Mariah Carey helped reshape our love of holiday music when she released ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ almost 30 years ago. Since then, the song has earned her regular worldwide chart time, diamond certification, multiple covers, and millions of dollars in royalties each year. With this unparalleled level of success, it’s no surprise that she’s been dubbed the “Queen of Christmas” by her fans. Unfortunately, the singer is now facing a lawsuit over that very term, as well as a $20 million lawsuit with another artist claiming she stole the title of his song.
All I Want For Christmas Is You Lawsuit
New Orleans-based singer/songwriter Andy Stone, who has gone by the stagename Vince Vance since the early 1970s is the plaintiff suing Mariah Carey over the song title, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” In 1989, he had co-written a song of the same name for his country pop band, Vince Vance and the Valiants. In the lawsuit, Stone accuses Carey, along with her co-writer Walter Afanaseiff and record label Sony Entertainment, of exploiting his song’s “popularity and unique style.’ He further states in the lawsuit that they did not seek his permission before naming their own tune, and that having the same title has caused confusion as a result.
However, Stone has a very tricky case to prove in the court of law, as both songs have very different lyrics, melodies and even genres. Stone’s song is a guitar-based country ballad and Carey’s version is an upbeat pop track. Furthermore, there is currently no copyright law stating that two songs cannot have the same title. The United States Copyright Office has listed 177 different songs under ‘All I Want For Christmas is You,’ including the two mentioned in this lawsuit.
While it never reached nearly the same heights of popularity, Vince Vance and the Valiants still saw plenty of success with their own ‘All I Want For Christmas is You. The song regularly made the Billboard’s Country List until 2000. It also came back into prominence in 2020 after Kelly Clarkson recorded a cover version, which was then featured on her holiday album ‘When Christmas Comes Around…’ the following year.
Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’ was released in 1993 and landed on the Billboard charts shortly after. Played frequently every holiday season on radio stations, advertisements, streaming services, and even at retail centers in both the U.S. and around the world. In more recent years, the song has been streamed over 1 billion times on Spotify alone. According to MRC Data, Carey’s earnings from this song alone are as follows:
She earns one cent for each time the song is streamed. When added together, she amassed $1.7 million from streaming services alone in 2019. That number grew to $1.9 million in 2020. In total, Carey has earned over $60 million from streaming services just from this song alone. When you add in album sales, downloads, and other royalties.
Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ has also been covered by numerous artists, including Michael Bublé and Justin Bieber. In 2015, Mariah Carey turned her song into an all-ages picture book, also titled ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. The book, and the 2017 animated feature film based on it, turned the festive love song into a story about a young Mariah Carey wishing for a puppy for Christmas.
Mariah Carey – Queen of Christmas Lawsuit
One Christmas-centered lawsuit is bad enough to ruin anyone’s holidays, but two months after the initial lawsuit, Mariah Carey is facing more festive legal trouble over an attempt to trademark the term “Queen of Christmas.” After years of using the honorary title, Queen of Christmas, Carey attempted to officially trademark the moniker by filing legal paperwork in 2021, although this paperwork was only recently made public. While fans have embraced the title, others have been pushing back.
In response to the trademark paperwork, Elizabeth Chan filed a legal opposition asking to block Mariah Carey’s request. Elizabeth Chan is a full-time holiday singer, performing Christmas music year-round and exclusively writing holiday songs. In 2018, the New Yorker dubbed her “The Queen of Christmas” and she released an album of holiday music in 2021 under that title. Chan does not deny that Mariah Carey should be considered a Queen of Christmas, just that she should not be the sole person to claim that title, nor that she should own the copyright, which would block the use of that term by any other artist or company.
“Christmas is for everyone. It’s meant to be shared; it’s not meant to be owned” Elizabeth Chan, Holiday Singer
In addition to legal opposition, other artists have come forward to blast Mariah’s copyright claim, including singer Darlene Love who is famous for her hit holiday song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” Darlene Love actually performed her song every year for David Letterman’s talk shows from 1986 - 2014, starting with Late Night with David Letterman and moving to The Late Show with David Letterman. David Letterman even referred to Darlene Love as the “Queen of Christmas”, calling her that as early as one year before Mariah Carey even released “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.
The Queens of Christmas
As of right now, Ms. Carey has yet to respond to the lawsuit, nor the opposition to her trademark attempt. Only time will tell how this all plays out in court. In the meantime, we suggest listening to both versions of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” and Elizabeth Chan’s entire discography. No matter the outcome, we’re just happy to enjoy all this wonderful holiday music and get into the Christmas spirit!