These graphics show the broadcast of Mariah Carey’s classic Christmas song


From the encroachment of festive tunes to a shift in when people start shopping for the holidays, experts say the definition of what is meant by Christmas is changing.

The rise of “All I want for Christmas is you”

In the late 2000s, people listened to Carey’s song more than average for about 31 days in the last three months of the year. In the early 2010s, that number increased to 40 days, and over the past three years, that number has grown to 78.

“The charts are dominated by the latest hit single, and the appetite for new music is the engine to climb the charts – the one exception to that is Christmas,” said Nate Sloan, assistant professor of musicology at the University of Southern California. “It has a lot to do with the emotional support we get from this vacation.”

Since debuting in 1994 on Carey’s first holiday album, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” has taken on a life of its own – becoming a fast-paced holiday classic despite its short lifespan, spawning multiple covers and collaborations and climbing. in the music charts. year after year.

Sloan attributed the song’s continued success and longevity to Carey’s vocal prowess, songwriting, and the niche that Christmas carols fill.

“As a musician and singer, Mariah Carey is part of the pantheon of virtuosos of the 90s and 2000s and vocal divas. She is an incredibly gifted singer who is known for her ability to achieve extraordinarily high notes and whistle tone, which exceeds the range of the natural human voice, ”he said.

He explained that the Christmas carol had all the ingredients of what makes a Christmas song effective: sleigh bells, a well-designed structure, and a story arc.

“The song begins with sleigh bells, which is a requirement for any Christmas classic,” Sloan said. “And then she builds that tension on the song where she says she doesn’t want this or that, and then she says the title of the song we’re waiting for and at that point there’s such a payoff.”

The more people listen to the song, the more they begin to associate it with these “emotional psychological reactions” while on vacation, he said. “It becomes a sound marker to be around family, warmth and free time.”

Carey fans such as Ellis Srubas-Giammanco agreed, saying Christmas can be stressful at times, citing anxiety over finding gift guides, travel and dining plans.

Srubas-Giammanco said that Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” almost acts as a “happy reminder and balm” for all of these uncertainties.

“Who doesn’t want to come back to that feeling, that song, and that season earlier and earlier?”


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