No jingle bells here. Mariah Carey was slammed by her “All I Want for Christmas Is You” song cowriter, Walter Afanasieff, who claimed she took all the credit for writing the hit holiday track.
“When she started to hint at the fact that, ‘Oh, I wrote that song when I was a little girl!’ But why weren’t you saying that for 12 or 13 or 15 years prior to that? So, it just sort of developed in her mind,” the record producer, 64, said during a Thursday, December 22, appearance on the “Hot Takes & Deep Dives” podcast. ‘We were both on the same page about how we wrote ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You.’ There was never any alternate story until probably 10 years ago,” Walter added.
The former jazz musician then claimed that the Grammy Award winner, 52, “doesn’t play anything,” referring to instruments, such as “keyboard or piano.”
“She doesn’t understand music,” Walter continued. “She doesn’t know chord changes and music theory or anything like that. She doesn’t know a diminished chord from a minor seventh chord to a major seventh chord. So, to claim that she wrote a very complicated chord-structured song with her finger on a Casio keyboard when she was a little girl, it’s kind of a tall tale.”
When recalling how he and Mariah worked on the single, Walter noted that he started playing piano with a “boogie-woogie kind of a rock” sound when the “Always Be My Baby” songstress chimed in with the lyric of the first verse, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas.”
Walter is credited as both a cowriter and coproducer for the track.
This wasn’t the first time, however, that the “My Heart Will Go On” songwriter has publicly called out the Glitter star for the winter jingle. In December 2019, he explained to Variety that his comments about the song spurred backlash from Mariah’s fans. He alleged that her followers “threatened” him on social media and accused him of “stealing from [Mariah].”
“With the crazy, wonderful, miraculous thing that this is in my life for the last 25 years, it has come to a place where it’s almost bittersweet for me because of the fact that I’m constantly every single year, at this same time of the year, having to defend myself because a lot of people just don’t believe that I’m a cowriter of the song,” Walter explained. “Mariah has been very wonderful, positive and a force of nature. She’s the one that made the song a hit, and she’s awesome. But she definitely does not share credit where credit is due.”
Previously, the Queen of Christmas described how she wrote her Christmas single in multiple interviews, including with Billboard in November 2017.
“I am proud of this song that I wrote basically as a kid on my little Casio keyboard,” the Long Island native told the outlet at the time.
Two years later, Mariah unpacked her version of the songwriting process in further detail in an interview with Cosmopolitan.
‘I just sat down, decorated a little tree and put on It’s A Wonderful Life and tried to get into that mood,” she said in December 2019. “Then, I sat in this small room with a keyboard and started doing little melodies and stuff. I was going over all the things I think about at Christmas time that make me happy and how to turn it around and make it into a love song.”
Later, she mentioned Walter’s name in the 2019 Amazon documentary Mariah Carey Is Christmas: The Story of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You.’
“I was living in this house, upstate in New York. Actually, I put on It’s a Wonderful Life downstairs,” the “Emotions” artist began in one scene. “You could hear it throughout the house. And I went into this small room, and there was a little keyboard in there. And I started playing. And I’m a terrible piano player, right? Sometimes it’ll be like a happy accident. When I got into the studio with Walter A, we came up with a lot of different ideas to make it feel like a classic.”
A rep for Mariah did not immediately respond to In Touch’s request for comment.