Every year when September rolls in and Jose Mari Chan starts crooning in mall sound systems, almost like clockwork, he is joined by the festive chimes of today's only modern Christmas classic: Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You. A holiday phenomenon of sorts, the song never fails to climb up the charts just in time for Christmas, effectively acting like an annual paycheck straight to Mimi's bank account. But what makes 2019 so special?
As it turns out, 25 years after its first release, the infectious holiday tune finally peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The feat officialy marks Mariah's 19th number one hit, proving that the song's rampant popularity only grows stronger with every passing Yuletide.
But what exactly makes All I Want for Christmas Is You a baffling yet impressive outlier among other modern Christmas songs? To put it simply, its production is an amalgamation of elements from famous holiday classics throughout the past decades. Meaning, it's quite literally the very definition of a timeless hit. According to Insider, the anthem "embraces musical traditions that range from the 19th century Nutcracker to '60s rock and roll."
For example, its ultra familiar 13 opening chimes come from an instrumet called the celesta, the same instrument used in the beginning of an older, enduring Christmas melody, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker. The instrument has since become and essential element to several holiday melodies including White Christmas by Irvin Berling, to the Home Alone musical score, to the Christmastime background tune in Harry Potter.
Meanwhile, its maximalist production took inspiration from a recording and mixing technique called Wall of Sound, which was developed in the '60s. The technique "turns pop and rock songs into huge orchestral productions, present in holiday classics like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.
Watch the full video below for an in depth explanation of all the elements that render All I Want for Christmas Is You a timeless modern classic.