Eighteen years after its release, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 at last.
With airplay and sales for holiday hits increasing, the track, from Carey's 1994 album "Merry Christmas," re-enters the chart at No. 29, a new peak position. "Christmas" had logged one prior frame on the chart, reaching No. 83 the week of Jan. 8, 2000. It didn't reach the Hot 100 upon its original release, as it was not available as a commercial single in 1994; per chart rules at the time, such tracks were not eligible to appear on the Hot 100. The carol did, however, rise to No. 12 on the Radio Songs chart the week of Jan. 7, 1995 (the highest rank for a holiday song in the chart's 22-year history).
How does an 18-year-old song show on the Hot 100 alongside current hits (including those by Justin Bieber, who was not yet a year-old in late 1994)? Per current rules, any title, regardless of age, is eligible for the chart if it ranks in the top 50. Hot 100 rules changed at the beginning of the 2012 chart year to include titles of any era should they place in the list's top half; tracks by Whitney Houston benefitted from the revision following her February passing, with, most noticeably, her 1992-93 Hot 100 No. 1 "I Will Always Love You" returning and soaring to No. 3 in March.
Two other versions of Carey's modern-day Christmas classic charted on the Hot 100 before the original's return this week, both last year. Bieber's take (subtitled "Superfestive!"), with Carey, ranked at No. 86 the week of Nov. 19, 2011, and Michael Buble's ballad interpretation made a cameo at No. 99 six weeks later (amid a five-week reign on the Adult Contemporary chart).
Carey's original "Christmas" returns to the Hot 100 with digital sales of 69,000 (up 79 percent), according to Nielsen SoundScan. It bounds 37-19 on Digital Songs and leads Holiday Digital Songs for a fourth consecutive week. (The song has sold 2.3 million download to date). On Holiday Airplay, "Christmas" receives Greatest Gainer honors, lifting 7-5 with 26 million in audience (up 17 percent), according to Nielsen BDS. It re-enters Radio Songs at No. 48. "Christmas" tops the Holiday Songs chart, which measures sales, airplay and streaming, for a third week in a row.
Aiding the song's momentum, Carey appeared on NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" on Dec. 4, performing a merry version of the song with Fallon and the show's house band the Roots on miniature instruments (including xylophone, bongos and wood blocks). A chorus of children added background vocals. The clip has racked 7 million YouTube views since its posting.
Upon her return, Carey claims her 34th top 40 hit on the Hot 100 (and first since "Obsessed" climbed to No. 7 in 2009). She breaks a tie with Connie Francis and Rihanna (each with 33) for the fourth-most top 40 Hot 100 entries among women. Madonna leads all female soloists with 49 top 40 hits, followed by Aretha Franklin (43) and Taylor Swift (39). Elvis Presley leads all acts with 80 top 40 Hot 100 entries (not counting his numerous hits that predate the chart's Aug. 4, 1958, launch).