Twinkle lights. Santa hats. Endless trays of cookies. There are plenty of signs that the holidays are upon us, but everyone knows the season isn’t official until you hear one song: Mariah Carey’s impossibly joyous and utterly ubiquitous “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The jingle-jangling blockbuster is so larger-than-life that in 2019, 25 years after its release, it finally hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, sparking a renewed appreciation of how the song rose above hundreds of other contemporary carols to become the definitive Christmas standard of our time.
The full album also contains 10 other holiday songs, including two originals—“Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)” and “Jesus Born on This Day,” both co-written with her longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff. But with her vocal acrobatics and range, Carey has a way of making even the classics sound shiny and new. Whether it’s the choir-backed elation of “Joy to the World” or the Motown-flavored soul of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” Merry Christmas is the rare holiday record that feels uniquely American and everlasting.