Culture Clips: All I Want for Christmas is Three World Records

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mariah carey culture clips

We haven’t even cooked the Thanksgiving turkey yet, but no matter: Lots of people have moved on to Christmas. Trees are up, tiny lights are twinkling and Santa Claus is already shilling stuff on television. Who is Plugged In to squelch all this Christmas spirit? So let’s kick this edition of Culture Clips off with the most inescapable part of the Christmas season: Mariah Carey.

Carey’s holiday classic “All I Want for Christmas is You” is officially older than some of you: She released the song way back in the pre-iPhone days of 1994. But the ditty is still going strong—so strong, in fact, that the Guinness World Records organization recently announced that Carey’s song owns three world records: One for highest-charting holiday song on Billboard by a solo artist; another for claiming the most-streamed track on Spotify in a 24-hour period by a woman (for more than 10.8 million such streams on Dec. 24, 2018); and most weeks in the United Kingdom’s singles top 10 list for a Christmas song (20 weeks).

And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The song decked the halls of all comers in a March Madness-style bracket sponsored by the San Diego Union Tribune—besting “Silent Night” in the final.

“The song is already beloved for how fun it is, but I think the internet has lifted it to cult status in a way that no other Christmas song could ever touch, past or present,” said Abby Hamblin of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Carey’s not the only female singing/songwriting phenom to rack up the honors this week. Taylor Swift took home Artist of the Decade from the American Music Awards a couple of days ago, but that was just a warmup. She gathered up four other awards during the ceremony, giving her a grand total of 28 AMA statuettes and making her the most decorated honoree in AMA history. (The old record-holder, Michael Jackson, won a mere 24 AMAs.) With Swift these days, though, her many, many accolades tend to take a backseat to her feud with Scooter Braun, the head of her former record label.  Several outlets suggested that Swift sent some subtly serious shade Scooter’s way during the AMA’s. (Of course, she’s not the only music star who’s clashed with record labels, as The Daily Beast notes.)

Meanwhile, Frozen II stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell both received honors of their own—stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Bell said she was honored to work with Menzel. “When I heard Idina sing for the first time, I felt a newness that I’d never felt before,” she told a chuckling Menzel during the ceremony. “Like a baby who had just experienced rain for the first time.” She’s not the only one, apparently: The New York Times did a profile on some families whose lives have been utterly kidnapped by the Frozen phenomena and, of course, Menzel’s rendition of “Let It Go.” (But late-night host James Corden, during a recent “crosswalk musical” depiction of Frozen, tried to keep Menzel from singing at all.)

By the way, Frozen II’s not the only film inspiring some moviegoers. In A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Fred Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) inspired lots of tears when he encouraged us to think about the people who helped shape us during a moving moment of silence (Entertainment Weekly tells us how the scene came about), and the Christian Post reminds us that the real Mister Rogers thought of his show as a “ministry.” Joker has apparently already inspired a sequel, and it may inspire director Todd Phillips to open up a Swiss bank account, thanks to the curious way he got paid. And the upcoming movie Knives Out inspired Slate to wonder … is it really possible for someone to get physically sick by lying?

But back to our main topic. Perhaps all these female musical stars owe something to Dolly Parton, the iconic 73-year-old country music star who’s having yet another moment in pop culture (thanks to a new podcast and a Netflix series). It only makes sense, according to The New York Times: She’s both one of the most examined and paradoxically mysterious artists of any generation—a perfect fit for today’s social media age. Writes Lindsay Zoladz:

A generation that’s grown up with Snapchat-filtered selfies and pop feminism seems to have an innate understanding that artifice doesn’t negate authenticity, or that a penchant for towering wigs and acrylic nails doesn’t prevent someone from being a songwriting genius. (Maybe they even help: Parton claims to have first tapped out the beat of “9 to 5” while idly clicking her fingernails.) Perhaps that’s why her rhinestone DNA is visible in young artists as varied as Kacey Musgraves and Cardi B — to say nothing of Parton’s own goddaughter Miley Cyrus, who inspired a whole new generation of Parton fans who first came to know her as wacky Aunt Dolly from “Hannah Montana.” Parton sang a duet with Kesha on her 2017 album “Rainbow” — a 1980 Parton hit that Kesha’s mother happened to co-write. At this year’s Grammys, when Parton was honored with the MusiCares person of the year award for her philanthropy, she performed a rousing medley of her hits alongside a who’s who billing of her millennial heirs, like Katy Perry, Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves.

But fame, as we all know, can be a difficult burden. The NY Times also notes that South Korea is doing some serious soul searching surrounding one of its most popular exports, K-pop. The music may be upbeat and its artists may project an innocent, optimistic vibe, but two of the genre’s most popular singers recently committed suicide. And many suggest that the scandal-ridden industry surrounding K-pop may be at least partly to blame.

Suicide is impacting youth stateside, too, with rates among teens and young adults skyrocketing across the country. It’s now the leading cause of death for preteens in Ohio, according to officials. And many parents express frustration in trying to discern the difference between what signals depression in their adolescent kids and what constitutes normal, if trying, behavior in them.

But let’s not end on such a sad note. It is Christmastime, after all. So let me point you to a possible new job. According to Fox News, three London roommates are on the lookout for a “lifestyle happiness manager.” It’ll pay $19 an hour, and the roomies are looking for someone who “will continue to think of ways for us to improve our quality of life and make us and the people around us happy.” They like avocado toast and smoked salmon, but they don’t like alarm clocks, so you’ll have to wake them each individually.

The advertisement doesn’t specify how the Londoners feel about Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” but I’d suggest to any applicants to play it 24/7 for them. It’ll surely keep them in the Christmas spirit all the year long.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 8 days ago
I've never been much of a fan of Dolly Parton's work, but I do love her Christmas cd with Kenny Rogers Once Upon a Christmas, and her turn as Miley's Aunt Dolly on Hannah Montana was quite fun, and I admit those two Coat of Many Colors movies that came out recently were quite good too, so she's definitely had her moments, lol.
Anonymous 16 days ago
Aw... As a kpop fan I'm sad to hear about the suicides. Kpop is a very intense business to go into, lots and lots of time has to be put into it, some people can't handle the pressure. I've never heard the music from the kpop stars who committed suicide, but I'm 90% sure that Jimin, from my favorite group BTS, struggled with anorexia a couple years back which he's overcome. A lot of pressure comes with that industry and you have to be prepared for it. I believe BTS practices 10-16 hours a day, and your band members pretty much become your family. The end result though is amazing, just look up any live performances from BTS and you'll see how that work pays off. Kpop is a wonderful genre of music, but I think that they need counselors and therapists to check with these stars on a pretty regular basis. If you read the article, a lot of the reasons they committed suicide was from online bullying, not only due to the pressure, although that wouldn't help. I think that gives us all the more reason to support them and stop making fun. I did make fun before I started listening to it. It's a lot less cringy than you'd think... At least BTS isn't, some groups can be. 

-LesMis24601
Anonymous 16 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Plugged In, the Joker sequel has not been officially announced. It was at one point reported to be in the works, but both Warner Bros and director Todd Phillips have stated that nothing is official.

You probably shouldn’t be reporting news that isn’t confirmed on your Culture Clips.
The Mouse Of Non 15 days ago
I loled so bad when I read it.