Merry Christmas
Holiday Album
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Merry Christmas
Released November 1, 1994
Length 39:31
Producer(s) Mariah Carey
Walter Afanasieff
Labels Columbia Records

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Merry Christmas is the fourth studio album and first Christmas album by Mariah Carey that was released on November 1, 1994, on Columbia Records. The album features cover versions of popular Christmas tunes and original material. Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, with whom she wrote all of the original tracks, as well as producing Carey's interpretations of the covered material. The album contains a contemporary holiday theme, and featured "authentic, gospel-flavored background vocals."

The album features instrumentation from keyboards, bass guitars, drums, percussion and heavy backing vocals. After its release, the album received generally positive reviews and became a worldwide success. Critics praised Carey's uplifting and flavored vocals, as well as her skilled songwriting alongside Afanasieff. Singles were released from the album, being sent to different radio stations for promotional purposes.

Merry Christmas was released at the peak of the initial stretch of Carey's career, between "Music Box" and "Daydream." The album produced the worldwide classic single, "All I Want For Christmas is You" which became the best-selling holiday ringtone in the U.S.

The album has sold 5,120,000 copies in the United States as of October 16, 2011 according to Nielsen SoundScan and has been certified 5x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of 5 million copies in the United States.

In Japan, Merry Christmas has sold over 2,500,000 copies and is the second best-selling album of all time by a non-Asian artist, behind only Carey's other album, "Number 1's. "Merry Christmas" has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling Christmas album of all time.

Album BackgroundEdit

Since her rise to fame in 1990, Carey has claimed to be a religious person. She expressed her belief in God and her connection between music and spirituality, and felt the album was finally a way to portray her mysticism into music. After the success of Carey's previous effort, "Music Box", there was speculation of a new project in the works; however it was not until October 1994, only one month before the album's release, that Billboard announced Carey would be releasing a holiday album for the Christmas season.

Initially, critics were shocked; they did not know how Carey would fare as an entertainer, as she had previously only been viewed as a pop star. Nevertheless, Carey, unaffected by the speculation, continued working on, and promoting the album in high spirits, confident in her work.

The idea proved to be wise, earning Carey recognition in various markets including Christian radio and contemporary R&B stations, as well as extended her fame in Japan, where the album experienced much of its success.

Throughout the album's development, Carey worked extensively with Walter Afanasieff, with whom she collaborated extensively on "Emotions" and "Music Box."Together, they wrote all three of the album's original songs, as well as producing most of the traditional tracks.

"All I Want for Christmas Is You", the album's debut single, was written by Carey and Afanasieff, which was sent to top-40 and adult contemporary stations, with the video having been filmed the year before.

Another track they wrote, "Miss You Most (at Christmas Time)", was sent to R&B stations, with "Jesus Born on This Day", another original song, being sent to Christian and gospel radio stations around the world.

Additionally, Carey recorded a cover of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love, as well as classics such as "Silent Night", "O Holy Night" and "Joy to the World." The latter song, which was used as a promotional single, was remixed several times and sent to various clubs; adding to the album's range of listeners.

Record producer and composer, Loris Holland, co-produced some of the albums gospel flavored tracks, including "Silent Night", where he arranged the backing vocals and synthesizes. Carey's rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", was deemed as "one of the more playful tracks on the album," alongside "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."

Album ReceptionEdit

The album garnered generally positive reviews from music critics. Barry Schwartz, editor of Stylus Magazine, gave the album a very positive review, praising Carey's vocals, the album's authenticity and songwriting.

Schwartz wrote, "Dr. Seuss was mad Jewish, but he wrote in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand.” That's pretty nice. He figured that shit out. There's no guilt. No guilt in being a Jew who envies Christmas, or being a Jew who enjoys Christmas music, or being a toughie (as I am) and still liking Mariah Carey, because, all this stuff is freaking awesome."

Aside from the album, Schwartz lauded "All I Want for Christmas Is You", calling it, "To say this song is an instant classic somehow doesn't capture its amazingicity; it's a modern standard: joyous, exhilarating, and loud, with even a hint of longing (ooh longing!). She sings, “I don't want a lot for Christmas / I won't even wish for snow,” such a beautiful phrase delivered with full sincerity over rolling pianos, spine-squashing tympanis, philharmonic strings, and a quasi-wall of sound—and Mariah's gorgeous voice bursts through it all. Rats, why haven't I been celebrating Christmas?!"

J.D. Considine from The Baltimore Sun said that the album "may look like just another attempt to cash in on Christmas cheer, but is actually the work of someone who genuinely loves this music. Granted, Carey's gospel inclinations come through a lot stronger than might be expected on traditional tunes like "Silent Night", but that hardly diminishes the effect of her performance; in fact, her soulful ornamentation adds oomph to the reading of "O Holy Night". But the album's real strength is the conviction she brings to otherwise corny fare like "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town", while the way she augments "Joy to the World" with a bit of the Three Dog Night hit is pure genius."

