Did Mariah Carey Really Write 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' in 15 Minutes? Here's What She Told 'Parade'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s reign as the "Queen of Christmas" began way back in 1994 with the release of her now-classic holiday hit, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Every year since its initial release, the tune has managed to find its way back onto radio and climb the music charts as fans revel in its Yuletide charm.

In fact, Carey just performed her holiday hit on the 2023 Billboard Music Awards. It was the first time the song has ever been performed on an awards show. To top it off, she was surprised onstage by her 12-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, who presented her with a special Billboard award.

To celebrate the season, Carey has exclusively taken Parade.com back to where it all started with the origin of “All I Want For Christmas Is You"—which, rumor has it, she wrote in 15 minutes and then recorded in two hours.

“I think that the story has taken on different layers,” Carey told Parade in 2021. “I started writing that on a little DX7 or Casio keyboard that was in this little room in the house that I lived in at the time in Upstate New York lifetimes ago. Just writing down everything that I thought about. All the things that reminded me of Christmas that made me feel festive that I wanted other people to feel.”

Carey then got together with her then-writing partner, Walter Afanasieff, and the two finished it up together.

“We did take some time doing the record, because if you listen to all those background vocals and all that stuff, you can’t do it in five minutes,” she continued. “It’s literally impossible unless you had three choirs. So, no, it wasn’t five minutes to get the whole record done. But it was quick considering I’ve taken longer on songs.”

Related: All We Want for Christmas Is Mariah Carey! 36 Festive Facts About Her Holiday Hit

One aspect of the song that is unique to its time period is the layers of Carey’s voice on the track, especially since she didn’t have the aforementioned choirs.

“I did some stacks of myself on that one because it was inspired by Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound formula, where you’ll hear backup singers, but a lot of time it was Ronnie Spector,” she explained. “I felt he had an effect. I don’t want to speak out of turn about this but that’s kind of a hot topic anyway to discuss. I feel like it was a lot of her doubling her, and that was new in that era. So, for me, I did a lot of those. I wouldn’t do it probably today in terms of those loud doubles, but it makes the song what it is.”

The timeless quality of "All I Want for Christmas Is You” is just one reason Carey never tires of singing it. As the co-writer on it, it has also made her some serious money–reportedly earning Carey more than $60 million–but that isn’t why she loves it. She loves it because of what it meant to her at the time in her life that she wrote it.

Related: Mariah Carey's Net Worth—Including What She Makes From 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'

“If someone said to me, ‘What’s the lyric that stands out?’ To me in that song it is, ‘I won’t ask for much this Christmas, I won’t even wish for snow,’” she says. “Because when I first wrote that song I was very, very early on in my career and I was still thinking about childhood stuff when I did wish for snow every year. So, for me, ‘I won’t even wish for snow,’ that really meant a lot. That’s a huge deal, I’m not going to wish for snow? That’s bleak. I don’t want to have a non-snowy Christmas.”

Keep reading for more about what Mariah Carey loves about Christmas and her favorite Christmas memories.

What is it like being the queen of Christmas?

That’s funny. That’s something that people say. I think it’s amazing but, of course, I’m not seriously walking around calling myself that.

You also have the holiday song “Fall in Love at Christmas.” What sparked the idea for that?

I was working on a bunch of different songs and ideas in the studio in Atlanta, which we created and called the Butterfly Lounge. Now we’re at the Butterfly Lounge L.A., and we’ve been filming behind the scenes, all this content of me writing and working with musicians. It’s very interesting because you don’t usually see women in those positions. You don’t usually see the production side of the female producers. We see songwriting and we see girls sitting behind a guitar or a piano.

But it’s not often where we can imagine, “Oh, you can be this… whatever you want to call it, diva or Christmas princess diva thing.” And also, you’re behind the scenes talking to the bass player about what patch we’re using, and how many strings that particular bass has, and what we’re doing, and how is the melody and how we’re blending it, how we’re mixing it, how we’re working with the engineer, doing all the things that I do with the help of incredible musicians.

But that is where I thrive. I love behind the scenes. The in front of the camera stuff is fun, too, don’t get me wrong. As long as you have the right team, it’s all good. But being in the studio and writing and creating new music at any time of year, that’s where I’m at my best.

When you were a kid, did you have a favorite Christmas special?

A Charlie Brown Christmas with the Peanuts gang, and I’m lucky enough to have them in my Christmas special. Really lucky. It’s never been done before. So, that’s kind of amazing and that was my favorite. I also loved the ones where it’s at the North Pole, like The Year Without a Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, all of those, those were my favorites back then.

Related: How to Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV and Streaming for Christmas 2023 

They’re classics. You can share them now so your kids can watch them.

I already have. We watch it every year.

This interview was originally published in December 2021.

Next, Holly Jolly Netflix! The Complete List of Holiday Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix in 2023