NEW YORK — Pop icon Mariah Carey finds herself embroiled in a legal battle over her beloved Christmas anthem as a lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges the singer committed copyright infringement. The litigation claims that Carey’s smash holiday tune shares significant similarities with a less-known 1989 song of the same title.
The plaintiffs, musicians Andy Stone and Troy Powers, contend that Carey’s version mirrors the melody, structure, and lyrics of their earlier work. Stone, also known as Vince Vance from the band Vince Vance and the Valiants, and Powers seek recognition for their creative contributions and a share of the financial rewards reaped by the song.
Carey’s song, released in 1994, has not only garnered immense commercial success but has also become a seasonal staple, embedding itself into holiday culture. The plaintiffs argue that this success has considerably boosted Carey’s career and spawned a profitable seasonal franchise for the artist.
Moreover, the lawsuit brings to light Carey’s attempts to secure the moniker “Queen of Christmas” through a trademark, which was ultimately unsuccessful. This title is a testament to the song’s pervasive influence and Carey’s association with the holiday season.
Contrasts in the trajectories of the two songs are stark, with Stone and Powers’s version achieving modest success, including appearances on Billboard charts and a performance at the White House. Meanwhile, Carey’s rendition has seen unparalleled success, becoming a recurrent favorite during the holiday season and substantially increasing the star’s performance bookings.
The legal action also delves into the contested origins of Carey’s song. Allegations suggest Carey’s narrative regarding the songwriting process — initially claimed to have been a quick collaboration — is inconsistent with her later statements of having composed it in her youth.
In this high-profile copyright dispute, other defendants include Carey’s co-writer Walter Afanasieff and major music publishers Sony Music and Universal Music. The complaint suggests that, beyond the shared song title, the alleged infringement includes lyrical and musical elements that constitute a significant portion of Carey’s hit.
The suit seeks to rectify what the plaintiffs deem as an unauthorized use of their intellectual property, which they believe has contributed to the financial and reputational elevation of Carey and her co-defendants.