The new video for "All I Want for Christmas is You" says that Christmas is all about Mariah.
On Thursday, Mariah Carey released the “Make My Dreams Come True” version of the video for “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and the video might be mis-titled. The new video accompanies the 25th anniversary reissue of her Merry Christmas, which includes the song, and the video really suggests that she believes all you want for Christmas is her. Watching it and the original video from 1994 back to back says so much about who and what Carey has become.
In the new video, she appears as a mannequin in the window of a high-end Manhattan department store, signaling the luxury brand that she has become—a very different stance than the one she took in 1994 when she frolicked in the snow and around the Christmas tree in footage shot to look like home movies. The difference between the girl next door Mariah and the glam Mariah is emphasized by the 4K, digital effects-laden look of the update, which features an army of extras to turn the song into a Rockettes-like production number. To be fair, Carey was always too exotic to really be the girl next door, but she could credibly play one when frolicking in the snow on Super 8 film stock.
The new version is also all about Mariah’s curves in a burlesque way. The original presents Mariah as a beautiful girl next door, but all the kisses blown to the camera play like the things that people do on home movies when they don’t know what else to do. She certainly poses for the camera a time or 20, but in the update, she makes sure that her curves including those of her cheeks are presented to be loved, admired and desired in almost every scene.
The video wasn’t necessary because "All I Want for Christmas is You" has become the Christmas song. It hasn’t always been the smash it has become, in part because wasn’t released as a single in ’94 so it wasn’t eligible for Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart. At the time, its biggest accomplishment was reaching number 12 on the Radio Songs chart. Its chart ascendance really kicked in after the karaoke version of the song appeared in the 2003 film Love Actually, which reintroduced the song in a film that became a holiday tradition for many. “All I Want for Christmas is You” has spent 38 weeks at number one on the Holiday 100, and since Billboard factored streaming into its ranking calculations, it finally made a run at the Hot 100, last year reaching number three. This year it topped the charts over Post Malone’s “Circles,” Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” and Lizzo’s “Good as Hell.” (For an excellent deep dive into the chart history of "All I Want for Christmas is You," see Chris Molanphy's story on it at Slate.)
Last year during an episode of 12 Songs of Christmas, Boyfriend and I discussed “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and I talked about how it took me a while to come around to the song because it became hard to separate its success from the ‘look at me’ air that now hovers around Carey like cartoon radiation. The new video presents that atmosphere at Marvel Cinematic Universe strength and makes the song’s popularity feel like part of a Thanos-like plot to take over the known and unknown universes. An Amazon-produced mini-doc on the song is titled conservatively titled Mariah Carey is Christmas, and it’s hard to imagine anything that would please her more than to be equated with the best-loved holiday in western culture.