We all know Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Every year around Thanksgiving, it comes out of hibernation and is pumped into our collective brains from pretty much everywhere for the next month.
Hell, at this point it might be Mariah’s best known song. It seems like the only time I ever even see Mariah Carey on TV these days is around Christmas when everybody has her on to sing this one song. She’s like the Christmas version of Lee Greenwood and “God Bless the USA.”
The song was first released in 1994, but as much as it’s played for that one month a year, you know that Mariah Carey is still making bank from just that one song. I can’t even blame her for disappearing the other 11 months of a year. That’s a pretty sweet gig.
Well now it seems like somebody else is trying to tap into that bankroll that Mariah has coming in every year after a lawsuit was filed by a country songwriter from Louisiana over the holiday tune.
According to a lawsuit filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana, songwriter Andy Stone is claiming that Mariah and the songwriter elves responsible for “All I Want For Christmas Is You” ripped off his song of the same name.
Stone, who records under the name Vince Vance, claims in the lawsuit that he wrote and recorded his version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” in Nashville in 1989 with his group Vince Vance & The Valiants. He claims that his song received “extensive airplay” during the 1993 Christmas season, and began to appear on the Billboard charts the year before Mariah released her version.
The lawsuit alleges that Mariah’s version of the song is a “derivative work” of Stone’s original, and is demanding no less than $20 million in damages from Mariah and her co-writer, Walter Afanasieff, along with her record label, Sony.
Now, let’s get something out of the way here: In my opinion, these songs sound nothing alike.
I actually went back and listened to the Vince Vance version of “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” and I’d definitely heard it before. Kelly Clarkson has apparently even covered this version of the song as a single back in 2020. And with over 4 million streams on Spotify, there’s no question that it’s at least a semi-popular song.
But it sounds nothing like Mariah’s version, other than the title. And titles can’t be copyrighted (otherwise there wouldn’t be 20 different versions of songs called “Damn Straight” on Spotify right now).
And why is he just now filing this lawsuit? Mariah’s version of the song has been out for almost 30 years now. It’s been on every commercial, played in every store and shopping mall, and has been drilled into our Christmas brains every December for the past 28 years. Surely Stone didn’t just become aware of the song in 2021, which is when he claims he first sent a cease and desist to the copyright holders of Mariah’s version.
All I’ll say is, I have questions.
So will Stone ultimately prevail in his lawsuit against the Christmas mega-hit? Or will they pay him a small settlement just to go away?
I guess we’ll see.
But the one thing we can count on? Five months from now, as soon as we put away those Thanksgiving dishes, Mariah Carey’s song will once again come out from its 11 month rest to take over the Christmas airwaves.
It’s one of the only certainties we have left in this world, along with death, taxes, and Luke Combs songs hitting #1 on the charts.
Check out both versions of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” here and see what you think.
Here’s Mariah’s version (although I’m sure you know what it sounds like).
And here’s Stone’s version, recorded under the name Vince Vance & the Valiants.