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Table of contents Table of contents




1. Mariah’s family 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Patricia 1.3 Alfred Roy 1.4 Morgan 1.5 Alison 2. Pre-school 2.1 The early years 2.2 Racism 2.3 The divorce 2.4 Bohemian environment 2.5 Musical influences 2.6 Moving around 3. School years 3.1 New friends 3.2 Greenlawn Junior High School 3.3 Harborfields High School 3.4 Demo singer 3.5 Ben Margulies 3.6 Graduation 4. The struggle 4.1 Roommates 4.2 Jobs 4.3 Brenda K. Starr 4.4 The party

4 4 4 5 5 6 8 8 8 9 9 10 11 13 13 15 16 17 18 19 21 21 22 24 26

Mariah Carey


1. First time recording an album 1.1 A new promise 1.2 New working partners 1.3 Recording the album 1.4 Promotion 2. The album 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Vision of love 2.3 There’s got to be a way 2.4 I don’t wanna cry 2.5 Someday 2.6 Vanishing


28 28 29 30 31 33 33 34 36 37 38 40

2.7 All in your mind 2.8 Alone in love 2.9 You need me 2.10 Sent from up above 2.11 Prisoner 2.12 Love takes time 3. After the album release 3.1 Tommy and Mariah 3.2 Public appearances 3.3 The awards 3.4 The first vision

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MTV Unplugged


1. Recording the album 1.1 The argument 1.2 David Cole and Robert Clivillés 1.3 In the studio 2. The album 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Emotions 2.3 And you don’t remember 2.4 Can’t let go 2.5 Make it happen 2.6 If it’s over 2.7 You’re so cold 2.8 So blessed 2.9 To be around you 2.10 Till the end of time 2.11 The wind 3. After the album release 3.1 Public appearances 3.2 Joseph Vain 1. Introduction 1.1 A growing relationship 1.2 Preparing for the concert 2. The show 2.1 March 16, 1992 2.2 Emotions 2.3 If it’s over 2.4 Someday

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Table of contents


2.5 Vision of love 2.6 Make it happen 2.7 I’ll be there 2.8 Can’t let go 3. After the show 3.1 An unexpected release 3.2 Trey Lorenz 3.3 Daryl Hall 3.4 American Music Awards

71 71 71 72 74 74 76 78 78

1.8 Jesus born on this day 1.9 Santa Claus is comin’ to town 1.10 Hark! The herald angels sing 1.11 Jesus oh what a wonderful child 1.12 God rest ye merry, gentlemen 2. After the album release 2.1 Camp Mariah 2.2 Mariah Carey Christmas special 2.3 A new house for mom

Music box






1. Recording the album 1.1 The question 1.2 In the studio 1.3 The marriage 1.4 Bedford Mansion 2. The album 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Dreamlover 2.3 Hero 2.5 Music box 2.6 Now that I know 2.7 Never forget you 2.8 Without you 2.9 Just to hold you once again 2.10 I’ve been thinking about you 2.11 All I’ve ever wanted 2.12 Everything fades away 3. After the album release 3.1 (Here is) Mariah Carey 3.2 Touring 3.3 Endless love

Merry Christmas

1. The album 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Silent night 1.3 All I want for Christmas is you 1.4 O holy night 1.5 Christmas (baby please come home) 1.6 Miss you most (at Christmas time) 1.7 Joy to the world

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108 108 109 110 111 112 112 113

1. Recording the album 1.1 The end 1.2 A new direction 1.3 Jermaine Dupri 2. The album 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Fantasy 2.3 Underneath the stars 2.4 One sweet day 2.6 Always be my baby 2.7 I am free 2.8 When I saw you 2.9 Long ago 2.10 Melt away 2.11 Forever 2.12 Daydream interlude 2.13 Looking in 3. After the album release 3.1 Mariah at Madison Square Garden 3.2 Award shows 3.3 The Daydream tour 3.4 Crave Records 1. Recording the album 1.1 A change 1.2 Acting lessons 1.3 The seperation 1.4 In the studios 2. The album 2.2 Honey

114 114 114 115 116 117 117 118 119 120 120 121 121 123 123 124 127 128 131 133 134 134 134 134 135 135 137 137 138 138 141 143 143 143 144 145 148 149

Table of contents 2.3 Butterfly 2.4 My all 2.5 The roof 2.6 Fourth of July 2.7 Breakdown 2.8 Babydoll 2.9 Close my eyes 2.10 Whenever you call 2.11 Fly away (Butterfly reprise) 2.12 The beautiful ones 2.13 Outside 3. After the album release 3.1 Release party


1. The album 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Sweetheart 1.3 When you believe 1.4 Whenever you call 1.6 Do you know where you’re going to 2. After the album release 2.1 Luis Miguel 2.2 Awards 2.3 The bachelor 2.4 The video

3 152 153 155 156 156 157 158 158 158 158 159 160 160


161 161 164 164 166 169 170 170 171 172 173

Pre-fame 1. Mariah’s family 1.1 Introduction Mariah Carey was born March 27, 1970, on Long Island, New York. Mariah was the third of three children born to Patricia Hickey and Alfred Roy Carey. Patricia and Alfred already had a son, Morgan, and a daughter, Alison. Mariah’s heritage is a mix of races. Her mother is Irish and her father African-American and Venezuelan.

Mariah and her mother Patricia

1.2 Patricia Patricia’s parents moved from County Cork, Ireland to the United States while they were expecting a child. They settled in Springfield, Illinois. Unfortunately, a month before Patricia was born, her father died. Although she never knew her father, she inherited his musical gifts. In Mariah’s birthdate According to People magazine, Mariah was actually born in 1969. In response to fan inquiries about the correct date, a spokesperson of the magazine issued a statement, “We have a copy of Ms. Carey’s driver’s license, which lists her birthday as March 27, 1969. Furthermore, we spoke with the administrators at the high school she attended who confirmed that Ms. Carey’s

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high school, she adventured in musical activities, but she was drawn to the opera world. Shortly after her graduation from high school, Patrica went to New York to earn a living as a singer. After the inevitable period of dues-paying and minimum-wage jobs, Patricia auditioned for and was accepted by the prestigious New York Opera company. Not long after this, Alfred Roy Carey entered her life. The New York City Opera was still a young company, organized in 1943 during World War II as part of the City Center of Music and Drama. Its mission was to provide good opera at affordable prices. It quickly acquired a reputation for both the quality and range of its productions, as it began to offer premieres of new American works as revivals of classical pieces. In the late sixties, Patricia achieved some success in the operatic world, when she became a soloist in the company and worked with such world famous performers as Beverly Sills. Mariah told Interview magazine how her mother met her father. “She was stalking Yul Brynner, she and her friend were living in Brooklyn Heights at the time. I believe Yul Brynner either lived in Brooklyn Heights at one point or was seen around the neighborhood. My mother and her friends were trying to spot stars. My father had been in the army so he had shaved his head and he had this old Porsche that he would drive around Brooklyn. He was black, but

birthday is March 27, 1969, as did her management when we made our initial interview.” A reason why the executives could have changed her birthyear was to make Mariah look younger. After all, when you say someone is born in the 1960’s, her or she looks much older than someone who was born in the 1970’s. Even if there is only a year difference. A more far fetched idea for

Mariah “lying” about her birthyear could be her name. She says she was named Mariah after the song “They call the wind Mariah”. If Mariah was born in 1969, then this obviously wasn’t the case. Maybe her real name is Maria or Mary and the executives used Mariah to make her seem more exotic or memorable and they backed it up with a new birth year.

Pre-fame he was light-skinned, and they thought he was Yul Brynner. But one of the girls who was with them said, ‘That ain’t nobody but Roy Carey.’ His real name was Alfred Roy, but he usually went by Roy.” 1.3 Alfred Roy Alfred Roy was born in Venezuela in 1929 as Alfred Roy Nuñez (some sources say his name is Nunes). After his family immigrated to the United States, his father Americanized his name to Carey because Alfred Roy and Alison it was easier to pronounce. After some initial struggles, the family prospered sufficiently to allow young Alfred to go to college where he put his love of math and science to good use, becoming an aeronautical engineer. After a relatively short courtship, Afred Roy married Patricia in New York City in 1960. As a mixed couple, there was a lot of intolerance from blacks and whites alike. Mariah told Jet magazine: “There was a lot of racism in the sixties and seventies. My brother and sister and I were the products of forbidden love.” Years later, Mariah would recall tales of the racial bigotry her parents had experienced in the years before she was born. “From the start, my mother’s family basically disowned her when she married my father,” she told Oprah. “Her mother made her pretend she wasn’t married. When she came to family events, she had to come alone and pretend she was single. All sorts of crazy things happened. Their car got blown up, and their dogs were poisoned.” Rather than living in a more ethnically diverse


chapter 1 - city, the attempted to make a life for themselves in all-white suburban communities of upstate New York and Rhode Island. “When they moved to an all-white neigborhood, my mother had to buy the house because the owners would not sell if they knew she had a black husband.” During the first few years of marriage, Alfred Roy and Patricia moved several times before eventually deciding that racially mixed neighborhoods would be more welcoming. But the same problems would inevitably surface. One night, while her parents sat at the diner table, somebody fired a bullet through the window, narrowly missing them. Mariah acknowledged that the racial hatred her parents experienced put added pressure on their marriage despite their best efforts. “It put a strain on their relationship that would never quit. There was always this tension, and they fought all the time.”

Mariah and her brother Morgan

1.4 Morgan The couple had not been married long when Patricia gave birth to their first child, a son named Morgan. Morgan used to suffer from epilepsy and one leg was an inch shorter than

Pre-fame the other. His serious epileptic fits caused him to have some relationship problems. He eventually turned to drugs and delinquency, but fortunately he pulled through it and became a key figure in Mariah’s career. In the beginning of her career, Mariah always referred to her brother as “the only man in my life”. Morgan told Rashmi Shastri: “I was trying to help my sister break through at the beginning and get her into the game. A good friend of mine, Gavin Christopher, cut her first demo and I later hired Ben Marguiles to work with her. They went on to write a number of the hits on her first album together. I actually walked her by the hand up to Seymour Stein’s office at Sire with that demo. Back then I knew a lot of industry people from having worked in the clubs so I played her stuff for anybody I knew who would listen; Billy Idol, Nona Hendryx, Tina B, The System, etc. Not long after, Mariah and Tommy (Mottola) got together and it went where it went.” In the beginning, Morgan was a fitness instructor living in Los Angeles (he fitted out the fitness room in Mariah’s new apartment, however Mariah confessed that she didn’t use it very often). In 2007, he became the executive of the YG label and the manager of Korean Reggae artist Skull, who had a Billboard hit with the song “Boom di boom di”. 1.5 Alison A year after Morgan was born, Patricia gave birth to a second child, a girl named Alison (sometimes sources say incorrectly Allison). Alison got married at an early age and gave birth to her first child (Shawn) when she was only 18. Ten years later, she gave birth to her other child, Michael. Shawn grew up with his father Richard. His parents divorced when he was only two. Mariah and Shawn are very close. Mariah actually gave him some financial support for his studies. Shawn is very attached to Mariah because she

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taught him that he could do whatever he wanted in life, provided that he had faith in it. Shawn played in his college football team, and he owns two apartments, one in Boston and an other in New York. Shawn can also be seen in the “Can’t take that away (Mariah’s theme)” video. Michael is Shawn’s half brother. Alison got infected with the HIV virus when Michael was born. “When I found out she had AIDS, I must have cried for days,” Mariah confessed to Bravo magazine not too long after she discovered her sister had contracted the incurable and ultimately fatal disease. When she stopped crying, Mariah had to deal with a conflicting array of emotions over her sister and her plight. A big part of her was just plain sad. She was also forgiving of Alison’s choices and the mistakes that had led her to prostitution and drugs and which had finally brought her to this point. Mariah was not finding it difficult to comprehend that her sister was experiencing such a difficult time. Making matters worse was the fact that Alison was so wrapped up in her disease, continued drug dependency, and her downward spiraling lifestyle that she was totally incapable of taking care of Michael. After much hand-wringing and soul-searching, Mariah and her mother tried to

Pre-fame get her sister some help. They offered to pay for Alison to get into a drug-treatment program and to get her AIDS counseling so that she could learn to live with the disease and possibly get some treatment. However, in the midst of her self-pity and misdirected anger toward her family - in particular Mariah - she wanted no part of their help. When she refused to get treatment for her myriad problems, Mariah and Patricia took the next, admittedly drastic, step and arranged for Michael to come and live with Patricia. However, this intervention came at a heavy price. The long-simmering anger and jealousy that Alison directed at Mariah for what she felt was the favouritism shown her younger sister because of her talent finally boiled over. Despite Mariah’s public insistence that they were patching things up, the relationship between the two sisters was, for all intents and purposes, over. “I haven’t spoken to my sister in a long time, but I hope she’s well,” Mariah told Time magazine. “But everything seems to have worked itself out.” Mariah and her mother brought many lawsuits against Alison in order to get joint custody of Michael. They wanted him to grow up in a sheltered environment, away from his drug-addicted mom. Eventually, Patricia was given custody of Michael. He made a cameo in “Glitter”, he’s the boy who’s talking on the phone. Dice kicks him out when Mariah suddenly gets out of the cab after having heard for the first time her song on the radio. Alison’s life has never been a bed of roses. In June 2006, Alison was caught in a sting operation at the West Shore Marina in Huntington, Long Island, where she was booked for her second prostitution offense. Alison pled guilty and got free on probation. She allegedly said that she was prostituting herself to financially help Mariah to become famous. It is said that she tried unsuccessfully to shop around a tell-all book.


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2. Pre-school 2.1 The early years By 1968, Alfred Roy and Patricia had long decided that two children were enough, and so they were surprised when Patricia found herself pregnant again. On March 27, 1970, Mariah was born. She was named after the song “They call the wind Mariah” from the musical “Paint your wagon”, a 1951 Broadway musical which was turned into a movie in 1969. “I think my mother chose the name because it would be a stage name,” Mariah once jokingly stated. Mariah was almost instantly captivated by her mother’s operatic voice. Patricia sensed her daughter’s interest and made a point of having her youngest daughter around when she rehearsed for the opera or gave voice lessons in her home. Patricia often remarked that by the time Mariah was two years old, she was capable of hearing a sound and duplicating it exactly. Once, Patricia was rehearsing a song for her performance in an upcoming New York City Opera production of Rigoletto. “I missed my cue,” she recalled in People magazine, “but Mariah didn’t. She sang it in Italian, and she was not yet three years old.” Mariah recalled, “Every song that came on the radio, T.V. commercials, I would just along with anything I heard.” In a Rolling Stone interview, Mariah said, “I was always singing around the house because she was always singing, so I woult try to mimic her. She couldn’t shut me up. She wouldn’t let anybody baby-talk around me. She had me around all her friends as a kid, and she used to say I was like a little adult. All I wanted to do was sing for my mom’s friends, so I would memorize every jingle on TV and whatever records were playing around the house, like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin.” One of Alfred Roy’s rules was that nobody spoke at the diner table unless spoken to. One day, Mariah burst into song shortly after

Young Mariah

the family sat down to their evening meal. Her father glared at her and barked, “There will be no singing at the table!” Mariah recalled in a Rolling Stone interview, “So I got up from the table, went into the living room, got up on the coffee table, and continued singing at the top of my lungs.” 2.2 Racism Racial problems continued to be a way of life for the family. “My brother was always getting beaten up,” Mariah related to Eva magazine. “My sister Alison always got picked on because she had the darkest skin.” Mariah herself escaped relatively unscathed because of her light skin. But she always felt different, as she explained to Ebony magazine. “I always felt kind of different from everyone else in my neighbourhood. I was a different person ethnically. And sometimes that can be a problem. If you look a certain way, everybody goes, ‘White girl’, and I’d go, ‘No, that’s not what I am.’ “ But while the brief time she spent with her father’s mother had served to

Pre-fame make her aware of her black heritage, she knew she wasn’t completely black either. She felt it upset people that she refused to come out and state that she was one or the other. However, it was impossible to do without denying a big part of herself. To call herself black would ignore her completely Irish mother, at the same time, saying she was “black, Venezuelan, and Irish” satisfied no one. It appeared to be too much of a compromise. For Mariah, though, it was all she could do, because it was the truth, and because it brought home to her the ultimately difficulty in being an interracial child, being neither one thing nor the other. So she defined herself in the only possible way: “I am a human being, a person.” 2.3 The divorce The frustration of the intolerance and the constant moves that the family faced had made just getting through each day an ordeal. Tensions in the household continued to escalate and finally, in 1973, Alfred Roy and Patricia divorced. Alison went to live with her father, while Morgan and Mariah remained with their mother. Suddenly, not only Mariah’s father was gone, but also her older sister. Initially, Alfred Roy would see his children on a weekly basis, but these visits soon became less frequent and eventually stopped when he got a job in Washington, DC. Mariah often said that she and her father “had a good relationship for about a minute after the divorce”. She elaborated, “He’s a good person, I don’t have anything against him. It’s just very difficult growing up in a divorced family. The tension, anger, and bitterness between the parents is often put off on the children. And because I was so young when they divorced, it was a major split for me.” Father and daughter barely kept in touch. For a long time the divorce colored her attitude towards the institution of marriage. “That made me feel very anti-marriage. I thought that I’d never marry,” Mariah stated. “Everyone wishes they had the


chapter 1 - Brady Bunch family. But it’s not reality.” Mariah discovered in her visits with her father that they really had very little in common. His talents as a mathematician weren’t passed on to his younger daughter, and he didn’t share her love of music. However, Mariah did retain some found memories of the time they spent together when she was young. For all the problems, conflicts, and arguments between Patricia and Alfred Roy, Patricia never tried to turn the children against their father. Mariah recounted, “Lucky for me, my mother never said anything negative about my father. She never discouraged me from having a good feeling about him. She always taught me to believe in myself, to love all the things I am. In that sense I’m very lucky, because I could have been a very screwed-up person.” A few years before his death, Mariah tracked down her father, and she was relieved she did. “When you grow up with one parent, you get one side of the story. I’m not saying there was a deliberate thing that happened, but that’s just the way it is. I was fortunate to find out things I never knew about my father. For one thing, I never knew he was in touch with my music and my career. He wrote me a letter: ‘It doesn’t matter whatever is happening, you’ve always been a star to me, even before anybody knew who you were.’ It meant so much to me. I never knew he was sentimental. I was grateful to be able to spend time with him before he got sick. It was unfortunate that I lost him so soon after, but I was grateful for the time I was able to spend with him.” Alfred Roy died of cancer on July 4, 2002 while Mariah held his hand. 2.4 Bohemian environment Life as a single mother was not easy for Patricia. While Alfred Roy paid some child support, there never seemed to be enough money. Her job with the New York City Opera did not pay a great deal, so Patricia was forced to do more and more work as a freelance vocal couch. Despite

Pre-fame these problems, Patricia always made sure that the family had some semblance of a normal life. Mariah would recall the trips to the beach were a favourite outing. For Patricia, jobs and rehearsals were often at odd hours of the day and night. Morgan was frequently drafted into babysitting his younger sister, but time and again conveniently managed to make himself scarce. Because babysitters cost money, Patricia would often end up bringing Mariah with her. Consequently, at a very early age, Mariah found herself surrounded by singers and musicians in a free-spirited, Bohemian environment. “I enjoyed being around grown-ups as a little child. I would sit around the table with adults and have adults conversations with them.” By the time Mariah turned four, Patricia realized that singing was not just a passing fancy in her daughter’s life, and so she began giving Mariah formal lessons. Patricia already had the feeling that her daughter might have what takes to make it as a professional singer but was nevertheless cautious in encouraging her. However, Mariah did not really need the encouragement, she already knew that singing was what she wanted to do with her life. “Because my mom sang for a living, I knew it could be more than a pipe dream,” she told the New York Times. “My mom always told me, ‘You are special. You have talent.’ From a very early age, she gave me the belief that I could do this.” Mariah’s formal lessons bordered on the informal. Despite being rooted in opera, Patricia made a point of not pushing her daughter in any particular musical direction but rather concentrated her lessons on tone, projection, and the nuts and bolts of singing. Patricia would sit at the piano and hit different notes, Mariah would then have to match the notes with her voice. Eventually, they moved from notes to whole songs. Mariah was a quick study and had perfect pitch. It also didn’t hurt that she loved what she was doing.


chapter 1 - 2.5 Musical influences During those early years, Mariah was exposed to many musical worlds. From her mother she got opera and folk. From her brother Morgan, and the occasional visits by her sister Alison, she garnered a love for soul and R&B. Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight were early influences. Once Mariah discovered that two of her idols, Al Green and Aretha Franklin, had both recorded gospel albums, she went out and bought them. It proved to be a major turning point for her, and very soon she was investigating other gospel artists who hadn’t made any secular records, people like Shirley Caesar, the Clark Sisters, Mahalia Jackson, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. The rawness and freedom of the voices touched a chord in the girl, one that would continue to resonate inside her, to influence and motivate her. Along with pop and R&B, she continued to love gospel, and admitted that there was a time she bought gospel tapes from late-night television. And the influence has frequently shown up in her music, whether it be in the soaring arrangement of the backing vocals, or the way a piano is played, or the rich tones of her own voice. Mariah’s introduction to this kind of music had come on the sporadic visits she made to her father’s mother, whom Mariah would accompany to the Baptist church where she would hear traditional spirituals. These were the only times during her childhood that Mariah was able to experience the sensation of being part of a large family. Unfortunately, the visits were rare. “I wish I had been part of it more,” she said. One of the other big musical influences as she grew up was rap, right from the time the first Sugar Hill Gang single hit the radio in 1979, when Mariah was nine years old. “I grew in New York,” she pointed out. “I’ve been listening to urban music, hip-hop, since it was invented.” Later, she admitted that she shared a lot with people who

Pre-fame worked in those fields. “I went through a lot and saw a lot of things, my life was far from sheltered or privileged, so when I work with urban acts, people who have come up from the streets and worked hard to get where they are, I feel as if we have a lot in common.” But it was Minnie Riperton, the seventies soul singer with her amazing five-to-sevenoctave range, who was the overriding influence on Mariah and her own singing style. She remembers the immediate impact that Minnie had on her when Mariah first heard her on the radio. Minnie was singing in upper registers that few singers could approach, and Mariah was instantly struck by a style that she considered larger than life. She expressed her enthusiasm to her mother who bought her some of Minnie’s records, and Mariah began practicing in earnest in an attempt to master the singer’s technique. Patricia became concerned that her daughter would hurt her vocal cords trying to hit those amazingly high notes. But sounding like Minnie became an obsession for Mariah, and it was not long before her vocal range began to expand to something approximating her idol’s style. But while she was determined in her quest to sound like Minnie Riperton, Mariah always returned to Patracia for those important lessons in music and life. “My mother was very inspirational,” she told Modern Woman magazine. “She made me feel special and reinforced my belief in myself and my talent.” Mariah was aware of lyrics and song structure and was already experimenting in her head with melodies that she heard on the radio. Mariah recalls that she tended to go way overboard with her passion for music and that it would often drive even her supportive mother to distraction. “My mother would have to tear me away from the radio every night just to get me to go to bed,” she laughingly recalled. “But then I would sneak back to the kitchen, bring the radio back into my bedroom, and listen to it under the covers. I used


chapter 1 - to sing myself to sleep every night. That’s when I was beginning my insomniac days and it hasn’t gone away.”

