Merry Christmas II You
In 2010, Mariah Carey was pregnant with her twins, Monroe and Moroccan, and decided that creating two human lives wasn’t enough. No, she would also craft her second Christmas album: Merry Christmas II You. The lead single from the set was entitled “Oh Santa!” and was released on October 1, 2010. The Mariah Carey of today would likely tell herself “not yet!” when presented with this pre-Halloween release date, but with the album slated for November 2, the lead single had to, well, lead.
The release of “Oh Santa!” was certainly an exciting moment for the Lambily. Mariah hadn’t composed a new Christmas song since 2000, and hadn’t sung a new Christmas composition since 1994! The only new Christmas release between 1994 and 2010 was an “Anniversary Mix” of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” (essentially a cover of The Jackson 5 rendition) released in 2005. Enter “Oh Santa!”
“Oh Santa!” (2010)
“Oh Santa!” is a sort of frantically festive bop that works perfectly as a Christmas song; it’s high-energy with no shortage of cheer. Literally, the chorus is supported by a “Hey Mickey” inspired cheer for Santa to “make him mine this Christmas.” On the verses, Mariah’s quick-tongued, layered vocal acrobatics are best described as Destiny’s Child meets The Supremes. Lyrically, it’s clever and witty, with several tongue-in-cheek lines that might make the naughty list (alongside, perhaps, the classic “Santa Baby”).
Of course, it’s likely that no Christmas song will ever surpass the success of the behemoth that is “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” no matter how hard Ms. Carey, or anyone else, might try. “Oh Santa” is no exception. Still, the song proved to be a success. It catapulted to the pole position of Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart (which is almost exclusively Christmas songs during the holiday season), as well as on the Holiday Digital Sales chart. To date, it remains one of Mariah’s most-streamed holiday hits.
Queen of Christmas
Fast-forward a decade, and Mariah Carey reigns as the indisputable “Queen of Christmas.” I remember going to the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting performance of “Oh Santa” in 2010, and I held up a sign that said “Empress of Christmas.” Mariah got a kick out of it, and little did either of us know that the whole world would soon consider her as such. Personally, I think Empress of Christmas sounds more elegant, but I understand why “Queen” caught on instead. Anyway, excuse the tangent, dahhling. Let’s get back on topic!
In 2020, Mariah Carey and Apple TV+ teamed up to craft Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas, a musical variety special featuring a star-studded cast alongside the Queen of Christmas herself. The centerpiece of the special was “Oh Santa,” though this time, Mariah had a little help from some friends. Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson lended their superstar pipes to the soundtrack, joining Mariah to create a trio-version of “Oh Santa!” that took the vocal acrobatics to the next level.
“Oh Santa” 2020
More often than not, these sorts of high-profile, long-awaited collaborations fall short of the high expectations that come along with the hype they receive. However, “Oh Santa!” actually does not disappoint. In fact, dare I say, the 2020 version is actually an improvement upon the original. Don’t get me wrong, the 2010 version is an entire bop all on its own, but the “girl group” arrangement of the 2020 version gives freshens up the song with vocal variety, and added acrobatics. I mean, come on, Mariah and Ariana harmonizing in high notes at the end, while Jennifer belts it on home? It’s an entire moment.
Mariah Carey clearly has a soft spot for “Oh Santa!” because the 2020 version is not the only time she reimagined the song. She also included it in her directorial debut Christmas film on the Hallmark Channel, A Christmas Melody. However, Mariah didn’t sing it in the film. Instead, she reworked the lyrics and made it the show-stopping talent show performance piece for the daughter of the film’s main character. In 2010, she also enlisted the Jumpsmokers for a dance remix of the song, and even mashed it up with “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on another dance remix. Needless to say, the 2020 rendition remains the best reworking of the song.
The 2020 version of “Oh Santa!” proved to be a modest success, peaking at #45 on the Holiday 100, #13 on Adult Contemporary, and garnering upwards of 40 million views on YouTube, clearing the 2010 versions total of 18 million. This year, it proves to have staying power as it lingers on in Mariah’s Top 10 on both Apple Music and Spotify.
Etching a Christmas song into classic status is no easy task, but if anyone knows how to do so, its Mariah Carey. The Queen of Christmas has been persistent in pushing “Oh Santa!” as a contender for classic status. Perhaps, in time she’ll find a way. Until then, we keep bopping along to it… irregardless!
Listen to 16 minutes of “Oh Santa!”
Also available on: Spotify