Merry Christmas from Toronto! It's still the night of Xmas Eve here but I know that half the world is celebrating Xmas Day including Japan so all of my best wishes.
Some weeks ago, diva Mariah Carey made a brief appearance downtown by a Hudson's Bay store in front of shivering thousands to perform some of her Xmas hits including the topic of this article today.
"All I Want For Christmas Is You" is probably one of the few Xmas songs in the last quarter of the 20th century that has become a bona fide classic. To quote the Wikipedia article on the song:
In the years since its original release, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" has been critically lauded and has become established as a Christmas standard; it was once called "one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon" in The New Yorker, and continues to surge in popularity each holiday season. The song was commercially successful, topping the charts in Hungary while reaching number two in Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom, and the top 10 in several other countries. The Daily Telegraph hailed "All I Want for Christmas Is You" as the most popular and most played Christmas song of the decade in the United Kingdom. Rolling Stone ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list, calling it a "holiday standard." In December 2015, the song peaked at 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it its highest peak since its original release.
Released in November 1994, as you can read from above, the song by Carey and Walter Afanasieff did very well worldwide. In the United States, it managed to peak at No. 6 on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Chart. Still, I think it had an even bigger impact in Japan when it not only hit No. 2 on Oricon but was also used as the theme song for a Japanese comedy-drama.
"29-sai no Christmas"（29歳のクリスマス...My 29th Christmas）was a Fuji-TV production and so of course, it had all of the beautiful people as the cast including actress Tomoko Yamaguchi（山口智子）. I would have loved to have found a video with the opening credits with the song intact but it seems like it's been muted for the usual copyright reasons. The show started out on October 20th 1994 so it looks like fans in Japan may have gotten a sneak listen to "All I Want For Christmas Is You" a couple of weeks earlier than much of the planet.
I very barely remember the drama since it was already wrapping up its run by the time I actually had some free time at night to catch it (I was going through teacher training at NOVA at the time). However, I distinctly remember seeing the ending credits of the very last episode on December 22nd as Mariah sang away while those credits featured some of the key scenes over the past several weeks.
It didn't take long for me to grab the single in Japan under its title of "Koibito tachi no Christmas"（恋人たちのクリスマス...Lovers' Christmas）. Supremely upbeat, I kept thinking of the old Motown sound as I listened to it the first number of times. For a guy who was accustomed to hearing the usual soft ballads of the Yuletide, Mariah's classic was good ol' orange juice...or orange mimosa since that seems to be the popular cocktail on the 25th. But the important thing is that the song has become the standard tune to play on the department store speakers, radios and coffee shop stereos all over Japan at this time.