All I Want For Christmas Is You
I am proud of this song that I wrote basically as a kid on my little Casio keyboard
- Mariah Carey
Written by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff
Produced by Mariah Carey & Walter Afanasieff
4:01 Album Version
4:58 2009 Joey Arbagey Mix
4:02 Extra Festive
3:36 Mariah’s New Dance Mix Edit
6:42 Mariah’s New Dance Mix Edit Extended
3:18 So So Def Remix Edit featuring Bow Wow & Jermaine Dupri
3:44 So So Def Remix featuring Bow Wow & Jermaine Dupri
4:00 Superfestive! Duet with Justin Bieber
4:04 Amber Riley // Glee: The Music - The Christmas Album Volume 2
4:11 CeeLo Green // CeeLo’s Magic Moment
2:52 Michael Bublé // Christmas
3:27 Olivia Olson // Love Actually Soundtrack
ABOUT THE SONG
I’ve written a lot of songs on the piano by myself, songs like "Vision of Love" and "All I Want For Christmas Is You" which I wrote by using a small Casio-keyboard.
Groove (Swedish Magazine – translated article) by Mats Almegård, August 25, 2005
"Nothing against Casio, but I wrote 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' on my little Casio keyboard! I never knew it would turn into the hit it is!”
Marie Claire “Mariah Carey's Emancipation” by Rory Evans, February 6, 2006
I do listen to my own songs, this year I will be listening to my new album [Merry Christmas To You]. I’m very critical of myself and I don’t always like to listen to every song, but I definitely listen to “All I Want For Christmas” and “Silent Night” and the songs from my first Christmas album and this year, I just have a feeling that ”Oh Santa!” is gonna to be on repeat right along with “All I Want For Christmas,” which I also did on this new album. It’s pretty much just exactly the same, but there are just certain parts that are like, “oh wow, that’s cool.”
Merry Christmas 2 You DVD, 2010
When I sit down at a piano, um, it’s really weird, but I usually come up with something, but I am not, I don’t consider myself a pianist at all. I almost don’t like to sit at a piano or a keyboard ‘cause I’ll start something and then go, “Oohhh, I need to go get a real piano player to come in here because I’m hearing a song and I don’t want to lose it or let it go.”
When I did write “All I Want For Christmas,” a long time ago, I was upstate New York in this little room by myself, there was, like, this little Casio or whatever keyboard and I just started playing the “ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding,” you know, and I mean anybody pretty much could play that, you know, I was just figuring it out. I started writing the words and I think it was around Christmas time when that was happening. My process now isn’t that dissimilar if I happen to be myself, near a keyboard and I start writing, like I said, something like that could happen.
Merry Christmas 2 You DVD, 2010
"Mariah’s tried to outdo herself by re-recording it with a new intro, and then she tried it again with the [2011 duet] version with Justin Bieber," [Walter] Afanasieff recalls about Carey’s quest to try and improve upon her "All I Want For Christmas Is You" record. "You can’t reinvent the wheel when you’ve got something that, by the world’s standards, is already perfect. I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back, but it’s what everyone says: ‘We don’t want a new version; we don’t want an updated version, we just want that!’”
ES: Can you tell me about how the work on Merry Christmas first began?
WA: We started working on the Christmas album in 1993. This is about three years [after we first started working together]. Mariah and I started writing a few songs for what would be her Christmas album. The first song we wrote was "Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)." It was a ballad-y, sort of sad song. And then we wrote a classical, sort of religious song called "Jesus Born on This Day." And then we started to write what Mariah wanted to do and what Tommy [Mottola, the CEO of Sony and Carey’s then-husband] wanted to do which was a Phil Spector, old rock ‘n roll, sixties-sounding Christmas song.
So we worked together, and I stared playing some rock 'n roll piano and started boogie woogie-ing my left hand. And that inspired Mariah to come up with the melodic (sung) '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.”
ES: Of the three original songs, one has kind of a gospel feel ("Jesus Born on This Day"), one is more ballad-y ("Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)"), and one is pop-rock ("All I Want for Christmas is You"). Was that a specific decision you and Mariah made to dabble in the different genres, or did that come about naturally?
WA: It came out of just the respect for Christmas. There are always three different areas that Christmas music goes into: Traditional Christmas songs, fun kiddie songs like "Rudolph" or "Frosty," and then you have your love songs, which are like “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” all those kinds of songs. So we decided to write one of each.
ES: With "All I Want For Christmas Is You," from that first songwriting meeting at the piano, how long was the timeframe before the finished product came together?
WA: 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. That one went very quickly: It was an easier song to write then 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. I think that’s one of the components that made it unique year after year. That part of it took maybe an hour, and then I went home.
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.
ES: At the time, did you think “All I Want For Christmas Is You” would be the big hit of the album?
WA: Nooo. 20 years ago, Christmas music and Christmas albums by artists weren’t the big deal that they are today. Back then, you didn’t have a lot of artists with Christmas albums; It wasn’t a known science at all back then, and there was nobody who did new, big Christmas songs. So we were going to release it as kind of an everyday, 'hey, you know, we’re putting out a Christmas album. No big deal.' To think of it as a single that’s going to No. 1, that’s going to drive an album…we didn’t have an inkling of that. That’s not what the time was. That’s what made it such a modern phenomenon: Because it’s not like "White Christmas" or "Jingle Bells" – the song doesn’t have any of those traditional elements, but it became a huge pop hit.
ES: You mentioned that there are so many more Christmas albums today. Because of that, why haven’t we seen another hit on that level?
WA: I’m not totally sure what to say, because to me, it’s kind of a cosmic occurrence that happens once every five billion years. By the way, thousands of original Christmas songs have been written in the last 20 years. It’s not like no one writes Christmas songs—everyone is trying to get a Christmas song. But for whatever reason "All I Want For Christmas Is You" just became that song. It’s kind of something you never would have thought, and you can’t really explain why, and we feel lucky, because it was the last major song to enter that Christmas canon, and then the door slammed shut. It just closed.
I’m sure there’s going to be another one; there has to be. But it has to be the right artist at the right time, the right words and the right melody for the right cultural moment. It became our song 20 years ago, and it just keeps growing and growing. I believe "All I Want For Christmas is You" will be the most successful, popular Christmas song of all time.
Billboard Mariah Carey's 'Merry Christmas' 20th Anniversary: Find Out What Went Into Making a Modern Christmas Classic, by Erin Strecker, October 30 2014
"This is such an amazing Christmas gift!," Carey tells Billboard exclusively.
"As a songwriter, I feel so honored to have this song reach Billboard's [Hot 100] top 10 for the first time. I honestly never thought we'd be talking about this happening, but I'm so thankful to everyone who embraces this song as part of their holiday tradition.
"It truly warms my heart, and I am proud of this song that I wrote basically as a kid on my little Casio keyboard.”
Billboard “Mariah Carey on 'All I Want for Christmas Is You' Hitting Hot 100's Top 10: 'It Truly Warms My Heart’” by Gary Trust, December 18, 2017
1994 Released on the Merry Christmas album.
2001 Included on the Greatest Hits compilation.
2003 So So Def Remix released on The Remixes compilation.
2009 Included on international versions of The Ballads/Love Songs compilation.
2010 Extra Festive version released on the Merry Christmas || You album.
2010 Super Festive Duet with Justin Bieber released on his Under the Mistletoe album.
2011 So So Def Remix included on international editions of The Essential Mariah Carey compilation.
2018 Included on the Japan Best compilation.