The album received a less enthusiastic review from Roch Parisien of Allmusic, who praised "All I Want for Christmas Is You", writing, "On the positive side, her co-penned (one of three) "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is a well-crafted Phil Spector tribute, with Beach Boys-style harmonies, jangling bells, and a sleigh-ride pace, injecting one of the few bits of exuberant fun in this otherwise vanilla set."

However, he was more critical of Carey's take on "O Holy Night" and "Joy to the World," writing, "Pretensions to high opera on "O Holy Night" and a horrid dance club take on "Joy to the World."

Steve Morse from The Boston Globe commented: "Her early albums were often polished to a fault, but she cuts loose with unbridled soul on the new Christmas disc. Oddly enough, it may be her best album. She blends original songs (such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You", which debuted in video form on MTV this week) with traditional carols ("Silent Night" and "Joy to the World") and even Phil Spector's Yuletide classic, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),"

Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote "There are gospelly versions of familiar carols like "Silent Night", dramatic ballads like her own "Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)", and uptempo imitations, with chimes, of Phil Spector's 1963 Christmas album, like "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town". Regardless of backup, Ms. Carey oversings, glutting songs with her vocal tics—like sliding down from the note above the melody note—and turning expressions of devotion into narcissistic displays."


  1. Silent Night [3:41]-(written by Fr. Josef Mohr & Franz X. Gruber; produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)
  2. All I Want For Christmas is You [4:01]-(written and produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)
  3. O Holy Night [4:27]-(written by Adolphe Adam; produced by Mariah Carey and Loris Holland)
  4. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) [2:35]-(written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector; produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)
  5. Miss You Most (At Christmas Time) [4:32]-(written and produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)
  6. Joy to the World [4:21]-(written by George Frideric Handel, Lowell Mason, and Isaac Watts; produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)
  7. Jesus Born on This Day [3:43]-(written by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff; produced by Mariah Carey and Loris Holland)
  8. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town [3:24]-(written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillepsie; produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)
  9. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing\Gloria in Excelsis Deo [3:01]-(written by Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn; produced by Mariah Carey and Loris Holland)
  10. Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child [4:26]-(Traditional; produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff)

Album CreditsEdit


  • Mariah Carey: lead vocals, background vocals
  • Walter Afanasieff: keyboards, additional keyboards, synthesizers,
  • Loris Holland: synthesizers, keyboards, rhythm programming
  • Mark C. Rooney, Cindy Mizelle, Melonie Daniels, Kelly Price, and Shanrae Price: background vocals


  • Mariah Carey: arranger
  • Dave Hall: arranger
  • Walter Afanasieff: arranger
  • Dana Jon Chappelle: engineer, vocal engineering
  • Kent Matcke: 2nd engineer
  • Mark Krieg: 2nd engineer
  • Kirk Yano: additional tracking engineer
  • Mick Guzauski: mixing
  • Bob Ludwig: mastering, Gateway Master Studios

DualDisc versionEdit

  • Disc 1 — audio
  1. "Silent Night"
  2. "All I Want for Christmas Is You"
  3. "O Holy Night"
  4. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"
  5. "Miss You Most (at Christmas Time)"
  6. "Joy to the World"
  7. "Jesus Born on This Day"
  8. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town"
  9. "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing/Gloria (in Excelsis Deo)"
  10. "Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child"
  11. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
  12. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" (anniversary mix) – ?
  • Disc 2 — DVD
  1. "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" (anniversary mix)
  2. "All I Want for Christmas Is You"
  3. "Miss You Most (at Christmas Time)"
  4. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (So So Def remix)
  5. "Joy to the World" (celebration mix)
  6. "O Holy Night"
  7. "All I Want for Christmas Is You" (black-and-white version)
  8. "Joy to the World"


Chart Peak
Australian Albums Chart 2
Austrian Albums Chart 4
Belgian Albums Chart 5
Canadian Albums Chart 21
Danish Albums Chart 4
Dutch Albums Chart 4
European Albums Chart 9
German Albums Chart 15
Greek Albums Chart 37
Hungarian Albums Chart 15
Italian Albums Chart 3
Japanese Albums Chart 1
New Zealand Albums Chart 10
Norwegian Albums Chart 11
Portuguese Albums Chart 9
Spanish Albums Chart 26
Swedish Albums Chart 4
Swiss Albums Chart 4
UK Albums Chart 32
U.S. Billboard 200 3
U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 4
U.S. Billboard Holiday Albums 1
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