One of the family’s houses

2.6 Moving around Patricia hated leaving Mariah alone, but she had to go to work, which was often at odd hours. That made it necessary for her to leave Mariah at home with her brother Morgan, but Morgan would promise his mother that he would stay with Mariah and then head for his friends the moment she left the house. In those instances, Mariah recalled that the radio would be her babysitter. “I would feel very vulnerable and sometimes scared. I was alone a lot, and so I had time to think. I learned how to be independent.” Later, she recalled these part exciting, part frightening times. “I’d just do whatever I wanted. Eat all the icing out of jars by the spoonful, watch whatever I wanted on TV.” Yet she recognised it forced her to grow up quickly, depsite those sweet, elfin looks. “I think it made me what I am, in a strange sort of way, because I was independent.” Later, this would prove a problem at school because, as she said, “I found it hard to accept rules and regulations because I knew how to look after myself already. I’ve always been like a grown-up. Mom would say I was six going on 35.”

Pre-fame The Carey’s nomadic existence continued. Over the course of fourteen years, the family would move thirteen times in the New York area, sometimes even staying with friends. “There were times we didn’t have a place to live,” Mariah recalled. “Those were very frightening periods.” When they could afford the rent, it was usually a rundown apartment in a questionable part of town. When they could not, Mariah would find herself crashing on a couch or the floor of a friend. With Patricia sometimes working as many as three jobs in a day, Mariah was left to cope by herself with the ever-changing neighbourhoods and the friends that would most certainly not be friends for very long. Looking back, Mariah would often acknowledge that part of her insecurities lay in the fact that she could never count on having friends for any length of time. By age five, she was already feeling insecure about a life that always seemed to be picking up and leaving. “When you live in a middle-class or uppermiddle-class neighbourhood but you’re living in a shack, it just puts you in a weird position.” And she would admit in later years that the strain, stress, and anxiety of constantly being uprooted made an indelible impact on her. “I didn’t have one neighbourhood,” she told interviewer Jamie Foster Brown. “We didn’t own a house, and we didn’t have a lot of money. A lot of times, I did not feel like I fit in. That was a frightening period for me.” She would later recall that a big part of her insecurity growing up was the lach of a true role model. “I felt different from my mother, and I knew I wasn’t exactly like my father. I didn’t really feel like I had one strong person to relate to.” However, her identity crisis did not get in the way of the respect she felt for her mother. In later years, Mariah would often say that what her mother did during the that time kept the family afloat and that there was no shame in providing for her family.


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Pre-fame 3. School years 3.1 New friends Mariah entered the world of formal education in 1976. At school, she was a shy child, and because she had been constantly uprooted in the early years of her life, she did not make friends easily. Music and the arts were her friends. In fact, they became her passion even at that early age. Mariah would often recall that a preference for creative classes was a constant pattern in her life. “What they used to write on my report card was ‘She’s very smart but doesn’t apply herself unless it’s something she likes.’ ” Patricia encouraged her daughter to sing, but not everyone was that enthusiastic. “I told one teacher that I wanted to be a singer and was told, ‘There are millions of people out there who can sing. What makes you any different? Don’t get your hopes up.’ I couldn’t believe a teacher would actually say that to someone who had a dream.” Her mother convinced Mariah to try spreading her wings in other areas besides song. She tried her hand at the piano, but the lessons required a degree of concentration and structure that Mariah was not ready for, and so interest in the instrument soon fell by the wayside. “When I was little, my mom tried to get me to do piano, but I said, ‘This comes naturally, I can do it by ear, I don’t want to learn.’ I should have take lessons because it would be easier for me now. Sometimes ideas just come, and because I’m worrying about trying to find the chords, I end up losing part of the idea.” What Mariah found she was quite good at, given her attention to song lyrics, was poetry. She would constantly put her thoughts and feelings down on paper and show them to her mother. Encouraged by the positive feedback, Mariah was overjoyed the day her third-grade teacher, Mr. Cohen, asked the class to write a poem. She felt this was an opportunity for her to stand out from the rest of her class. However her


chapter 1 - excitement about the writing assignment turned to disappointment when the teacher refused to believe that the poem Mariah had submitted was really her own work and accused her of plagiarism. In 2001, Mariah told BET, “I used to write poetry in school and I had this complete hater for a third grade teacher. He wouldn’t believe that I wrote the poems. For a few days, he said, ‘You didn’t write this, you didn’t write this.’ I said, ‘Yes, I did.’ And everytime we had an assignment he’d say I didn’t write it. Finally I go, ‘I have a whole book at home,’ meaning I write down in a book and I write like they were poems, my thoughts. He goes, ‘Did you hear that class? She’s got a whole book at home,’ like I was copying it from a book. So I’m like ‘Okay.’ ” Mariah’s reputation as an amazing vocalist soon spread through the school district. When the local high-school production of the musical “South Pacific” was looking for a youngster to do the solo on the song “Honey bun”, Mariah, then in the sixth grade, made her singing debut to a packed house. The audience’s enthusiastic reaction server to further her ambition to be a performer. That same year, Mariah played the role of Maria in her own sixth-grade class production of “The sound of music”. Mariah’s structured school experience was in direct contrast to the free-flowing party atmosphere that often greeted her when she came home. There were always musicians hanging around rehearsing for shows or just jamming. Encouraged by Patricia, Mariah would join in the three-ring circus playing out in her living room. Patricia would beam proudly as her daughter sang to the accompaniment of the adult musicians around her. Mariah’s high-octave range had become the talk of this informal group, and more than one person would remark that Mariah already had the talent of a seasoned professional. However, no matter how insulated and secure she felt in a world of music and song, Mariah

Pre-fame could never get away from the real world and its temptations. She learned a hard lesson when her sixteen-year-old sister Alison got pregnant and was forced to get married. Patricia’s disappointment in her oldest daughter was obvious, and she reinforced her sense of right and wrong to Mariah. While her mother always took great pains to find the best neighbourhoods to live in, Mariah was never far enough from the street to avoid the seamy side of life. Many in her mother’s circle predicted privately that Mariah would eventually follow in her sister’s footsteps. But music had a stronger hold on her than street life did, and it was her dream of stardom, along with a good measure of luck, that would continue to keep her on the straight and narrow. “I saw a lot craziness,” she once said. “But I made the right decisions by looking at people who made the wrong ones and saying that I would never end up like them.” Mariah had another way of beating the blues. She would spontaneously burst into song. Alone or in a crowd, it did not make a difference. Singing would always bring Mariah back to the good stuff. “I always looked at music as a form of escape,” she explained to VH1. “You could be anything you wanted to be when you had music.” Shortly before Mariah turned ten, her mother

Usdan Usdan was formed in 1968 as a place to introduce children to the arts, something of a Tanglewood for the 6- to 18-year-old set. It was modeled after the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies sleepaway camp at Interlochen, Mich., though it is a secular group with a diverse student body. Real estate millionaire Samuel Lemberg gave the initial $1-million donation to build the camp, asking that it be named for his daughter, the late Suzanne Usdan, and her husband, Nathaniel.

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decided that it was time for her daughter to have some formal instruction in the arts. Usdan, a local Long Island performing arts center that emphasized music and acting, seemed ideal for her. It was expansive, but Patricia felt it was important enough, and so, with the aid of her ex-husband and other family members, she managed to get together the tuition for Mariah to attend the camp for two seven-week sessions during the summers of 1980 and 1981. Mariah recalled that her experience at the camp was important in helping to secure her life and attitude. During her first year, she appeared in the role of Hodel, Tevye’s daughter, in the musical “Fiddler on the roof”. In her second year, she only made understudy in the class production. “I felt kind of foiled,” Mariah told Newsday in 1998. “But not having a lead role gave me a chance to have a lot of fun that summer.” Finally, after years of struggle, Patricia managed to make enough money for a down payment to get her family into a house in the affluent Long Island suburb of Huntington Bay. This was to be their home throughout Mariah’s high-school years and beyond. Patricia was working quite regularly now, and this latest move looked to be more permanent. It was 1982, the year that Mariah turned twelve. But to her way

Although many of Usdan’s alumni have forged careers in the arts, Usdan officials stress that their mission is not to prepare campers for such a path. Rather, says executive director Dale Lewis, “the purpose is for kids who love the arts to study with wonderful professionals and to have the arts as a companion for life”. The 150member faculty includes the artistic director of the Ballet San Jose, a Rockette and the former head of the Joffrey Ballet School. The camp offers “majors” in

seven disciplines: music, art, theater, dance, writing, nature and chess. Within each group there are specific programs, such as classical guitar, cartooning, digital photography and ballet, for various skill levels. Students study their major for two hours every day and the minor for one. The 50,000 “graduates” of Usdan are represented in every major orchestra and dance company in the country. Well-known former campers include Natalie Portman and Mariah Carey.


Mariah’s 4th grade

of thinking, she had already lived through a lot. “I went through more before the age of twelve than a lot of people go through in their entire lifetime,” she said. “My mom’s friends would always say that if I made it, it would be a miracle.” 3.2 Greenlawn Junior High School Mariah Carey already knew what she wanted to do with her life by the time she enrolled in Greenlawn Junior High School near her home in Huntington Bay, and she didn’t hesitate to tell the people all about her plans. Mariah met Patricia Johnson in her first year of junior high school, and they became close friends during their teen years. Patricia recalled how she and girlfriends would regularly have their ears filled with Mariah’s latest, often seemingly exaggerated, plans to be a singer and ultimately a superstar. But while others in Mariah’s circle of friends would openly dismiss the youngster’s predictions of greatness, money and having her picture on the cover of every fan magazine, her friend Patricia sensed that Mariah was serious about it and somehow she would make it happen. With a goal of singing first and foremost in her mind, it was no surprise that Mariah would be less than academically inclined throughout


chapter 1 - high school. Put quite simply, Mariah loved the classes she was interested in and was bored by everything else. “I was always in the honors creative writing class,” she told interviewer Jamie Foster Brown. “But then I would go to the worst remedial math class.” Patricia Carey knew that school was a constant struggle for her daughter, but, while she insisted that Mariah attend school and do her best in all subjects, she did not demand that she bring home straight A’s or win honors. By this time, she was well aware that her daughter was going to follow her heart, and so, Patricia was concerned but not overly upset when Mariah did not take her eight-grade finals. “It’s not that I deliberately did not take the finals,” Mariah confessed to Rosie O’Donnell. “I always wanted to be prepared for tests, but I was always busy with my music.” Mariah’s musical education continued at home. Patricia was not a stage mother and never pushed her daughter. Rather, she gently encouraged her to go where her talent and instincts would take her. When it came to performing in public, Mariah remained hesitant. She would sing for family and friends and, when she was feeling particularly brave, would participate in informal folk-music hoots held in Patricia’s home or the home of a musician friend. But for the most part, Mariah’s music became a quiet, private place that the young girl would go to. In a sense, Mariah was biding her time. She knew that she was not ready to begin the long, hard climb to the top. But she also knew that someday she would be. Mariah took the next creative step at age thirteen when she began writing her own songs. Those privy to her early songwriting efforts described Mariah as a songwriter who was skilled beyond her years. She quickly went from doing soul and gospel variations of her favourite singers and songwriters to developing her own orginal style, heavy into ballads and love

Pre-fame songs that borrowed liberally from her real-life experiences. In fact, a preview of things to come was the young girl’s uncanny ability to take her teenage insecurities and put them into words. Patricia, who would inevitably be the sounding board for those early songwriting efforts, was impressed because even at this early age, Mariah could write big, booming, emotional ballads. But Patricia saw much more in her daughter’s talents than singing and songwriting. In her expressive, animated nature and sense of drama, she also saw her potential as an actress. She encouraged her daughter’s participation in local acting workshops, in which Mariah show a great deal of promise, so much so that Patrica decided to take her daughter to New York City to audition for parts in Broadway musicals. Initially, Mariah was a bit shy about the auditions process and with having to compete against more experienced child actors. But she eventually became comfortable with the procedure. During this period, Mariah auditioned for the role of Annie in the Broadway play but lost out because she was too tall. Although Mariah never actually landed a role, the excitement of going through auditions and playing the part of actress were positive experiences for her. 3.3 Harborfields High School In 1984, Mariah entered Harborfields High School. She was changing both emotionally and personally. She was more confident and outgoing, and as she began to come out of her shell, her circle of friends grew. But Mariah’s attitude toward formal education remained the same. “I always wanted to graduate from high school so I could get on with my life,” she recalled in an US magazine interview. “But I always felt like I was wasting my time because I knew I wanted to be a singer.” While she had a good time socially in high school, Mariah did not participate in any extracurricular music activities. “I thought I was too


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Harborfields High School in 2005

cool to do anything related to school activities,” she said in a Vibe magazine interview. “I thought I was the tough chick of the school. But I think that stemmed from being insecure as a kid.” But she was outgoing and self-confident, which contributed to her getting the nickname Miss Mod. But the reality was that Mariah was very much the chameleon during her school years. “I went through a lot of different stages,” she related in Dolly magazine. “For a while, I distanced myself from a lot of kids. From the seventh grade on, I was the tough girl. I used to slam the cheerleaders into lockers and stuff like that. I wasn’t really bad. I was just acting tough.” Mariah insisted on not being pushed around. At one time, she had a problem with some older girls in the neighbourhood “who were really mean to me”. They moved away, and Mariah was able to get their new phone number. She then got her revenge with prank phone calls. In the end, however it all backfired. The calls were traced, the police talked to Patricia, and “I had to pay for the calls out of my allowance.” “Growing up, it was difficult for me to find people that I could connected with because of all my issues of feeling separate and apart.” She felt like an outsider, someone who didn’t belong, not just because of her background and lack of money, but also because of her appearance. “When I was in the seventh grade, I was an ugly

Pre-fame duckling. I had really hairy eyebrows and I didn’t know you were supposed to pluck them. So I started shaving off bits of my eyebrows. Pretty soon, there were none left. Then I picked up this hair stuff called ‘Golden Blond’. I put it on my hair and started drying it with this bright orange blow dryer. The next thing I knew, my hair was the same color as the blow dryer. Of course, the second I left the house, I ran into this kid I was totally in love with and he said, ‘What happened to you?’ “ What Mariah was was very normal. “I’d hang out with my friends, and go to parties, and just be stupid and goof off, but when I was at home, I was listening to music and writing songs. Girls grow up talking constantly about havinf babies. I talked about music.” Despite her mother’s warey eye, Mariah had several boyfriends. In the tenth grade, one of Mariah’s high-school crushes presented her with a keepsake, which turned out to be her “lucky” ring, one that she not only has kept all these years but wears every time she performs. What Mariah remembers about her early highschool romantic attachments was that they were casual and fleeting. Mariah managed to remain a virgin throughout high school. “I always had these older boyfriends since I was thirteen,” she revealed in Rolling Stone. “But I didn’t really do anything with them. I had relationships, but I did nothing. I was very virginal, and people wouldn’t have thought so because I was always walking around with these tight-ass jeans on.” When it came to virtue and sexual matters, she learned from those around her. She knew about girls who, like her sister Alison, had become pregnant, dropped out of school, and ruined their lives. Steve Park got to know Mariah in high school through his girlfriend. He described her as “kind of quiet but really nice”. He remembered that they would often get together and just drive around and hang out. But he also recalled that when they would swing by Mariah’s house, they


chapter 1 - would often run up against her mother. “Her mom was real strict,” said Steve. “There would be times when we would try and get Mariah to go out with us, but she couldn’t because her mother would always insist that her singing lessons came first. I remember feeling sorry for her.” 3.4 Demo singer By the age of fourteen, Mariah had begin living her dream. Through word of mouth and her mother’s contacts, she became a muchin-demand demo singer for a number of Long Island recording studios. Demo singers record songs for songwriters, who can then present their material to music publishers and other singers. However, Mariah would often get in trouble doing these sessions because, with an already well-developed sense of songwriting, she would inevitably find faults with the songs she was singing and attempt to change the lyrics. The jobs brought much-needed money into the Carey household, but, more importantly, it was an eye-opening introduction to the mysterious world of the recording studio. But Mariah felt as if she were in her element and had no problem with this totally adult-dominated environment. Things were on a more professional level, and she was instantly drawn into process of making music. This was truly the beginning of Mariah’s real education. By her junior year in high school, her lack of interest in formal studies and her increasing absences from class (which earned her a new nickname, Mirage) became a subject of concern to the school administration. James Malone, her high-school guidance counselor, encouraged her to pursue her singing dream, but, at the same time, he insisted that she developped more marketable skills that she could fall back on in case her music career stalled. Likewise, the school’s assistant vice-principal, John Garvey, spent many futile hours trying to get Mariah to buckle down and study. But, as he explained in

Pre-fame a New York Newsday article, it was to no avail. “You could talk to her until you were blue in the face, and it didn’t do any good. When you talked to her about it, she’d let you know it just wasn’t that important in her life because she was going to be a rock star. She was fully convinced it was going to happen. Nothing was going to stand in her way.” In a 1994 Jet magazine conversation, Mariah recalled those talks with school staff members, and while she understood that it was their job to encourage children to follow their dreams, she resented the fact that they were trying to step on hers. Nevertheless, she did not blame them for trying to keep her from dropping out of school. “I didn’t blame them for trying to encourage me to do better scholastically because they never saw me sing. They just saw this kid who had this dream of making music and being a singer.” But the constant urging of her school teachers to learn something that she could “fall back on” finally made an impression, and beginning in her junior year, Mariah began to study beauty and cosmetics. Mariah got a kick out of doing something that a lot of her friends were doing, but she never really took it that serious. Word of Mariah’s demo work and reports of her emerging talents as a songwriter had spread throughout the informal Huntington Bay music community, and she soon hooked up with aspiring songwriter Gavin Christopher. This was truly a big step for Mariah who, up to that point, had seen music as a solitary endeavor. That she would consider taking suggestions and criticism from another person was a definite sign of maturity. The quality of the songs that Mariah and Gavin produced on their crude recording equipment was truly impressive. They were lyrically strong and emotionally mature compositions that compared favorably with much of the music that was being played at the time on the radio. And although none of these efforts ever amounted to much, they were instrumental


chapter 1 - in getting her started. One of her most ardent supporters, after her mother of course, was her brother Morgan, who, despite his constant battle with cerebral palsy, was attempting a career of his own as a musician and producer. Morgan had always been a quiet supporter of his sister’s musical aspirations, but he stepped forward in a major way when Mariah turned sixteen. He put up the money to record a professional-quality demo of her songs in a Manhattan recording studio. For Mariah, Morgan’s generous gift continued to open her eyes to the wonders of the professional music world. She was barely old enough to get a driver’s license, but there she was, surrounded by professional musicians who were playing her songs. Mariah’s past insecurities surfaced early in the sessions, and she was tentative in the face of much older, seasoned players. But she soon realized that this was her show, and her confidence returned. For their part, the musicians were immediately drawn to the young girl’s enthusiasm, her multioctave voice, and her passionate songs. Now Patricia Carey was caught on the horns of a dilemma. She insisted that Mariah study and graduate high school, but she was overjoyed at the opportunity the recording experience offered her daughter. At the same time, she was worried that this new temptation would lure Mariah to drop out of school. She gave her blessing to Mariah’s demo sessions but insisted that Mariah would somehow have to fit school in her busy schedule. Mariah recalled, in Ebony, how she was able to balance both. “After school, I would commute to Manhattan to work all night with musicians. I usually would not get home until 3 am, get up at 7 am to go to school. And I would always be late.” 3.5 Ben Margulies One day Mariah was cutting demos of songs


Ben Margulies

she had written with Gavin Christopher, and her brother Morgan asked his friend Chris Toland to work on the demo sessions. Toland was not available and he referred his writing partner Ben Margulies to help out. “We needed someone to play the keyboards for a song I had written with a guy called Gavin Christopher,” Mariah later recalled. “We called someone and he couldn’t come, so by accident we stumbled upon Ben. Ben came to the session and he can’t really play keyboards very well - he’s really more of a drummer - but after that day we kept in touch, and we just sort of clicked as writers.” In 1983, Ben worked as a drummer, he joined the New York power trio Comateens, when they were looking for a drummer who could tour with them in support of their Virgin records Pictures On A String album, which had just made the charts. Ben went on to tour with Nicholas North, Lyn Byrd and Oliver North through Switzerland and France, and made an appearance in their music video “Get off my case” which had garnered a “Top Album Pick” in Billboard magazine. Mariah found out that she and Ben had a lot in common. At age twenty-four, he was much older than seventeen-year-old singer. But the age difference was easily overcome by a similar nature and creative passions. Mariah and Ben kept in touch and eventually decided to try writing


chapter 1 - together. As luck would have it, Ben’s father had long ago given his son permission to set up a studio in a back room of his cabinet factory Bedworks in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. It was there that Ben and Mariah set about creating music together. Ben recalled, “I didn’t have much equipment, but we had a way of making demos sound incredible.” The first song from this collaboration was the Motown-flavored “Here we go round again”. Ben created the music, Mariah wrote the lyrics. As they listened to the complete tape, the excitement grew. It didn’t just sound good, it sounded incredible. The songwriting chemistry was definitely there, Ben told the New York Times. “Mariah had the ability to just hear things in the air and to start developing songs out of them. Often, I would sit down and start playing something and from the feel of the chord, she would start singing melody lines and come up with the concept.” 3.6 Graduation Mariah’s senior year at Harborfields High School was a busy one. The songwriting partnership with Ben Margulies was developing at a lightning pace, and the result was a number of quality songs. At this point, school was almost an afterthought for Mariah, but she kept her promise to her mother and attended just enough and did just well enough to get her diploma. She was already making plans to go to New York, be discovered, and become a big star. To the teachers and administrators who had spent four years trying to convince Mariah that dreams of singing stardom were little more than fantasy, an unreachable pipe dream, Mariah’s future looked dark as they counted down the days to the graduation of the class of 1987. More than one teacher let Mariah know that if she ever needed any help, she should contact them. James Malone, her high-school guidance counselor, mused in 1991, “You know, I don’t think she’s going to need that counseling now.”

