The BMI Holiday Countdown: Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas is You”
Hall-decking, bell-jingling, holiday hysteria is upon us, and joining the party is so much more fun than grinching out on the sidelines. So count us in. Here at BMI, we’re sharing eight of our favorite holiday songs – check back every Tuesday and Thursday on bmi.com until December 22, the week before Christmas.
Our first three songs debuted in the 1960s. The next entry in the countdown jumps ahead 30 years with Mariah Carey.
Mariah Carey, “All I Want for Christmas is You”
In the early 1990s, Mariah Carey was already well on her way to becoming the best-selling artist of the decade. With her powerful 5-octave vocal range and the finesse with which she scaled it, she was revered primarily as a singer and performer – not as a songwriter. But beginning with her career-launching debut album in 1990, Carey has co-written many of the songs that made her a superstar, including “Always Be My Baby,” “Hero,” “Vision of Love,” “One Sweet Day,” “I Don’t Want to Cry,” and “Dreamlover.”
Released in 1993, “All I Want for Christmas is You” was also co-written and co-produced by Carey for her fourth studio album, Merry Christmas. The song is a slice of Christmas pop-soul perfection so infectious and heart-warming, it became an instant classic heard everywhere, every holiday season.
Merry Christmas has since sold more than 15 million copies around the world, and “All I Want for Christmas is You” is one of the best-selling holiday songs of all time, inescapable every Christmas in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and the first holiday ringtone to be certified double-platinum. From My Chemical Romance, Lady Antebellum and Michael Bublé, to the cast of Glee and Justin Bieber – who made it a duet with Carey herself – a diverse and growing collection of artists have covered the tune. The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones dubbed it “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon.”
“All I Want for Christmas is You” starts off with 23-year-old Carey’s trademark vocal command and then launches into a joyride that’s sticky sweet as a candy cane but ingeniously constructed, echoing and updating the charm and passion and bittersweet hint of sorrow patented by the Ronettes and Darlene Love.
Carey released a remix of the hit last year on her Merry Christmas II You, which debuted atop the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart – only the second Christmas album ever to do so.
Check out previous entries in the BMI Holiday Countdown:
James Brown, “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto”
Buck Owens, “Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy”
Darlene Love, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
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