All I Want For Christmas

December 4, 2013

Unpacking Mariah Carey’s zeitgeist-y holiday hit with a glass of egg nog and Leandra chasing me around, menorah in hand.

ellenchristmas

I’ve encountered exactly two moments in my life that have reaffirmed my faith in humanity, and both involved music. Once was on the 1 train going an embarrassing two stops from West 4th and Christopher to Varick and Canal. It was a grumpy, rainy Monday and my hair was not cooperating.

A man who got on at the same stop as I did walked to the center of the car and cleared his throat. For quotidian public transportation takers, this almost always elicits 1) rolling eyes from passengers and 2) a reason to turn up the volume on our iPods.

Instead, however, the man began singing “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. “Hey Jude,” he started softly. “Don’t be afraid,” he continued. And by the Canal Street stop, he hit the resounding “Naaa, na, na, na na na na, na na na na,” to which the entire car finished “He-ey Jude.” My entire week was made and I promised myself I’d write that story down at some point.

The second time, I was at a bar. It was the summer and about eight billion of my friends (I am very popular) had crammed into a space that should have legally only allowed 15 to 20 bodies. Everyone was hot and shouting about their empty glasses, revving up to fight in frustration but then, either by happy accident or a mid-July miracle, Mariah Carey’s unseasonal “All I Want for Christmas Is You” came on the loud speaker.

And you know what? The entire — ENTIRE — bar erupted into a sing along.

I swear this song could be the answer to world peace. Not since hopscotch or ice cream has something been able to so effortlessly transcend the bounds of gender, socioeconomics, religion and football rivalries as The holiday classic. Its opening notes tinkle and sparkle like elfin smiles, then crescendo as Saint Mariah’s alto joins the festive chorus.

One can’t help but snap in tandem with the beat, bob side to side and attempt to match her high pitched chord riffs and wailing mezzo. It’s physically impossible not to hold a fake microphone in one’s hand and wave the other to and fro, offering the “mic” (either invisible or in the form of a hairbrush or beer bottle) to your nearest neighbor, and I dare you not to point at your friends or strangers or bar tender each time Mariah declares that all she wants for Christmas is “you.” (“Oooh, baby!”)

That’s the other thing, too. We all know the lyrics. It’s a phenomenon that the words have become ingrained in our memories before we were even to realize it. It’s part of our blood; instinctual and intrinsic for the sake of not survival, but happiness. There’s only one line the general public tends to mumble over.

After “I don’t need to hang my stocking,” most forget that “here upon the fire place” comes next and uses it as an opportunity to ad lib or take a sip of egg nog. But that’s the beauty of the song, isn’t it? That since no one really has that part down, everyone remains in unison. See? World peace.

And it never gets old. The song could play on repeat five times, or interspersed throughout the night or, as in the aforementioned case, during off season. It’s universally assumed that no matter the circumstance, we love this song.

“I hate this song,” says no one ever. Except that contrarian who plays opposite for the sake of being a dickhead.

Mariah Carey’s career has seesawed but she’s never not been considered the reigning prima donna when it comes to audibly delightful vocal chords. In fact, it’s been rumored that when it rains, it’s because the sky has Mariah Carey’s Greatest Hits on repeat, (probably with a little Whitney thrown in there, let’s be real).

But this song is her ultimate coup. A piece de resistance that will forever solidify her in a category among such vanguards as Mr. Michelangelo and his chapel, which, I suppose by osmosis, makes us her apostles of song, placed on this planet to exhault not her name or her most recent television appearance, but the general message of love that she’s taught us to sing.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas / There is just one thing I need / I don’t care about the presents / Underneath the Christmas tree / I just want you for my own / More than you could ever know / Make my wish come true / All I want for Christmas…..

Is shoessss!

Jk, it’s you.

Image shot by Ellen von Unwerth
  • http://fashionfragile.blogspot.com/ Sonya Mann

    This was moving.

  • Karen

    Oh my gosh, I love that post. Yay humanity! Those humans will surprise you every time.