Pre-fame Mariah was so desperate to be the belle of the ball at her high school prom she staged a keg party at her boyfriend’s home to raise funds to make her dreams come true. But she still feels guilty about charging friends and schoolmates to come to her party, where the single keg of beer she provided ran out in minutes. She admitted her then-bouncer boyfriend helped her stump up a small fortune, which allowed her to realise her prom dreams. She recalls, “He was charging people like how he liked them. If he liked them, they could get in for cheaper, if he didn’t like them, they had top pay like $10. We raised like $1,000-something, so we paid for our limo and my dress, which I had specially made by a lovely woman. And my prom dress was a scandal, it was like a one-shoulder number, white, with the midriff open, with a slit towards the bottom.” But Mariah wasn’t crowned prom queen, which left her devastated at the time, but now she accepts she would have made a bad school royal. She explained, “It really wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to win because I didn’t participate much in class.” In her senior yearbook, Mariah listed her likes as “sleeping late” (not too surprising, all things considered), “Corvettes”, and “guiedes” (Italian men).


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4. The struggle 4.1 Roommates The bond between Mariah and her mother had grown even stronger during the youngster’s teen years as Patricia shared her daughter’s every musical step forward. Consequently, Mariah began to feel pangs of guilt at the prospect of running off to the big city and leaving her mother alone. Those feelings were salved shortly before graduation when her mother, after years of sacrificing a personal life to support her family, fell in love and married Joseph Vain. In a sense, the marriage made it easier for Mariah to leave. Now she did not felt guilt, and she liked the idea that her mother had finally met a man who, as far as she could see, really cared for her. However, the marriage wasn’t destined to last and the divorce between the couple bacame final in 1992. Mariah could now focus totally on what she wanted to do, which was to go out into the world and make her own career an life, to follow her star. A week after her high-school graduation ceremony, Mariah packed up her bare essentials and prepared te begin a new life in New York. Mariah arrived in the Big Apple on the cusp of the change of the seasons. She had been to New York often enough to be familiar with the energy that seemed to rise up out of the ground and envelope the city. But now, she was looking at it through different eyes, eyes filled with expectation and anticipation. Mariah was excited at the prospect of changing her life, excited at the idea of New York now being her home. She was also apprehensive at the idea that for the first time, she was completely on her own. “It was wonderful and horrible at the same time,” she recalled of her arrival in the city in an interview with Veronica magazine. “For the first time, I was on my own feet.” Mariah was the dues-paying stereotype as she set out to make her fortune in New York City. She had one pair

Mariah and friends

of worn shoes, no money, no connections, but a lot of confidence. And most importantly, she had a burning desire to make it on her own. Patricia’s parting words to Mariah were that is she needed anything, just call. But she was too proud. “I could have asked people for money,” she said. “But I felt I had to go with the feeling that got me there, and that was that I had to make it on my own.” Mariah scanned the want ads and soon found herself sharing a dive of an apartment with two other struggling performers. The apartment, in a rather seedy part of the city, was barely big enough for the other two, and so, as last in, Mariah had to settle for sleeping on a mattress on the living floor. “There was one woman who used to walk round with a rat on her shoulder. And she’d always be in the kitchen when you wanted something to eat,” Mariah remembered. Her roommate Clarissa Dane (whom Mariah said is full of “talent” and “integrity”) remembered the first time she met Mariah. “I first met Mariah through her brother Morgan, who I met working at Studio 54. He told me his ‘little sister’ was a singer and wanted to do some demos and could we work with her. I said sure. When I saw her, there was nothing little about her. She was a strikingly beautiful, tall 16 year old (going on

Pre-fame 25). She was really sweet, quiet, and sort of shy at first, and then I got to know her. Very funny and very smart and very talented. Something we had in common was that she didn’t really know her father growing up and I was given up for adoption.” Clarissa continued, “One thing we always had in common was the determination to ‘make it’. When Mariah and I were roommates, we used to record fake interviews on cassette tapes all the time to rehearse for the ‘real thing’. There were the pessimistic people that we tried to avoid or just ignore. She had such drive and a great work ethic that I knew there would be no stopping her. She had the talent, it was just a matter of the right record company getting behind her and selling it.” Mariah’s first few months in New York were totally dedicated to the fine art of survival. None of the roommates had any money. They did not hold full-time jobs, and it was a constant struggle just to get the rent together every month. Food, as Mariah painfully recalled, became almost an afterthought. A box of macaroni and cheese was the staple food item, and that typically had to last the three roommates for a week. “Money is tight for everyone starting off. You got food where you worked and that was usually one meal: dinner. But the thing is, you only work toward what you want. People do whatever it takes,” Clarissa said. For several months, things were so dire that Mariah was subsisting on only one bagel and a bottle of iced tea a day, which she would bum from a sympathetic deli owner. Mariah said, “It was a year of days on one slice of Munster cheese with a bagel or some pasta because that’s all I could afford. But it was fun. It was also a year of learning, collaborating. Well, it was also a year of crying yourself to sleep at night because you want to do something so badly. It sounds exaggerated, but a year is a long time, especially in a young person’s life.”


chapter 1 - Mariah had come to New York with basically one set of clothes: a short jacket, a pair of black stretch pants, and a pair of her mother’s lace-up shoes. New clothes cost money, so Mariah wore what she had everywhere, no matter what the temperature was outside. “I had no money to buy a pair of shoes, and so I would walk around in the snow in shoes that had holes in them,” she told a Jet reporter. “They were the only shoes I owned. They were literally falling apart and caused hell for my feet in winter. My idea of heaven was a decent pair of shoes.” But there was more to Mariah’s days and nights in New York than the struggles. At the time, there was a thriving music scene developing on the upper west side, a place where struggling musicians got together for informal jams and good times. Mariah recalled spending many nights just hanging out in a studio or an apartment watching her contemporaries, such as singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, as they set about trying to create a new musical universe. It was an electric atmosphere full of talent, promise, and hope, and Mariah felt comfortable in it. Despite her newcomer status, she felt a part of something real, creative, and musical. 4.2 Jobs Mariah’s months in New York were punctuated by a series of what she considered dead-end jobs. They were the type of jobs that were relatively easy to come by, paid minimum wage or just tips, and seemed to be there for the sole purpose of allowing struggling actors, singers, and musicians an opportunity to pay the rent, but little else. Mariah would have preferred not to work and devote all her time to her musical career. She had never worked professionally at anything but music in her life and grudgingly went into formal employment. It came as no surprise that her attitude resulted in a whole lot of jobs that did not last very long. In no particular order, she held jobs as a coat-check girl, a hair sweeper

Pre-fame in a beauty salon (which she quit after two days when the shop owner tried to change her name to Echo), and on many occasions, waitress in such New York landmarks as The Sports Bar and The Boathouse Cafe. As a waitress, Mariah was an absolute zero. By her own account, she was rude to customers, messed up orders, and basically offered up the worst kind of service imaginable. She rarely got a good tip or any tip at all for that matter. “I was a really, really bad waitress. I would forget things, and I really wasn’t into it, so I wasn’t that nice to the customers. You have to be overly nice to get a good tip, and I wasn’t like that, so they ended up firing me.” Mariah told a VH1 interviewer that the reason why she was such a bad waitress was that she could not keep her mind on her work. “I had this real bad attitude,” she chuckled. “Why am I here? I want to be in the studio. I want to be singing. I want to be doing my thing.” During breaks on the job, Mariah could usually be found slouched in a chair in some relatively quiet corner, scribbling out lyrics, hoping for inspiration amid the clatter of dishes and the shouts of customers. Her stint as the coat-check girl in a restaurant also allowed for some daydreaming, she recalled in an US magazine interview. “This place played videos, and I used to fantasize when I wrote that someday, I would come back and watch my own videos in the place. But the food wasn’t that great, so I’ve never gone back.” Throughout her first year in New York, Mariah took great pains to be herself in every way, but she didn’t discuss her secret longings in her everyday life. “I didn’t tell anyone what I wanted to do,” she confessed to Q magazine. “Every waitress in Manhattan was like ‘Really, I’m an actress. Really, I’m a singer. I just didn’t want to be like that.” It was a difficult time, but the salvation was her music. She’d get off a hellish late shift of waitressing, usually around midnight, and would meet up with her songwriting partner Ben Margulies at their cabinet-factory studio,


chapter 1 - and they would spend the remainder of the night creating magical songs. The pair had formed a cohesive unit, with Ben’s music being the perfect conduit for Mariah’s haunting lyrics. Mariah and Ben had become the closest of friends and partners, but it was an unwritten rule between them that there would not be any romance. Not that Mariah had anything against men or the idea of falling in love, but she would not be distracted from her desire to make it. Quite naturally, that seemed to preclude any form of a love life. “I was so focussed on getting a record deal and making an album that there was no room for anything else,” she told the CourierMail. “People just don’t understand that kind of drive and focus.“ It was a drive that would see Mariah regularly hand deliver her primitive demo tapes to the record company offices that lined the streets of New York. Mariah would seldom get any further than the front desk where a receptionist would take her tape and promise to get it to the right person. “For a year, I couldn’t pay someone to listen to my tapes. They think if you don’t have a high-powered manager or don’t have a record company that’s already interested in you, you’re no good. I had no connections and I was running with my writing partner, who was also new and didn’t have any connections either,” Mariah explained to the Chicago Tribune. Mariah was discouraged when the tapes would be either returned with a form rejection note or just disappear with no response at all. But mentally, she was made of tougher stuff, and so it did not take long for her to shake off the disappointment and move on. Things began to pick up in 1988. Mariah’s brother Morgan had also relocated to New York where he was working as a doorman at a local hot spot. Through his connections, he was able to get the club owner to book his sister for a series of slow nights. Mariah was thrilled and frightened at the same time. While growing up, she began to struggle with her insecurities

Pre-fame when it came to performing in public, and had not done it since grade school. By the time she had moved to New York, she had developed a full-blown phobia about being onstage. However, she finally decided to bite the bullet and try performing live in front of an audience of strangers. First and foremost, it would help her get over her fears. Second, and here was where the fantasy came in, you never knew who would be in the audience. It might be somebody who could change her life. By all accounts, during those shows, she was very nervous and had a hard time hiding it. Mariah readily admitted that she was less than a dynamic performer in those early days. Nevertheless, those who saw her did come away impressed with the power of her vocals and the maturity of her songs. And things began to happen. The good word of mouth from those live performances, along with Ben’s contacts, began to widen Mariah’s musical circle. A friend of Morgan’s who had some experience offered to manage her. Musicians who had drifted in and out of her demo sessions with Ben began to talk her up, and she started getting a scattering of demo and backup singing jobs. Mariah gloried in the idea that she was moving in professional music circles and felt she was moving steadily up the ladder. It was just not far enough up so that she could escape the grind of waitressing. 4.3 Brenda K. Starr One night, after a particularly miserable shift,

Weakness of the body One of the best known songs of Mariah during the time she worked with Brenda K. Starr is “Weakness of the body”, which was written by Ken Cedar. Ken said about the song, “I was working with a producer at the time who was producing Brenda K. Starr.

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Mariah and Brenda K. Starr in 1998

Mariah was talking to a drummer who had been playing for a rhythm-and-blues singer named Brenda K. Starr. The musician told Mariah that one of Brenda’s backup singers had recently quit and that she was looking for a replacement. Mariah was reluctant at first, especially when she found out that Brenda, despite being under contract to Epic Records, had so little money that she could not afford to keep her musicians and singers on more than a part-time basis. But her musician friend persisted and finally brought her around when he told her that it beat waitressing. “I really didn’t want to do it,” Mariah told Fred Bronson, “but I said it’s gonna be better than what I’m doing now. So I went to the audition, and Brenda was such a great person.” On the appointed date, Mariah went to a small studio where Brenda K. Starr was holding auditions. There was an instant chemistry

He knew of Mariah through Brenda and always used Mariah to record his presentation demos for the label because she could do such a good impression of Brenda. When he heard the song he thought it would be great for Brenda’s project so he got Mariah to sing the demo for me.” The song never made it onto

Brenda’s album, but it did find a place on Judy Torres’ 1989 debut album Love Story. The track, sung by Mariah, circulates on the internet, but many doubt the authenticity of the recording. Parts of the song sound like Mariah, other parts don’t.

Pre-fame between the two. Brenda was an easy and quite naturallly friendly woman who had a mothering instinct, but that would not have made a bit of difference if Mariah had not blown her away during the audition with the strength and diversity of her voice. Mariah aced the audition and was now in the big time. Brenda K. Starr released her first album, I Want Your Love, in 1987. Her second, self-titled, album from 1988, peaked at number 58 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and had the hit-single “I still believe” (which peaked at number 13, and was later recorded my Mariah herself). After Mariah had become Sony’s star attraction, Brenda’s career shrank in terms of commercial success. After being dropped from Sony Records for lackluster sales of her third album, By Heart, she worked odd jobs to support herself and her family for several years, including one at a shopping mall in New Jersey. In a wise decision, Brenda learned Spanish in order to rejuvenate her career, instead of chasing trends of the English language pop music market., This time as mostly a Salsa/ Tropical and Latin Pop artist. After the release of her cover of Herida, which peaked at number 16 on the Latin Pop Airplay and at number 1 on the Latin Tropical/Salsa Airplay chart, her music career became successful again. From then, she released a string of popular, successful albums with many chart hits. After the audition, Mariah performed with Brenda in a number of live shows. She never recorded as a part of Brenda’s band. The experience of performing live in better situations was something that money could not buy. Brenda was a rarity in in the often cutthroat world of popular music. She was genuine, especially when it came to her dealings with Mariah. The singer was openly worried that Mariah’s clothes were literally falling off her back and would often express her concern that her favorite backup singer would get sick. And while the unwritten rule in music was that the star should never do


chapter 1 - anything to promote a talented underling, Brenda would go out of her way to help get her protégé in front of the right people. Over the course of their time together, Mariah and Brenda became good friends. Sometimes, when there were no gigs scheduled and Mariah wasn’t working on her own material, the two would spend an evening sitting and chatting. Neither had grown up with a father, and it was a subject that still rankled them both. The friendship between the two quickly grew by leaps and bounds, and Brenda recognized and happily acknowledged Mariah’s unique talent. “Most singers would have said, ‘Stay in the background and don’t sing too loud’,” Mariah told People. Instead, Brenda began promoting her discovery. She took every opportunity to introduce Mariah to her music-industry contacts and was quick to hand out copies of Mariah’s demo tape to anyone who expressed the slightest interest. “She helped me out a lot,” said Mariah in a 1991 Ebony interview. “She was always saying, ‘Here’s my friend Mariah. Here’s her tape. She sings. She writes.’“ A few years later, Mariah had nothing but praise for her former boss. And once Mariah had achieved success, she never forgot Brenda. At one time, Brenda was going through a bad patch. She was living in New Jersey, trying to get by on very little money. Christmas was coming, and things looked bleak. Out of the blue, completely unannounced, Mariah arrived, bringing a rocking horse for Brenda’s daughter and an extremely expensive makeup kit for Brenda herself. “She started laughing with the curls falling in her face,” Brenda described the scene. “It was like she was Santa Claus. I started crying.” In 2005, Brenda wasn’t so amicable anymore. “She’s forgotten who she is and where she comes from, and she’s never helped me the way I’ve helped her,” she said. “I’ve stopped talking to Mariah because the only time she calls me is when she needs a favor.”

Pre-fame Brenda claimed that she lost her own record contract with Tommy Mottola “to make room for Mariah. I never even got a finder’s fee. I was left with nothing, resulting in me calling Mariah and saying, ‘I need your help. I’m broke. I have two kids to feed, I can’t get a record deal to save my life.’ Her answer was, ‘I really can’t help you. I don’t want to get involved.’ “ Still, Brenda said she was there to support Mariah in 2001 when she had her muchpublicized meltdown. “When she was breaking up with Tommy and when she was going through this nervous breakdown thing, I was the first to call her to ask her if she was OK.” Conceding that Mariah loaned her $5,000 once to help “keep her house”, Brenda said her old pal “sends me a box of popcorn for holidays. I’m like, ‘What? Does this girl think I’m hungry?’ “ But Mariah’s manager, Benny Medina, counters: “Over the years, Mariah has generously provided thousands in loans, never seeking repayment, to Brenda and her family, as well as a variety of gifts to both her and her children. No request from Brenda has ever been denied by Mariah.” He also downplayed Brenda’s role in kick-starting Mariah’s career. “Prior to signing with Sony, Mariah had a record deal in place with Warner Bros. Mariah has always, and will always, support and wish Brenda great luck and success.” 4.4 The party Late in the fall of 1988, Mariah received fantastic news. Her demo had found its way to the offices of Warner Bros. Records. The company was knocked out by her songs and that oh-so-smooth voice. They immediately offered her a solo recording contract with $300,000 advance, and they selected one of her songs to be included on a sound-track album for an upcoming motion picture. Her manager warned her that the deal would take some time to finalize, but that did not stop Mariah from dancing on air as a result of this


chapter 1 - big break. So, her persistence had paid off. Less than a year after coming to New York, she was about to be signed to a major label. Stardom was right around the corner. But while the prospect of having her dreams come true loomed on the horizon, the reality was that she still had to pay the rent. Fortunately, her growing popularity and the status of being with Brenda had led to a fairly full schedule of demo sessions as well as the occasional backup gig with Brenda. Mariah was overworked, running on fumes, and she wanted nothing more than a bed and eight uninterrupted hours of sleep. Which was why all she could do was groan one Friday night in November 1988 when Brenda pestered her to tag along to a party being held for the brand-new record label WTG Records. Brenda insisted that it would be a good place to make connections, that Mariah needed to have a little fun, and that there would be free food. She was certainly tempted by the thought of free food, but tried to beg off with the excuse that she was tired, hated socializing, and had nothing to wear. Mariah said, “You know I had never been around industry people or anything like that before, so it’s like ‘Oh man’, you know.” Brenda insisted that she would her some clothes and instantly produced a mini skirt, a cheerleader coat, and a pair of sneakers. Mariah could not help but laugh at the bizarre ensemble, but once she stopped laughing, she agreed to go to the party. It was the typical music-biz get-together. Lots of shoptalk and lots of men a lot older than Mariah was. She made the most of the food, but, true to her antisocial ways, she stayed pretty much to herself, huddling close to Brenda throughout the evening. Brenda was the perfect guide, pointing out important, potentially influential record-company people and explaining to her that getting the tape into the hands of WTG Records president Jerry Greenberg would be a good idea despite the fact that she was close to a deal with Warner Bros. Late in the evening,

Pre-fame Brenda pointed out Greenberg across the room. As Mariah looked, she noticed that the man Jerry was talking to looked back. And that was the first time Mariah locked eyes with Tommy Mottola. “Tommy was just looking at me,” she recalled in a Courier-Mail article. “I was like the eighteenyear-old girl in an Avirex jacket, in a miniskirt and sneakers. I think he probably had a little Lolita thing going on.” As the evening began to wind down, Brenda kept insisting that Mariah would approach Jerry with her tape, but she continued to hang back. Finally, Brenda took the tape from Mariah’s bag and said that she would do the honors. In a 1996 Vibe interview, Mariah recalled what happened next: “Brenda went over and started to hand the tape to Jerry Greenberg, but Tommy put out his hand, grabbed the tape, and snatched it away.” Tommy Mottola did indeed take notice of the striking, and innocent-looking Mariah who was more than twenty years his junior. But while the first thing her noticed was her beauty, his instincts, borne of more that thirty years in the record biz as a performer, manager, and now the president of Sony Record, made him take the tape. Something had told him there might just be some talent behind this woman’s exotic good looks. Tommy left the party a few minutes later, tape in hand. Brenda was excited that the head of Sony Records had taken the tape with him, but Mariah, burned by almost a year’s worth of rejection, was a little more cautious about getting her hopes up. And, indeed, why should she with the Warner Bros. deal all but assured? As she and Brenda were leaving the party, Mariah realized that the tape did not have her phone number on it. During his limo ride home from the party, Tommy took the tape out and popped it into a cassette player. Mariah’s voice and the sincerity of her lyrics literally pinned him back in his seat. Two songs into the four-song tape, he yelled up at his driver to turn around and return to the


chapter 1 - party. He looked high and low for Mariah but could not find her. She and Brenda had already left. The record-company president spent a long weekend contemplating the irony of finding a true star only to lose her just like Cinderella. But he remembered that she had arrived with Brenda, and that was a good place to start. So, on Monday morning, he rang up Brenda’s management company and tracked down Mariah’s telephone number. “Hi. This is Tommy Mottola. Call me back.” That was the message that greeted Mariah when she came home from work that day. Once she got over her shock, she returned his call. She recalled being scared to death as she spoke to Tommy for the first time. Tommy was more subdued but equally excited at the prospects for Mariah. He simply said, “I think we can make hit records.” The popular myth is that that same afternoon, Mariah, accompanied by her mother Patricia, entered the office of the Sony Records president and listened as Tommy praised her talents and promised a bright future. However, there was one stumbling block. Warner Bros. was still interested in Mariah, and would be even more so when they discovered that she was being aggressively courted by Tommy and Sony. A minor bidding war ensued that was ultimately won by Sony. Later, an alternative version of the story surfaced. According to former record-company employees cited in Vanity Fair, Mariah showed up at Tommy’s office with Ben Margulies. Tommy immediately concluded that Ben was Mariah’s boyfriend and took an instant dislike to him. He decided that he would do everything possible to shove Ben out of the picture. As for the bidding war, once Tommy heard about the Warner Bros. offer, he upped the ante to $350,000. That sealed the deal. Whatever the truth, in December 1988, Mariah signed on the bottom line with Sony Records.

