“All I Want For Christmas Is You”
Songwriters: Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff
Original Release Date: November 1, 1994
The holidays are here! I know Christmas music has been playing since before Black Friday, but the classic carols have been covered so many times, I couldn’t leave them out of this column. For the month of December, we’ll be looking at two Christmas greats, old and new, and some of the best covers in between. First up? A personal favorite: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
Mariah Carey’s original Christmas song released in 1994, and almost immediately became a hit. Now, this song is almost as important to listen to around the holidays as the classics from Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Nat King Cole. Who can resist those chiming bells that inspire such vibrant Christmas cheer? Add in the rippling piano chords, jingle bells, and that hopelessly addictive fast pace, and we’ve got a recipe for the most fun Christmas song ever (Yep, it even tops Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree).
And I can’t forget about Carey’s voice. She is what makes this song come to life. Her masterful use of range, tone, and strength all come together to create this fun, upbeat, and purely awesome Christmas staple. And maybe it’s because I’ve listened to this Christmas song every year for my entire life, but it goes without saying that this is one of my favorites. I hear it in malls, on the car radio driving through the snow, and at home while I decorate the tree. Carey manages to capture the entirety of the holiday season in less than four minutes. Despite the weird irony of a holiday that plays sentimental music non-stop while simultaneously encouraging an entire month of materialism, Carey’s focus on family, happiness, and love while rejecting expensive gifts is a nice shift away from all the things that tend to lead Christmas astray. All in all, Carey just knocks this one out of the park.
So probably the last band I expected to cover this song is My Chemical Romance. Yeah, emo and angsty and fantastic My Chem–but they did! And I’m pretty sure this is the best rock version of a Christmas classic ever. Granted, from the opening of the song I wasn’t sold. Gerard Way (circa 2004) opens with quiet, moaning vocals and a solemn piano that definitely give the chorus a heavy tone, instead of a poppy one. But the moment it jumps into the verse, the song picks up and fills out into everything you’d expect from a My Chemical Romance cover. Way cranks up the volume with his unmistakably punchy vocals, and with Mikey Way and Ray Toro shredding the guitars, this cover sounds exactly like an original MCR song we might find on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. The only thing setting it apart are the decidedly optimistic lyrics. This song is perfect for the times when you’ve heard Carey’s original (and all the other Christmas hits) a few too many times because the radio stations play them on repeat for twenty-five days. When you need a break from the jingle bells and orchestral arrangements for a while, it’s comforting to know that you can still turn to MCR and stay in the holiday spirit.
Divided By Friday are another band that simply nail this cover. Though their version dates back to the band’s original pop-punk sound, they still manage to keep the pop integrity of the original. Now that the band have transformed into a full-on pop band, I would almost like to hear them cover this song again! This version can hold its own, however. Vocalist Jose Villanueva simply shines with his unique, velvety voice. The guy has a pretty impressive range, too. He doesn’t often slip into falsetto or take the notes down an octave (which is a feat, considering the original artist!). The band stayed true to the jingle bells and xylophone tones throughout the song, but also give it a fun spin with sharp electric guitars, a steady drum rhythm, a few mmm-bops, and a full brass band in the background. The best part is the way DBF manage to capture the essence of a pure pop song into pop-rock jam without losing any of its flavor.
Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year! I hope these awesome covers keep you jolly (and sane) during the holidays this season. I know I’ll be playing them non-stop while I put up decorations. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Christmas carols and completely addicted to cover songs. It’s the perfect combination!