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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Mariah Carey’s influence on holiday music

Graphic+by+Shivani+Bondada
Graphic by Shivani Bondada

The holiday season is well underway as December rapidly approaches. Cold weather means time for decorating, gift-wrapping, being with loved ones and, of course, listening to Christmas music. Most of us love a carol here and there, but no one does the holidays quite like the queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey. 

How did Carey become synonymous with the Christmas spirit? First-year Oliver Scheier said that Carey is the celebrity he most closely associates with Christmas, aside from Santa Claus. The answer lies in her hit single “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which appeals to a diverse audience of listeners every year. In fact, in 2021, the song reached 1 billion streams on Spotify. 

Released in October of 1994, the track has topped the Billboard Hot 100 every winter since. Over the years, Carey has amassed over $72 million from the song, which averages out to roughly $3 million each year. The hit single was also featured in the iconic holiday romance-comedy, “Love, Actually.” 

Although the song eventually became a massive success, Carey and her team grappled with the decision of whether to release it in the first place. Very few, if any, ‘90s artists put out Christmas albums. Christmas records were typically reserved for more senior performers, and Carey worried she would ruin her career before it really took off if she “sold-out” to the machine of holiday entertainment. 

Personally, I do not want to live in a world where I cannot hear those iconic high notes on a yearly basis. 

Musically, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” combines classic Christmas themes and rhythms with Carey’s modern, upbeat presentation. The resulting song stands strong next to classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman,” a Christmas anthem made for the next generation. Carey’s song was so groundbreaking because famous, typically white, men dominated the holiday music landscape at the time. While she was not the first woman to make holiday music, Carey held her own in the boys’ club of Christmas music. 

The song is also significant for being one of the only modern classics in the holiday genre. 

Perhaps even more impressive than the monetary success and accolades is the cultural significance of the song. Scheier said that when he hears the chart-topping single, he feels like Christmastime is here. My family likes to sing it together while we do our holiday baking. First-year student Samuel Harris said he listens to it on the holiday radio station with his family and has fond memories of the song. Jaedan Curci said that he enjoys Carey’s track as soon as December starts. Overall, it seems to bring people together with their loved ones. 

Nearly 30 years later, Carey is holding onto her reign over the holiday season. The pop star went viral on TikTok in November for quipping about “defrosting” annually on Nov. 1. Now, the tag “Mariah Carey Defrosting” has 129 million views on the social media platform. It looks like her popularity is not slowing down any time soon. 

Looking back on her legacy, Carey’s song has encapsulated the best part of the holidays: spending time with loved ones and valuing their presence over presents. Life is too short — maybe we should all defrost in November to celebrate early like the queen of Christmas. 


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