Mariah Carey’s monster holiday hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is under legal fire again after a country singer refiled his $20 million copyright infringement lawsuit claiming he was iced out of proper credit.
Andy Stone defrosted his legal claim and filed it again Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles after previously dismissing the case in federal court in New Orleans because Louisiana was the wrong venue, one of his lawyers tells Rolling Stone.
“If you look at both songs, you can see that about 50 percent of the words are the same, in almost the same order. I think it’s a pretty strong claim,” plaintiff’s lawyer Douglas M. Schmidt tells Rolling Stone.
He said attempts to settle the case with Carey, her co-songwriter Walter Afanasieff, and Sony ended without a resolution. So, his client is going back to court.
“Now we are moving forward to a financial conclusion either through settlement or a trial,” Stone’s manager Jay Ceravolo said in a statement. “It is simply a case of copyright infringement.”
Stone, who performs under the stage name Vince Vance and whose legal name is Andrew Franichevich, originally sued in June 2022. He dismissed the complaint without prejudice a few months later, reserving his right to refile.
Stone and fellow songwriter Troy Powers, his co-plaintiff on the new lawsuit, wrote their version of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in 1988, recorded it in Nashville a year later and allege it received “extensive airplay” in 1993.
Carey, now considered the unofficial queen of Christmas, co-wrote and recorded her song before releasing it as the lead single for her Merry Christmas album in 1994. It quickly became a holiday staple, playing on heavy rotation each year at malls, parties, and sporting events around the world in the run-up to Christmas.
Stone and Powers allege Carey’s song is a “derivative” of theirs in terms of lyrics, melody, harmonic language and rhythm. They claim the songs tell the same story of a female narrator who rejects “unwanted seasonal material goods” in favor of a “beloved” partner.
In Stone’s and Powers’ song, the narrator says, “I don’t need” sleigh rides in the snow, only an unnamed “you” standing “underneath the Christmas tree” in her “dream come true.”
In Carey’s song, the narrator says, “I don’t need” and “I don’t want” in relation to seasonal comforts “underneath the Christmas tree,” rather the “one thing” she wants is an unnamed “you” to make her wish “come true.”
“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 new 19-page complaint obtained by Rolling Stone states. “Moreover, the combination of the specific chord progression in the melody paired with the verbatim hook was a greater than 50% clone of Vance’s original work, in both lyric choice and chord expressions.”
The plaintiffs said there’s no doubt Carey and Afanasieff had access to their song considering Stone performed it at the White House in 1994 after it reached No. 55 on the Billboard Hot Country chart that same year.
When Stone first filed his lawsuit last year, one lawyer said it could face an uphill battle considering there are at least 177 copyrighted works, many of them songs, with the title “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
The lawyer who represented Carey, Afanasieff, and Sony in the prior litigation did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment Wednesday.