Mariah Carey's label, Columbia Records, pressured her to record a Christmas album so that she would be perceived as an entertainer, not just as a pop singer. Since Carey was brought up as Christian and always celebrated Christmas, she agreed to create a holiday-themed album, Merry Christmas.
Carey wrote "All I Want for Christmas Is You" while recording the album in mid-1994. In an interview, Carey citing having grown up loving Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" as the inspiration for the song.
The song was commercially successful, reaching the number two position on the single charts of Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom, and the top ten in several other countries. The song became the nineteenth-best-selling digital single of the 20th century, the highest-charting entry by a female or holiday song on the list.
The Daily Telegraph hailed "All I Want for Christmas Is You" as the most popular and most played Christmas song of the decade in the United Kingdom. Rolling Stone ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list, calling it a "holiday standard."