Mariah Carey 1. First time recording an album 1.1 A new promise “When I heard and saw Mariah, there was absolutely no doubt that she was, in evey way, destined for stardom,” Tommy Mottola explained in a New York Times interview. Tommy knew talent, but he was also a clear-headed businessman, and that side of him saw a welldefined bottom line. Mariah was too caught up in the fantasy and excitement of the moment to worry about the business implications of her career. In the days following the official signing with Sony, she was busy calling family and friends with the good news, being introduced to myriad new people in the Sony building and trying to match up names and faces, laying out money for a decent wardrobe, and basically reveling in the fact that she was now a fullfledged recording artist. Mariah was so wrapped up in the moment that she was completely unaware of the whispers in the Sony hallways in the days after she signed with the new company. Mariah Carey was more than just new talent, she was being counted on to fill a hole in Sony’s music catalog. The label, with its Columbia lineage, included such successful acts as George Michael and Michael Bolton, but there was a bit of a hole in the area of contemporary, middle-of-the-road pop music. Pop divas who could deliver big, heartfelt ballads were all the rage in the late eighties, and, for all its diversity, Sony had nobody who could compare with the reigning queens of the genre, like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Madonna. And so, while Tommy liked Mariah’s basic approach, the ink had barely dried on her contract when the record company head started bringing in people who would help shape her sound into a viable commercial product. Whatever Mariah might have anticipated after she signed her contract, it probably wasn’t what ended up happening to her during 1989. All of


chapter 2 - a sudden, she was packing and repacking her suitcase as she alternated her time between long, intense sessions in recording studios on the East and West Coasts. It was Don Ienner’s idea. He was the new addition to the Columbia staff, lured over by Tommy from Arista, where he’d been a promotions man and witnessed the things that made a star out of Whitney Houston. Which made him a natural to work with Mariah. “Tommy told me, ‘She’s incredible, you just won’t believe how good she is.’ As far as he was concerned, it was the Second Coming.” And as soon as he heard her for himself, Don Ienner was quick to agree. He too saw the potential in that voice. It had the ability to cross over into every market, it was a gold mine. “For this particular time, she is my number one priority,” he told Rolling Stone, adding with a remarkable degree of honesty, “We don’t look at her as a dance-pop artist. We look at her as franchise.” The first perk of stardom - more money than Mariah had seen in her entire life - began to come her way. It would be easy to go hog wild after so many years of living on tight budgets, but Mariah, as befitting her upbringing and simple lifestyle, was cautious. She rented a onebedroom apartment on New York’s Upper East Side with a stunning view on the twenty-first floor of a high-rise building, a place to live with her two Persians cats, Ninka (all black) and Thompkins (all white), and which she could decorate with her Marilyn Monroe posters. Marilyn, another star who’s experienced a poor childhood and whose career as the nation’s sex symbol ended tragically in the early sixties with her suicide, had long been a fascination of Mariah’s. A friend disclosed, “Aside from the negative aspects of her life, she sort of idolized her. She liked the overall concept of being famous and the way Marilyn Monroe came to fame.” She also splurged on a new Mustang convertible, and bought clothes, lots of clothes. Watching Mariah spend money in those halcyon

Mariah Carey days was amusing in a way. She could have just about anything she wanted but agonized over the simplest purchasses as if one false move might make all of it go away. Not that she would have time to go anywhere to show off her new car and clothes. Almost immediately, Mariah was plunged into the long and challenging process of recording her first album, Mariah Carey. 1.2 New working partners Tommy’s moves immediately put him in conflict with Mariah and long-time writing partner Ben Margulies. The songs that had landed Mariah the contract had essentially been written by the two over a three-year period. They knew the heart and soul of the songs better than anybody else and just naturally assumed that they would coproduce the album themselves. And so, Mariah was more than a bit concerned when she found herself, mere days after signing with Sony, being introduced to a list of superstar producerssongwriters that included Ric Wake, Rhett Lawrence, and Narada Michael Walden. They had been involved with some pretty impressive names, including Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Smokey Robinson. But Mariah did not know these producers. She did not know what they were like or how they worked, and she was troubled. When Rhett Lawrence received the call inviting him to New York, all he was told was that the singer was eighteen and possessed “the most incredible voice you’ve ever heard”. On arriving and hearing her tape, he was forced to agree. “I literally got goose bumps on my arms when I heard her sing. I couldn’t believe the power and maturity in her voice.” Ric Wake had a similar assessment when Tommy Mottola played him Mariah’s demo tape. “It was obvious that she was great - she was amazing.” Their meeting occured on a Wednesday, Tommy asked if he could begin working with her the next day. As it happened, he could. Mariah appeared at his


chapter 2 - house, and things clicked between them. Their very first writing session produced “There’s got to be a way”, which would end up on the album. When Mariah heard she was to work with big-name producers, she was instantly put off by the idea. She was afraid, perhaps rightly so, that her songs and her sound would be homogenized by people unfamiliar with her. She didn’t want her music turned into just another faceless and soulless album. Mariah said, “I wasn’t open to working with a superstar producer.” It was a natural feeling. She and Ben had worked on this material for three years. Much of it had been written when Mariah was still in high school. They’d created it. The songs had come out of their ideas and improvisations. They’d taken the skeletons, the germs of tunes, and put flesh on the bones, working night after night, take after take, until they had what they considered a very good demo. And now, with the result of all those hours of labour so close to seeing fruition, the last stage was going to be taken away from them. Later, Mariah said, “They did put me with different producers that they wanted to have me work with, and this being the first album, I took a certain amount of direction from the record company. You know, they are taking a chance.” At the same time, she stated her goals for the future in no uncertain terms: “Ideally, though, I’d like to be involved with everything.” While also concerned at the prospect of losing creative control, Ben seemed to take the slight a lot better than Mariah. He was philosophical about being eliminated from the mix, seeing it as something that inevitably occurs in the music business. Ben told Fred Bronson, “It’s inevitably what happens, and you hope that people handle the songs with care.” He encouraged Mariah and praised the talents of the chosen producers. After all, if nothing else, they could still write some great songs together. And they proved it shortly after Mariah signed her contract when they created the song “Vision of love”.

Mariah Carey 1.3 Recording the album Mariah had no idea what the approach to her debut album would be. Her attitude was that she would just go into the studio and sing, keeping the arrangements fairly simple. The producers were knocked out by Mariah’s multioctave vocals, and they liked much of what she and Ben had written. In fact, as it turned out, there would be the inevitable restructuring of arrangements and changes of tempos in the songwriting stages, but, when the dust settled, six of the album’s ten songs and three of the four number one hits would be Mariah-Ben compositions. Mariah was a bit unsure about what it would be like to write with these three producers, and in the early days of her respective sessions, she was concerned that her ideas would be brushed aside in favour of theirs. But to a person, all were respectful of Mariah’s talents and ideas. And after the initial shock of writing with someone besides Ben, Mariah found collaborating with others to be a challenging and often exhilarating experience. With producer Ric Wake, Mariah wrote four

Columbia, CBS and Sony Mariah’s debut album was distributed by Columbia and CBS. But what is the relation between Columbia, CBS and Sony? Columbia was originally the local company distributing and selling Edison phonographs and phonograph cylinders in Washington, DC, Maryland and Delaware, and derives its name from the District of Columbia, which was its headquarters. In 1931, the English Columbia Graphophone Company merged with the Gramophone Company to form Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. (EMI). EMI was forced to sell its American Columbia operations because of anti-trust concerns to

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songs of which “There’s got to be a way” would make it onto the album. Her writing sessions with Narada Michael Walden produced the ballad “I don’t wanna cry”, and Rhett Lawrence was instrumental in shaping “Vision of love” into a more heartfelt, torchy song than Mariah and Ben originally intended. Mariah racked up the frequent-flyer miles making her debut album in New York, Los Angeles, and San Rafael, California. She found recording an often dizzying, high speed experience. The endless takes, the accidents that became divine inspiration, the long days and nights that stretched into the early morning, this was all new to her. And despite the pressure on her to succeed, she thrived on it. Mariah was the perfect student, she was never a puppet, but she was always willing to compromise when a better idea was offered up. Even at times when her presence was not necessary in the studio, she would be there soaking up the vibe as she watched an all-star lineup of session musicians lay down the tracks and the engineers

the Grigsby-Grunow Company. In 1934, Grigsby-Grunow went under and was forced to sell Columbia for a mere $75,000 to the American Record Corporation (ARC). In 1938 ARC, including the Columbia label in the USA, was bought by William S. Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System for US$700,000. (CBS had originally been co-founded by Columbia Records, who soon cashed out leaving only the name.) In 1951, Columbia USA severed its decadeslong distribution arrangement with EMI and signed a distribution deal with Philips Records to market Columbia recordings outside North America. In 1961, CBS ended its arrangement with Philips Records

and formed its own international organization, CBS Records, which released Columbia recordings outside the USA and Canada on the CBS label. In 1988, the CBS Records Group, including the Columbia Records unit, was acquired by Sony, who re-christened the parent division Sony Music Entertainment in 1991. As Sony only had a temporary license on the CBS Records name, it then acquired the rights to the Columbia trademarks outside the U.S., Canada and Japan (Columbia Graphophone) from EMI, which generally had not been used by them since the early 1970s.

Mariah Carey

Mariah during her nine-city promotional tour

manipulate her sound into something glossy and seamless. There were moments during her recording sessions when Mariah felt that the arrangements were overly theatrical and a bit old-fashioned, and she would question the producers about it. They would patiently explain why they felt something worked and would tweak something to Mariah’s taste if she insisted. Mariah sensed, perhaps naively, that she was in her element, part of the whole process, and that she had finally arrived. 1.4 Promotion Long before the album had even reached the final mixdown stage, Sony Records had designated Mariah as a “priority artist”, corporatespeak for “pull out all the stops to make her a star”. She was now officially the center of a money-is-no-object publicity and marketing campaign designed to put the unknown singer’s name on the lips of radio programmers, record retailers, and all the important cogs that go into making a hit record. Once again, it was Tommy Mottola who was very much the Svengali, heading up meetings with publicity and promotions departments and investing a lot more personal attention than most


chapter 2 - first-time artists received from the head man. “We had numerous, numerous meetings about Mariah way in advance of the record’s release,” said Jane Berk, former director of marketing for Columbia Records, in a New York Times feature. “It was about carefully planting seeds in the industry and nurturing their development at every stage. It was very strategically planned. We went out on a limb, and it was worth taking the risk.” Producer Ric Wake, who observed the furor, concurred: “There was so much momentum, and everyone was pushing so hard from every level. There were so many decisions being made.” The first step was to have Mariah perform live at a spring 1990 Los Angeles convention of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, an annual gathering of the heads of the biggest record-store chains in the country. But Mariah was not thrilled that this was happening in the midst of struggling to finish up the album. She had long ago stopped thinking of herself as anything more than a mediocre live performer, one prone to onstage nerves and preshow panics. She had been able to overcome those fears in her early performances and at a private showcase for CBS record executives and sales representatives a few weeks earlier. Mariah could not get over the fact that a lot was riding on her small shoulders, and that it was up to her to impress a roomful of jaded, highpowered strangers. But Mariah was still at the stage where she was grateful for the opportunity Sony had given her and felt compelled to agree to virtually every suggestion. Mariah’s performance was a mixed bag according to those who witnessed it. She arrived onstage stiff with obvious nervousness, but once she began to sing, the record-store execs were easily won over by her soaring, multioctave voice. “Her performance was good but not incredible,” recalled record-store-chain executive Howard Applebaum. “But the energy level in that room was astounding.” Mariah was backed

Mariah Carey by Richard Tee on piano, and singers Patrique McMillan, Billy T. Scott, and Trey Lorenz. The performance was preceded by a specially produced video presentation detailing her life and the making of the record. Mariah was not through performing live. Rather than just send retailer tapes to radio programmers and regional sales people, Tommy decided to send Mariah on an ambitious and quite expensive, nine-city promotional tour, and at each stop, she would perform a brief live set. As Jane Berk explained, “We wanted to make sure people listened to Mariah, so we sent her.” Ont he road, Mariah was accompanied by Patrique, Billy and Trey, a group who not only kept the atmosphere lighthearted, but helped make this new, tense experience bearable for Mariah. What was essentially a boring venture became fun for her as they cracked jokes, argued and gossiped around her. She’d met them in February during the sessions for the album, when she recorded “There’s got to be a way”, which employed Billy T. Scott and his ensemble as part of the group of backing vocalists. Billy also appeared on “All in your mind”. After her initial jitters at the Los Angeles promotional event, Mariah was feeling a little more comfortable performing live. The result was a lot of positive feedback and word of mouth that resulted in increased orders for the debut album from the record chains and promises of early airplay from the radio programmers. Songs from these concerts, like “Vanishing” and Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t play that song”, would appear on Mariah’s first video, The First Vision. In the weeks leading up to the June 1990 release of her debut album, Mariah was spending almost all her time surrounded by Sony executives and producers. But she did find some spare moments to hang out with Ben Margulies and, as usually happened, their casual chats turned to a musical lick, a fragment of a lyric, and, before they knew it, the two had created


chapter 2 - the song “Love takes time”. Since her debut disc was all but wrapped and on its way to pressing, the pair assumed they would keep this song for her follow-up album. However, Tommy Mottola had other ideas. As soon as he heard the song, he knew it was a number one record and that it had to be on the album. Mariah was literally running on empty after months in the recording studio and the hectic promotional campaign. She needed a break in the worst way, and she would get it, after she recorded “Love takes time”. In a three-day marathon that covered both coasts of the USA, the song was arranged, recorded, and mastered with the aid of a little-known producer named Walter Afanasieff. The first few hundreds copies of Mariah Carey rattled of the presses and were immediately collector items. The song “Love takes time” was on the album, but it was not listed on the album sleeves. “I don’t know if they had to throw away a few hundred copies,” Ben Margulies commented to Fred Bronson. But the problem was quickly rectified, and the consensus was that the song would be a smash hit.

Mariah Carey 2. The album 2.1 Introduction The album was released on June 12, 1990 and entered the Billboard 200 at number eighty. It entered the top twenty in its fourth week. It reached number one in its forty-third week, and stayed there for eleven consecutive weeks. To date, this is the longest stay at number one in Mariah’s career. The album remained in the top twenty for sixty-five weeks and on the Billboard 200 for 113 weeks (just over two years), and it was certified nine times platinum by the RIAA on December 15, 1999. It is one of the best-selling debut albums in the USA, and by March 2006 it had sold over nine million copies. It was also the best-selling album of 1991, according to Billboard. The album was quite successful for a debut album outside the USA. It experienced most success in Canada, where it topped the charts for a week and went seven times platinum. The album peaked within the top ten in the United Kingdom and Australia. In the UK, it spent thirtysix weeks in the top seventy-five, and in Australia it went five times platinum. Its success in Brazil and across continental Europe was limited. As of November 2005, the album had sold approximately 18 million copies worldwide. There was a good reason for the album’s success. Most new artists tend to rely on one tone, one musical mood to carry the day. But Mariah’s debut was a mix of styles and tempos demonstrating her versatility and the range of her talent. Here’s what Mariah had to say on the inner notes of the album: “Reflecting upon the events and circumstances that led me here, I feel extremely fortunate that I have completed my debut album at this stage of my life. My earliest memory is of wanting to be a singer as I watched my mother rehearse when she was a soloist with city opera, and while growing up music was a


chapter 2 - major part of my life. There was always different types of music playing in the house - whether it was my mother playing Billie Holiday, my older sister playing the Jackson 5 and Aretha Franklin, or my older brother playing Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix. When my mother was performing for an organization called the International Art of Jazz, she would bring me along to the concerts, and it was then that I began learning old jazz standards and mimicking their style of singing. Soon various musicians would ask me to sing and eventually I came to sing one or two songs a performance - at the age of ten. At about 16, I recorded my first demo. I wound up meeting Ben Margulies who became my songwriting partner when he came to play keyboards at the session. We collaborated over the next three years, writing most of the songs that ended up on this album. During this time, I had the chance to broaden my horizons: listening to lots of gospel and old R&B records, gathering those influences and integrating them in my writing. Since signed to Columbia Records, I have been fortunate enough to work with many great musicians, producers and co-writers, making complete recordings out of my songs with Ben, and writing four new songs for the album. This album is a culmination of so much hard work, so many dreams, countless wishes and endless prayers. I have never wanted anything but to sing and write songs, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my gift with others.” Tommy Mottola was the executive producer of the album, and Mariah dedicated it to her sister Alison (”keep shining”). Mariah was a bit surprised at the success of her debut album, but her naiveté was keeping her ego in check. She would often exclaim that the big thing in her life was to hear her songs coming out of the radio, and that wish was quickly fulfilled. Also, at the time that the album was burning up the charts,

Mariah Carey she was already back in the studio working on songs for her next album. The reviewers were quick to pick on Mariah’s astonishing range as the album’s selling point - “all seven octaves of it,” as David Gates wrote in Newsweek, “from purring alto to stratospheric shriek. Up in this dog-whistle register, she can shape a scream into precise, synthesizer-like phrases.” He did note, however, “She has the good taste not to overuse this device, but how could anyone - especially a twenty-year-old - resist showing off just a little?” New York Newsday took a similar tack: “Young pop singers with such extensive ranges often sacrifice emotion for technique, and there are times on Carey’s debut album when that’s the case. She’ll accelarate into upper-register notes that sound like high-pitched whistles. But for the most part, Carey keeps her technique in check and uses her voice in service of the song.” Hillel Italie waxed rapsodic about Mariah’s vocal agility: “This is a voice that can probably shatter glass and put it back together, that sounds as if she’s taking the words and twirling them over her head like a cowboy with a lasso.” And an enthusiastic review in People cited her “extraordinary control, driving power, lovely pitch, and wide range,” and added that she “has one one those voices that could probably be entertaining singing the phone book.” Ashley S. Battel from All Music Guide wrote, “This extremely impressive debut is replete with smooth-sounding ballads and uplifting dance/ R&B cuts. Carey convincingly seizes many opportunities to display her incredible vocal range on such memorable tracks as the popular ‘Vision of love’ (featured during her television debut on The Arsenio Hall Show, an appearance noted by many as her formal introduction to stardom), the energetic ‘Someday’, and the moody sounds of the hidden treasure ‘Vanishing’. With this collection of songs acting as a springboard for future successes, Carey establishes a strong


chapter 2 - standard of comparison for other breakthrough artists of this genre.” The reviews were almost universal in their praise of the upper-register singing voice and remarkable songwriting skills, particularly for somebody so young. Even those reviewers who complained about the overly slick production and what they perceived as by-the-numbers arrangements pointed out that the albums was, nonetheless, a promising debut. Mariah was aware that the songs on her album had come from a very personal place and that many of them reflected on the hard times growing up and her struggles for a sense of personal and professional freedom. “A lot of songs were written when I was kind of struggling,” she explained in a Chicago Tribune article. “It was a harrowing emotional time in my life. The songs weren’t necessarily all about relationships, but they were about things happening in my life.” But what Mariah was not ready for was the viciousness of some of the reviewers who chose to dismiss her as another white girl trying to exploit black music for her own gain. These were reviews that totally dismissed the quality of her music and chose instead to make personal assumptions about the character of the performer. The barbs were were particularly hurtful to Mariah for a couple of reasons. First, she was not white but biracial. Then, there was the fact that this was the kind of music she had grown up on and loved. Why, she reasoned, should she be penalized for that? She hammered these points home in subsequent interviews, and eventually the naysayers went away, but for Mariah, the charges just reinforced the fact that she was indeed different. No amount of success was going to change that. 2.2 Vision of love The song’s protagonist describes having a “vision of love” and of being eternally grateful not to a lover, but to God. The lyrics are also

Mariah Carey

Scene from the “Vision of love” video

related to the realisation of Mariah’s dreams as a singer. She told Ebony magazine that the song “represents everything in my life. It is a song from the heart.” According to her, its lyrics are based on personal struggles she experienced when was younger, including her parents’ divorce, moving frequently and the attitudes of the people in her neighborhoods to her ethnicity. “Just because you are young doesn’t mean that you haven’t had a hard life,” she said. “It’s been difficult for me.” “Vision of love” contains an almost science fiction-like introduction that leads into Mariah’s vocal performance, finally climaxing with a section at the bridge of the song (which is even more exaggerated to the point of absolute silence in live performances). Many consider “Vision of love” Mariah’s signature song, with critics and reviewers often praising it as one of her better efforts. Entertainment Weekly wrote, “from those opening sci-fi-esque synths to that signature dog-whistle high note, Mariah’s very first single is inspired.” The New Yorker named the song “the Magna Carta of melisma”, and R&B singer Beyoncé said she began doing vocal “runs” after listening to it for the first time. Mariah explained that she’d written the song about realizing her dreams as a singer, not about


chapter 2 - any kind of romance. “Right now, music is my boyfriend” was how she put it. When producer Rhett Lawrence heard the demo of “Vision of love”, he realized the potential as a hit. But not as it currently stood, “a fifties sort of a shuffle”. Mariah needed a more contemporary sound than that. So Lawrence, Mariah, Ben and Chris Toland worked together on the arrangement in the studio. The tempo was changed, session musicians were brought in to add guitars and bass, and Mariah recorded a new vocal. Her original vocal from the demo wasn’t scrapped, though. It remained in the song as the second vocal in the chorus. Then, with some additional studio gloss, it was finished. “Vision of love” was a successful start to Mariah’s career, becoming the first of her numerous Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles. It was mildly popular in other countries, but did not gain her a large worldwide fanbase. By far the most successful single from her debut album, it was responsible for making Mariah a star in the USA. The song first became popular on USA radio, with its airplay slowly climbing from its release in late May 1990 onwards. Its commercial release was on June 2; nine weeks later, it had climbed to number one on the Hot 100, where it remained for four weeks (from July 29 to August 25). It spent sixteen weeks in the top forty and was ranked sixth on the Hot 100 year-end chart, and it made Mariah one of the biggest music stars of the year. It was one of the most popular songs of 1990 on USA radio stations, and strong sales led the RIAA to certify it gold. The single became a crossover success on other Billboard charts: it reached number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and was popular with an older audience, topping the Adult Contemporary chart. Mariah expressed surprise at the song’s success: “it isn’t hip-hop music, it isn’t house music, and it isn’t rap. But I am so glad and thankful.”

Mariah Carey “Vision of love” was successful in other major markets and topped the charts in Canada, helping Mariah to establish a strong fanbase there. It peaked inside the top ten in both Australia and the United Kingdom, and it went to number one in New Zealand, where it was the sixth biggest-selling single of 1990. In Brazil, it was popular on radio and it was ranked first on the year-end chart there. Its success across continental Europe, however, was limited. The album achieved considerable success on the charts in Japan and went platinum, but “Vision of love” was not a huge hit there. The making of the single’s video was accompanied by several minor disputes. Mariah wanted to wear a bikini for it, but producers and executives vetoed her idea. Mariah told BET in 2001, “I did two videos for ‘Vision of love’ and the first one, the label basically threw it out because they didn’t like the fact that the director put me in a bra. Probably that wasn’t appropriate but I guess that’s irrelevant ‘cause everybody seems to do that now. So who cares?” Once the video was complete, producers requested that a new video be filmed because they felt the original was unsatisfactory and knew that a single’s music video can be crucial to record sales. The resulting video, directed by Bojan Bazelli, features Mariah on a darkly lit stage against a background of moving clouds and a staircase. Mariah has declared her hatred for the video, because she did not like its tone or her hairstyle. In one shot, she can be seen snapping off her own hair accidentally. Sources indicate that the total cost of both the videos came to around $450,000, a very large budget for a debut single, but label executive Don Ienner stated: “If we’re gonna take the time and effort that we did with Mariah, on every level, then we’re going to image her the right way. If it costs a few extra dollars to make a splash in terms of the right imaging, you go ahead and do it.” During the rehearsals for her promotion tour,


chapter 2 - Mariah would be singing “Vision of love” over and over. Her left hand moved at her side, she experimented with the harmonies, improvising a new arrangement with a pianist and two backup singers. In contrast to the lush production that dominates her debut album, the trio provided a spare accompaniment, leaving plenty of room for her mighty voice to explore the shape of the melody. Why, she was asked during a break, didn’t she record the song this way? “It wasn’t my choice to do so much production,” she answered quickly before she went back to work.

