Mariah Carey's Christmas Compulsion | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Mariah Carey’s Christmas Compulsion

Ben Johns gives his opinion on Mariah Carey's relationship with the festive season

I tense up at the best of times when I hear people criticise Mariah Carey. I defended her diabolical New Year’s Eve performance to the death repeating her claim regarding “technical issues” to anybody who dared denounce the one-time Queen of R&B. Yet, when Mariah’s only grand moments in the limelight are during the festive period, how is she expected to remind the public of how great she once was? “This is all she’s really known for isn’t it?”, said one of my housemates, whilst we were putting up the Christmas tree and listening to her timeless hit ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’.

Once again, I jumped to arms, reeling off her record sales (over 200 million worldwide), influence for other singers today (shout out Ariana Grande), and her skill of songwriting (she has writing credits on 16 of her 17 US Number Ones), to realise that for most people, Mariah Carey is the personification of an artificial Christmas tree. Each year she’s dusted off, put on full display for a brief period, before being taken down and hidden away in some dark corner until December comes around again. Although she’s rejected the moniker of ‘Queen of Christmas’, her affliction with the period has turned a once sweet venture ever so sickly.

Christmas albums have always been seen some record labels as a way to ensure some degree of sales for a flopping artist. However, Mariah bucked the trend with the release of Merry Christmas in 1994, sandwiched between Music Box and Daydream which sold a cumulative 48 million albums worldwide. Although it could be seen as less ‘successful’ in comparison to its non-seasonal counterparts, Merry Christmas still shifted a hefty 15 million copies, and was the moment when Mariah and merriment became entwined for eternity.

By making herself a living Christmas decoration, the chanteuse is doing herself a disservice to her legacy
Arguably, the continued commercial success of ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, has made her over reliant on the season as a tool to continue raking in the cash and reminding some of her relevance. Since 1994, Mariah has released another Christmas album, a Christmas book, starred in three Christmas films, directed a Christmas TV movie, appeared in numerous Christmas TV specials, and the list and diversification of what Christmas things she lends her name to will no likely grow longer. Whilst hearing that first warbled ‘I’ of ‘All I Want For Christmas…’ will never become tiresome, it’s sad that her special relationship with the season has come at the detriment to her other music.

In the midst of the Christmas craze, people forget the true musicianship that Mariah Carey holds. She has an intuition when it comes to sampling as seen in ‘Fantasy’, ‘We Belong Together’ revived her career in the mid-noughties and still sounds as fresh today, and as a debut single, ‘Vision of Love’ demonstrates the force and talent of her once powerful voice. There’s no denying that her career and vocal instrument are entering their twilight years. However, this doesn’t mean she has to reside herself to becoming a Christmas novelty a la Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Her contemporaries like Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige have continued creating quality new music for their loyal fans, and I’m positive that Carey’s ‘Lambs’, myself included, are all eager to hear something actually good that’s hidden beneath all the pretence of her personality.

Mariah Carey is one of the last remaining divas. However, by making herself a living Christmas decoration, the chanteuse is doing herself a disservice to her legacy which is becoming ever more elusive as the years go by. ‘All I Want For Christmas’ is for Mariah to realise that whilst the festive period might be a merry money maker, there is more to her than just that. Deep down, it’s likely she thinks the same too.”



24th December 2017 at 9:00 am

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