All I Want for Christmas (original song)

All I Want for Christmas single cover

I’ve written and recorded a Christmas song for three years in a row – I feel like I’m on a roll. This year, I didn’t have an idea for a new song until I fired up Spotify one day and saw their new Holiday playlists. Front and centre was the 1994 Mariah Carey hit, All I Want for Christmas is You. I had an instant gag reflex to seeing this, as I really despise the saccharine lyrics. Yes, there are some really cool musical motifs and chord changes, but that’s really re-purposing from classic holiday songs written decades ago.

Lyrics and chord ideas

At first, I wanted to write a poetic treatise about how sugary and sweet Christmas and the holiday season seems to appear on its surface, but bubbling underneath are things like growing financial debt, family feuds, and an uptick in depression.

I made a short list of keywords: saccharine, sweet, sugar on the one hand, and darkness, depression, and debt on the other. But the poetry wasn’t happening. As I started writing the lyrics, things came out more subversive and almost like a parody of Mariah Carey’s hit. So I just went with it, including borrowing her title.

I introduced a deliberately subversive chord sequence, alternating between C-major and C-minor in the intro and verse. I borrowed this from Ramin Djawadi’s theme for Game of Thrones, which he explained on an episode of Song Exploder. It’s supposed to symbolize the two-faced holiday season, like I mentioned above.

Like all my songs, I developed the chords and melody through both singing and playing the piano. I worked out the chorus lyrics first, then the verses, along with chords and melody, and added the bridge the next day.

Arrangement, recording and mixing

After the song was finalized, I worked out a heavier arrangement with electric guitar, bass, drums, and a vintage organ (all through software instruments). I wanted more of a hard rock / punk attitude. I worked on adding a little more grit to my vocal performance.

The mixing was fairly straight forward; I wanted punchy drums and an in-your-face crunch to the whole song. I used compression and saturation to get a dynamic yet loud mix.

Hope you enjoy it and happy holidays!

See the streets light up
So obscenely bright they blind your way
See the stores fill up
Stuff you won’t keep past Groundhog Day

And all I want for Christmas
Something more nutritious
Sick of all the saccharine
And never play that song…again!

Cram your bellies, filled up
Office parties, stapled smiles
Expectations build up
All the presents piled high

And all I want for Christmas
Something more nutritious
Sick of all the saccharine
And never play that song…again!

Darkness creeps in
As the lights all come down
Bills they rack up
As you put on the pounds

And all I want for Christmas
Something more nutritious
Sick of all the saccharine
And never play that song…again!

And all I want for Christmas
Something more nutritious
All the sugar makes me numb
And all I want for Christmas is dumb!

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