Scene from the “There’s got to be a way” video

2.3 There’s got to be a way “There’s got to be a way” is a song written by Mariah and Ric Wake, and produced by Wake. Mariah had lobbied to co-produce the song, but was denied permission by her record label. The protagonist of this dance song declares “There’s got to be a way to connect this world today” and pleads for other ways to help fix the state of the world. It is one of Mariah’s few socially conscious songs, and deals with racism and poverty. Restrained in the verses, the chorus has a “churchy” feel, mostly due to the backing vocals, which begin to take off before the middle instrumental break and then soar at the key

Mariah Carey change close to the song’s end as Mariah begins to demonstrate fully the extend of her range, fitting through upper register like a bird. The song was released as the album’s fifth and final single in the second quarter of 1991 in the United Kingdom and some other European markets. To maintain a then-unbroken string of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, “There’s got to be a way” was not released in the United States. Consequently, the song received little promotion and it became not only one of the least successful singles from Mariah’s debut album, but one of the biggest commercial failures of her career. It was released instead of “I don’t wanna cry” for the UK market and failed even to reach the top forty, which her previous three singles had all managed. It peaked at number fifty-four, making a brief appearance in the top seventy-five. The single’s video, directed by Larry Jordan, starts off with Mariah walking the streets as she laments homeless people and racism. She is soon joined by friends, and they all break into an impromptu dance in the street. Remixes of the song were commissioned by Shep Pettibone. The 7” remix was also used for the music video. 2.4 I don’t wanna cry “I don’t wanna cry” is a song written by Mariah and Narada Michael Walden, and produced by Walden. It was released as the album’s fourth single in the second quarter of 1991. The protagonist of this ballad says that she “don’t wanna cry”, but nothing in the world could take her and her lover to where they used to be. It became another USA number one single, but elsewhere it was a major commercial disappointment. Like the previous singles released from the album, the song received a BMI Pop Award. “I don’t wanna cry” was Mariah’s first single that she did not co-write with Ben Margulies. When she and Walden first wrote the song, she was excited because it sounded like something


chapter 2 -

Scene from the “I don’t wanna cry” video

that would be played on the radio. Once the song was on tape, Walden had a firsthand chance to see the standards of perfection that Mariah imposed on herself. He was perfectly happy with what they had, it was all in the can, and he believed Mariah was pleased with it too. Then she called him, There was one line that, on repeated plays, troubled her. She’d had a better idea, and she wanted to change it, which she did. Not once, but two or three times as Walden flew the tapes to her in New York. Not only did she fix the line, but she also had some more ideas, and added them. Finally, Walden had to call her and say, “Look, I used your lick on that thing because you like it, but the other stuiff you’re adding on, you really don’t need.” It took him a little while to convince her. Even so, as an experienced producer, he remained gratified by her professional attitude. “Mariah was nineteen, twenty years old, making her first album. She really wanted it to be special.” Because of bad experiences during its production, Mariah stated in an MTV interview that she dislikes the song and tries to sing it as rarely as possible, as she feels that it “doesn’t have a message”. Mariah had lobbied to coproduce the song, but was denied permission by

Mariah Carey her record label. She often fought with Walden in the studio concerning the song’s production and as a result Walden became her least favorite among the producers who worked on her debut album. It is rumored that Walden did not even produce the track himself, but that his protege at the time, Walter Afanasieff, actually ghostproduced much of it. “I don’t wanna cry” is reminiscent in both rhythm and arrangement of George Michael’s “Careless whispers” and opens with an attractive acoustic guitar line and then features the powerful lower end of Mariah’s range, one which has exactly the right dramatic power for such an emotional song, with its clever pause beat as emphasis before the last chorus. Equally soothing and draining, it serves notice of the timeless quality of Mariah’s voice. “I don’t wanna cry” became Mariah’s fourth number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, making her only the second act (and first female and first solo artist) after The Jackson 5 to have their first four singles make number one on the Hot 100. It also made Mariah Carey a record-breaking album, as every single released from it was a chart-topper in the USA. It reached number one in its eighth week and spent two weeks at the top, from May 19 to June 1, 1991. It replaced “I like the way (the kissing game)” by Hi-Five, and was replaced by Extreme’s “More than words”. The single became Mariah’s third number-one single on the Adult Contemporary chart. It remained in the top forty for thirteen weeks and was one of four singles from Mariah on the Hot 100’s 1991 year-end charts, ranking twenty-sixth. Outside the USA, it was one of the least successful of the singles released from the album Like “Someday”, it failed to make the Australian top forty and became her first single in Canada to miss the top five, although it did make the top ten. “There’s got to be a way” was released as the album’s fourth single in the UK instead of “I don’t wanna cry”.


chapter 2 - The single’s video, directed by Larry Jordan, features Mariah brooding in a dark midwestern home and in cornfields over her tainted relationship. While she dislikes the song, she is a fan of its video, as it was the first in which was she was allowed to present a relatively sexual image. Part of an alternative version of the music video was released on the DVD/home video The First Vision, and the original, more familiar version was included on the DVD/home video #1’s as a director’s cut. The 1991 version had a few sepia-toned sequences that were eliminated and replaced for the DVD release. It was the only video from Mariah’s debut album to be included on #1’s, because she was ashamed of the three previous music videos.

Scene from the “Someday” video

2.5 Someday “Someday” is a song written by Mariah and Ben Margulies, and produced by Ric Wake. It was released as the album’s third single in the first quarter of 1991 and is a jackswing-influenced track in which its protagonist gets revenge on an ex-lover who wants to reconcile: “Someday, the one you gave away will be the only one you’re wishing for.” Though it topped the USA charts, it

Mariah Carey was not a huge success elsewhere. “Someday” also received a BMI Pop Award. “Someday” was one of the five songs on the demo tape, handed by Brenda K. Starr to record executive Tommy Mottola, that led to Mariah being given a recording contract. Sony made alterations to the version on the demo tape as they thought it was too rough, the horn melodies were taken out as well as the ending being shortened by about eight seconds. Mariah and Margulies were forced to accept the changes that were made as neither had been allowed to co-produce. Reportedly, Mariah was unhappy with the final version of “Someday” produced, because she thought it had been too “polished”. The tune caught Ric Wake’s attention from the first time he played the tape Tommy Mottola had given him. “I loved that song right from the beginning. Then Mariah called me one day and said, ‘I’d love to do it if you want to do it.’ It was great, I’m glad she called me.” Ben described the original version as “very simple and funky. It had a simplicity to it that kind of drew you into it.” He approved of the finished product (of which he was the co-arranger), calling it “really simple and clean”, and adding, “The point came across.” Like so many of the pieces Mariah and Ben wrote, it began as an improvisation - in this case, over a bass-and-drum line - a dance groove in the New Jack Swing/hip-hop vein. While Ben tried out chord changes on the keyboard, Mariah would find vocal melody lines and choruses. Then, as Ben recorded the instrumental track, working with synthesizers, sequencers, drum machines, and computers, she’d be busy completing a set of lyrics. “Someday” continued Mariah’s streak of number-one hits in the USA, becoming her third consecutive number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. It reached number one in its eighth week on the Hot 100 and spent two weeks at the top of the chart, from March 3 to March 16, 1991. It replaced “All the man that I need” by Whitney


chapter 2 - Houston, and was replaced by Timmy T’s “One more try”. “Someday” spent fifteen weeks in the top forty and ranked thirteenth on the Hot 100 year-end charts of 1991, making it one of the year’s biggest hits. The RIAA certified it gold. Elsewhere, the song performed modestly, just like “Love takes time” (the previous single). It became Mariah’s first single to miss the top of the charts in Canada, but it did manage to reach the top five. In the UK, the song reached the top forty (as had “Love takes time”), but in Australia it did not. With “Someday” and her following single, “I don’t wanna cry”, Mariah was largely unknown outside of the USA for most of 1991 until she released her second album Emotions. A large number of remixes were produced by Shep Pettibone, in particular the main remix of the song known as “Someday (new 7” jackswing)” and an extended version of it known as “Someday (new 12” jackswing)”. There is also a house mix known as “Someday (new 12” house)”, a slightly extended album version known as “Someday (new 7” straight)”, and an a cappella: “Someday (pianoapercaloopapella)”. The single’s video was filmed on location at Bayonne High School in Bayonne, New Jersey and depicts a boy who treated a girl badly now wanting her back in his life. A group of young hip-hop dancers also appear, and at one point in the video Mariah joins them. The main version of the video was based on “Someday (new 7” jackswing)”, but there is also an extended video with the music from “Someday (new 12” jackswing)”. The “new 12” jackswing” version of the video was replaced by the 1992 MTV Unplugged live performance of the song on the DVD/home video #1’s, as Mariah has stated she is ashamed of the video. Mariah herself took a hand in the planning of this video. She’d come up with the original concept of a young girl (based on herself) and a young boy, and then collaborated with director Larry Jordan, adding more ideas until they had

Mariah Carey a completed storyboard. Working and being able to interact with others, particularly a group of six- to twelve-year-olds, was “the most fun” she’d experienced in making a video. It was also gratifying for her to be able to include Larry Wright, a “great” street drummer who had come to her attention via a PBS documentary. Prominently featured among the kids was a hyperactive six-year-old hip-hop dancer who stole the spotlight whenever he was on camera. 2.6 Vanishing “Vanishing” stood in complete contrast, utterly stark, just piano and Mariah’s voice. The song was written by Mariah and Ben, and she was able to produce the track herself - as she’d hoped to do for the whole album - and it’s intimacy stood in counterpoint to what she saw as “too much production” on the rest of the album. The gospel influence was particularly evident here, with the rougher feel of the keyboard, and a multi-tracked choir of Mariahs’ offering background vocals. While many critics just ignored the tune in their reviews, Alan Jackson of the prestigious London Observer deemed it the “outstanding track”, and indeed, its very sparseness added considerably to its simply power. 2.7 All in your mind “All in your mind” was another ballad, written by Mariah and Ben and produced by Ben and Ric Wake. This song was based around a strong, memorable chorus, which briefly showcased the extreme high end of Mariah’s vocal reach. (Probably not since the late Minnie Ripperton had anyone managed to reach so high a note on a record.) Built around some basic keyboard arpeggios played here by Ben Margulies, the two short verses merely acted as bridges between choruses, the song’s real muscle. With all the planning and expensive technology, happy accidents could and did happen in the studio. While Mariah was working


chapter 2 - with Ric and Ben on the vocal, her voice splitted. “I was using my upper register. What happened was at the end of it, I did those vocal flips. When I was doing it, my voice split and went into a harmony. If you hear it, it splits. I was saying, ‘Get rid of that’, but everyone said, ‘No way, we’re keeping that.’ “ 2.8 Alone in love “Alone in love” was a ballad produced by Rhett Lawrence, and written by Mariah and Ben. Other than the synthesized instrumentation, this seemed almost out of place on a nineties record, having far more the feel of a timeless standard. That could actually be said for much of the album. The basis of its music was not in contemporary fads and fashions, but rather the material looked backward for its inspiration, to soul, some jazz, and especially gospel. In that regard, its success definitely bucked the trend, and sent a hopeful song for the future. 2.9 You need me A guest slot by Living Color’s guitarist Vernon Reid, blasting an Eddie Van Halen-style solo, opened “You need me”, a dance track that gained its impact through a poppish chorus, studio effects on the vocals, and a powerful, consice, middle guitar break. The song was written by Mariah and Rhett Lawrence, and produced by Rhett. 2.10 Sent from up above “Sent from up above” slowed the slightly, with an arrangement that owed a great deal to seventies soul, particularly softer bands like those of the Chi-Lites, but with some nineties technological touches to brighten its appeal. This song was also written by Mariah and Rhett Lawrence, and produced by Rhett. 2.11 Prisoner The penultimate track was utterly contemporary,

Mariah Carey the most upbeat piece on the album. Opening with a low rap, it kept a vibrant dance bpm (beats per minute) throughout, more or less pulling the words and melody along to the rhythm. The song was written by Mariah and Ben, and produced by Ric Wake.

Scene from the “Love takes time” video

2.12 Love takes time “Love takes time” is a song written by Mariah and Ben Margulies, and produced by Walter Afanasieff. It was released as the album’s second single in the third quarter of 1990. It was the first of several adult contemporary-influenced ballads to be released as a single, and its protagonist informs others to take things easy in a relationship as “love takes time”. It became Mariah’s second number-one single in the United States and Canada, but was only a moderate success elsewhere. Mariah and Margulies had written “Love takes time” while her debut album was being produced, but intended to save it for Mariah’s second album. Mariah played a demo of the track to Tommy Mottola and other executives on a promotional tour after her album was sent to be pressed. The executives insisted that Mariah recorded it for the album because they were impressed with it. As their decision was made as the debut was about to be printed, then-struggling producer Walter


chapter 2 - Afanasieff was forced to produce the song in time for the pressing of the album. Mariah had lobbied to co-produce the song, but was denied permission by her record label. Afanasieff had minimal experience in production, but he met the production deadline and went on to enjoy a career of almost ten years co-writing and coproducing with Mariah. Some copies of her debut album include the song, but don’t list it. “Tommy Mottola called me up,” Walter explained, “and said that we’ve got the album done but there’s a track she and Ben wrote that is phenomenal. I want to try everything we can to get it on the album. You only have a couple of days.” The only solution was for Afanasieff to cut the backing track, then put the tape in the suitcase and fly to New York to record Mariah’s vocals over the top. “She did all the backgrounds, practically sang all night,” he recalls. Then he leapt back on the plane and retraced his steps to the Sausalito studio to remix it. “Love takes time” was another success like the debut single “Vision of love” in the United States: it reached number one in its ninth week on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at the top of the chart, from November 10 to November 24, 1990. It spent seventeen weeks in the top forty and the RIAA certified it gold. It topped every other Billboard chart for which it was eligible (including the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and Adult Contemporary charts), a record few singles can claim. Because its success was divided over two calendar years, it did not rank high on Billboard’s year-end charts, making seventy-sixth on the 1990 chart and sixty-ninth on the 1991 chart. However, “Love takes time” failed to emulate the popularity of “Vision of love” in any other market except Canada, where it topped the singles chart for one week, and the Philippines, where it became Mariah’s second numberone single. It did not make much of an impact elsewhere, becoming a moderate top twenty hit

Mariah Carey in Australia, and almost failing to make the top forty altogether in the UK. The song did not receive as many awards as “Vision of love”, but it too managed a BMI Pop Award for “Song of the Year”. The single’s video, directed by Jeb Bien and Walter Maser, features Mariah (after we see a man walking away with a luggage) walking around a beach. The empty phone booth, with its receiver dangling and twirling, stood as a particularly powerful image of lost love, and a heartbroken Mariah, wandering along the sand, in and out of the surf, only accentuated that idea. Like the video for “Vision of love”, Mariah lacked creative control in its production and, ashamed of the result, did not include it on the DVD/home video #1’s.


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Mariah Carey


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3. After the album release 3.1 Tommy and Mariah Tommy Mottola had become head of CBS Columbia’s USA organization in the spring of 1988, replacing Al Teller not long after Sony’s takeover of the industry giant. It was one of the senior jobs with what was still the country’s biggest record company, and extremely powerful position. A genial, bearded man, Mottola had charge of an operation that was doing well, with top-selling, established artists like Billy Joel and Barbra Streisand. However, there were problems. A competitor, Warner Bros., was rapidly increading its share of the market, while Columbia didn’t have many new acts to introduce and make money on. Changing that had to be Tommy’s priority. Born in 1952 in the Bronx, Tommy Mottola had been involved with music all his life. He studied acting and voice at Hofstra University on Long Island, and while there managed to win a recording contract with Epic (ironically, one of the Columbia labels). Under the name T. D. Valentine, he released several singles, including “Love trap” and “A woman without love”. But none of them became a hit. So, armed with a degree and having been dropped by Epic, Tommy moved to the business side of the music industry, starting out as a promotion man for the large music-publishing company, Chappell Music. In his early days there, he came across Hall and Oates, at the time a struggling young band, and eventually helped them find a record deal on Atlantic (after Epic had turned them down). Then, in 1975, he founded Champion Entertainment with Sandy Linzer, a former Epic staff producer, and began managing not only Hall and Oates, but also Odyssey and Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. A few years later, Champion Entertainment would be handling the careers of such stars as John Mellencamp, Split Enz, and Carly Simon. Hall and Oates would

Mariah and Tommy Mottola in 1995

write about Tommy on their Silver album in the song “Gino (the manager)”. Married to Lisa Clark with two children, for Tommy the move to Columbia was a definite step up the business ladder, but some expressed doubts about his fitness for the job. But he was well aware of his priorities: Columbia had no young female star to challenge Whitney Houston (who recorded for Arista) or Madonna (whose records appeared on Sire), and he wanted to find a pop diva for Columbia. And quickly. It could solve all the problems. After the release of Mariah’s debut album, word on the street was that Tommy Mottola’s once rock-solid nineteen-year marriage was suddenly in trouble and that the cause was Tommy’s alleged, quickly blooming romantic relationship with Mariah. Whether the rumours were true or not, there was a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that their relationship was more than professional. From the moment she signed with Sony, it seemed that Mariah was spending every waking hour with Tommy or under his direct influence, with the obvious preferential treatment accorded Mariah that few artists had ever received from the label. Adding fuel to the fire was the gossip that Mariah was involved romatically with somebody who she

Mariah Carey refused to name. Mariah was taken aback by her first brush with rumour and sensationalism. When questions of a personal nature were asked early press interviews, she simply refused to answer them, but not knowing how to play the media game, she would hint at a relationship, stating that she did have a boyfriend but would not go into further details. The reality was that by the time Mariah had completed her first album, she and Tommy were very much in love. In later years, Mariah would often say that “It just sort of happened, and that we had a lot in common.” But in a sense, Mariah and Tommy coming together was an age-old Hollywood story. A young, somewhat naive girl and a much older, driven man are thrown together. Tommy’s love for and knowledge of music combined with his nonstuffy attitude towards the business probably also had a lot to do with their developing friendship and relationship. Whatever the reason, sparks began to fly in a matter of weeks. “Our relationship was kind of a different thing,” said Mariah in a 1996 Vibe magazine interview. “There definitely was some kind of chemistry going on that was really intense.” However, there were innumerable reasons why the pair could not go public with their relationship. Unknown to the public, Tommy was in the middle of a legal separation that was already heading for an ugly divorce. His professional treatment of Mariah would would surely lead to conflict-of-interest charges if their relationship became known. Finally, Mariah being tarred as “the other woman” was not the kind of publicity most newcomers race towards. For all these reasons, Mariah and Tommy were the models of discretion during the early months. 3.2 Public appearances June 1990 was a very busy month for Mariah, as the marketing machine at Columbia moved into top gear. In record stores all across the country, her face starred out from displays, singing into an


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Mariah at the 1990 NBA playoffs

old-fashioned microphone. In Billboard, the music industry trade paper, a total of five full-page ads were bought for her upcoming album. And, in a completely unprecedented coup, Mariah made her first TV appearance when she sang “America the beautiful” at the NBA finals first game (Detroit vs. Portland) on June 4, 1990. The performance was amazing, leaving the players and spectators in awe. The reporter commented, “The palace now has a queen, and the goose-bumps will continue.” She also did guest shots on top-rated late-night shows The Arsenio Hall Show and The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. The groundwork for Mariah’s debut had been laid with the precision of a military campaign and the advancing army was successful. The feedback was tremendous, but inside the halls of Sony and especially in the office of Tommy Mottola, fingers were crossed. New artists are a risky proposition at any time, but as the bean counters added up the expenses in the album’s ledger ($800,000 to produce the album, $500,000 for the “Vision of love” video, and a million for promotion), a lot of worst-case scenarios were being played out. For Mariah, failure would be a disappointment, but for Sony, it could spell disaster in a world where perception is everything.

Mariah Carey

Mariah sings at the Arsenio Hall Show

With the across-the-board success of the album came the inevitable calls for Mariah to tour. Tommy had known early on that coaxing Mariah at this point onstage to sing could be difficult, and that a premature tour and lessthan-favourable reviews might deal a damaging blow to Mariah’s fragile ego. So, he wisely turned down big money and offers of major venues from promoters. He had been down this road before with artists who were great in the studio but less-than-dynamic in a live setting. And he had seen what the press could do once they got hold of the idea that a performer had even the hint of stage fright. Besides, Tommy had already agreed to one live gig. In exchange for radio station KMEL being the first to put “Vision of love” into its regular rotation, he said that Mariah would perform at the outdoor concert Summer Jam, which was being sponsored by the radio station and held in Mountain View, California. Mariah reluctantly agreed. She still wasn’t very comfortable with performing but felt she had to


chapter 2 - force herself to do it because it came with the territory. “Touring is hard for me because I’m not a ham,” she once explained to USA Today. “You have to be dynamic and showy, and that’s not second nature to me. I didn’t get a chance to work my way up from the clubs, so performing is still pretty scary.” More than ten acts comprised the bill on August 5, 1990, the day after “Vision of love” hit number 1. The included Tony! Toni! Toné!, Johnny Gill, and Bell Biv Devoe, all certainly famous in their own right. The headliner was MC Hammer, whose “U can’t touch this” had been a monster hit. Mariah was her usual bundle of nerves moments before she stepped onstage. However, by the time the applause died down, she was in control and went on to deliver a powerful set, highlighted by her sweet, soulful voice and music that ran the gamut of taste from light dance to pure pop, and finally to her strength - dramatic, powerful ballads like “Vision of love”.

Mariah arriving at the Saturday Night Live studios

Mariah made another television appearance on October 27, 1990 as the main musical guest on Saturday Night Live, long known as a groundbreaker for hot new acts. The last few months of 1990 were a blur

Mariah Carey of good vibes. Mariah could not go anywhere without hearing her music on the radio. She was being recognized on the street and was thrilled the first time she was asked for her autograph. She was being besieged with interview requests, and she was attending all the right parties and, increasingly in the public eye, on the arm of Tommy Mottola. Stardom was proving to be a heady elixer for Mariah. Nevertheless, she was instinctively cautious lest she become engulfed by the hype. When she would hear herself described as “the franchise” by suits from Sony Records, she would wrinkle her nose in distaste. With stardom literally at her feet, she was suddenly uncomfortable with it. “I don’t let this stuff go to my head,” she once said. “I don’t want to be a big star. I want to be respected as an artist.” But stardom was exactly what she was getting. 3.3 The awards Mariah was finding herself on the most influential critic’s Top-Ten lists for the year in a number of categories including best new artist and best album. The icing on the cake came when the prestigious Grammy Awards were announced, and Mariah found herself nominated in five different categories: Best Pop Vocal Performance - Female (for “Vision of love”), Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Song of the Year (for “Vision of love”), and Best Album. Making the dream complete was the invitation to perform her signature song “Vision of love” in front of a Grammy audience that would number in excess of twenty million worldwide. Although Mariah was very familiar with the streets of New York, on the night of February 20, 1991, as her limo whisked her and Tommy toward Radio City Music Hall and the awards ceremony, she was seeing the city in a different light. Dressed in a short black dress, she was very much Cinderella on her way to the ball. She was in love with a life that was continuing,


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Mariah with her two Grammy Awards

at every turn, to be a fairy tale. Mariah was all smiles as she walked down the red carpet and the photographers yelled for her attention. There were also screams from the bleachers where the growing legion of diehard fans had braved the cold for a glimpse of their hero. Mariah responded with a smile and a wave. That night, despite the usual bout of nerves, Mariah gave an emotion-filled performance of “Vision of love”, which would later be available as part of the Great Moments of the Grammys CD collection. She returned to her seat to nervously wait out the moment she had been waiting for. The realist in Mariah felt that just being nominated was enough of a validation, but the little girl in her hoped that some of the top honours would be hers. Her hopes were rewarded later in the evening when she returned to the stage to accept two statues: the Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Performance - Female. The sheer delight on her face in the photographs taken afterwards said it all. Not only had she been accepted by the public, she’d also been heartily embraced by the music establishment, joining a small, elite group of multiple-Grammy winners.

