(December 16, 2022).  By now, everyone knows that Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” has returned for a fourth unprecedented run atop the Billboard Hot 100.  It has ruled that chart, which tracks the U.S. consumption of all songs—holiday or not—for four consecutive Christmas seasons, dating back to when it first led the list in December 2019.

Mariah Carey

What’s even more impressive is Mariah’s reign atop the more specific Holiday 100, which includes only those songs related to the yuletide season.  Her song’s reign there stretches over 39 consecutive chart weeks, dating back to the beginning of the 2015 Christmas season.  

It may seem unfathomable, but there have been times—in the years prior to 2015–that Mimi’s perennial smash was NOT the number one Christmas song during the holidays.

Five different times in fact…spread across four different songs by three different artists since 2011—when Billboard first began the current incarnation of its annually returning Holiday 100 charts. 

It won’t surprise anyone that the Billboard Holiday 100–which ranks the most consumed Yuletide-related songs each week during the holidays based on downloads, streaming and radio play—has been ruled by Mariah’s holiday evergreen for nearly the chart’s entire 12-season existence.

The Holiday 100, which began in 2011 as a 50-position ranking before expanding to 100 spots in 2013, tracks the most popular holiday tunes for the five or six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day each year.  It has been published 59 times as of this writing, with Mariah’s classic perched at the top for 54 of those 59 weeks, including all three of this season’s weekly frames so far.

Mariah’s original video for “All I Want For Christmas”

While Mariah’s annual domination of this chart reflects her preeminence over all things Christmas, the blog’s uncovering of those five temporary knockdowns had this writer—and now you—wondering what songs were actually strong enough to interrupt Queen Mariah’s reign…and where do they rank now?

Well, that hardworking elf at djrobblog did some crack research and found the songs and the circumstances that led to the temporary dethroning of Christmas Queen Mariah from the Holiday 100’s chart’s perch.

Before we reveal them, here are some fast facts and insights about this holiday chart rarity to give readers some context.

First, the songs are all newer than Mariah’s smash.  “All I Want For Christmas” was recorded in 1994 and first appeared in her Merry Christmas album, whereas the songs that displaced her from the top of the chart were all recorded in 2011 or later.

Next, the five weeks were shared among four different songs, with one of them spending two weeks at the top of the Holiday 100.

Those four songs are spread across three different artists, because one of them had two songs reach No. 1 on the chart, something not even Mariah has accomplished.  

And finally, unlike Mariah’s megasmash which also tops the regular, all-inclusive Hot 100 on a now annual basis, none of the other No. 1 Christmas tunes were able to parlay their success into a similar crowning on Billboard’s premier singles chart.  That’s because they all peaked in years before music streaming of holiday tunes exploded to the levels they are today where Christmas standards are now able to successfully compete with non-holiday tunes on the main chart.

Now, with all of that as background, here are the four Christmas tunes (by three different artists) that were able to knock Mariah out of No. 1 on the Billboard Holiday 100.

Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” (2011)

Beginning in January 2012–at the tail end of the 2011 Christmas season—a then 17-year-old Justin Bieber knocked Mariah out of No. 1 with the cherubic love song “Mistletoe.”  That song was a blatant rip from the then-five-year-old smash “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, but it was that familiar four-chord pattern plus Bieber’s growing celebrity that contributed to its initial explosion on the charts.  “Mistletoe” was from the heartthrob’s second album Under The Mistletoe, the first (and highly obligatory) holiday album from the teen idol who was cashing in on his fast-rising success at the time.

Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe”

With streaming not as much a factor in 2011 as it is today, holiday music didn’t have the kind of impact on the overall Hot 100 as it does now (“Mistletoe” debuted and peaked at No. 11 there).  Also, because the song was released in October before the Christmas season even kicked in, its Hot 100 début predated the Holiday 100’s initial publishing by several weeks, preventing it from debuting at No. 1 on the latter.  

By the time the Holiday 100 made its first appearance that December, the initial impact of Bieber’s song had waned and Carey’s smash opened the chart at No. 1.  However, as the holiday season came to an end that January, Bieber managed to overtake Mariah and squeak in a week at the top on the Holiday 100 chart dated January 7, 2012, becoming the first song to displace the Christmas Queen in the chart’s short history. 

