What is the biggest holiday hit of all time… and why?

You can no doubt reel off the names of iconic Christmas songs quicker than your own family names they’re such a big part of every year. But which is the most popular?

Every year we hear the same Christmas songs played over and over for at least a week, more depending on how Christmas mad the people around you are. Spotify have revealed the Christmas song that people love the most, streaming it over and over again every single year.

Mariah Carey’s ridiculously catchy and immediately jingle bell shaking ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ is a number one global hit and every year it’s the song that people come to the most for a festive jingle. Spotify have revealed that the 1994 hit is the most streamed song on their services every year as people switch out their favourite tunes new and old for the holiday season.

Sung by Carey the hit was written by Grammy Award-winning songwriter Walter Afanasieff, who’s written for Whitney Houston and Celine Dion too.  Speaking in an interview Afanasieff said that he thought the song would be too basic at first – but in the end that’s what made it a hit. Speaking to ASCAP he says: “The oversimplified melody made it easily palatable for the whole world to go, ‘Oh, I can’t get that out of my head!”

There’s a science behind why All I Want For Christmas Is You is a festive favourite thanks to it’s simplicity. Research by Goldsmith’s University in London discovered why simple songs like Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic do so well. Simple and repetitive songs allow people to emotionally connect with songs without having to try and they stick in our memory more because they’re easier to remember. In addition our brains experience a “cerebral, super satisfying high’ when a melody plays how we would expect it to.

The sounds of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ also features iconic, feelgood festive sounds. Ben Camp, assistant professor of songwriting at Berklee College of Music says: “The song starts with the sound of a glockenspiel, which, for some people, is enough to stir up memories of music boxes and sugarplum fairies and childhood joy.”

According to Spotify’s data the people who stream All I want For Christmas Is You the most are aged between 45-54, which makes sense according to what Professor Camp says. Camp explains: “If you were born anywhere between 1970 and 1980, the song’s going to have been introduced to you at a time in your life when you were the most emotionally susceptible to musical imprint.”

Another critical element of the song’s success, says Afanasieff, is its exceptional relatability. “The genius of Mariah doing a rock ’n’ roll is that she created—probably to this day—the only up-tempo Christmas love song that people like just because of the interchangeability of lyrics,” he says. “Anybody can sing it to anybody. It’s about everybody and it can only mean one thing, from father to child or mother to child or wife to husband, it’s just, all I want for Christmas is you.” And who can’t relate to that?

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Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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