The untold story of Mariah Carey’s lost holiday classic

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 15: Mariah Carey performs onstage during her "All I Want For Christmas Is You" tour at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MC)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 15: Mariah Carey performs onstage during her "All I Want For Christmas Is You" tour at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MC) /

Mariah Carey is the Queen of Christmas, but did you know she wrote (and recorded) a beloved Christmas song that was never released?

It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start talking about Christmas. The air is getting chillier, the days are getting shorter, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is rapidly making its seasonal ascent up the charts. If there’s one thing you can depend on every year, it’s Mariah taking back her throne as Queen of Christmas the second the clock strikes midnight on November 1.

As you start making your holiday playlist for the season, you’ll be hearing a lot of Mariah’s angelic vocals on tracks like “O Holy Night,” “Oh Santa!” and, of course, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But did you know Mariah co-wrote and recorded a beloved Christmas song we all know and love, but it never saw the light of day?

This piece of music trivia often comes as a surprise to anyone who isn’t a dedicated Mariah fan (who she lovingly calls her Lambs). But the song that Mimi co-wrote way back in 2000 was “Where Are You Christmas?” You might know it from How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

If you’ve ever seen the holiday classic — and who hasn’t? — we first hear the song when Cindy Lou Who (played by an adorable Taylor Momsen) is questioning her dedication to Christmas. For the film’s soundtrack, “Christmas, Why Can’t I Find You?” was changed to “Where Are You Christmas?” with additional lyrics written by Mariah herself. With the success of her 1994 album Merry Christmas, featuring a mix of original songs and classics, it’s no wonder they asked the songstress to help them out.

Now, here’s where things get a little unfestive. The Elusive Chanteuse’s ex-husband, Tommy Mottola, was chairman and CEO of Sony Music. They had a messy divorce in 1998, but it seems like their drama wasn’t behind them just yet.

Despite the fact that the song had been written by Mariah and she had recorded a demo of it, her ex blocked the release because of an ongoing legal battle. Mariah had to give up the track, and it was re-recorded by singer Faith Hill and released on the film’s soundtrack.

For years, fans have wondered, “Where is Mariah’s version? Will it ever leak? Will she release it?” Faith Hill did the song justice and made it a classic in its own right, but just imagining the soaring notes performed by Mariah is enough to make anyone’s heart grow three sizes.

Even though, after 20 years, most have given up hope that we’ll hear Mariah’s demo anytime soon, she gave fans a glimmer of hope on Watch What Happens Live back in October. While promoting her memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey, Andy asked her a fan question that stated: “It was rumored that Mariah originally recorded [“Where Are You Christmas”] but it was blocked by Sony. Does her version of the song exist somewhere and can we hear it?”

That’s when Mariah revealed what we all wanted to hear: She did record it, and she does have the demo somewhere. She told Andy, “I have to dig back into the vault to find my version because I actually had my friend…sing what I did over to send it to them so they had the reference vocal.” She revealed she doesn’t “like to send out my stuff like that” and that her version was “rough…but it’s cool. I love it. I want to find it.”

Mimi is no stranger to releasing her demos and rarities — she literally released The Rarities album this past October filled with unheard gems — so maybe there’s hope still! After all, Mariah is the Queen of the holiday season, so one more festive holiday track in her expansive discography would definitely be a gift to all of us.

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What’s your favorite Mariah Carey holiday track? Let us know!