Mariah Carey After the ceremony, Mariah attended a series of celebrations where she mingled with some of the biggest names in music, and she basked in their praise as both a powerful new talent and a superstar on the rise. The accolades and kudos continued to pour in for Mariah. The hoopla surrounding her Grammy victories had barely died down when she was recognized on March 7, 1991 by Rolling Stone magazine as Best New Female Singer in its annual readers’ poll. Less than one week later, on March 12, she captured Best New Artist, Best New Single, and Best New Album honours at the annual Soul Train Awards. Then, just to round things off, Mariah and Ben took Song of the Year honors for “Love takes time” at the BMI 40th Annual Pop Awards diner, held on May 19 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles, with additional honours given for both “Vision of love” and “Someday”, while “I don’t wanna cry” received a citation. The effect of all these awards was to increase the reorders from stores for Mariah’s album. With her name before the public again (as if it hadn’t been there enough in the last few months), there was an increased demand for her music. Mariah soaked up the recognition with no small amount of humility. Mariah, still very much the shy, insecure girl, was unsettled by the amount of media attention and hype she was receiving. In a sense, she felt that all the interest was being directed at another person she did not know. Mariah remembered all too well how she had felt growing up when her heroes were often pickled apart in the media, and she was not happy at the prospect of the same thing happening to her. “I don’t want to put myself in everyone’s face and make them sick of me at this very early stage of my career,” she once said. “I want to be around for a while.” That was one reason why Mariah cut back considerably on the amount of media interviews she did in the wake of her album’s release. Furthermore, she felt talked out, and


chapter 2 - there really was not that much new that she could say. It was an instinctive need, in the face of all this attention, to retain a low profile. Her attitude was to let her music do the talking.

Scene from The First Vision video

3.4 The first vision The First Vision was Mariah’s first video release. It is a collection of music videos, live performances, and behind-the-scenes footage detailing the creation of Mariah’s debut album. The home video was originally released in 1991, and in 2004, a DVD was released in Japan with two extra live songs. In this collection, music videos of four Mariah Carey singles (“Vision of love”, “Love takes time”, “Someday”, and “I don’t wanna cry”) are featured, and snippets of the album’s other single, “There’s got to be a way”. The collection also includes the debut showcase of Mariah at The Tattoo Club, were Mariah performed “Vision of love”, “Love takes time”, “Vanishing”, and a cover of “the incomparable” Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t play that song”. She also performed “I don’t wanna cry” at this showcase, but it is not included in this collection. Behind-the-scenes footage includes Mariah rehearsing for Saturday Night Live, goofing off with friends like Trey Lorenz, and giving candid interviews detailing her life, dreams, and music. She is also seen singing brief snippets of the

Mariah Carey album track “All in your mind” and the Jackson 5’s “Who’s lovin’ you?”. Performances of “Don’t play that song” and “Vanishing” from this concert would later be used for audio release as official live versions on the Australian special edition of the album. Mariah wrote on the inner notes of the video, “This project is a culmination of so much hard work, so many dreams, countless wishes and endless prayers. I have never wanted anything but to sing and write songs, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my gift with others.”


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Emotions 1. Recording the album 1.1 The argument When Mariah should have been able to take time off to recharge her creative batteries, the reality of the music business as well as her own drive to keep going was forcing her to face another round of decisions. Once again, the question was raised about following up the hit album with a huge tour. But Mariah was still not confident enough in her performing skills to take that step, and the Sony brain trust felt that with the success of her debut album, a tour was not essential at this point. Moreover, the reality was that even a small tour could delay a follow-up album. However, there was more than avoiding touring fueling Mariah’s inclination to return to the studio as soon as possible. Mariah said, “I started working for my second album immediately after I put out my first single from the first album, so I really didn’t have a break. And it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I have to follow up the success’, because it was just as the first single was taking off. Who knew what was going to happen to it, anyway? I didn’t take a break because I just constantly write, and it was a pattern that I established and I continue to do it.” Writing and recording also helped relieve some of the pressure that fame brought. “I started to record my second LP the moment I finished the first. I was so busy with that work that, at the beginning, I almost didn’t know what was happening to me. Thank God, money didn’t impress me and fame and success neither.” Mariah’s mind was constantly filled with music, and by the time her first album hit the streets, she was already working overtime on ideas she felt would be her next musical step. And she planned to make it a step away from the concept of her successful debut album. Despite its overwhelming success, Mariah was not completely satisfied with her first album. Lyrically and musically, she felt that the album


chapter 3 - was her best effort at that moment in time, but she continued to chaff at what she considered the overly extravagant arrangements and orchestration which she felt often blunted the emotional intent of the songs. She felt the blame was hers. She had been too much of a babe in the woods to put her foot down on certain creative issues during the making of that album, but she vowed that would not be the case next time. Mariah envisioned her next album as homage to the Motown sound she grew up with. She wanted the album to duplicate the experiences she had had hearing the songs of that era emanating from the radio or off a spinning piece of vinyl. Yes, there would be the expected balance of ballads and dance numbers, but she reasoned, this time the songs would not be as overly produced and slick as they had been on her debut album. This time, she wanted to come across as more soulful. “I felt I should put out a new album soon because I was growing so much from the last album,” Mariah told the New York Times. Columbia had already indicated that it was willing to give Mariah some latitude, both in material and production. “She deserves it,” Don Ienner said. “She has a great feeling of what’s right and what’s wrong.” And Tommy Mottola had already predicted, “I’m sure she wants to do a lot more on her next album, make it more stark.” Mariah instinctively turned to her muse Ben Margulies. Unfortunately, much had changed in their relationship since the release of her first album. She now found that his back was turned to her. Not long after Mariah and Ben had teamed up, Mariah had impulsively signed a contract with Ben that would entitle him to half the proceeds she made from any recordings involving his material. With the success of the debut album, he was already making substantial money off the songwriting royalties. But now, Ben was uncharacteristically pushing for more, what he felt was his contractually. The conversations between the writing partners were not angry, but

Emotions they were strained at times. Ben quietly pointed out that she had agreed to the terms of the contract, and that he had not twisted her arm. Mariah did not deny she had willingly signed the contract but felt that Ben was asking for too much and tried to persuade him to not press the issue. He refused. At that point, Sony’s lawyers stepped in, and after a long and often bitter court battle that dragged on for over a year, both sides reportedly agreed that Ben would receive ten percent of Mariah’s earnings over the next ten years. Mariah would look back on the falling out with Ben as a painful learning experience. “Be careful what you sign,” she said in a Q magazine interview. “I heard that a thousand times. But when you’re struggling, you still do it. I blindly signed.” In the aftermath of the court battle, Ben would discuss the situation diplomatically, putting the lion’s share of the blame on the record label and saying that he hoped Mariah and he would work together again in the future. “Hopefully, art

C&C Music Factory C&C Music Factory was a dance/ pop music production group lead by Robert Clivillés and David Cole. They had seven No. 1 Dance/Club Play hits in the early to mid 1990s, as well as several pop crossover hits, one of which “Gonna make you sweat (everybody dance now)” reached No. 1 on Billboards Hot 100 Singles & R&B Singles charts. The group also released singles and albums under alternate names (for example Clivillés + Cole), the last offspring was called MVP. Robert Clivillés and David Cole also produced various hits for other artists, like Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, and Deborah Cooper. The group earned a total of 35

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will prevail over business,” he said. The reality was that a five-year friendship and creative partnership that had produced some wonderful music had been destroyed. The two never worked together again and, in fact, had no contact whatsoever. 1.2 David Cole and Robert Clivillés Sony had agreed in principle to Mariah’s plans for her follow-up album. But the nuts-and-bolts blueprint for her second album was once again laid out by the record company in much the same way as it was for her previous album. Again, it involved a number of songwriters and producers. For the more up-tempo songs, the producingwriting team of David Cole and Robert Clivillés were chosen. The pair made their name with club and dance music groups, producing hits such as “Gonna make you sweat (everybody dance now)”. Despite his ease with arrangements and his proven ability to work under pressure, Walter

music industry awards worldwide, including five Billboard Awards, five American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and one Grammy nomination (for Best New Artist). In 1990, their first album, Gonna Make You Sweat, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Album Sales chart, and went 5x Platinum. In 1994, their follow up album, Anything Goes, peaked at No. 106 on the Billboard 200. They had a large number of club hits, several of which also crossed over to become massive pop hits. All four singles from their debut album reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play chart, and all four were also crossover Pop and R&B hits. In 1992, they had another #1 Dance/Club play hit with the song

“Keep it comin’ (dance till you can’t dance no more)”. A variation with Rapper Q-Unique was recorded for the soundtrack and opening cheerleading routine from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both versions of the song feature lead vocals by Deborah Cooper. The Dance version reached No. 83 on the Hot 100. On January 24, 1995, David Cole died at the age of 32. Another album was released in Europe in late 1995 by Robert Clivilles with the name C&C Music Factory, which spawned one more US No. 1 Dance/Club Play hit. Neither the single nor the album featured former member David Cole, who had died prior to the recording of the material.


Mariah and Walter

Afanasieff was considered a surprise choice to produce the ballads. Sony, with their collective eye always on the bottom line, had wanted somebody with what they considered more commercial songwriting ability and a more substantial résumé. But Mariah, who had a good experience working with Walter on “Love takes time” and on demos of new songs at the end of 1990, insisted that Walter had to be on board. And, for once, Sony blinked, and he became part of the team. But the company would not budge on the notion that each song had to be presented to the studio executives for their thumbs up or thumbs down. This process was fairly common in the recording industry, but Mariah would grow to resent the fact that people who knew only how to make money should pass judgement on her creative efforts. For Mariah and Walter, the writing process had begun in late 1990, many months before any recording. Walter was involved in his latest project, spending long hours in the studio producing Michael Bolton’s newest album. But when breaks would occur - such as when Michael went off to play a few shows or take a short vacation - Walter took advantage of the opportunity to sit down and write with Mariah. The creative sparks flew between them. He’d begin with an idea, something played on


chapter 3 - the keyboard, either a chord progression or a short instrumental line. In turn, this would inspire Mariah with ideas for a vocal melody or some lines of lyrics. Then Walter said, as she would sing, “I start playing to what she’s singing.” And things would continue until the piece was finished and Mariah was satisfied with the words she’s penned. It was pretty similar to the way Mariah and Ben had worked. Perhaps the main difference was that Walter’s keyboard ability and knowledge of music theory were much greater than Ben’s. He could translate Mariah’s vocal sketches into reality at much greeter speed, with less guesswork. “I always do the melody first,” Mariah explained. “Sometimes I’ll have an idea for a lyric. If I’m collaborating with someone, I’ll direct them in the direction I’m going chordwise, because I get all these melody ideas and then I lose them if I don’t have someone really good on keyboards right there with me. That’s why I tend to collaborate because I lose the ideas by the time I figure out the chords. All these melody ideas just go.” 1.3 In the studio The last vestiges of spring were slipping over into summer. The fourth and final single off the persistent bestseller, “I don’t wanna cry”, had just debuted at number fifty and, within two weeks, hit number one. But Mariah barely noticed since she was already ensconed in another intense period of bicoastal writing and recording of new songs. The good weather was just beginning as she went into the studio. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t see too much sunshine, keeping her usual night-owl hours, working from early evening until dawn, then sleeping the day away. It was, she said later, “like living in a cave”. And recording studios certainly can be that way - isolated, insulated rooms away from the real world, without windows, artificially lit. Working on this album was definitely a full-

Emotions time job for Mariah. Composing, singing, and producing weren’t enough for her. She was also involved in arraging the tracks and singing most of the background vocals (something she’d done on the first album, and a process that seemed to hold an odd fascination for her). But, as she’d admitted, she loved being in the studio, most particularly singing there, building up layers of her voice and playing them back, carrying on until she’d achieved exactly what she was searching for. As in the past, the dance tunes were being recorded in New York, while the ballads, with Walter Afanasieff at the controls, were done in California. And much like the recording of the previous album, she found working with multiple producers to be a widely divergent experience. With Robert and David, the formula was simple. They would bring in tapes of different rhythms, Mariah would pick what she liked, and the lyrics would flow from there. She found Robert and David to be easygoing and hip producers whose train of thought was very much in sync with hers. With Walter, the creative give-and-take was more gentle and quietly spontaneous, with ideas on everything from arrangements to lyrics to production gone over with a fine-tooth comb. It was not the same as having Ben around, but it was pretty close. One decision Robert and David made right at the beginning was that they didn’t want to emphasize Mariah’s “high stuff”. Although they knew it would be impossible to ignore it, they were both eager to steer clear of any criticism of trading a gimmick. Instead, they planned to concentrate on bringing out Mariah’s singing ability. In all cases, however, Mariah, secure and confident in her own talents, was very much involved with every element of the album’s creation. And, unlike her experience on the debut album, she was no longer shy about voicing her likes and dislikes and sticking to her guns. “I


chapter 3 - didn’t want this album to be somebody’s else’s vision of me,” she said in USA Today. “This time, I really collaborated. There’s more of me on this album, and I let myself go a lot more.” But being taken seriously was still an uphill battle. In the back of everybody’s mind was the fact that Mariah was still considered a studio creation whose true talents lay with her producers. The reality was that on Emotions, the producers did listen and found much to their liking in the singer’s suggestions and ideas. Easily the biggest surprise to come out of the Emotions sessions was the telephone call Mariah received one day from legendary singersongwriter Carole King, who suggested that she might consider doing a cover of her song “Natural woman”, which had been a monster hit for Aretha Franklin. The song would have definitely been in the loop for Mariah’s trip back to Motown. But she hesitated. “I didn’t want to,” said Mariah in a New York magazine interview, “because Aretha’s one of my idols, and I felt what she did with the song was an untouchable performance. Mariah did sing the song in 1998 at the first VH1 Divas Live concert. However, Carole was so impressed with Mariah’s talent and integrity that she did not give up that easily. She flew from her home in Idaho to New York for a one-day writing session with Mariah in hopes that maybe they could hammer out something she could use. The result was a literal meeting of minds across the generations in which Mariah’s budding talents traded ideas with Carole’s wealth of experience in the art of songwriting. The day’s collaboration produced the song “If it’s over”. It did not become a hit, but there was satisfaction in the collaboration between the two women. As the August 31 release of Emotions neared, Sony executives once again had their fingers crossed, while critics were sharpening their pencils. Mariah had not gone through her debut album unscathed. More than one reviewer

Emotions dismissed her as little more than a thinly disguised Whitney Houston clone. Others had intimated that her music was bland and inoffensive, typical of the passive, forgettable songs being played on Top Forty radio. But she had weathered those criticisms and accusations and no longer feared the critics. On the other hand, Sony bosses did. Specifically, they were afraid that all the hype and media coverage might backfire and make Mariah into yet another one-hit wonder unless Emotions was truly a masterpiece. The album would turn out to be a step forward, but true to her promise, it was also an enticing step back. The arrangements, as befitting a Motown homage, were sparer and simpler than Walter’s overly orchestrated previous work. Just about everything on Emotions - with its deep soul and flecks of gospel dancing the perimeters of most of the songs - was streaked with an older style. “If it’s over” turned out to be truest to Mariah’s retro approach. That song screamed sixties soul and vocally, Mariah was more than a mere echo of the greats of years gone by. She proved that under the right circumstances, she could definitely stand with them. The quiet songs like “So blessed” and “Till the end of time”, and the melancholy in Mariah’s voice on the jazzheavy “The wind” made these standouts in an album that was perhaps more experimental than some mainstream pop sensibilities might care for. Emotions would most certainly be a love-itor-hate-it album. It was time to roll the dice.


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Emotions 2. The album 2.1 Introduction Emotions is the second studio album by Mariah and released in the United States on September 17, 1991. It is primarily composed of strong ballads and dance music, written by Mariah herself, Walter Afanasieff, Clivilles & Cole, and Carole King. The album showcase that Carey can sing from a soft breathy voice to a strong high climaxes. The album produced Mariah’s fifth consecutive number-one single, “Emotions”, on the Billboard Hot 100, giving her the distinction of being the first and only recording act to have its first five singles top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album also generated two more top five singles. Contrary to her debut album, Mariah was able to co-produce some of the music material she had written for the album. Emotions did not receive as substantial promotion as Mariah’s debut album, and she once again faced criticism when she refused to go on tour. In the wake of a recent scandal at the time involving Milli Vanilli, critics once again attacked her as they believed she was a “studio artist” who was unable to perform live, and that her famous high notes were nothing more than a creation of synthesized instruments in the studio. Mariah later said she did not tour because she faced her own insecurities and a general lack of self confidence in performing for an audience. She explained her issues by stating that most artists overcome anxiety during their live performances before they get a record deal, but she did not have the same experience performing live. Her stage fright was diminishing and she felt relatively comfortable in smaller environments, so she booked an appearance on the television show MTV Unplugged to promote the album and prove her critics wrong. Her performance on the show became so popular that promotion for Emotions was cut down to release the set list on


chapter 3 - an EP, name MTV Unplugged. Emotions debuted and peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 129,000 copies, which surprised some following the huge success of her debut album. It spent twenty-seven weeks in the top twenty and a total of fifty-five on the Billboard 200. It was her lowest-peaking album until Glitter, but it was certified five times Platinum by the RIAA on January 30, 2003. As of 2005 the album had sold 3.57 million copies in the USA according to Nielsen SoundScan, with an additional 0.6 million sold at Columbia House outlets. It performed better on the charts than her debut in the UK, peaking within the top five and spending four weeks more in the top seventy-five, with a total of forty weeks. The album was a success in Canada and Australia, but as in the USA it did not sell as well as her previous album. The album made the Canadian top five and the Australian top ten, and was certified two times Platinum in both countries. In Brazil it only received a Gold certification, and Mariah’s success was once again moderate across continental Europe. By 2005 Emotions had sold approximately 12 million copies worldwide. The singles from Emotions were not huge hits and, like her debut album, only the lead single was a success outside of the USA. The critics approached the album more cautiously than they had the first one, giving it more consideration, which at the same time meant viewing it more closely. Mariah had gone beyond the stage of being label hype to become an artist, and she was about to be treated like one. David Hiltbrand, writing in People, said, “The material here is stronger and the arrangements richer,” even if “as on her debut, the song selection is somewhat uneven.” However, he was willing to acknowledge “that Carey is truly a transcendent talent.” Christian Wright, in New York Newsday, found that, at least on one cut, “she infuses

Emotions a torchy and breathy croon with the sort of genuine passion that was completely missing from the first album,” and noted that “Emotions uses simpler arrangements so that the voice is showcased as the most important instrument.” Steve Morse from the Boston Globe wrote, “As good as she is, Whitney Houston must tremble a little every time she hears Mariah Carey. Houston was the unchallenged queen of pop/soul music until Carey came along last year. A 20-year-old phenomenon with a timeless, octave- leaping voice, Carey stole part of Houston’s crowd and copped some valuable Grammy hardware as well, earning two awards for best new artist and best female pop performance. Carey’s self-titled debut album sold 7 million copies and ran off four consecutive No. 1 hits. To prove that was no fluke, Carey today releases the follow-up, Emotions, which shows a quantum leap in maturity and confidence. Now a heady 21, the New York-born-and-bred Carey sounds so accomplished that this feels like her 10th album, rather than just her second. Where the first album was overproduced - by Carey’s own admission - this one is more tightly and subtly drawn. The focus is on Carey’s soulful, gospel- steeped voice, not the wizardry of computer arrangements. Her influences are more apparent - Aretha Franklin, Minnie Riperton, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight - and there’s a warm, personal touch not always felt before. When you consider she writes all the lyrics, it’s all the more remarkable. She’s tearfully down-and-out in ‘Can’t let go’, then comes right back with the insistently funky, positive-thinking anthem, ‘Make it happen’, a clear slice of spiritual autobiography. There are more ballads than before, furthering an adult-contemporary mood. Most of the ballads are unspeakably beautiful, even dipping into classic soul. ‘If it’s over’, which Carey wrote with Carole King in one hour while the two sat at


chapter 3 - a piano, sounds out of a ‘60s Memphis Stax/Volt session, as if Otis Redding were coaching. Carey keeps her dance bases covered with several songs coproduced with David Cole and Robert Clivilles of the currently hot C & C Music Factory. But it’s her wrenching ballads, plus a surprise, Barbra Streisand-like cabaret song in ‘The wind’, that suggest just how unlimited her talents are.” Ashley S. Battel from All Music Guide wrote, “A strong follow-up to Carey’s self-titled debut album, Emotions puts to rest any concern of a ‘sophomore jinx’. The same mix of dance/R&B/ ballads that gave Carey’s debut such tremendous auditory appeal can be found with equal strength on this release, indicating that placing firm belief in the notion of ‘Why fool with success?’ may, in fact, have its merits. Most notably, the gospel influences of ‘If it’s over” (with music co-written by Carole King), the yearning cries for a lost love in ‘Can’t let go’, and the catchy, upbeat title track, all serve to send the listener on a musical journey filled with varying emotions. However, the one emotion that prevails upon completion of the album is definitely a positive one - satisfaction!” Rob Tannenbaum wrote on the Rolling Stone website: “A rookie success as spectacular as Mariah Carey’s tends to spark a backlash, and Carey was derided by skeptics who saw that Columbia Records had spared no expense in accessorizing her with the most dependable collaborators money could buy. Emotions addresses the perception of Carey as a fabricated star, as well as the comparisons to Whitney Houston, by giving the twenty-oneyear-old singer greater control. She wrote all the lyrics and coproduced all ten tracks. While it sustains her stature as a pop goddess, Emotions demonstrates the hazards of such calculations. Like many young performers, Carey doesn’t understand the value of understatement. ‘I don’t wanna cry” was the best track on Carey’s debut because her downcast whispers animated the

