When you hear Mariah Carey describe the sometimes-challenging holidays she celebrated as a kid, you can understand why Christmas means so much to her now that she can afford to really go all-out.
“I have such an emotional connection to Christmas,” Carey says in a new Amazon Music mini-doc called Mariah Carey is Christmas: The Story of ‘All I Want for Christmas is You.’ “And it wasn’t about the gifts. It was just about the hopefulness of the holiday season and just feeling, like, in the spirit, and the need for me to express myself and make a song that made me feel happy at the holidays.”
Carey breaks down her perennial holiday chart-topper in the 11-minute mini-doc, while also divulging stories of her self-proclaimed “incredibly dysfunctional family” that would always find a way to ruin Christmas every year when she was a child.
She recalls her mom trying to stretch the budget, sometimes wrapping up fruit or whatever else she could afford, which spurred a young Mariah to pledge that when she grew up she’d never let the happen. “I’m gonna make Christmas perfect every year,” she promised herself. That sentiment is backed up by former American Idol judge and Carey’s producer/bassist Randy Jackson, who says he’s always called her “Mariah Claus,” because, “Mariah Carey is Christmas.”
Carey explains how she was approached by her record company after she released her first two albums to record a Christmas album, which she felt was a bit early in her career. The initial idea was to cover some classics, according to Jackson, but Carey wanted to write original holiday songs, which most of the team though sounded like madness. Mariah, of course, was green but her same tenacious self, so she proved to them that it was a good idea.
She describes how she cued up It’s a Wonderful Life on TV, sat at the keyboard in her house in upstate New York to get into the Christmas spirit, and the next thing you know she had one of the all-time holiday classics. “To make a Christmas song that’s really you, that embodies your style, is really hard to do,” Jackson says.
The doc, which celebrates the beloved contemporary classic’s 25th anniversary, comes as “All I Want” has hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart (with Christmas still two weeks away), the earliest the song has ever reached No. 1 on Streaming Songs and the first time a holiday title has done so before the season is actually over.
“It was not of the time… it’s still not of the time,” Carey says of the perennial cold weather favorite. “It’s grown in popularity over the years, and that’s the thing that’s amazing to me about this song.”
Watch the Mariah Amazon Music Christmas mini-doc below.