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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Seasonal smash: Christmas songs rewrite Spotify and Billboard records

Mariah Carey is pictured.

As Billboard has loosened the reins on its rules over recurrent songs on its Hot 100 list over the past decade, there has been a resurgence of Christmas music dominating the charts. In addition, as the magazine started counting streaming services toward chart points in 2012, older music, specifically holiday hits, has seen great success because of such chart modifications.

Though released back in 1994, it wasn’t until 2019 that Mariah Carey’s hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” went to No. 1. Every holiday season since, the hit has regained its No. 1 status, spending a combined 12 weeks at the top of the charts. However, Carey is not the only artist to reap the rewards of chart rule adjustments over the past 10 years. Other seasonal hits have been experiencing a renaissance of chart power, and with the added impact of streaming services such as Spotify, songs that are nearly 70 years old are taking up top spots in the United States and breaking records on Spotify. As of now, the 20 songs that received the most single-day streaming totals on Spotify comprise nearly every decade from the 1950s to the 2020s (excluding just the 1970s and 2000s), mostly thanks to Christmas music:

  • 1950s: “Jingle Bell Rock” (1957), “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958)
  • 1960s: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (1963)
  • 1980s: “Last Christmas” (1984)
  • 1990s: “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994)
  • 2010s: Michael Buble’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” (2011), “Santa Tell Me” (2014)
  • 2020s: “drivers license” (2021), “good 4 u” (2021), “Girls Want Girls” (2021), “Easy on Me” (2021), “As It Was” (2022), “Anti-Hero” (2022), “Lavender Haze” (2022), “Snow on the Beach” (2022), “Maroon” (2022), “You’re On Your Own, Kid” (2022), “Midnight Rain” (2022), “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” (2023), "Flowers" (2023)

As expected, Carey holds the record for the most single-day streams, as her holiday staple amassed over 21 million streams on Dec. 24, 2022. Adele ranks at No. 2 overall with the highest-ranking non-holiday song “Easy on Me” (2021), which achieved over 20 million streams.

Fourteen artists account for these 20 songs, highlighting the sheer range of artists present on the list. Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo are the only two artists with multiple songs in the top 20 with six and two, respectively. It’s notable to mention that the oldest seven tracks in the top 20 are holiday hits, cementing their seasonal recurrence.

So, what does this all mean?

It is unusual for non-holiday tracks to reenter the Hot 100, with the most common exceptions being the death of prominent artists (e.g. Whitney Houston, Prince) and Super Bowl performances (e.g. Lady Gaga). With the seasonal recurrence of holiday hits, there is the potential for major and long-standing chart records to fall. As we move further into the streaming era that started in the early to mid-2010s, the dominance of platforms like Apple Music and Spotify translates to the charts.

Since Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has averaged roughly three weeks at No. 1 each season since 2019, she could break the record for most weeks at the summit, which is currently held by Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” (2019) featuring Billy Ray Cyrus at 19 cumulative weeks. Carey is no stranger to this record, however, as her duet with Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day” (1995), held the record for 23 years at 16 weeks (it was tied in 2017 by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” featuring Justin Bieber). That would be an incredible feat by the veteran artist, and for her to achieve it, she would need just eight more weeks at the top. In addition, Carey’s grand total of weeks at the top of the Hot 100 across all of her hits would increase to 99, the most for any artist.

As the holiday seasons come and go, it will be interesting to see which hits withstand the test of time and which ones will fade off. If one thing’s for certain, it’s that Mariah Carey will soon reclaim a record no one ever thought she would, and that speaks to her ability to craft timeless classics.