Mariah Carey wasn’t exactly unknown before 1994: three years earlier, she had won two Grammys, most of her singles consistently reached number one, and she had become nothing short of the most intriguing and well-known voice in the United States. However, everything was about to explode thanks to a Christmas album and a song that would resonate thirty years later: ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You.’
The neo-Christmas carol
Just like our parents were tired of ‘El Tamborilero’ and ‘El Burrito Sabanero’ despite singing them continuously, we can do the same with Mariah Carey: despise the first notes of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ and at the same time belt out every chorus. Surprisingly, it was originally just the second track of the album ‘Merry Christmas,’ released on October 28, 1994, featuring versions of songs like ‘Silent Night,’ ‘O Holy Night,’ or ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.’
But no one cared about those carols: the album became a massive hit (selling over 15 million copies worldwide) thanks to ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You,’ which started airing on radios on October 29, 1994. From that moment, it became as traditional as mistletoe, gifts, Santa Claus, and snow. In fact, it’s currently the tenth best-selling single of all time, following songs like ‘My Heart Will Go On’ by Celine Dion, or the collaborative track ‘We Are the World.’
It was unusual for Mariah Carey’s third album to be a Christmas one; typically, artists released such albums to make money when they were already in decline. But the singer fully embraced the concept, decorating her house with Christmas ornaments in the summer of 1994 to feel the holiday magic despite the scorching heat outside. And that’s how the magic happened.
Carey aimed to create a retro ’60s-style song and took literally 15 minutes to compose it alongside Walter Afanasieff, her collaborator for the first six albums. The rest is history: at 54 years old, Carey continues to thaw out (quite literally) every year to herald the arrival of Christmas on November 1, right after Halloween. It’s been 29 years of enduring popularity, yes, but perhaps we may never witness the birth of a contemporary Christmas hit like this again. All I Want for Christmas is to listen to Mariah Carey.