Mariah Carey Is Lying About Her Most Famous Song, Says Collaborator

Mariah Carey's frequent musical collaborator Walter Afanasieff says her story of how "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is false.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

mariah carey

When the holidays get closer, shoppers everywhere either anticipate or downright dread hearing “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” the haunting holiday anthem from Mariah Carey. For years, Carey has claimed to have created this song when she was a young girl, but Carey’s longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff recently appeared on the Hot Takes & Deep Dives podcast and said the truth was he and a very much adult Carey were once staying at a rented home with a piano and that “I started playing a boogie-woogie, kind of a rock. Mariah chimed in and started singing ‘I don’t want a lot for Christmas,’” and the rest is musical history.

Part of what makes the story told by Mariah Carey so strange is that both Carey and Afanasieff have been credited as the co-creators of this song from the very beginning. Both of them are listed as co-producers and writers. According to Afanasieff, it was Carey that wrote the lyrics and he wrote the chords, and he credits both of them for developing the music.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why Walter Afanasieff would be upset about this. As he discussed on the podcast, he is a trained and accomplished veteran musician who has “degrees in music” and is an “accomplished orchestrator and arranger.” He is even a teacher of music, but seemingly every time Mariah Carey discusses “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” she repeats the strange story of coming up with the song entirely on her own as a young girl.

mariah carey

Afanasieff alleges this is an “alternate story” that was invented by Mariah Carey and one that seemed to come out of nowhere. His logic is quite simple: if Carey really did invent this Christmas classic as a child, she would have been saying that from the very beginning. Instead, it is a “tall tale” that she only began telling over a decade after the song first came out.

Perhaps the weirdest element of all is that, according to Walter Afanasieff, Mariah Carey may very well believe the invented origin story she keeps sharing. In his discussion of who should or should not get credit for this song, he says that Carey’s alternate history “just sort of developed in her mind.” And the fact that she allegedly did not have the musical knowledge as a child to write this song doesn’t keep her from saying that she did, indeed, come up with everything all on her own.

If the account of Afanasieff is true, then Mariah Carey is not necessarily intentionally lying or maliciously trying to cut her collaborator out of getting credit. Instead, it seems like the popularity of this song growing over time might have distorted the way that she remembers everything happening. Instead of a simple story about two collaborators creating a hit song basically on a lark, she has developed a larger-than-life tale for the creation of a larger-than-life song.

Ultimately, we can see why Afanasieff is upset about not getting credit for his share of making this song. However, the Christmas-loving public now firmly associates Mariah Carey and nobody else with this famous song. It’s too bad Santa already came this year; it looks like all Afanasieff wanted for Christmas was credit for his work.