  • http://thoughtsofglam.com/ ThoughtsofGlam

    This is so funny! As if the song isn’t playing all the time already, her recent OPI campaign shows her face everywhere as well. I love the gift sets they now have, I recently did a gifts under $10 post and of course, Mariah & her OPI products were in them.

    Can’t fully experience Christmas without M.C.

    Thoughtsofglam.com

  • ilovemariah

    Mariah Carey is the fucking essence of christmas

  • CDJ

    I experienced the exact same bar sing along! Were you down the cape?! (Cape Cod) Maybe that magic happens all over the place.

  • Rosanne

    Aw, such a great article. Things like this make the world such a better place!

  • ElaineR

    …aaaaand now I’m singing this song in my head. Probably all night.

  • http://greygooseconfidential.blogspot.com/ Eve

    All I Want For Christmas… This song makes me think of two things: the most British Christmas movie ever, Love Actually, and what I want for Xmas pour moi.

    I’m a happy girl. I like to think of myself as someone who has it all. And not someone singing along quietly, “all I want for Christmas is youuuu… to give me a new iPhone”. But really, if I’m honest with myself? Well… Is it so bad to want more than just good company on my–I’m sorry, our special day? Is it so wrong to want to honor the sacred tradition of gift giving on one of the most over-decorated days of the year? Well, is it?! Exactly, only when in debt.

    So yeah, merry Christmas everyone.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Over the years I have progressively become fonder of Love Actually and now it’s fully a part of my holiday traditions. The first time I saw the movie, I only saw the last 25 minutes starting from Joanna’s rendition of Mariah Carey’s song and ever since it doesn’t feel like the season has begun without screening love actually and belting aloud to that song on repeat.
      Love Actually completely reinvigorated my love for Mariah’s album as well as all 90’s christmas albums….Destiny’s Child, *NSYNC & Xtina are good ones as well.

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    This song will never get old, it’s so positive and… christmassy!

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • Jacqui

    “Party in the U.S.A” by Miley Cyrus is like that too. Everyone knows it and even if you hate her you can’t deny its an awesome song. At my freshman orientation for college two years ago that song came on when the entire class (1000 of us) were in the basketball stadium and EVERYONE started dancing and singing along and cheering! It was so great

    • Leandra Medine

      I wanna give credit to Biggie for that one

  • Graciela Silva

    I agree, its a beautiful song!!!

  • Shantae Clarke

    Youtubed the song while i read this and couldnt help but laugh along when i did point to my sister on the “youuuu” lol. Amazing. Thank you for this.

  • Victoria

    I laughed so hard that my coffee almost belched out! I cannot agree more about “All I want for Christmas is you” song. Guess it’s the same all over the world :)

    http://victorialovestyle.blogspot.kr/

    • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

      The world: Unfortunately, no: I don’t know Mariah’s song at all. Instead, all we ever get is “Last xmas, I gave you my heart …” Can’t stand it, it’s terrible, the persistence and the omnipresence of it. I don’t mind George Michael, he’s OK, but I always wish I could spend my xmas in places with better music :-(

  • Raphaëlle Lavielle

    Haha I’d bet there’s a whole bunch of us who played/will play the music video.

  • Tracy

    Fabulous post! http://www.lavenue.com/

  • Angara_Jewelry

    Music can really help in bringing about world peace and on a smaller scale, it can surely refresh our moods!

    xoxoxo
    Angara Christmas Gifts

  • Miss_Molly

    so freaking true!

  • Brie

    Love Actually has a lot to do with so many people loving this song, I think. I conjure up that movie when I hear it and that is why I get the tingly feel goods. That movie makes me happy.

    • Brie

      And i just saw that someone already commented with this insight. My bad.

  • Maura

    Agreed! This song is a home-run – good share!

  • erin

    that was great, thanks :)

  • ellen

    Michelangelo is one word! His full name is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Not Michel Angelo.

    OTHERWISE OMG YES

    • Amelia Diamond

      updated! way to know your art history / teenage mutant ninja turtle characters!

  • Micah

    I love this! And hells yea it can create world peace! Ha

  • The Civilian