Happy holidays! Join us here every Monday for a mini deep dive into a Christmas song or genre, with an accompanying playlist. And scroll down for our live performance Music Monday series, picking up again in January!
Monday, December 7: A Very Pop Christmas
For this week’s focus: the iconic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. Released in 1994, this modern classic was on her fourth album and first holiday album, though record executives urged her not to release it, saying only singers at the end of their careers produce Christmas records. (#rude) Carey ended up writing a bop that would prove them all wrong and would continue to be her most internationally successful release, garnering over $60 million in royalties. TAKE THAT.
Carey and her then writing partner Walter Afanasieff wrote and composed the song in fifteen minutes (!), and, to many, it’s become the unofficial song of the Christmas season. Covered and remixed throughout the years and featured in many a holiday film, it’s part of the very definition of holiday cheer. (Children performing it in Love Actually is arguably the best part of that movie…)
So, we humbly submit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” for consideration into Ye Olde Christmas Song Canon, as Mariah touches on in an interview from 1998:
“I’m a very festive person and I love the holidays. I’ve sung Christmas songs since I was a little girl. I used to go Christmas caroling. When it came to the album, we had to have a nice balance between standard Christian hymns and fun songs. It was definitely a priority for me to write at least a few new songs, but for the most part people really want to hear the standards at Christmas time, no matter how good a new song is.”
(Oh, Mariah, your new song was really, really good.)
We’ve compiled a brief playlist of songs that complement this Christmas banger, but we won’t judge you if you put Mariah’s on repeat. (And don’t judge us if the playlist heavily features Mimi’s tune.)
Monday, November 30: Classic Hollywood Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
If the fates allow
Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now
Interestingly, the first draft of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine was a much more maudlin affair. So depressing, in fact, that Judy Garland refused to sing it, saying “If I sing that, little Margaret will cry and they’ll think I’m a monster.” After a bit of blowback from the young composers, the piece was duly rewritten–“It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past” became “Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight”–and became the Christmas classic we now cherish. The timing of the release of the song saw America in the throes of WWII, and Garland’s performances at the Hollywood Canteen often brought soldiers to tears.
Listen to our Classic Hollywood Christmas playlist here, which includes some non-Christmas tunes featured in holiday movies, and check back next week for another peek behind the Christmas music curtain.
Monday, November 2: THE ELECTION EDITION
Tomorrow is Election Day and in the spirit of the moment, we are taking a page from the folks behind Joy to the Polls and have created a playlist of songs that inspire us, get us thinking, or just get us moving and dancing — maybe even while we’re waiting in line to vote. Because we’re all voting, right?
Monday, Oct. 26: Maggie Ramsey
Monday, Oct. 19: Braden Eddy
Monday, Oct. 12: Flo Anito