Mariah Carey’s Story About Writing ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ Co-Writer Claim

The cowriter and coproducer of one of the all-time great Christmas songs – Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” — can only go “ho, ho, ho” when he hears her tell the tale of how the song came to be created.

Carey collaborator Walter Afanasieff, speaking to the Hot Takes & Deep Dives podcast, Afanasieff claims that Carey has invented an “alternate story” on the song’s origin.

Afanasieff claims that Carey is saying she created the song as a young child, and it’s been bothering him.

“When she started to hint at the fact that, “Oh, I wrote that song when I was a little girl!” But why weren’t you saying that for 12 or 13 or 15 years prior to that? So it just sort of developed in her mind,” Afanasieff said. “She doesn’t play anything. She doesn’t play keyboard or piano. She doesn’t understand music, she doesn’t know chord changes and music theory or anything like that. She doesn’t know a diminished chord from a minor seventh chord to a major seventh chord.

‘So to claim that she wrote a very complicated chord-structured song with her finger on a Casio keyboard when she was a little girl, it’s kind of a tall tale.”

The truth, Afanasieff said, was that the two devised the song while working on material for her Christmas album. They had a long collaboration relationship, dating back to her albums Emotions and Music Box.

“We were holed up in this beautiful home that they were renting, and it was the summertime and there was a piano,” he said. “So the writing of “All I Want For Christmas” is, I started playing a boogie-woogie, kind of a rock. Mariah chimed in and started singing “I don’t want a lot for Christmas.”

“So on and on, and it was like a game of ping-pong,” Afanasieff said. “I’d hit the ball to her, she hits it back to me.”

The two are credited as the sole writers and producers on the song, with Afanasieff crediting Carey with the lyrics and music, while he takes credit for the music and chords.

“I’ve studied music, I have degrees in music. I’m an accomplished orchestrator and arranger. I teach music. I’m not a schlump. I don’t play by ear,” he added.

Singer Mariah Carey may have sung “All I Want For Christmas is You,” but she actually reaps around $2.5-$4 million in annual royalties, with oublishing deaks and performance its over $9m.

That’s in addition to the $60 million in royalties the singer had received when the song was first released nearly three decades ago in 1994. Appearing on her fourth studio album, Merry Christmas, the song became a global success and topped the charts in 26 countries.

Since being posted to the official Mariah Carey YouTube Channel in 2009, the video for the song has been seen 748 million times. Though it will still likely take another few years to reach the one billion views mark, it should be remembered that the bulk of the views are limited to the holiday season – while YouTube’s top music video, Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” can still be listened to year-round.

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Shaz Salimian
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