By: Eugenia Boateng
The Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey is being sued once again over her monster hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. This current proceeding was filed by country singer Andy Stone for a $20 million copyright infringement lawsuit. Stone made similar key allegations in a previous lawsuit: that Carey’s 1994 Christmas smash infringed on the copyrights of his 1989 song of the same name. That’s no minor feat: Carey’s “All I Want” has topped the Billboard Hot 100 every Christmas season for the previous four years.
There are new details in this case, including Carey’s recollection of how she wrote the song. Her co-writer, Walter Afanasieff, has disputed that story.
“Carey has, without licensing, palmed off these works with her incredulous origin story, as if those works were her own,” Vance’s new lawyers wrote in the re-filed complaint. “Her hubris knows no bounds, even her co-credited songwriter doesn’t believe the story she has spun. This is simply a case of actionable infringement.“
Stone’s second lawsuit, like his previous, states that Stone’s version of “All I Want for Christmas is You” was recorded by Vince Vance and the Valiants in 1989 and had “extensive airplay” during the 1993 holiday season – a year before Carey released her better-known song of the same name.
His latest complaint, however, adds fresh information regarding the popularity of his previous song, referring to it as a “country music hit” that peaked at No. 31 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and later reached No. 23 on the Hot 100 Airplay list (renamed the Radio Songs chart in 2014). Troy Powers, who claims to have co-written the previous song, has also joined him as a plaintiff.
The same attorney who defended the two artists who accused Taylor Swift of copying the words to “Shake It Off”, Gerad P. Fox, now represents Stone. The new complaint also makes more comprehensive claims regarding the similarities between the two songs, diving into the “unique linguistic structure” and musical aspects that Carey allegedly plagiarized in her song.
“The phrase ‘all I want for Christmas is you’ may seem like a common parlance today, but in 1988 it was, in context, distinctive,” the law firm representing Vance writes. “Moreover, the combination of the specific chord progression in the melody paired with the verbatim hook was a greater than 50% clone of Stone’s original work, in both lyric choice and chord expressions.”
Notably, the amended complaint lawsuit also refers to Love Actually, the 2003 Christmas film that propelled Carey’s song even deeper into the holiday canon. According to the complaint, Carey’s song is featured in “a featured performance scene in the penultimate act of the mega-hit film.”