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

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Before you can hang your stockings, trim your tree, bake every Christmas cookie recipe in sight, and write out your Christmas wish list for Santa, there’s one very important thing that must come first: turning on the Christmas music and blasting it at full volume. Of course there are tons of classics you have to listen to every December (or November 1 if you're one of ~those~), but could you even imagine the holiday season without Mariah Carey’s quintessential bop “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? It’s impossible. Walk into literally any store this winter and I can guar-an-TEE you’ll hear it at least once, or more so like around 5 to 100 times, give or take.

The hit song synonymous with Christmas cheer has been warming everyone’s heart since its release in 1994. Yeah, it’s *that* old despite it sounding like an absolute modern day banger! And as it turns out, when a song has been an unrivaled hit for as long as “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has, there’s a lot of history and fun facts to go along with it. From who wrote it to how much money it’s made (spoiler: it’s A LOT), 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. It was the first song to be a hit in four separate decades.

The song has charted every single holiday season since its release 27 years ago (crazy, I know!), which means 2020 marked the fourth straight decade that the song was a number one hit in—something no other artist has ever done!

2. The song *finally* made the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019.

Finally! Even though the song literally owned the number one spot on the Holiday 100 chart that year for 38 consecutive weeks (bc duh), "All I Want for Christmas is You" took over the Hot 100 list for the first time ever—25 years after it was released. That! Is! Bonkers! This marked Mariah's 19th number one on the Hot 100, second to only who you ask? That'd be The Beatles.

3. Mariah has won three Guinness World Records for the song.

And in no particular order, they are: highest-charting holiday (Christmas/New Year) song on the Billboard U.S. Hot 100 by a solo artist, most streamed song on Spotify in 24 hours, and most weeks in the UK singles Top 10 chart for a Christmas song.

4. It’s actually broken the record for the most played song on Spotify TWICE!

On Christmas Day in 2018, the song broke Spotify’s single-day record with 10.82 million plays in 24 hours, but it was beat a few months later by Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s “I Don’t Care.” Then on Christmas Day 2019, the song took back its throne with more than 12 million streams. The devil works hard, but “All I Want for Christmas Is You” works harder.

5. The song inspired an animated movie starring Mariah herself.

If you’re looking for another Christmas movie to watch this year while you’re all cozied up under a blanket with some hot chocolate in hand, look no further than the 2017 animated direct-to-video movie All I Want for Christmas Is You. It stars Mariah herself as a young girl with a wholesome Christmas wish for a puppy.

6. Mariah was originally just going to cover another Christmas song.

Which, not to be dramatic, would have been a TRAVESTY. According to the Amazon Music mini documentary about the song, the record label initially thought the album would just be covers, but thankfully, Mariah got inspired by the Christmas spirit and wrote her own hit instead.

7. To celebrate the song’s 25th anniversary, Mariah went on a mini tour.

Marking a quarter-century of whistle tones and joy, Mariah went on a limited holiday tour. What did we do to deserve this?!

8. Mariah released even more deluxe content last year.

The Merry Christmas album was just last year reissued as a deluxe anniversary edition. She also put out unreleased footage for a new music vid.

9. 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.”

10. 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

11. 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?”

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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!

15. 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!”

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. It’s CRAZY-lucrative.

As of 2017, the song was reported to have earned $60 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.

19. 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~!

20. Mariah adapted it into a book.

It came out in 2015 and the cover is dynamite.

21. 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.

22. 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:

23. Mariah's favorite line is the best line.

You know it, you belt it, it goes: "I won't even wish for snow." In the 2019 Amazon Music special "Mariah Carey is Christmas: The Story of 'All I Want for Christmas is You'" Mariah said that's her fave part of the song because "I always wish for snow. I always want it to be a special festive winter wonderland. I always have. And so when I was writing these things down, I made a list of all the stuff that I thought of since childhood and crafted it to be about a long lost love" So she meant that!

24. The song was inspired by the 1950s and 1960s music.

The only feeling Mariah wanted to evoke in you when hearing this song was pure and utter bliss (mission v much accomplished!). That's why the vibe of it stems from the good ole hits of the olden days, when you listened to one of the songs of the time—say from Motown—and you couldn't help but be happy, explained Mariah in the Amazon special.

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

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