Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You reaches UK No 1 after 26 years

Festive favourite that reached No 2 in 1994 finally tops British chart, with Carey saying ‘we are keeping the Christmas spirit alive together despite how dismal the year’s been’

Mariah Carey has finally topped the UK charts with her widely beloved festive hit All I Want for Christmas Is You, 26 years after it was first released.

“Happy Christmas UK!” she said in a statement. “We finally made it!!! We are keeping the Christmas spirit alive together despite how dismal the year’s been. Love you always! Joy to the world.”

Carey was kept off the top spot in 1994 by East 17 and their – admittedly also iconic – song Stay Another Day. Since the advent of digital downloads and then streaming, the song has been able to work its way back up the charts each Christmas. It first re-entered the Top 40 in 2007, reaching No 4, and has returned every year since, tantalisingly reaching No 2 in 2018 and 2019.

For a song that was written in less than an hour, it has endured fantastically well: no other song in UK chart history has spent longer in the Top 40 before reaching No 1. It achieved 10.8m streams this week, more than any other song in any single week of 2020 so far, and has sold 1.24m copies in its lifetime, making it the 84th highest-selling song in history.

But its success means that another of pop’s greatest Christmas songs, Wham!’s Last Christmas, which reaches No 2 this week, is kept from achieving its own first No 1 placing. It spent five weeks at No 2 over Christmas 1984, held off the top by Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, and has placed in the Top 10 for the last three years.

Unlike the occasionally Scrooge-like attitude from pop stars towards their festive hits, Carey has enthusiastically championed All I Want for Christmas Is You. Her seasonal concert tour All I Want for Christmas Is You: A Night of Joy and Festivity began in 2014 and toured North America and Europe on and off until 2019. This year, in lieu of the tour, she recorded Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special for Apple TV+, featuring guest appearances from Ariana Grande, Snoop Dogg and more.

She also recorded an all-star version for James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke in 2016, featuring Adele, Lady Gaga, Elton John and more, and even sang it to advertise pigs-in-blankets flavoured Walkers crisps in 2019. It reached No 1 in the US for the first time last year having been ineligible on its first release.

Royalties organisations won’t reveal how much the song – co-written with Walter Afanasieff – makes Carey each year, but a 2017 Economist study claimed it had generated $60m (£45m) in royalties up to that point.

Buoyed by streaming numbers, as the UK attempts to conjure the magic of Christmas earlier than ever following a miserable year, 22 further Christmas songs are in this week’s Top 40. The Top 10 alone features the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York (No 4), Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone (No 6), Michael Bublé’s It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (No 7), Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? (No 8), and Elton John’s Step Into Christmas (No 10).

Newer Christmas songs are edging their way into the canon of favourites, with Ariana Grande’s Santa Tell Me (No 11) and Kelly Clarkson’s Underneath the Tree (No 16) scoring their highest placings yet.

But the album chart has a decidedly un-Christmassy No 1, keeping Michael Ball and Alfie Boe’s album of festive belters off the top: Weird!, the debut album from punkish Doncaster pop star Yungblud. Addressing his fans, he said: “Be proud to be weird, be proud to be different, I love each and every one of you.”

All I Want for Christmas Is You must hang on for two more weeks if it wants to also secure the Christmas No 1 spot, announced this year on Christmas Day. Carey faces potential competition from online personality LadBaby, who has yet to enter the race, but has won the Christmas No 1 for the last two years with his comedy sausage roll themed cover versions in aid of food bank charity the Trussell Trust.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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