Why Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ Almost Didn’t Happen

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is a holiday classic for many fans. However, the singer’s record label almost didn’t include the track in her 1994 Christmas album, Merry Christmas. Here’s what happened.

Mariah Carey performs Christmas Time Is in the Air Again from Merry Christmas, which also includes All I Want for Christmas Is You.
Mariah Carey performs ‘Christmas Time Is in the Air Again’ from her 25th-anniversary album reissue of ‘Merry Christmas.’ | Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images

‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ is 1 of Mariah Carey’s best-known songs

The Queen of Christmas released Merry Christmas in 1994, complete with “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Both songs became the soundtrack of the holiday season for many fans, with the latter breaking several records.

The track currently holds three Guinness World Records: “the highest-charting holiday (Christmas/New Year) song on the Billboard US Hot 100 by a solo artist,” the “most streamed track on Spotify in 24 hours (female),” and the “most weeks in the UK singles Top 10 chart for a Christmas song.”

The song is also one of Carey’s most popular Spotify tracks, earning over 990 million plays since its release. Several artists have covered it, as well. However, because it wasn’t already an established holiday song Carey almost didn’t include it on Merry Christmas.

Mariah Carey’s ‘Merry Christmas’ was almost all holiday covers

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” is a favorite of many Carey fans. However, the track almost didn’t make it to Merry Christmas. Cosmopolitan reports that “the record label initially thought the album would just be covers, but thankfully, Mariah got inspired by the Christmas spirit and wrote her own hit instead.”

This wouldn’t be the only original song included on the album. Merry Christmas also features “Jesus Born on This Day” and “Miss You Most (at Christmas Time).”

Carey played a role in writing these hits, with Cosmopolitan reporting that “All I Want for Christmas Is You” only took 15 minutes to complete. (Finishing touches were added later.) And almost every year, the song jumps back on the music charts. 

“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,” Merry Christmas producer Walter Afanasieff told Billboard. “… To think of [“All I Want for Christmas Is You”] 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.”


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Carey wrote other Christmas originals, including ‘Oh Santa’

Merry Christmas wouldn’t be Carey’s only holiday-themed production. In 2020, she released Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special on Apple TV+. This production had an original soundtrack that included the new fan-favorite release “Oh Santa.” Carey, joined by Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande on the song, is credited as the lyricist for “Oh Santa.”