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There are multiple indicators of the approximate beginning of Christmas: street lighting, All I Want For Christmas Is You Just Kidding I Want Elephant Shirt, Hoodie, Sweater flea markets, business dinners, gatherings of friends, Santa Claus hats, abrasive advertising campaigns, incessant Christmas carols as a constant background… But there is one in particular that can be considered in some official and definitive way: The moment when half the world begins to ‘prick’ All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey. We deliberately enter a time of deep-rooted traditions and All I want for Christmas is you has already materialized its annual reentry in the Billboard Hot 100, the list of singles in the United States, thus giving the official kickoff to the Christmas season. And he’s even allowed himself the luxury of climbing 15 places in two weeks.
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Because in his return to the most important singles list on the planet on November 30, 2018, this great classic was ranked 29th, rising to 14th in the week of December 8. And the most fascinating thing is that it can be expected to continue climbing to exceed or equal its highest position in 2017, when it entered the top 10 for the first time in 23 years to reach 9 -inexplicably was not released as a commercial single at the time and did not appear on the Billboard 100 until 1998, although far from the headboards.
In its colossal annual resurrection, All I want for Christmas is you appeared as if such a thing in the 23rd place of Digital Sales of Songs with 8,000 downloads only in U.S. territory, up 49 percent from the previous week, according to data from Nielsen Music. An infinite and incomparable loop, in short, thanks to which Mariah could be definitively withdrawn for several seasons. But this is not the case, as the diva recently reached 5 on Billboard 200 -the list of U.S. records- with her latest album, Caution, released in November. Its content and freshness led All I want for Christmas is you to take a place in the repertoire of Christmas standards, something very complicated as it is a closed repertoire in which innovations are minimal. But this Christmas carol snuck in in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century and became the best-selling Christmas ringtone, making it the first of its kind to be certified as a double platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Hailed in her classical period and relatively vilified from time to time as the public character swallowed up the artist, it is undeniable to admit that Mariah Carey composed the definitive contemporary Christmas carol almost without realizing it. Contagious in its music and simple in its content, perfect soundtrack for a Christmas with more love and less consumerism. The most ironic part of all this is that with this message of almost innocent spirituality and monetary austerity, its author becomes more and more millionaire each year that passes… Not even Charles Dickens imagined such a Christmas story.
In Spain, Salva la Selva is spreading that campaign with the following warning: “The European Union is tangled in the ivory business much more than it recognises. Tons of ivory are imported, traded and exported. Europe serves as a wild card for illegal elephant hunters. The sale of ivory is legal in Europe if the ivory is old. It is like an invitation to criminals to “launder” illegal ivory! Please demand from the EU a total unconditional ban on the ivory trade, as already exists in many countries of the world with All I Want For Christmas Is You Just Kidding I Want Elephant Shirt. This is the only way to put an end to the illegal hunting of elephants. Only then will elephants have a chance of survival.
The letter, addressed to the European Commissioners and the governments of the EU member states, calls for a speedy ban on all imports, exports and trade in ivory within the EU. It warns that the EU “continues to constitute an active market” for ivory that existed before the convention and is currently the largest exporter to China and Hong Kong, with an “alarming” increase in processed ivory exports in the last two years. China has recently announced that it will close its market gradually from this year onwards, and pressure is now focused on Hong Kong and the foreseeable increase in the black market. “Legal trade makes it possible to launder ivory from illegally hunted elephants. It triggers demand and corruption. In addition, EU countries are used as transit countries to smuggle illegal ivory from illegally hunted elephants in Africa and Asia. Large consignments were recently confiscated for EU countries. Ivory is the most confiscated product of wild animals,” says Pro Wild Life.
While pressure to close ivory markets is mounting, a few days ago a study published by The Independent warned that decades of poaching have altered the genetics of African elephants, and many are being born without tusks. According to the authors of the study, in some areas 98% of females do not have tusks, whereas under normal conditions that percentage was only between 2% and 6%.