Pentatonix’ “Little Drummer Boy” (2013)

Two Christmases later, with the Holiday 100 now expanded to 100 positions, the highly popular ensemble/a capella vocal group Pentatonix took a harmony-filled sleigh ride to the top of the list with their 2013 version of the 72-year-old classic “Little Drummer Boy,” displacing Mariah’s “All I Want” on the December 21, 2013 chart.

It was a feat that Pentatonix would repeat a year later with the modern standard “Mary, Did You Know?,” a song that ponders the understanding that Mary, mother of Jesus, had about the significance of her Son, the Savior.

Pentatonix’ “Mary, Did You Know?”

“Mary, Did You Know?” opened the 2014 Christmas season at No. 1 on the Holiday 100 chart dated December 13.  It spent two weeks at the top before Mariah came roaring back with “All I Want” on December 27 that year.  In doing so, “Mary” is still the only song besides Mariah’s omnipresent tune to spend more than one week atop the Holiday 100.

Pentatonix’ “Mary, Did You Know?” (2014)

With “Little Drummer Boy” and “Mary, Did You Know?” both topping the chart, the Grammy-winning Pentatonix remains the only act (Mariah included) to have at least two songs top the Holiday 100.

Then finally, during that same 2014 holiday season, a new song by Ariana Grande, the catchy, anthemic “Santa Tell Me,” which had been lurking at No. 2 behind Mariah’s hit, eked out enough holiday cheer to push “All I Want” from the No. 1 spot on the season’s final chart dated January 10, 2015.  The song was a plea to Santa—in his unofficial role as Cupid—to ensure that Ariana’s love interest was not just another Christmas one-night stand (“Santa, tell me if he really cares, ‘cause I can’t give it all away if he won’t be here next year.”).

Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me” (2014)

With Pentatonix’ “Mary, Did You Know?” beginning the 2014 season at No. 1, and Ariana’s “Santa” finishing that season at the top, it marked the first and only time in the Holiday 100’s history that a season started and ended without Mariah Carey at the pinnacle (of course, she still reigned in the middle).

And if you’re curious about where those four intervening chart-toppers stand today, well they haven’t had nearly the presence that their previous No. 1 rankings would suggest, but they haven’t been forgotten either (well, at least three of them haven’t).

Although Bieber’s “Mistletoe” has never returned to the No. 1 spot, it has been a perennial top-40 entry on the Holiday 100.  It currently sits at No. 38 (up from No. 40 last week).  The song has been certified triple-platinum (for three million in sales) in America.

Pentatonix’ two hits, “Little Drummer Boy” and “Mary, Did You Know?,” don’t fare as well today.  Their “Little Drummer Boy” is nowhere to be found on the current Holiday 100 (the only version of that song on this week’s list is at No. 100 by the late 20th century crooner Bing Crosby, who surprisingly also has the only version of “Silent Night” on the chart).  

Pentatonix’ “Mary, Did You Know?” is at No. 73 (down from No. 72) on the current Holiday 100.  It has spent a total of 44 weeks on the list over the past nine Christmases, albeit at much lower rankings than its splash No. 1 entry eight years ago. 

Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me”

As for Grande’s “Santa Tell Me,” it performs much better than the other three tunes.  Her “Santa” is at No. 12 on the current Holiday 100 (up from No. 14 last week).  It is the highest ranked song that has the word “Santa” in its title (higher than the next contender, Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus” at No. 20).  

Grande’s tune also has enough points this week to land at No. 20 on the overall Hot 100 chart (up from No. 24 last frame).  It’s just three positions from its previous peak of No. 17 on that chart.

And a final note: with all of the temporary No. 1 interruptions of Mariah occurring during the first four years of the Holiday 100, covering the 2011-2014 Christmas seasons, and with Mariah’s aggressive marketing blitz in recent years—including her failed attempt to trademark the Christmas Queen title—it could be ages before we see another Mimi takedown on the Holiday charts. 

Despite what many Mariah-weary folks may have on their Santa wish-list to the contrary.



Mariah Carey chartistician DJRob (he/him/his) is a freelance music blogger from somewhere on the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on Twitter at @djrobblog.

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By DJ Rob

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