Top 10 Versions of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”

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Every holiday season, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” dominates department store playlists. It also gets covered with increasing frequency by artists who either slow it down to escape direct comparisons or make game attempts at matching Mimi’s vocal stylings. But since no such attempt will ever rival the original, I’ve given myself the task of finding the second-best recording of Carey’s Christmas classic. I’ll start with the worst and ascend to first runner-up.

10. My Chemical Romance. While fascinating in its strict adherence to punk-rock style, MCR’s version is so nauseating that I can only assume it is a joke. Not cute, guys.

9. Amber Riley. The Glee star never rises above a barely adequate impersonation of the full-voiced, melisma-loving original. You can’t beat Mimi at her own game, people. Ain’t gonna happen.

8. Justin Bieber with Mariah Carey. I realize that Carey supposedly re-recorded the song with the Biebs for this “SuperFestive!” remake, but I don’t beliebe it. It sounds like he’s just singing along to her original track, to which she added some breathy phrases.

7. Rhema Marvanne. I do not share America’s fascination with the child prodigy music industrial complex, but this girl was seven when she recorded this. Respect.

6. Michael Bublé. A slow interpretation is fine, but this one verges on lead-footed. Bublé has discussed the challenges of taking on Carey.

5. Demi Lovato. Lovato isn’t exactly a Carey killer, as some people have foolishly claimed (I’m not naming names), but this version is creditable enough. She gets bonus points for keeping herself together in front of President Obama and, apropos of nothing, for playing a lesbian on Glee.

4. Ariana Grande. Another day, another Disney princess. Lovato’s pitch is more secure, but little Mariah-in-the-making has the better voice—juicy timbre, lots of flexibility, runs and high notes for days.

3. Lady Antebellum. The country trio wisely—very wisely—decided to take a completely different tack, submitting the most original cover on the list. As lead singer Hillary Scott put it, “You can’t try to recreate [Carey’s version]. It’s pretty much—it is perfect.”

2. Olivia Olson in Love Actually. I really thought I was going to put Olivia Olson at No. 1, but divorced from the movie, this clip must be judged on its own merits. Olson has testified that the producers had the 10-year-old tone down the runs to make her performance more believable.

1. Mariah Carey with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots. Yes, the second-best version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” is by none other than Mariah Carey, reminding us all that she owns this song in perpetuity. And with the Roots playing classroom instruments, it’s every bit as joyful as the original.

Check out Camille’s list of 10 Bizarro Xmas Jams here.

Photo courtesy of Everett

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