps the festive spirit alive

How Mariah Carey’s Christmas song from 1994 keeps the festive spirit alive

As the festive season looms, it’s almost time for decorations, presents and Christmas music. 

But for some, the Christmas playlist has been on a high rotation for the last few months, featuring one song specifically: Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You

This 1994 track has long been a staple in any decent festive playlist, and is only continuing to gain popularity.

However, according to an NBC analysis of data, the yuletide song, which was once reserved for December only, has been played by eager Mariah fans and Christmas fiends as early as October.

With the data spanning over 15 years, the song began encroaching in November around 2015, and has only continued to be played sooner throughout recent years. 

Since 2018, the track has started its annual emergence as early as November, outshining the spooky Halloween season. 

Some believe that the song has shifted through time to reflect when people begin their holiday shopping, and are infiltrated with the Christmas spirit of festive tunes being played in malls. 

Other people, including associate professor of musicology Nate Sloan, think the presence of All I Want for Christmas Is You is more about the comfort we feel from Christmastime. 

“Charts are dominated by the newest hit single, and the appetite for new music is the drive for climbing the charts — the only exception to that is Christmas,” Nate Sloan said.

“It has very much to do with the emotional support we draw from this holiday.”

Since the song’s 1994 debut, it has taken on a life of its own and become one of the most successful holiday singles ever released. 

The song has spawned multiple covers and featured in numerous Christmas films, making it a key associative factor to the festive season. 

For these reasons, Nate Sloan believes it's the song’s emotional ties to the festive season that keeps eager listeners coming back at the end of each year. 

He said, “It becomes a sonic marker of being around family and warmth and time off.”

“Who doesn’t want to return to that feeling, that song and that season earlier and earlier?”

Image credits: Getty Images