WTF Island

Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You": Why This Song Sucks

SONG: Mariah Carey, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

HISTORY: “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is a song from Mariah Carey's 1994 Christmas album, appropriately titled Merry Christmas. It is also one of her biggest-selling singles, is routinely played ad nauseam during the holidays and has earned more than $50 million in royalties alone. By the numbers and according to how popularity works, this would cause you to argue that it ranks among the best Christmas songs of all time. It is not. It is actually among the worst.

If one traced back some 22 years, one could argue that "All I Want For Christmas..." further established Mariah Carey as the dominant female solo act of the 1990s. "Vision of Love" got the ball rolling. Then “Endless Love” with Luther Vandross happened. In 1995, ”One Sweet Day" and "Fantasy" put her there and kept her there. Then something happened along the way: Every Mariah Carey song became slightly obsessive in regards to a relationship. Stalker-ish even. See "We Belong Together," "Don't Forget About Us," "I Stay In Love" and so on. But that's latter-day Mariah, a full decade after “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

WHY THIS SONG SUCKS: Despite being three minutes or so in length, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is saccharine, repetitive and monotonous. When you take a glance at the lyrics, you begin to understand that Mariah Carey in '94 was not looking for love for Christmas. Mariah Carey was looking for a one-night stand.

WAIT, THIS SONG IS ABOUT A ONE-NIGHT STAND? Yes. It suffers from the same thing that “Thriller” suffers from. You play “Thriller” every Halloween even though “Thriller” could have occurred in the middle of June 1982. You associate “Thriller” with Halloween only because of Vincent Price. You play “All I Want For Christmas Is You” solely because of the title. Which makes it a de facto Christmas song, sure. It checks off Santa Claus, but you do know how disrespectful Mariah is to Santa? Let’s see her work in action, shall we?

Ex. 1:
I won't make a list and send it/ To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to/ Hear those magic reindeer click

She tells him, “I’m not writing a list. I’m not waiting up to hear the magic reindeer click.” Then later she wishes for Santa to bring her “her baby." Her man. You’ve already broken Santa Claus Rule No. 1 by not going through the proper Santa Claus protocol. Santa Claus probably won’t be too cool with that.

Ex. 2:
I don't want a lot for Christmas/ There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents/ Underneath the Christmas tree

Then what’s the point of having a tree, Mariah? Decorum? Why are you wasting Santa’s time if you don’t even have the identifiers for him to deliver what you want? Santa doesn’t adhere to the fickle nature of mistletoe, but you care nothing about his wants, don’t you? After all, you’re asking him for a man for this one holiday.

What exactly did Mariah Carey do to deserve Santa Claus's sending her a man for Christmas in 1994? Nothing. No mention of cookies, warm milk, nothing. If one were to even guess what Mariah’s Christmas list looked like from October 1994 to December 1994, it would be something like this.

THAT’S PRETTY...SIMPLE BY 2016 STANDARDS: Sure. Until you realize kids sing this song. A prepubescent Justin Bieber sang this once. As did Miley Cyrus, John Mayer, Shania Twain, Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Demi Lovato, Cee-Lo Green, Lady Antebellum and Mumford & Sons. Ariana Grande of course covered it because she’s diet Mariah Carey. And maybe responsible for the best albums of Big Sean and Mac Miller’s respective careers.

BUT IT’S A LOVE SONG: People normally wish for Christmas gifts that are going to last at least until April or May. Her one wish (no Ray J) is for a man, without even letting the world know why she wants this man. It’s a just-cause conundrum that benefits absolutely nobody, and leaves you not even wanting Mariah to get her Christmas gift.

Even in the video, Mariah is parading around in sexy Santa outfits shooting home movies as if she were Mrs. Claus and playing around with dogs with antlers on their heads. Consider the lyrics. If she’s begging Santa for a man to come around for one day, why exactly would she jump in Santa’s lap and flirt with him for an entire video? Why would she lead Santa on? Why would she do that, Sharon?

"All I Want For Christmas Is You” has been viewed nearly 200 million times on YouTube. People have literally been singing about a lie for 22 years. At least Michael Jackson had childlike innocence when he saw Katherine Jackson kissing Santa Claus. Mariah? Straight to the point.

You don’t make a song about Santa, dismiss Santa in said song and then put him all in the video to coddle his feelings. FOH, Santa isn’t here for games.


I. Mariah keeps telling us (and Santa) what she won’t do, then asks him to do something for her.

II. Nothing about “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is redeemable. Especially considering every Mariah Carey song about love that’s come after it.

III. Do a lot more for the holidays than just want a one-night stand. Treat yourself to a two-nighter.
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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell