They don’t call Mariah Carey the “Queen of Christmas” for any ol’ reason. Her entire holiday canon has become a market for success, and her ever growing power during the holiday season only snowballs year after year. The key to her yuletide fortune, though, is a song she wrote back in 1994, called “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Maybe you’ve heard it? Since then, that song and its parent album, Merry Christmas, have helped turn Carey into a symbol of Christmas that only Rudolph, Frosty, Santa, and Jesus himself can relate to.
Over the course of her career, the pop diva has made it clear just how important the Christmas season is to her. After several of her childhood Christmases were foiled in the hands of her “dysfunctional” family (as noted in her 2020 memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey), Carey has since made it a point to celebrate every Christmas as nothing but merry and bright. This included releasing not one, but four holiday albums, a yearly trip to the snowy slopes of Aspen, Christmas tours, Apple TV+ specials, a children’s book and accompanying film, merchandise, and this year’s “Mariah Menu” designed for McDonald’s. Christmas really is that big a deal for the superstar. And from these festivities, her fans have not only been gifted with many exquisite covers of holiday classics, like “O Holy Night” and “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” but also a handful of her own masterfully crafted seasonal gems – other than that one – written and performed by the chanteuse herself. “When Christmas Comes” is one of those gems.
Taken from the hitmaker’s second holiday album, 2010’s Merry Christmas II You, “When Christmas Comes” was written and produced by Carey and James Poyser. The R&B track features Carey’s unmissable, velvet-coated voice, layered over a heavy dose of soul, trumpets, and live instrumentation. Unlike many, many modern-day Christmas songs, “When Christmas Comes” takes you right back in time to days of holidays past, thanks to its classical, big band ensemble. Since its release, it has been performed on all of Carey’s subsequent holiday tours, as well as the star’s 2010 ABC Christmas Special – Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You. Though, a voice like Mariah Carey’s needs no assistance, singer-songwriter John Legend skated his way onto the track’s single release version. With two of the biggest voices in R&B coming together to spread some holiday cheer, it’s almost impossible to think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit – especially after their short but sweet “Jingle Bells” addition right before the song’s climactic ending.
Throughout the song, Carey is certain that the “gift of love” will help save the Christmas season. “But baby, if you spread love / Someday it might be enough / To heal each other one by one,” she croons. The track is so smooth that it’s practically unfitting to not have a cup of hot cocoa (or a glass of Carey’s new Black Irish cream liqueur) in your hands, while you sit back and indulge in all its merriment. And, having a gentle snowfall outside your window, amidst twinkling tree lights, will most definitely have you listening to this song on repeat until the day Christmas finally does come.