Mariah Carey’s a lady of many hits but the one that resonates the most these days is ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You‘ which is the longest running holiday Number One song of all time. What you probably didn’t know is that she wrote it as a little girl. At least that’s the story she claims and one that her longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff who was co-writer and co-producer calls hogwash. Speaking on Jess Rothschild’s Hot Takes & Deep Dives podcast, he says this is a version of alternative facts that she’s started telling in about the last 15 years.
“When she started to hint at the fact that, “Oh, I wrote that song when I was a little girl!” But why weren’t you saying that for 12 or 13 or 15 years prior to that? So it just sort of developed in her mind,” Afanasieff said. “She doesn’t play anything. 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.”
The story as we remember it, because she’s told it a ton of times is that Carey was spending time in a house in the summer planning a Christmas album. The house was filled with Christmas decorations to help with setting the mood and even had fake snow around if I remember correctly. But the two only took 15 minutes to write the song as has been published in the past by outlets like PinkNews. “We were holed up in this beautiful home that they were renting, and it was the summertime and there was a piano,” he said. “So the writing of “All I Want For Christmas” is, I started playing a boogie-woogie, kind of a rock. Mariah chimed in and started singing “I don’t want a lot for Christmas. So on and on, and it was like a game of ping-pong,” Afanasieff said. “I’d hit the ball to her, she hits it back to me.”, Afanasieff says.
The two had worked on much of her early work. So the ballods from her beginning days many are fans of have him to at least in part credit. As for her big holiday hit, he credits her with the lyrics and music while he is responsible for the chords and music. “I’ve studied music, I have degrees in music. I’m an accomplished orchestrator and arranger. I teach music. I’m not a schlump. I don’t play by ear.”
So just how did these two get on different pages about the origins of this holiday banger? Well these two have a beef of epic preportions, one where in 2019 Afanasieff told RadioTimes.com that she quit speaking to him during her first divorce. “The reason we stopped working together was primarily because she and her husband, who was the chairman of Sony Music, got a divorce. And I was under an exclusive contract with him. So, she left the building, she wasn’t even on the label anymore, but I couldn’t go and work with her because he wouldn’t let me. So she found that to be a little bit of a slap in the face.”
“Singers like Mariah, Celine [Dion], Whitney [Houston], Barbra [Streisand] they’re all very insecure creatures. If you start working on a song with another singer, the jealousy comes out. They’re very, very jealous people. I was working to put food on my table. I can’t only work with Mariah, I have to work with other people, and I think that was a bit of a problem ’cause I was working, at that time, with Celine, and there was a girl named Lara Fabian, too. So, I don’t know, we just parted ways.”
He’s also gone on to say that she doesn’t like giving other people credit stating, “She doesn’t like to acknowledge other people. It seems to be a problem with singers. If you see a singer talking about something that they wrote, they will probably say I wrote the song when I was 12 years old, or, here’s another song I wrote. It doesn’t matter how many interviews she’s done or when she’s on stage, she’ll never ever say, ‘Here’s the song that I wrote with Walter.’ ”
Afanasieff’s assertions about Carey have also been corroborated by family members such as her brother Morgan who in 2016 said “Mariah doesn’t care about anyone other than herself,” referencing er refusing to help her sister who suffers from AIDS and had just been released from jail for soliciting an unercover officer. At the same time, she’s accused her sister of drugging her and trying to pimp her as a child, so it’s a bt understandable if she might feel a way about helping her sister. It isn’t as though she hadn’t in the past.
But as for this erasure of Walter Afanasieff from the history of All I Want for Christmas Is You, we hate seeing these types of music titan debates. It just looks to be merely diva antics and we know the queen diva herself won’t be letting off of that anytime soon.