EXCLUSIVE: Here’s All What Mariah Carey Wants For Christmas!
The music legend discusses her Christmas special on Apple TV+, memoir and under-representation of women in music
Mariah Carey owns Christmas, hand down. It’s incredible how with one song alone, the singing diva has managed to single-handedly dominate an entire festive season for over two decades now! “All I Want For Christmas,” which released in 1994, is one of the top-selling singles of all time and continues to reign supreme during the festival season. In recent years, streaming has only catapulted its popularity. As of today, the song is #5 on Apple Music’s global charts and a top spot is guaranteed in no time.
Of course, there’s Wham!’s “Last Christmas” that competes for festive cheer and nostalgia but it is perhaps Carey’s constant reinvention of “All I Want For Christmas”(remember the 2011 ‘superfestive’ version featuring Justin Bieber) that’s kept the numbers up for the song at all times. It is no surprise that the singing diva is back with a festive exclusive – and lord knows we need it so much more badly in the year of the pandemic. Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special debuted last week on Apple TV+, along with a soundtrack on Apple Music. The show itself is an all-star extravaganza – featuring everyone from Ariana Grande and Snoop Dogg to Jennifer Hudson, Tiffany Haddish and more.
In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone India, Carey tells us that this project is a precious milestone. “One of my biggest dreams is having this to share this with the world this Christmas….This has been a very tough year for us all but also coming off writing my memoir and rolling into this special, which again, has been a dream project for me. More to come!” Dressed in shimmer and sparkle, and seated among opulent, frosty Christmas trees, Carey looks picture perfect in the frame of our virtual meeting. Her pet dog is snuggling in her lap, endearingly oblivious to the official (or rather festive) conversation underway.
The Grammy-winning artist, one of the few in the industry who can boast of selling over 200 million records globally, released her autobiography The Meaning Of Mariah Carey in September. The book chronicles her inspiring tale of grit and determination, and struggle and strife as she navigated a life where her identity was always questioned – whether as a mixed-race child or a female artist disrupting the music industry flitting through multiple genres. The memoir is likely going to appear on the screen too. “The goal of writing my memoir was to emancipate my inner child. And I wanted that little girl who was scared and shy and alone, and really just neglected in a lot of ways — I wanted to do that for who I was as a kid. Because I’ve never let go of my inner child… My new dream is my memoir and what it’s going to be in the filmed version, and what we end up doing with that. So, that’s next!” she says.
In a career spanning over three decades, Carey has enjoyed every kind of success there is – from hitting platinum records to commanding an undying love from her fans. But perhaps the one thing that makes her career truly remarkable is the inspiration it has spread among budding artists, especially women. “There is under-representation of women, especially in the songwriting space and in the producing space,” says Carey as she reflects on the industry. As an artist, she’s tried to bridge that gap as often as she can. The Christmas special has been one such initiative. The collaborations have been fun, inspiring, and over-the-top. Like the “Oh Santa!” music video, featuring Grande and Hudson in what seems like an elves-sprinkled super girl-group fantasy.
How does one balance the pressures of writing pop hits and also forging exceptional collaborations that push the scene for the better? “I think you have to be more open-minded – open to collaborations and to new styles of making music,” says Carey. “I think there’s a thing of not trying too hard to try and make a hit – that doesn’t feel organic to me. It just has to feel that it comes from within you. And if it’s great then hopefully people feel it the same way you feel it.”
Carey might be the undisputed music queen of Christmas, but she never saw that sort of success coming with “All I Want For Christmas” back in 1994. “I wrote this song so long ago — it’s the first Christmas song that I ever wrote. And I feel like I grew into loving this song more as time has gone by… Every time I write a song, it’s a gift. You’re getting this gift from the universe, and I am really grateful for the ability to do.” The Christmas atmosphere at her own home, she says, is carefully curated: “They [her kids] gave me their Christmas list, and it was very large. But we have our Christmas traditions and for me, it is always about the spirit of Christmas. We do everything from watch Christmas movies together and constantly play Christmas music, to the point that I hope I am not overdoing this for them!”