Mariah Carey shows that she can still hit the vocal heights in Billboard Music Awards performance of All I Want For Christmas Is You, a song she says she started writing “on a little DX7 or Casio keyboard”

It’s always slightly disappointing to hear an artist sing a song from their back catalogue and realise that their voice is no longer what it once was. Mariah Carey fans, though, need not worry, as she’s just rolled back the years to deliver an effortless, note-perfect performance of All I Want For Christmas Is You.

Taking to a suitably seasonal stage at last night’s Billboard Music Awards - there was even an ice rink - the star got a headstart on the holiday season by singing her 1994 classic, which seems to become more popular every year and has taken its place in the pantheon of the best Christmas songs.

After being lowered from the snowy skies in a kind of vertical ski lift, Carey nailed the introduction, stormed through the first few verses and choruses and then not only hit the big note, but also proceeded to throw in a few scarily high vocal ad libs during the coda. Impressive stuff.

Speaking to in 2021, Carey said that she began writing All I Want For Christmas Is You “on a little DX7 or Casio keyboard that was in this little room in the house that I lived in at the time in Upstate New York lifetimes ago. Just writing down everything that I thought about. All the things that reminded me of Christmas that made me feel festive that I wanted other people to feel.”

Mariah Carey Billboard Awards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Carey has never claimed that she finished the music for All I Want For Christmas Is You prior to working on it with Walter Afanasieff, who’s credited as the co-writer/producer. That said, he does have a slightly different recollection of how the song came about.

“She doesn't play anything,” he told the Hot Takes & Deep Dives podcast in 2022. “She doesn't play keyboard or piano. She doesn't understand music - she doesn't know chord changes and music theory or anything like that. She doesn't know a diminished chord from a minor seventh chord to a major seventh chord.

“So to claim that she wrote a very complicated chord-structured song with her finger on a Casio keyboard when she was a little girl, it's kind of a tall tale.”

There’s even more to this story, though, because Carey is currently facing a lawsuit from Andy Stone, who wrote his own song called All I Want For Christmas Is You in 1989, releasing it under the name Vince Vance and the Valiants. Stone claims that his song received “extensive airplay” during the 1993 holiday season, and that Carey’s hit, which came out the following year, is too similar for comfort.

Billboard reports that Stone’s lawsuit states that: “The phrase ‘all I want for Christmas is you’ may seem like a common parlance today, in 1988 it was, in context, distinctive. Moreover, the combination of the specific chord progression in the melody paired with the verbatim hook was a greater than 50% clone of Vance’s original work, in both lyric choice and chord expressions.” 

Stone filed a similar lawsuit last year but later withdrew it, so maybe this will become an annual Christmas tradition, too.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.