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How ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ Still Dominates the Holiday Charts

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For four years in a row, Mariah Carey’s festive anthem All I Want For Christmas Is You has topped Billboard’s Hot 100 chart—and 2023 may be no different.

The 1994 Christmas song dominates public and retail spaces across much of the globe throughout November and December, and has become synonymous with the holiday season. “That song is just embedded in history now,” David Foster, a 16-time Grammy-winner, told the Associated Press. “It’s embedded in Christmas. When you think of Christmas right now, you think of that song.”

The song also tops Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Holiday 100 Songs chart.

“When I wrote [it], I had absolutely no idea the impact the song would eventually have worldwide,” Carey said in 2021. “I’m so full of gratitude that so many people enjoy it with me every year.”

Carey is believed to have amassed $60 million dollars from 1996 to 2016 for the tune, according to The Economist. Earnings from the song since its debut are expected to pass $100 million this year, according to some estimates.

Carey has long made the song part of her personal brand, posting on social media each year on Nov. 1 declaring the festive season open. She marked the tradition this year with a video of herself being defrosted with the caption “It's…… TIME!!!”

The single was famously rumored to have been written in just 15 minutes by Carey and Walter Afanasieff, who have recently been embroiled in a legal battle over its name.

In November, songwriters Andy Stone and Troy Powers sued Carey and Afanasieff in a California federal court for $20 million over alleged copyright infringement, citing their 1989 country song of the same name. 

In a claim that names Carey’s label Sony Music and Universal Music Group, the songwriters also allege that the song has an “overwhelming likelihood” in theme and narrative. Stone and Powers claim that Carey and Afanasieff’s song has overlapping “compositional structure of an extended comparison between a loved one and trappings of seasonal luxury.” Last year Stone—known by his musical alias Vince Vance—withdrew a similar lawsuit about the songs in Louisiana federal court.

But the song hasn’t just caused tensions with other songwriters; Carey and Afanasieff reportedly did not speak for around 20 years before the so-called “Queen of Christmas” called her co-writer to seek consent to use the lyrics in a children’s book.

Their rift is said to be caused by Afanasieff’s frustrations that his part in the creation of the song has been widely overlooked. In an interview with Good Morning America last month, Afanasieff said: “I was working on it by myself so I was writing on this little Casio keyboard, writing down words and thinking about, ‘What do I think about Christmas? What do I love? What do I want? What do I dream of?” he says. “And that’s what started it.”

Afanasieff has regularly pointed out that people aren’t aware of his affiliation with the song, telling Variety in 1999 that he is met with skepticism and death threats when he claims the work. 

“Mariah has been very wonderful, positive and a force of nature,” he told Variety. “She’s the one that made the song a hit and she’s awesome. But she definitely does not share credit where credit is due. As a result, it has really hurt my reputation and, as a result, has left me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth.”

It has become increasingly difficult for new Christmas songs to break into the top of the charts. Only a small minority of tunes in Billboard’s 2022 Hot 100 chart were songs released after Carey’ All I Want For Christmas Is You.

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Write to Armani Syed at armani.syed@time.com