The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #101: All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (KEXP)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #101: All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.

Mariah Carey rates as one of the most talented and successful singers of all-time. She is every bit as accomplished as Madonna and Whitney Houston when it comes to record sales (over 200 million) and #1 hit songs (11, at last count). But, it was a business-related decision that she and her then-husband, (record producer) Tommy Mottola, made back in the mid-1990s, that makes her stand out from the rest. By the end of 1993, Mariah Carey had already released three studio albums and had scored several #1 hits such as “Vision of Love”, “Love Takes Time”, “Someday”, “Emotions”, “I’ll Be There”, “Dreamlover”, “Hero” and “Endless Love” (with Luther Vandross). She was one of the biggest music stars of the day. But, like all music stars, in 1993, Carey was faced with deciding what to sing about next. Would she continue to produce radio-friendly Pop gems or would she branch out into something new and become more Hip-Hop oriented or even, join the new trend of electronic dance music? Well, as she was mulling over her career choices, the idea of creating a Christmas album came up. At first, it was dismissed out of hand because no one was writing original Christmas music in those days. It almost seemed silly to have even considered it. But then, as a few more weeks passed, the very reason given for rejecting the idea of a Christmas album (that no one was writing original Christmas songs at that time) turned out to be the exact reason why Mariah Carey came to write “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. She and Mottola identified a hole in the crowded music marketplace and sought to exploit it. So, in the middle of the summer of 1994, Mariah Carey sat down and came up with the song that now defines her. This is the story of how Mariah Carey came to be the biggest selling female artist in Holiday Music history and the second-biggest selling Holiday artist of all-time (next to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”).

When Mariah Carey sat down to write “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, she knew that she wanted to write a song that was not overtly religious nor, a song that was fixated on the ever-increasingly materialistic aspects of the holiday. Many of her hits to date had revolved around the subject of Love and of Romance so, she decided to see if she could make her new song be all about Love. To Carey, the greatest gift anyone could ever give or recieve, is the gift of Love. The notion of it is timeless and transcends all of the commerciality that has come to mark Christmas today. It is, also, a concept that exists beyond the walls of a church. Mariah Carey was a church-goer in her younger days and certainly didn’t want to come across as being anti-religion. Instead, she wanted to create a song that could have meaning to anyone; whether you went to church regularly or not. With the idea of Love being a gift, Mariah Carey had found her way into the song….the rest was just her taking dictation from her talented mind, at that point. She claims that the song was, basically, written in one day and that the musical score was fleshed out over a couple of days after that. ***Just a note for those of you who may listen to this song today….Mariah Carey has a beautiful voice, for sure. One of the ways that she maximizes the use of her voice on her songs is by, quite often, singing the back-up vocals herself and then, recording the main vocals over top of that. The effect of doing that is to expand the range of her voice by, in essence, doubling her voice as it appears in the song. So, whenever you listen to any of her hits, keep an ear out for her voice coming at you from multiple locations.

One of the absolutely brilliant aspects of recording a Christmas song is that Holiday songs return to the airwaves, year after year. Unlike regular songs that get played whenever a new album is released but then, fade into the background after a few months, a song like “All I Want For Christmas Is You” gets played every single year. As a result, the sales figures for the song go up every single year, too. As many music critics have noted, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was one of the first original Christmas songs released in almost half a century and, as such, it had the market pretty much all to itself. Since the mid-1990s, other artists have begun to record new Christmas songs, as well but, none have reached the lofty heights of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.

So, without further delay, here is the song that has come to be synonymous with Christmas, Mariah Carey’s clever Christmas classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Mariah Carey, can be found here.

Thanks, as always, to KEXP, for playing the best music, all year round, including the best of the Holidays, too. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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