It’s hard to believe, but there was in fact a time when holiday music didn’t exist entirely within the looming shadow of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Before the year 1994, we had to make do with old standards crooned by Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole or a handful of festive pop songs from Wham!, ex-Beatles, and the Band Aid supergroup. Then, the frozen ground rumbling to the ear-splitting sound of shaking jingle bells, Carey’s fortune-making, radio-dominating hit erupted, covering the global landscape in the molten lava of a track so hot that even a quarter century of unrivaled popularity hasn’t diminished its awesome power one bit.
Perhaps feeling nostalgic for a time before she wore the heavy crown of Christmas Empress, Carey now wants all of her subjects to see the moment her ascent began. She’s shared the first live performance of “All I Want For Christmas...” from back on December 8th, 1994.
You barely need to hit play on the video to begin hearing it in your head, but, for those who do decide to venture forth, the clip is a compelling snapshot of the time just before a song became an indelible part of pop culture. The track having been released only a few weeks before, Carey is shown appearing at a fundraising event held at New York City’s Cathedral Of Saint John The Divine. She seems to know what she’s ushering onto the global stage. The first verses of the piano melody play and she smiles, basking in the last seconds before the era of Carey Christmas begins. For the next five minutes, a predictably excellent vocal performance soars above the live band, washing over a crowd presumably unaware that they’re witnessing a historical moment on par with the birth of Saint Nicholas or the first time somebody put a tree in their living room and everyone was just sort of cool with it.
The video’s release is part of Carey’s current determination to celebrate its 25th anniversary by making the song somehow more ubiquitous than ever before. On November 1, she kicked off the holiday season with outtakes from the track’s music video, then announced a tour where she’ll perform it alongside other, lesser tracks from her Merry Christmas album. She also created a line of merchandise to ensure that even when you don’t actually hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” it will play in your mind regardless.
God help us all when its 30th anniversary rolls around. By then, the confluence of advanced technology and Carey’s vast, Christmas-swollen coffers will likely have come together to offer the only level of escalation “All I Want For Christmas...” could reach at this point: Mandatory cerebral implants, designed to play the song within our very heads at strict, one-hour intervals throughout all of November, December, and, if she’s merciful enough not to extend it further, the first few days of January.
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