Some of you sick freaks—and you know exactly who you are—have been blasting Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat since the moment Thanksgiving ended. But on the off chance you’re willing to switch songs, Chris Stewart’s synth-pop project Black Marble has shared a compelling cover of Carey’s 1994 Christmas classic, putting a more somber, synth-based spin on it. The cover is currently available via Bandcamp and other digital retailers, and will be available widely by Christmas Day, per a press release.
Stewart said of the cover in a statement:
Given all that’s happened in the last year, it struck me as likely that many of us are in the same boat right now, and thinking about this idea of missing our friends and loved ones, and wondering when we will be able to gather together again. I usually take it for granted that I’ll be able to see my family for instance at this time, but for me and a lot of us this year, those plans were put on hold. The original intent of the song seems more playful, but because of these ideas, it took on, for me, more of a tone of longing and wishing to be with the people you care about and not having much appetite for the usual more commercial trappings of the season in light of this thing we’re all going through. Also, I mean, who doesn’t love some Mariah Carey around this time—and I thought it would be fun to do a more synthy take on such a well-known classic pop song as well as update it tonally to reflect this current reality.
Stewart added of the cover’s video, which he co-directed alongside Ashley Leahy and shot in Los Angeles:
For the video we wanted to get across the idea of this character who is sort of restless and longing for someone who’s not there and doesn’t really have the time or headspace for the usual holiday festivities. That’s why we shot the scene of presents being passed from hand to hand and sort of discarded as if they are unimportant or an afterthought, and why we shot the exteriors all over town as if the character is in search of someone or something. Or this idea that wishing for someone or something is universal right now and not confined to one particular place. In addition we wanted a humorous offbeat tone and took inspiration from the classic ‘80s video ‘You Can Call Me Al’ that Paul Simon did with Chevy Chase. I wanted two versions of me and for them to have distinct personalities, with one character really feeling the sentiments of the song and the other kind of aloof and absent-minded, and sort of breaking the fourth wall with all these technical problems.
Black Marble released a covers EP titled I Must Be Living Twice on Sacred Bones Records in August, featuring renditions of tracks originated by Wire, Robert Palmer, Lives Of Angels, The Field Mice and Grouper. Stewart’s Carey cover is a natural extension of that release, while its accompany video is part of a charity compilation called Synthmas: A Holiday Special, encouraging donations to Alexandria House and Save Our Stages. The comp also features Neon Indian covering “Wonderful Christmastime,” Mac DeMarco doing “Frosty the Snowman,” Dam-Funk’s “’Tis the Season” and more.
Watch Black Marble’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” video below. You’ll find audio from Stewart’s 2017 Daytrotter session and the complete Synthmas holiday special further down.