Is there any sound more ominous in this world than opening chimes of “All I Want for Christmas is You”?
In my opinion, no, there is not. Why is it ominous? Because those opening chimes, those chipper little tinkling bells, signal to me that the next three-odd minutes of my Christmas cheer are going to be downgraded to negative levels. It’s almost amusing how much my skin crawls at the thought of this song being on rotation in every damn store, car, home, radio and other assorted playback devices because it shouldn’t get under my skin that much. And yet — and yet — there’s something about the vapidity, the ubiquity, the extremely saccharine nature of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” that makes me want to shout from the rooftops that this song is the worst Christmas song of all time.
Now, I’ve only included a clip of this song to remind you of what exactly we’re talking about here. First released in 1994, Carey’s first Christmas song was an unbelievable success. Faith that this song would become everyone’s holiday jam was so strong that Carey’s then-husband, record exec Tommy Mottola, wanted a second music video made in addition to the one above. You know, just so everyone would have plenty of cheery visuals to accompany this cheerful song. Bah humbug.
It sat comfortably at the top of various charts at home and abroad in its initial release and has gone on to be the top pick for so many people, year after year after year. It regularly lands at the top of best Christmas song listicles time and time again. It’s been used as the climactic love anthem in the equally beloved Christmas film (don’t even get me started on this one) Love Actually. Seriously, people, what gives?
But while everyone is flipping their lid for “All I Want for Christmas is You,” I’m over here heavily sighing. Maybe it’s because I’m not a diehard Carey fan. Hell, I’m not even remotely a Carey fan. I can’t deny that she’s talented and is worthy of the praise, but if music requires an emotional or, bare minimum, strong gut reaction, then Carey doesn’t really hit that mark for me. And to be a true fan of this song, in my opinion, you have to be a fan of Carey or at least the kind of music she’s bringing to the table. Again, that sort of vocal-acrobatics-heavy performance inside a sugary-sweet pop song just ain’t my thing, fam. But good on you if you like it.
In addition to Carey being a no-go for little ol’ me, I just can’t get with this song. The protagonist of the song wants a man for Christmas. That’s all she wants — big freakin’ deal. We all want to find love, Carey, and we definitely would love to make things merrier around the holidays by having someone to cuddle up with. But don’t go reminding us of what we can’t have (unless we have it already)! Why not take the Eartha Kitt approach, as is the case with “Santa Baby“? The way I see it, love is good to have, but why does that mean you have to love a person?
And if that’s too bitter a reason for you, put this in your pipe and smoke it: This song is so bright and peppy, I feel like I’m being swallowed alive by a smiling Santa Claus. The song shines brighter than the glow of a million light bulbs on a very small tree in an abnormally tiny room. You’re smacked around the head with this never-ending earworm to the point you’re begging for “Carol of the Bells” to come on, just to bring some somber relief to the festive proceedings. This is a song so unabashed in its joyful resplendence that you just want to give it a chill pill because, like, we get it, dude. We get it.
It’s not that I don’t love Christmas, nor that I have anything against being happy and in love during this time of year. But for pity’s sake, let’s just stick to Bing Crosby when it comes to the Christmas tunes and call it a day, OK?