On the occasion of the last CITES Convention, the Franz Weber Foundation warned of the impossibility of controlling the international ivory trade. When that trade was legal, they explained, a black market began to flourish with devastating consequences for elephants across Africa. Legal trade under the auspices of CITES led to the emergence of another parallel, illegal and uncontrolled, to the point that between 1979 and 1989 half of the continent’s elephant population disappeared. As a result, in 1989 CITES listed all African elephant populations in Appendix I and approved a ban on international trade in ivory.
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From then on, markets fell and the price of ivory was devalued, ending the poaching crisis that allowed elephant populations to recover. However, the elephant populations of four southern African countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) were again included in Appendix II, with the purpose (but not the only one) of allowing two “unique and exceptional sales” of ivory, from the ivory reserves of those governments and originating from the natural deaths of elephants, to two buyers: Japan, in 1999, and Japan and China, in 2008.
In 1980, there were an estimated 1.2 million elephants in Africa. In 1989, when CITES decided to list elephants in Appendix I, their number had been reduced by 50%. With the current poaching crisis the numbers continue to decline by leaps and bounds. At the end of 2013, the total number of elephants in the categories of ‘definite’ and ‘probable’, according to the African Elephant Database of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was 473,386; that is, in the 33 years the number of African elephants was reduced by 61%. Since then, the numbers have fallen.
The newly widened sidewalks of Madrid’s Gran Vía know that it is already Christmas because they are so crowded with families with wigs, Santa Claus hats and (the novelty of 2018) diadems with fir. At H&M, a girl walks with her boyfriend and stops in front of a T-shirt with the cover of Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album. “Oh, I’m going to buy it,” she exclaims, “I listen to this song non-stop at Christmas. And there lies the magic of All I Want For Christmas Is You: this girl expresses her enthusiasm for “this song” as if it were an eccentric hobby, a custom that has to be explained, a rarity. As if All I Want For Christmas Is You were not heard, over and over again, by all human beings on the planet during the weeks leading up to Christmas. But each and every one of those people feel, as that girl does, that All I Want For Christmas Is You is theirs.
In fact, it’s probably the biggest musical phenomenon of our time. Not only because of its durability, 24 years after its release, but also because of its growing relevance: each year, AIWFCIY is more established in the collective imagination as a canonical element of Christmas. Santa Claus, nougat, the Three Wise Men, Mariah Carey. Right now he is at number 7 on the American hit list, his highest position to date, and has just crossed the 400 million reproduction barrier on Spotify. It’s the third song of the 90’s to do so, behind Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana and Wonderwall by Oasis (which have the advantage of being heard during the 12 months) and, in contrast, two other global hymns by 90’s divas such as My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion and I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston are around 150 million listeners.
However, the version that everyone wants to hear non-stop is the original. Neither the film, nor Carey’s duo with Justin Bieber of 2011 (titled Super Festive!, as if the original could be more festive), not even its viral version with toys that Carey herself played with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots in 2012. Mariah Carey has ensured that her song continues to be hers alone through tours (today she performs in Madrid), TV specials, a film, a book, a Funko doll and numerous Christmas lights in shopping malls. Because pop culture is usually destined to fall into perverse ironies: an anthem against consumerism that has ended up accompanying the Christmas shopping of millions of people, a song so naive that it disarms any cynic, an obsolete diva at ridiculous times that once a year everyone seems to realize that, All I Want For Christmas Is You Just Kidding I Want Elephant Shirt deep down, he has a lot of affection.
And isn’t that Christmas? To feel that you love people who, for the rest of the year, look ridiculous to you and to whom you don’t pick up the phone? At a time when it seems obligatory to be in a good mood, All I Want For Christmas Is You manages to lift the spirits of any living thing (a Welsh farmer says his goats give more milk if he milks them to the rhythm of AIWFCIY) like a magic potion. His is an incomparable cultural phenomenon not just between Christmas songs, but between music in general. Because it is, surely, the only Christmas classic that we are going to see born during our life and we are sure that it will continue playing everywhere long after we die. In the end it turned out that the miracle of Christmas has to be danced.