Explained: The appeal of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’

Monday, December 22, 2014
A little more than two years ago in this space, I confessed an almost irrational appreciation for Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff’s now-classic song All I Want for Christmas Is You. And I wondered just what made it so darned appealing. I speculated that “it meets some abstract criteria for pleasing, energizing music composition” but asked: “Any music experts out there like to explain?”

For months, my curiosity went unabated. I challenged friends and listeners to suggest other songs that would hold up so well to repeated listening.

My family questioned my sanity and my friends questioned my taste. Until my wife discovered the answer in her Facebook feed.

At least one music expert’s risen to the challenge—even though he didn’t know I’d issued it.

Fellow veteran radio newsman Adam Ragusea, journalist in residence at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and a self-described “recovering composer,” has posted just such an analysis to Slate: “Why Mariah Carey’s immortal holiday classic sounds so darn Christmassy.”

Go read it now.

Then listen to this interview Adam granted Rivet Radio.

Addendum, Dec. 8, 2018: All hail the expert audio production of George Drake Jr.