Time to turn the Thanksgiving songs off: The holiday season is here—which means it’s perfectly acceptable to blast the best Christmas songs at an ear-screeching decibel, if that’s what you’re into. But what Christmas classic is the most popular of all time?
Well, going off Spotify, that honor goes to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. Are you surprised? That song—not to mention the 1994 Christmas album it comes from—is cultural canon! It sits atop Spotify’s Christmas Hits playlist, which we included below. The 100-song list features the most popular Christmas songs on Spotify, and it runs the gamut—from staples like “Last Christmas” by Wham! to newer offerings, like a holiday track by Ava Max.
We’ve highlighted some of our favorite songs if you want to learn more, so pour yourself a glass of eggnog, hit play, and enter Club Christmas. And if you’re in a romantic mood after reading this Christmas songs list, check out our guide to the best Christmas love songs.
1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey (1994)
If Christmas songs were featured on American Horror Story: Coven, this one would be the Supreme. It is, of course, one of the best-selling Christmas songs ever.
Mariah Carey told EW about the song’s 25th anniversary in 2019, “I rebuke time. I have a thing where I just live outside the traditional realm of how we measure [it]. So in that way, Santa and myself are very similar. But I’m excited about the 25th anniversary. It’s like everything coming together to give the song a celebratory moment. It’s hard for me to know how much people celebrate this song other than what I hear from friends and just what I read online, or just other things, of people saying that they really get into the spirit with it. That, for me, particularly as a songwriter, is huge. So I do want to celebrate this year in an even bigger way than usual.”
And on the song’s origins, she said, “I wrote the beginning and the middle on the keyboard in a little house in Upstate New York, in a room by myself. I just started thinking about all things Christmas and growing up as a kid that loves Christmas. I think that’s why it’s such a festive record. Somebody said the other day, ‘It’s the saddest Christmas song ever, because you’re like, I don’t care about all these things. I just want this other person.’ And I guess that was my thing. I wanted to put a love twist onto a Christmas song, two of my favorite things in the world…. So when I got with [cowriter Walter Afanasieff]…I recently read something he spoke about in, I don’t [know], 2014 or something, where he said when I brought the song to him, he didn’t like the melody and it was very simplistic. And you know what? That is true, because I don’t usually start writing songs on the piano. I’m a terrible piano player, but sometimes the biggest songs for come [from] just sitting down at the piano and messing around. So I brought it to Walter. I had already written most of the song, and we worked on the bridge and produced it together.”