Emotions song’s luxurious sorrow. At full speed her range is so superhuman that each excessive note erodes the believability of the lyric she is singing. On Emotions her eagerness to deploy her immense vocal range results in the overheated growling of ‘Make it happen’, a teary tale of how she kept her religious faith despite hard times. Carey coproduced four songs with David Cole and Robert Clivillés, this year’s pop-dance maestros, but the partnership doesn’t fly. Their beats aren’t as unrestrained and joyous as they are on their work with Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam or C+C Music Factory. Instead, they back Carey with pumping house keyboards and shamelessly recycle the chords of Cheryl Lynn’s ‘Got to be real’ and the Emotions’ ‘Best of my love’ to construct the bubbly new-disco ‘Emotions’. On the other six songs, all ballads, Carey works with Walter Afanasieff, who produced ‘Love takes time’ on her debut and also helped create Michael Bolton’s bombastic soul. When the pace slows down, Carey does too, and Afanasieff can be an effective one-man orchestra. The moody grandeur of ‘And you don’t remember’ and ‘Can’t let go’ will sound great on the radio. There’s a conflict between Carey’s thirst for musical challenges, like gospel choruses and the light jazz ballad ‘The wind’ which ends Emotions, and her dependence on commercial dance pop. Her goal is to elevate the Top Forty tricks of Janet Jackson and Karyn White with vocal greatness. On ‘If it’s over’, Carey even invokes the style of Aretha Franklin’s classic Atlantic sessions. Carey has spoken of Franklin as a hero, but there’s an essential difference between their styles. The daughter of a preacher, Aretha imbues even her dullest work with the spirit of the church, whereas Mariah’s mother was an opera singer, a background that translates into such excesses as the falsetto whoops that punctuate so many of Mariah’s songs. Carey has a remarkable vocal gift, but to date, unfortunately, her singing has been far more impressive than expressive.”


chapter 3 - From those words, it might be assumed that the reviewers thought that Mariah had more than adequately conquered the notorious sophomore jinx. However, they were still able to find plenty of faults. The most common was that Mariah overused her now-famous upper register (which was odd, since she was actually quite sparring it). The other was that she approached “everything at maximum intensity, even ballads”. As Arion Berger stated in Entertainment Weekly, she “reaches for epiphany on every cut”, although he was good enough to concede that the album “ticks along like a Swiss watch - finely tuned, glossily assembled, filled with precision instruments and spectacular vocal turns”. But he had nothing good to say about Mariah’s lyrics, calling them “hackneyed high school poetry” that “for the most of the album either laments the recent departure of some cad or praises the next Mr. Right”. For “The wind”, Newsday’s Christian Wright took a completely different view, feeling that “Carey had written moving lyrics.” Walter Afanasieff thought the album truly captured Mariah at that time. “Her heart and soul are all over the record,” he said, adding, “she developed a wisdom and professionalism that goes beyond her twenty-one years,” a trait he contributed to her recent experiences, which he felt lent her the focus that was apparent on this record. He was of the belief that “new pop singers are going to want to emulate Mariah”. All of this largely went to prove there were as many opinions as there were writers. The real judging came from the record buyers, people who were willing to shell out hard-earned money for an album. 2.2 Emotions “Emotions” is a song written and produced by Mariah Carey with David Cole and Robert Clivillés of the C+C Music Factory. It was released as the album’s first single in the third quarter of 1991 in the United States and in the


Scene from the “Emotions” video

fourth quarter elsewhere. This disco-influenced dance song has its protagonist going through a variety of emotions, from high to low, up to the point where she declares “you got me feeling emotions” and sings high notes. Mariah had originally wanted to create hip hop tracks for the up-tempo songs on her second album. Although Sony had given her more leeway, they considered this too much, so she settled for dance music as second best. She was sent to work with the C+C Music Factory and they composed the song “You’re so cold”, which became the first choice for the album’s first single. However, a second session with the production team had them feeling in a lighter mood when “Emotions” was created and finally decided upon as the lead single. “Emotions” was the first song which showcased Mariah’s ability to hit very high notes for extended periods of time and it was also considered one of her most powerful vocal perfomance. The notes highlighted the size of her vocal range, and when hitting them Mariah sings in the whistle register, the vocal technique she is most famous for. She managed to hit a G7, which is the highest G on the piano, during a performance of the song at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. The note was hit 4 times


chapter 3 - in a sequence of G-D-G, G-D-G (a sequence that’s not heard on the album recording). It is reportedly one of the highest notes recorded by a female vocalist. “Emotions” was nominated for the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, losing to “Something to talk about” by Bonnie Raitt. It won a BMI Pop Award, continuing Mariah’s unbroken streak of wins for this award. The song’s writers and producers faced allegations of plagiarism. In interviews, Mariah and C+C Music Factory stated that they had been inspired by the song “Best of my love” by the disco/soul group The Emotions, but denied directly lifting music or lyrics from it. Carey was quoted as saying the song was an homage to the group, as the song itself is titled “Emotions”. David Cole pointed out that the composition was so obviously influenced by “Best of my love” that the original group would be pleased to see their influence in a new generation. Songwriter Maurice White however seemed unswayed, and filed a lawsuit that was eventually settled out of court, never officially receiving a hearing. “Emotions” premiered at the eighth annual MTV Awards ceremony in September and its rapturous reception must have been music to the ears of anyone in Columbia fretting about Mariah’s ability to manage without her usual co-writer. It became Mariah’s fifth consecutive number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, giving her the distinction of being the first act to have their first five singles make number one on the Hot 100. She had previously shared a record of four with The Jackson 5. It reached number one in its seventh week and spent three weeks at the top, from October 6 to October 26, 1991. It replaced “Good vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch featuring Loleatta Holloway, and was replaced by Karyn White’s “Romantic”. It remained in the top forty for twenty weeks and was one of four singles from Mariah on the Hot

Emotions 100’s 1991 year-end charts, ranking twentysecond. The song topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and became her second number one single on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The RIAA certified it gold. Outside the USA, it was Mariah’s most successful single since “Vision of love”, the lead single from her debut album. It reached the top five in Canada and New Zealand, and became her first single to reach the United Kingdom top twenty since her debut. It was even bigger in Australia, where it just missed the top ten, but its success in continental Europe was limited. It only reached number ninety on Japan’s Oricon chart, becoming one of her biggest failures there. The single’s video, directed by Jim Preiss, honed in on the party element of the song. The colours were toned down, blue for the interior scenes, brown (simulating firelight) for the evening fun outdoors, and even the daytime exteriors had a blurred, undefined edge to them. The opening shots showed Mariah, wearing a wrap over a fifties-style bikini, in the backseat of a convertible, singing as the couple in the front seat conversed. From there, it cut to the party scenes, which took place in an old house. Inside, people were dancing, looking through records and talking. A bush baby, someone’s pet, wandered around lazily, big-eyed and curious. Outside, later, the party had headed up. Couples - black and white - were dancing and having fun. Notably, no one was showing drinking or using any kind of drugs, not even tobacco. Throughout, Mariah was singing, to no one in particular, which emphasized the overall sense of joy in the song. And even more than on the record, the high notes worked. The seemed to punctuate the fun perfectly. Later, Mariah told BET, “The video was fun because it was the first time I was allowed to totally have fun. But I’m going to be honest. I had a few drinks that day, during the making of that particular video and then afterwards I was actually crying to a friend of mine about other


chapter 3 - personal stuff, so it was like a rollercoaster ride.” David Cole and Robert Clivillés created the main remix of “Emotions” known as “Emotions (12” Club Mix)”. Although Mariah did not rerecord her vocals for it, she added a new gospelstyle intro before the song’s dance portion. This new intro was used when she performed “Emotions” on MTV Unplugged in 1992, as well as at some later concerts. A music video was created using the 12” club mix, but only small changes in editing differentiate it from the video for the original version. According to People Weekly, “Emotions” has an irresistibly bouncy bass line and a signature vocal trick - soaring high notes that most singers couldn’t reach from the top of the Empire State Building. 2.3 And you don’t remember “And you don’t remember was written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff. The song allowed Mariah’s gospel side to show. Gliding silkily over orchan chord changes, and rising to a heartbroken, much rawer chorus, the sad melodt reflected the words - a story of being dumped and then forgotten by a boyfriend, one of those men who obviously promises the world, then immediately goes on to the next girl. The two opening tracks showed that this album, for all its nineties instrumentation and technology, was going to achieve what Mariah had hoped. It would have a sixtees and seventies feel, not only the songs themselves, but the way they were performed. Except for three cuts where Mariah had collaborated with others, she was entirely responsible for all the vocal arrangements (she’d worked with her coproducers on the instrumental arrangements). It was here, more than anywhere, that her influence showed - in the backgrounds, with their sweet, high harmonies that recalled black churches choirs or the enthusiastic sounds of the young Motown ballads.


Scene from the “Can’t let go” video

2.4 Can’t let go “Can’t let go” is a lush pop ballad written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff. It was released as the album’s second single in the fourth quarter of 1991 in the United States and the first quarter of 1992 elsewhere. The protagonist of this synthesizer-heavy ballad laments an ex-lover who has moved on, and though she tries she “can’t let go”. Carey had fallen out with her songwriting partner Ben Margulies following a financial dispute, and her record label suggested that she work with the other producers of her debut album such as Rhett Lawrence, Ric Wake and Narada Michael Walden. She chose Walter Afanasieff, who had produced her second single “Love takes time”, and “Can’t let go” was one of the songs they created. After the release of the single “Emotions”, “Can’t let go” was promoted on both the Arsenio Hall Show in September 1991 and Saturday Night Live in November 1991. Mariah’s first five USA singles had reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and although she was the only act to achieve this, she had not broken other records such as the highest number of consecutive number-one singles (Whitney Houston had seven). “Can’t let go” peaked at number two and spent seventeen weeks in the top forty, and the RIAA certified the single gold. The only Billboard chart it topped was the Adult Contemporary chart, where it


chapter 3 - became her fourth consecutive number-one single. Although the single broke her streak of number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, it was still another big hit for Carey in the USA, and was ranked twenty-third on the 1992 Hot 100 year-end charts. “Can’t let go” reached the UK top twenty and the Canadian top ten. It became her lowest peaking single at the time in all of the major Anglophone singles markets (with the exception of the UK), and failed to make the Australian top fifty. The single’s video, directed by Jim Sonzero, was a beautifully lush piece of work, full of surprising and imaginative camera angels. Filmed in black and white and in a muted focus, it was framed by its opening and closing shots, first of a pair of hands opening to reveal a white rose and then at the end, closing over it again. Mariah was in the courtyard of a house, strongly lit to create large variances of light and shadow. With her hair up and wearing a short black dress, she sang as the lens cut to images - flowers, a letter on a desk, the lines of a venetian blind over her words. Quite often, the way the images were juxtaposed made it difficult for a second or two for the viewer to distinguish what was being filmed. And that was a good thing, it held the viewer’s attention. For such a lonely song, it worked beautifully. This style had been attemted before, but rarely had it been done so well. A radio edit of the song was promoted to radio and used for the video instead of the original song, and the edit eliminates the lengthy preintro and removes all of Mariah’s high notes at the song’s beginning and end. Like her previous singles, “Can’t let go” won a BMI Pop Award in 1993. In 1992, songwriters Sharon Taber and Randy Gonzalez filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Mariah and Walter citing that “Can’t let go” had deliberately lifted nine notes from their unknown song, “Right before my eyes”, which

Emotions they had copyrighted in 1990. The pair further charged that a tape of their song had been passed to Mariah from one of her backup singers who happened to be a friend of Sharon Taber. The plaintiffs demanded to obtain copies of the studio recording tapes to see if conversation between Mariah and Walter would prove them guilty. However, after being reviewed, the only guilty fear apparent was Mariah quoted as saying “Can’t let go” was sounding “too much like our other song”. The lawsuit was later dropped or settled out of court.

Scene from the “Make it happen” video

2.5 Make it happen “Make it happen” is a song written and produced by Mariah Carey with David Cole and Robert Clivillés of the C&C Music Factory. It was released as the album’s third and final single in the USA in 1992. Mariah wrote a set of very autobiographical lyrics, dealing with the struggles she went through before being signed by Columbia (even down to the fact that she could only afford that single pair of holey sneakers), and what kept her going through it all: her faith. That wasn’t just a faith in herself and her talent, but also the ability to let herself go, to pray to God, and to trust in what would happen. These were, by far, her most inspiring words to date, letting others know that whatever they were


chapter 3 - doing, no matter how difficult things were, with help they could win through. Musically, the piece had a restrained dance beat, very Motownish, that owed more than a little to gospel, with a chorus - sung by Mariah, Trey and Patrique - that rose gloriously from the verse to repeat and drive its very positive message home. Mariah’s first five USA singles had reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, her sixth, “Can’t let go”, had reached number two. Pressure was put on “Make it happen” to become her next number-one hit, but it peaked at number five. It remained in the top forty for sixteen weeks and was one of the year’s bigger hits, being ranked forty-second on the 1992 Hot 100 year-end chart. It received heavy radio airplay but sold moderately, and its high peak on the USA charts was because airplay statistics were beginning to be given more consideration in the compiling of Billboard charts than sales statistics. The single became Mariah’s first in the USA not to top any other Billboard chart, and underperformed outside the USA. It became her first single to miss the top ten in Canada, but it managed to peak within the UK top twenty and the Australian top forty. The “failure” of “Make it happen” was nothing to sneeze at, but to the number crunchers in the Sony tower, it was a sign that something was wrong and needed to be fixed. Mariah didn’t think so and was secure in her status as pop star. “If I wanted to stay home and write songs and make a moderate living, I could do that,” she said in New York magazine in the wake of Emotions’ mediocre showing. “I’m not worried that I might have to go back and waitress.” Mariah had completely confident in herself, and that’s all that really mattered. Like every earlier USA single release, it won a BMI Pop Award. This made every single from Emotions a BMI Award winner, matching the record set by her debut album. The “Make it happen” video was directed by

Emotions Marcus Nispel, who picked up on the gospel element of the song and used it as the focal point, having Mariah perform her song at a benefit to Save Our Church. The audience, as they filed into a dusty, deserted building, was made up of the widest cross section possible: old and young (with a strong emphasis on children), abled and disabled, all races and colors. Although they were there for a good cause, everyone was out to have fun. From the first beat, dancers were moving. There was a deliberately amateurish, spontaneous quality about things, from the old-fashioned square microphone (Mariah’s prop in the ads for her first album, as well in the “Vision of love” video), to the small drum kit and beat-up piano. Cuts to faces in the growing crowd showed people enjoying themselves, as well as a contented look on the face of the black minister, holding a little girl. The numbers onstage grew, too, as Mariah was joined by children playing chellos and a group of black women singing backup. At the end, when the song finished, there were real cheers, not on the record, but dubbed in to give more of a real, live experience to the video. Detroit songwriter Kevin McCord filed a lawsuit in Michigan alleging that Mariah and Columbia Records used a sample of McCord’s composition, “I want to thank you”, performed by Alicia Myers. It was later discovered that Mariah had actually obtained clearence through her publishing connection to BMI under M Carey Songs to use a similar sample of the composition, therefore the lawsuit was immediately dismissed. Mariah performed an acoustic version of the song on the television show MTV Unplugged in 1992, and her setlist for the show was later released on the EP MTV Unplugged. Reviewing Carey’s Unplugged appearance, Rolling Stone magazine wrote of “Make it happen”: “A somewhat obnoxious slice of self-help dance rhythm in its original version, is transferred into a bubbly gush of pure pop.” Another version is


chapter 3 - a remix by the song’s original producers, David Cole and Robert Clivillés, titled the “C+C Classic Version”. Mariah performed the song on the first concert of VH1 Divas Live in 1998. She was the opening performer of the event and after the first song, “My all”, she made a brief speech addressing to the audience and performed “Make it happen” then. As during the usual live performances of the song, a gospel choir accompanied her. As of 2006, the song continued to receive heavy airplay on USA adult contemporary radio stations such as Los Angeles’s K-BIG. Mariah frequently performs “Make it happen” in concert, as well as at charity and fundraising events. One of her most widely seen performances was at Live 8 in London’s Hyde Park in July 2005, as part of the multicontinental awareness-raising project to reduce poverty in Africa. “Make it happen” was the usual set-closing number on Mariah’s 2006 The Adventures of Mimi tour.

Mariah sings “If it’s over” at the MTV Unplugged concert in 1992

2.6 If it’s over “If it’s over” was probably the most anticipated song on Emotions. It was written by Mariah and Carole King, and produced by Mariah and Walter. It echoed the type of songs that had proved so powerful for Aretha Franklin in the

Emotions late sixties - slow, but very soulful, and again, full of that gospel sound that Mariah loved. Such material allowed Mariah to really tear loose and whow what she could do, which in reality was far more than the vocal gymnastics that seemed to comprise her reputation so far. From a deep rumble to a high wail, she covered five octaves wonderfully as the power of the tune built. The backing vocals - which once more had those churchy harmonies - filled out the spare melody, as did the stately horns, which entered towards the end. Indeed, the whole song was essentially a showcase for Mariah, and so beautifully out of time on a modern album that it came across as something quite new. It also showed that further collaborations between Mariah and Carole King would be quite in order, and more than welcome. But no reprise would ever happen. In 1998, Mariah and Carole would work again together for the first VH1 Divas Live concert. After the immense success of “I’ll be there”, a second single from the MTV Unplugged concert was released. In contrast with “I’ll be there”, “If it’s over” was a big flop and only released in a few countries. Mariah described the ballad “If it’s over” as “a true collaboration”. She and Carol King sat down and traded musical ideas, and Mariah came up with a set of lyrics, with work continuing until they had what they both described as “a wonderful song”. Carole added: “I love her voice. She’s very expressive. She gives a lot of meaning to what she sings.” This was praise and acceptance, not just from a contemporary, but from a veteran who’d literally heard thousands of other voices singing her songs. 2.7 You’re so cold “You’re so cold” was written by Mariah and David Cole and produced by Mariah, David and Robert Clivellés. The song seemed to come across as four parts Emotions (the group) and one part


chapter 3 - Paula Abdul, the dancer-turned-singer who had some success. From a grandiose pianoand-vocal introduction, the song sailed into the chorus, driven throughout by David Cole’s house-y piano work, the bubbly, snaking rhythm belying the angry lyrics, the upbeat tone of voice. Once more, this didn’t quite seem like a nineties song, but rather like something that wouldn’t have been out of place in the early disco era, and certainly a pleasant relief from the bass-heavy hip-hop that was filling the radio. The first song that Mariah and David penned together, “You’re so cold” had been considered as the album’s lead single, but was eventually dropped in favour of “Emotions” and remained just an album track. 2.8 So blessed “So blessed” was a sweet, touching song that displayed Mariah’s softer side. It was written and produced by Mariah and Walter, and its tune recalled both fifties pop ballads and the soul changes of songs like “When a man loves a woman”, as it glided over layers of Hammond organ and synthesized strings. The joyful, glad words found their expression in Mariah’s smooth, restraining singing, which sounded as if she were performing with a happy smile on her face. 2.9 To be around you “To be around you” was far more staccato. It was the fourth song written by Mariah and David Cole, and produced by Mariah, David and Robert Clivillés. In his Rolling Stone review, Rob Tannenbaum accused David Cole of using “pumping house keyboards”, but not too much of that had really been in evidence on Emotions’ faster tracks, and certainly not here. Rob did, however, also remark that some material appeared to “recycle the chords of Cheryl Lynn’s ‘Got to be real’ “. While this song paid tribute to Cheryl’s in its overall feel and arrangement, there were no real recycling and

Emotions rewriting involved. With the spoken voices at the end, this track had an uplifting party sense, a sense of well-being that the words about an attentive lover conjured up. 2.10 Till the end of time The quiet changes of “Till the end of time”, with its gentle, almost lullaby melody, gave the impression that it was the final track of the album “Emotions”, the winding-down of a night. It was a love song, directed at a boyfriend, but with the overall impression that Mariah was actually saying it to herself, rather than to him in the flesh. As it was, it worked perfectly as a segue between the rest of the album and its actual last cut, “The wind”. The song was once again written and produced by Mariah and Walter. As a fourth single, “Till the End of Time” was commissioned to radio stations in Costa Rica and Mexico in an attempt to boost sales of the album. Because the song received minimal airplay, and to make way for the release of the MTV Unplugged EP, it was not given further promotion as a single. 2.11 The wind “The wind” was originally a jazz instrumental, written by Russell Freeman in the 1950s, which Walter had discovered on a record by the pianist Keith Jarrett. When Walter played it for Mariah, the melody touched her, inspiring a gorgeous set of lyrics about a friend who had died in a drunkdriving accident. Musically, it was the greatest challenge she’d yet undertaken. She’d mastered gospel, but jazz, with its slippery chords and tumbling changes, was altogether a different matter. It required a subtle touch and, to put the emotions of this particular set of words across, a great deal of delicacy. Mariah handled it superbly, holding back, and moving to the swing of the beat, letting it direct her and trying to push it. The piece also gave Walter a rare chance to shine, embellishing


chapter 3 - the vocal with runs on piano and synthesized vibes. The whispery vocal mingled with the instruments to create a melancholy mood that became the perfect closer, something to surprise listeners (as “Vanishing” had done on her debut) and to impress them, making it clear that, if she wanted, in time Mariah could have a strong future as a jazz singer. The resulting royalties enabled Russ Freeman to retire from music, and he turned down recording work offered by the veteran English producer Vic Lewis because “I don’t even play for my own enjoyment these days.” He died in Las Vegas on June 27th, 2002.

Emotions 3. After the album release

Mariah performing at Saturday Night Live


chapter 3 - least she made a step in the right direction. On November 16, 1991, Mariah performed “Can’t let go” and “If it’s over” on Saturday Night Live. Mariah also attended some awards shows to pick up the prices. On December 3, 1991, Mariah won two Billboard Awards - for Top Female Album Artist and Top Female Single Artist, and on January 27, 1992, Mariah won Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist at the American Music Awards. It was to her great pleasure that she was invited to sing “If it’s over” at the 34th annual Grammy Awards at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City on February 26, 1992. She was also nominated for a Grammy Award, together with Walter Afanasieff as producers, but she failed to win.

3.1 Public appearances As with the first album, Mariah was loath to promote Emotions with public appearances. She did perform on the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, on September 5, 1991. Onstage she came across relaxing and smiling, as if being there was second nature to her, quite a change from the year before when she’d complained of nervousness and shown no desire to play to live audiences. There was still no tour booked, but at

Mariah receives an American Music Award

Mariah receives a Billboard Award

3.2 Joseph Vain Mariah continued on the high road of success. Unfortunately, with success came attacks from those on the periphery of her life who wanted a piece of the growing pie. In a sense, her fallingout with Ben Margulies and the ensuing legal battles signaled that these types of situations would arise from time to time. But it hurt the most when the deepest cut came from Mariah’s immediate family.

