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  • If you walk around a shopping mall, turn on the radio, or go to a coffee shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you're gonna hear this song.

  • ♪I don't want a lot for Christmas, there's just one thing I need

  • That's Mariah Carey's 1994 hit, "All I want for Christmas Is You".

  • It's one of the most often played Christmas songs ever.

  • And it happens to be one of the only Christmas songs written in the last 20 years that has reached the same popularity of the American Christmas standards that came before it.

  • So, here's a question: What makes Mariah Carey's song sound so incredibly... Christmassy?

  • Aside from those sleigh bells, of course.

  • One of the greatest Christmas albums of all time is "A Christmas Gift for You" from Phil Spector.

  • It was originally released in 1963 to little fanfare, but then it was reissued in 1972.

  • At that point, it instantly became a classic.

  • And if you look at Mariah Carey's song, it is most immediately a direct style study of that 1972 Phil Spector Christmas album.

  • The arrangement is just down to a tee.

  • That's Adam Regusea; he teaches journalism at Mercer University but studied music and composition.

  • Most directly, I think she was trying to imitate a song on that Phil Spector album titled, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)".

  • You can hear that so very clearly in how the intro of both songs are structured.

  • Christmas. Snow's coming down

  • ♪I don't want a lot for Christmas

  • But if you look a little bit deeper into Mariah Carey's song, you'll see another link.

  • One to the best selling song of all time: 1942's "White Christmas" by Irving Berlin, performed by Bing Crosby.

  • And to find that similarity, you've got to look at the chords; it's all in the chords.

  • Now, a chord is three or more notes played together.

  • "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", that Phil Spector song, I think that has just, like, four chords in it.

  • It's a four-chord rock song.

  • There's a lot more variety of chords used in "All I want for Christmas is You" and they harken back to a time when popular music was largely informed by Jazz.

  • A Jazz standard might have nine different chords in it and chords of lots of different kinds of flavors.

  • Not just majors and minors, but diminished and augmented and 7ths and 9ths and all that kind of stuff.

  • And there is one very, very special chord in Mariah Carey's song that gives it such a classic sound.

  • It's no coincidence that that very chord is also played in "White Christmas".

  • So, yeah, this is not going to sound great; I'm playing it off my iPhone, right? But...

  • So, we're putting both songs in the key of C for comparison.

  • So, Carey starts just on a tonic chord, home chord, chord one.

  • ♪I don't want a lot for Christmas

  • One seven.

  • There's just one thing I need

  • Four chord, subdominant chord.

  • ♪I don't care about the presents

  • And here's the special chord.

  • Underneath the Christmas tree

  • ♪I just want you for my own

  • So, the effect is going from a dominant chord and then, kind of melting into this delicious, spicy, warm, little, diminished chord.

  • Now if we were to compare that to Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", we see an incredibly similar progression, culminating that very very special chord.

  • Irving Berlin, uh, starts this phrase with a tonic chord.

  • Where the tree tops glisten and children listen

  • There's that special chord.

  • To hear sleigh bells in the snow

  • To me, the right word is just, "melting", you know, it's like snow melting by the fire.

  • It's these Jazzy chords that give, uh, Mariah Carey's song that kind of classic, early-20th-century, Christmas, Jazzy sound.

  • And it's just the most Christmassy thing in the world.

  • I don't know why.

If you walk around a shopping mall, turn on the radio, or go to a coffee shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you're gonna hear this song.

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B1 US Vox chord christmas carey mariah mariah carey

The secret chord that makes Christmas music sound so Christmassy

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    yining posted on 2018/12/11
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