17 Things You Definitely Didn’t Know About Mariah Carey’s Iconic “All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Laura Beck, Niko Newbould

From Cosmopolitan

Could you imagine the holiday season without Mariah Carey's quintessential bop, "All I Want for Christmas Is You"? It's impossible. The hit song is synonymous with Christmas cheer and has been warming everyone's hearts since its release in 1994. Here's absolutely everything you could possibly want to know about the best holiday song of all time. (This is not up for debate. It is the best.)

1. To celebrate the song's 25th anniversary, Mariah is going on tour.

Marking a quarter-century of whistle tones and joy, Mariah's going on a limited holiday tour. What did we do to deserve this?! If anyone wants to buy me tickets, that would be amazing.

Buy Tickets Here

2. Mariah even released more deluxe content this year.

Merry Christmas album was just re-issued as a deluxe anniversary edition. She also put out unreleased footage for a new music vid.

3. Last Christmas Eve, the song broke Spotify's streaming record.

You guys, the spirit of Christmas is so powerful. This song broke Spotify's global single-day streaming record on December 24, 2018, surpassing 10.8 million streams. Iconic.


4. Mariah cowrote the entire thing in about 15 minutes.

She cowrote the hit holiday song with veteran songwriter Walter Afanasieff, who says the speed in which they wrote it is the secret to the song’s success. “It’s definitely not Swan Lake,” he said. “But that’s why it’s so popular—because it’s so simple and palatable!”

In an interview with Billboard, Afanasieff described the songwriting experience:

“It was always the same sort of system with us. We would write the nucleus of the song, the melody primary music, and then some of the words were there as we finished writing it. I started playing some rock ’n’ roll piano and started boogie woogie-ing my left hand, and that inspired Mariah to come up with the melodic [Sings] ‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas.’ And then we started singing and playing around with this rock ’n’ roll boogie song, which immediately came out to be the nucleus of what would end up being ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You.’ That one went very quickly. It was an easier song to write than some of the other ones. It was very formulaic, not a lot of chord changes. I tried to make it a little more unique, putting in some special chords that you really don’t hear a lot of, which made it unique and special.

“Then for the next week or two, Mariah would call me and say, ‘What do you think about this bit?’ We would talk a little bit until she got the lyrics all nicely coordinated and done. And then we just waited until the sessions began, which were in the summer of ’94 where we got together in New York and started recording. And that’s when we first hear her at the microphone singing, and the rest is history.”

5. It was Mariah’s first holiday album and fourth studio album, Merry Christmas.

Mariah was well into her career when she went full Christmas.

Photo credit: Giphy
Photo credit: Giphy

6. Mariah originally didn’t want to record it.

Or any of the songs. Or do an album, period. In 1994, Christmas albums were for older artists and has-beens. In his book, Hitmaker: The Man and His Music, Mimi’s then-husband and music executive, Tommy Mottola, remembers her seeing the cover of the Merry Christmas album and saying to him, “What are you trying to do, turn me into Connie Francis?”

7. Mariah’s husband at the time played Santa Claus in the video.

Mottola makes a cameo appearance as Santa Claus, bringing Mariah a gift and leaving on a red sleigh. Romantic.

8. It’s the second song to have that name.

It’s true that Mariah is a true original, but this song’s title? Not so much. Vince Vance & The Valiants released a tune called “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in 1989, but Mariah’s bop is totally unique and sounds nothing like the country song.

9. It’s an international hit.

It was commercially successful in a lot of countries, topping the charts in Hungary while reaching number two in Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom and the top 10 in several others. What can I say? The Golden Butterfly’s Christmas anthem is undeniable in any language, you guys!

10. It was recorded in August, as in, NOT Christmastime.

We’ve been lied to! This Christmas classic was originally recorded when it was hot AF out. However, that didn’t stop MC from getting in the holiday spirit. “We had Christmas trees and lights brought into the studio to get us in the mood,” said Afanasieff. “There was even talk of bringing in some snow at one point, but we didn’t go with that, thank god!”

11. Goats love it.

Please watch this entire thing. It’s only 45 seconds long. It will be the best 45 seconds of your entire year.

12. It’s CRAZY-popular.

With global sales of more than 14 million copies, the song is the elusive chanteuse’s biggest international success and the 11th best-selling single of all time.

13. It’s CRAZY-lucrative.

As of 2013, the song was reported to have earned $50 million in royalties. And every year, it gets more popular, so it’s safe to say that Mariah’s twins will be dining out on that money for life.

14. There’s no actual band playing.

Afanasieff arranged the whole thing on his computer. The only real things involved were Mariah and her background vocalists. ~Holiday magic~!

15. Mariah adapted it into a book.

It came out in 2015 and the cover is dynamite.

16. There are three music videos for “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

First, there’s the classic home-movie-style one that Mariah directed and filmed herself during Christmas of 1993. Then there’s an alternate one inspired by The Ronettes, in which Mariah gets groovy with some go-go dancers. And finally, the remix one, which is animated!

17. The song has been covered by literally everyone.

Shania Twain! John Mayer! The Cheetah Girls! Demi Lovato! My Chemical Romance! Seriously, if you haven’t covered “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” you might be dead. Or worse: have terrible taste! Here’s one of my fave covers:

And finally, let’s listen to the original one more time until we pass out. Bye!

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