Emotions The marriage of Patrica Carey and Joseph Vian had been a rocky one from the beginning, and so nobody was too surprised when the couple separated in 1992 and began divorce proceedings. What was surprising was that Joseph, with whom Mariah had always been cordial but not particularly close, filed a lawsuit against Mariah in New York’s Federal District Court. To say the least, the charges made against her were unusual. According to published reports, Joseph alleged that Mariah had made an oral commitment to him that would allow him to market singing Mariah Carey dolls. He charged that Mariah “agreed orally that he would have a license to market singing dolls in her likeness”. He also claimed to be entitled to financial reimbursement for his alleged contributions to the development of Mariah’s professional career, stating that she “was unjustly enriched at his expense in that he contributed to her support and to the development of her professional career, with the expectation of reward”. This ran entirely counter to Mariah’s story that her mother would have bought her another pair of shoes to replace the holey sneakers she lived in for a year, but she preferred to be self-supporting. He saved the most outlandish charge for last: Mariah had contributed to the breakup of his marriage to Patricia, stating that she “intentionally and/or negligently interfered in his relationship with his wife, defendant’s mother, destroying that relationship and causing him to fall into a deep depression from which he has not recoverd”. Whether Mariah like Joseph or not, the closeness of her relationship with her mother had been well established and was never in doubt. It seemed very unlikely that Mariah would do anything to bring unhappiness to Patricia. On the contrary, she’d have been far more likely to have done what she could to make her mother happier. The Federal District Court judge obviously agreed, because later in the year he dismissed both that claim and others, including


chapter 3 - the allegation that Mariah unjustly enriched herself at Joseph’s expense. As for the “Mariah dolls”, it would be nearly a year before that case was settled. Mariah, testifying by deposition, explained that she thought Joseph’s comments about the dolls were a joke. In April 1993, Judge Michael B. Mukasey dismissed the charge, stating, “In sum, Vian has not raised a triable issue of fact as to the existence of a contract. Viewing the facts in the light most favourable to Vian, as I have done in deciding this motion, there is no evidence that Carey thought, or should have thought, that he was serious about entering into a contract, nor that she believed she had bound herself to a licensing agreement for ‘Mariah dolls’ by saying ‘Okay’ and nodding her head when her stepfather made passing references to the idea.” Judge Mukasey eventually concluded, “Even if the plaintiff had a valid contract, which I stress he did not, he has not alleged recoverable damages.”

MTV Unplugged 1. Introduction 1.1 A growing relationship Despite the critical attacks leveled at Emotions, the record was already on its way to multiplatinum success and proving to be a slow but steady seller. As sophomore efforts went, Emotions was a solid progression that had successfully avoided the second-album jinx which had felled so many other artists. Mariah had been working nonstop for nearly two years, and although it did not show on the surface, the consensus of those around her was that she was tired. Nobody would have blamed Mariah is she had taken a long and welldeserved vacation. But that was not Mariah. A vacation for her was to go to the studio at every opportunity and playing around with new lyrics and arrangements. Walter Afanasieff, when he was not busy on other projects, would inevitably drop by, and the pair would once again pick up on what had become a comfortable and productive relationship. Athough he would never admit it, the speculation around the industry was that Walter, who had made the leap from talented unknown to bona fide hitmaker on the strength of his work with Mariah, felt a little proprietary when it came to her. Her voice was a tool for him to make studio magic. Even if that were the case, Mariah felt that Walter was a key element of her music and her enthusiasm, and believed he would always be an integral part of her music life. Mariah, admittedly, did not really know what direction her next album should take. She had been quite happy with the back-to-basics approach of Emotions and felt part of that sound would remain. She also conceded that a certain amount of polish and orchestration was necessary, but, as always, she strove not to repeat herself. So, while some songs began to come together in the early days of 1992, nothing was definite. Nothing was definite, that is, except for the


chapter 4 - growing relationship with Tommy Mottola. That was very much a love match, although Mariah would occasionally giggle and admit that lust had a lot to do with it as well and that Tommy was quite the lover. She was also quite adamant in explaining that her relationship with Tommy “represented a form of stability that I’d never had”. The ink had barely dried on Mottola’s divorce decree when the tabloids and gossip columns began speculationg about when the Hollywood power couple would make it legal and tie the knot. Tommy had little to say on the subject, and Mariah would say only that she was not ready for marriage yet. A big reason was her relative youth and the fact that “I hadn’t experienced much of life itself.” But when pressed, she would acknowledge that “When my parents got divorced and I saw all my friends’ parents getting divorced, it kind of hardened me to the idea of getting married.” Given all the emotional baggage from her childhood and her relative inexperience in many facets of life, people were left to wonder why Mariah would get involved in a monogamous relationship when she was finally in a position to spread her wings. Many observers of Mariah’s relationship with Tommy were concerned that it might ultimately turn from love to control and wondered how she would respond to that. But one need only to look at the hapiness on her face when she was with Tommy to conclude that the relationship was truly working. Mariah was very much a New York girl by this time. She was totally involved in the lifestyle, the business, and the rhythm of the streets. It was a given that her circle of friends would grow to include primarliy local people. But Mariah was the first to admit that it was not by design. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, her friends from high school on Long Island had slowly begun to fall by the wayside, but it was not all Mariah’s doing. During her first years in the city, she made a conscious effort to keep in touch. However, the time spent

MTV Unplugged with old friends was often uncomfortable. Mariah had been branded a star, and friends from the old neighbourhood could not help but perceive and treat her differently, alternating between fawning and patronizing. On the other hand, her city friends, perhaps a bit more sophisticated to the ways of showbiz, took her celebrity in stride and treated her as just plain Mariah. She sadly acknowledged that when it came to her circle of friends, she was now in a different world. 1.2 Preparing for the concert The calls for Mariah to tour continued, and when she once again refused, skeptics began to repeat the taunts that Mariah was a total studio creation who did not have the talent (despite her sporadic appearances on award shows) to carry a fullblown live concert on her own. These charges were frustrating for Mariah, frustrating as well as uncomfortable. Her worst nightmare had always been about not being able to work her magic in a live setting. To have it constantly bandied about in the press only seemed to add to her discomfort and doubt. She now felt that it was

MTV Unplugged MTV’s Unplugged had been on the air for quite a few years before it became popular. Originally hosted by singer/songwriter Jules Shear, it had been intended to provide an informal, live setting for musicians to offer very basic versions of their songs and to sit in with other artists. That particular idea didn’t seem to draw an audience, so the concept was revamped. Jules Shear was dropped, and a greater concentration was placed on bringing in “name” artists, who would in turn attract more viewers. When Paul McCartney himself appeared on the show on January 25, 1991, he chose to release the set

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imperative for her to do a live show, and soon. MTV’s Unplugged series seemed to offer the perfect compromise. It would be a live concert, but it would be only thirty minutes long in front of a relatively small audience, and it would ultimately be seen by millions over repeated showings on the music video station. And far from the relatively sterility of the studio, she would be working with real musicians rather than synthesizers and drum machines. The problems Mariah and Walter Afanasieff faced were twofold. First, what material should they pick? And then, how should they present it? Mariah’s big hits were what most people were familiar with, the songs they’d heard on the radio, with infectious choruses they could sing in their sleep. On the other hand, less familiar material, like “Vanishing” and “The wind”, had great possibilites for a show like Unplugged. In the end, Mariah and Walter decided to go with the popular tunes. It was decision that made perfect sense for Mariah’s big television debut. She’d already been on Saturday Night Live and the The Aresenio Hall Show, but MTV Unplugged would

as Unplugged (The Official Bootleg). Producer Alex Colletti stated in an interview that had Paul McCartney not released the album and its subsequent popularity, the concept would have never gained the cult status that it went on to enjoy. In 1992, Eric Clapton recorded an Unplugged performance at Bray Studios in London. He was widely praised and criticized for heavily reworking many of his famous songs so they would work in an acoustic context, in some to the point of almost unrecognizability. His Unplugged album went on to become the bestselling Unplugged album in the USA, with sales of 10 million.

Widely accepted as the best known performance was by Nirvana, whose performance on MTV Unplugged was one of the last televised performances by Kurt Cobain, recorded about five months before his death. Nirvana’s setlist consisted of several covers and some of their lesser known originals, the only real “hit” being played being “Come as you are”. It was a contrast to other Unplugged concerts, where artists largely perform their hits singles and other original material. In 1993, Bruce Springsteen also performed, and in a twist on the program’s theme, most of set was performed with amplified instruments .

MTV Unplugged be her show, and she wanted to give people what they really wanted to hear. As for the presentation, that raised a number of possibilities. Straight renditions of the songs with acoustic instruments would probably be fine, and would satisfy the public. But there was no real challenge in that. It didn’t do anything new. Instead, Mariah fell back on her old loves, gospel and soul music. While the rumours of “another white girl singing black” seemed to have died down with the release of Emotions, this would banish them completely. Making preparations for the taping was a timeconsuming venture. There was a great deal to be done before any rehearsals could be undertaken. Using real musicians as opposed to electronics necessitated bringing in both a string a brass section, as well as piano, guitars, drums, and backing singers. Parts had to be written for all these people, and with the emphasis on Mariah’s gospel and sould sides, these parts couldn’t just duplicate the arrangements on the albums. After this came the rehearsals, a difficult proposition with so many people, even if they were all top-notch musicians. And finally, everything had to be sorted out in the studio. The idea of the program might me to be unplugged, but the reality involved a large number of microphones, a very carefully mixed sound, camera angles to be worked out, and stage positions for all the performers. Plus, there was Mariah’s often-stated goal of perfection in everything. Which meant that the show’s production crew faced a nightmare. Luckily, some of the technical staff were people who’d worked with Mariah before. The mixing was handled by Dana Jon Chappelle, who’d handled exactly that job on both her albums, and the show’s director was Larry Jordan, who had performed the same job on the “Someday” video. All in all, a crew of ten was needed to record the show. But that wasn’t all. Two days before the MTV Unplugged show, Mariah decided to add “I’ll


chapter 4 - be there”. “People kept saying to do an oldie,” Mariah said. “Two nights before the actual show I decided on ‘I’ll be there’,” a number 1 hit for the Jackson Five which stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks. This, of course, only added to the problems. It meant another song to hurriedly arrange and learn, and to cause the crew headaches.

MTV Unplugged 2. The show 2.1 March 16, 1992 The taping of the MTV Unplugged show took place before an invited audience at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York on March 16, 1992, eleven days before Mariah’s twenty-second birthday. The audience was ready for her, and cheers greeted Mariah as she opened the show with “Emotions”. Like almost everyone on the stage, Mariah was dressed in black - a short jacket, leotard, tight jeans, and boots. Mariah had a small triangle of the stage to herself, nearest the crowd. Everyone else was cramped. A four-piece string section (Belinda Whitney Barnett, Cecilia HobbsGardner, Wince Garvey, and Laura Corcos) sat off to the side in front of San Shea, who’d worked out the string arrangements and was playing the harpsichord and harmonium. The rhythm section held the back of the stage with Gigi Conway on drums, Randy Jackson on bass, Vernon Black on guitar, and two percussionists, Sammy Figueroa and Ren Klyce, who contributed timpanis, celeste, and tubular and orchestral bells. The other side of the stage was reserved for the Saturday Night Live horns (Lew Delgatto, baritone saxophone; Lenny Picket, tenor saxophone; George Young, alto saxophone; Earl Gardner, trumpet; and Steve Turre, trombone), who would appear on “If it’s over”. In the past, Mariah had referred to her music as “vocally driven”, and the number of backup singers she surrounded herself with here really proved she meant it. There were ten of them clustered around the piano. Quite naturally, they were led by her longtime associates Trey Lorenz and Patrique McMillan, with the addition of Geno Morris and the Darryl Douglass Workshop Company (Kelly Price, Cheree Price, Melanie Daniels, Peggy


chapter 4 - Harley, Liz Stewart, Spencer Washington, and Henry Casper). By the chorus of the opening song, they’d proved their worth. The added the warmth of a Baptist choir, weaving in and out behind Mariah’s voice and working with it to create the melody over the rhythm. 2.2 Emotions As any fan might have predicted, “Emotions” had a gospelish introduction. Sitting in on piano, guest David Cole (the only one not completely in black, he wore a sparkling silver jacket) held the chords behind the voices, letting it all build before the beat kicked in and everyone got to work. “Emotions” sounded quite different, though the tune and the words were the same. It was much rawer and earthier, two qualities Mariah had wanted in her music from the time of her debut record. David had the right touch, adding notes and fills that accentuated the feel. Mariah touched her high notes perfectly, and when the instruments cut out before the song’s end, leaving just the voices, it seemed as it should be. Many in the studio would probably have been quite content to have a whole show of just voices. The audience had been clapping along with the beat from the start, and would do so for all the up-tempo material. One small, particularly active group was dancing and waving behind the stage. It all felt right, as if this was the perfect way to see Mariah Carey. If she appeared nervous at first, standing by the microphone, she overcame it very quickly, walking around, singing to the crowd and the camera. As the song ended and the applause began, she giggled. Only she knew what reaction she’d been expecting, but this outpouring seemed to surprise and gratify her. There were still some jitters in her, of course - that was only to be expected, and she expressed them as

MTV Unplugged giggles - but she truly appreciated these fans, thanking them after every piece, and their reception helped her slowly relax over the course of the taping.

Mariah singing “If it’s over”

2.3 If it’s over After the first song, “the incredible” Walter Afanasieff replaced David Cole at the piano, and the Saturday Night Live horns took the stage to perform the tune Mariah had written with “one of my idols”, Carole King. The recorded version of “If it’s over” had a Southern feel, the kind that filled material which came out on the Stax label in the late sixties, which really mixed soul and gospel. But this version truly captured that idea. And with the additional voices, it could almost have been recorded in church. This made it quite clear that not only had Mariah and Walter (who co-arranged the material for this show) broken “the arrangements down to their simplest forms by using only avoustic instruments”, they’d in fact done much more. This style perfectly suited both Mariah’s voice and her songs, and the interaction with other musicians, as opposed to synthesizers, added a warmth to the music that made it more immediate and alive. “If it’s over”, with its lazy and rhythm and


chapter 4 - stop-time pause beats, served Mariah’s lower register well, although the vocal breakdown at the crescendo, she couldn’t resist letting the octaves soar briefly skyward. However, it was impossible not to note the stylistic differences at the keyboard between Walter Afanasieff and David Cole. David was much freer in his playing, and he was able to concentrate on his playing alone. Walter’s style was more formal, and he also had to lead an entire band of twenty-six, who looked to him for their musical cues. For the specifically gospel-style performance Mariah was giving, David (or someone like him) was a much more suitable performer. That wasn’t to take away from Walter’s talent by any means. His gift was obvious, and his empathy with Mariah had worked very well for the both of them. And for ballads, he had an ideal style: subdued, playing the voice rather than around it. But this particular type of live performance needed a more outgoing style, one which led rather than followed. 2.4 Someday “Someday” gave Mariah a real chance to show off her vocal gymnastics, with the voices bouncing over the rhythm section. She seemed happy with it, turning to exchange smiles with the others. When it was over, Mariah said it was the last time she would be needing to use the top end of her range for the evening, for which she seemed quite glad, even though she’d been quite sparing with it so far, making it a necessary part of the songs, rather than a twist or a gimmick. Live, to be able to hear herself, she needed to block one ear with a hand or a finger. This technique, common among folksingers, enables the singer to get an accurate gauge of pitch. One can only assume that all the sophisticated electronics used on the show, including the monitors

MTV Unplugged (small speakers facing the performers that allowed them to hear everybody else onstage), didn’t do a very good job of broadcasting high frequencies. 2.5 Vision of love When things slowed down for a little while for what to many was still Mariah’s “big hit”, “Vision of love”, she had a chance to perch on a stool. For such an inexperiencedlive performer, she’d held control of the audience remakably well, and this immediately recognizable piece was the last step needed to cement the bond. Again, with Mariah being able to play off all the other voices, and with its swaying, lulling rhythm, the song came across as quite fresh, without the Top Forty gloss that had characterized the single. As with all Mariah’s material, such rawness suited it, giving it a kick of emotion and, once more, a gospelish edge that pointed out the hopefulness of the lyrics. And by sticking with her lower registers, Mariah was able to offer a throathier performance. (Interestingly, as she’s moved further from her debut, with its high notes that helped to make her name known, Mariah has kept more and more to her lower register, allowing her singing technique, rather than any ornament, to shine.) 2.6 Make it happen For “Make it happen”, David Cole returned to the stage to duet with Walter on the piano. He took the right-hand, or treble parts, while Walter supplied the underpinning, or bass parts. David’s energy was quite infectious, his big smile shining as much as any of the stage lights as he bounced to the beat on the piano stool. The pairing illustrated perfectly the difference in the two men’s style. His innate feel for this kind of music shone through in his playing. It might have been simple, but every


chapter 4 - note was effective. All the vocalists obviously caught this too, for they sang just like a church choir (”Make it happen” was, in its own way, a song of praise), letting the repeated choruses build behind Mariah, giving her a chance to wail and solo, not like any pop diva performing for a crowd, but like someone filled with the spirit. The roughness of this version succeeded in a way the recorded version on Emotion could never manage. In the sterile atmosphere of a studio, were perfection, technology, and overdubbing were the rules, spontaneity had no place. On the stage, it was valued, and this performance had it. Everyone pushed everyone else just a little bit further, to create something wonderful, and judging by the response, the audience realized it, as did Mariah when the song was finished. It was a rare moment, one that true performers strive for and don’t find often enough to satisfy themselves.

Mariah singing “I’ll be there”

2.7 I’ll be there The way Walter and Mariah had arranged “I’ll be there”, she took the Michael Jackson lead and Trey Lorenz, with his high, sweet voice, took what had originally been Jermaine Jackson’s part, the second lead. After two years of working with Mariah, Trey was getting his chance to

MTV Unplugged shine, and outfitted in a worn black leather motorcycle jacket and a baseball cap, he looked ready for it. It was interesting that with so many songs of her own, Mariah chose to cover a tune that was more than twenty years old. As a bit of fun, or as a tribute to the Jacksons, it was a good idea. But almost no one could have predicted the impact this particular performance would have. As good as everything so far had been - and it had been exceptional - suddenly giving Mariah a reputation as a live performer that would have been difficult for anyone, let alone a rookie, to live up to, this song now propelled it into the stratosphere. On the surface, there was nothing remarkable about it. The song had been covered many times over the years, by any number of people. Maybe it was the friendship between Mariah and Trey, or maybe it was the atmosphere that was in the studio that night. Whatever the cause, it brought out something amazing in both singers and started Trey Lorenz on a well-earned solo career. With such a short preparation time, the instrumental arrangement was very basic, just a simple backing for the voices, all of which backed Mariah on the verses. When she introduced Trey for his part, he seemed bashful at first, but then he dove into the role and sang his heart out. The first time around, he stuck to the melody, giving a lovely counterpoint to Mariah’s alto. But on his second chance, he climaxed by soaring into the high, unbelievable falsetto that had first made Mariah take notice of him in the recording studio. It was another of those perfect moments, and everyone knew it, performers and audience alike. Although the performance was equally tender, Mariah seemed quite content to hold back and let Trey bask in the spotlight. Later he would be unable to recall his performance, which he didn’t hear for a few


chapter 4 - months after the taping. “Great goodness, I think we were singing really good that day, but I wasn’t so sure about me. I was really relieved when I listened.” All too often today, concerts bring standing ovations followed by planned encores. Mariah and Trey’s rendition of “I’ll be there” literally brought the crowd out of their seats, clapping and cheering, an accolade that was honestly earned. 2.8 Can’t let go The show ended on a low-key note, with “Can’t let go”, which saw Mariah backed only by piano, percussion, bass, and voices. It was, she insisted, an off-the-cuff performance of the song, the arrangements made up as they went along, but it seems likely that there was at least some rehearsal, however perfunctory, for it to work that well. This really was a song stripped to its basics, quite raw, which only served to increase its appeal. The lyrics, which were full of heartbreak and confusion, truly came across with complete vulnerability (a tribute to Mariah’s vocal ability), and her brief swoop through the upper register just before the song’s close gave it a wonderful, if unexpected, conclusion. Needless to say, the crowd, which had been utterly won over from the beginning, was ecstatic. Mariah herself, to judge from her grin, was pleased with the way things had gone. A show, particularly one with so many musicians, involved a great deal of rehearsal, and the sessions for this had gone quickly and had been intense. She was lucky in that a number of the participants had worked with her on her albums and were therefore familiar with much of the material. And the rest were experienced session musicians. But even then, mistakes could happen. For this, though, none did. In fact, things couldn’t have gone any better. It was also a learning experience for

MTV Unplugged Mariah: “Unplugged taught me a lot about myself because I tend to nitpick everything I doand make it little too perfect because I’m a perfectionist,” she told Billboard’s Melinda Newman. “I’ll always go over the raw stuff, and now I’ve gotten to the point where I understand that the raw stuff is usually better.”


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MTV Unplugged 3. After the show 3.1 An unexpected release Originally, Mariah’s Unplugged show was meant to simply be a telecast, to stand or fall on its own. It would air on MTV and that would be the end of things. No video, and certainly no album, would follow. After all, Emotions was still doing well, having gone multi-platinum, and since the show was short and contained no real new material, there seemed to be no point in releasing it. Besides, Mariah and Walter were already hard at work, beginning to write songs for her third album, scheduled to appear sometime during 1993. But public reaction has a power of its own, as had been shown by the way the debut album and its singles sold, far beyond the possibilities or dreams of any record-comany hype. MTV usually aired each new Unplugged show a few times over the course of a month, then retired it to the vaults, to be dragged out and dusted off every once in a while. From the first time it was shown, though, Mariah’s show proved almost unbelievable popular. Calls came in from all over the country, causing far more reruns of the performance than had been anticipated. Nor was it popular only with fans, critics too found much to praise in it. Time’s Christopher John Farley called it “deservedly acclaimed”, and his words only echoed sentiment around the country. Upon the release of the show as an EP (an abbreviation for “extended play”, a format which was very popular in the sixties, consisting of four tracks on a seven-inch vinyl disc, but which had since fallen out of favour), Rolling Stone reviewed it with Eric Clapton’s MTV set, saying that Mariah’s version of “I’ll be there” could easily be mistaken for the Jackson Five’s, “and that’s a mighty compliment”. The reviewer was also enthusiastic about “Someday”, “transformed into a bubbly gush of pure pop”, and ended,


chapter 4 - “Carey beats Clapton in a battle of the bands? Only on MTV.” Greg Sandow from Entertainment Weekly wrote, “For reasons even her record company cannot plausibly explain, Mariah Carey except for occasional sheltered appearances at awards shows - never sings live. So maybe her May 20 telecast on MTV Unplugged, which this new EP documents, was planned as a substitute for the album-promoting tour that any other star would mount. Reinforced by a small army of backup singers and acoustic instrumentalists, she ran through hits from both her albums, and introduced one not-atall-risky novelty, her eagerly polished version of the Jackson 5’s adorable 1970 smash ‘I’ll be there’. Less predictably, Carey sang the entire show with something approaching real guts, which makes the Unplugged EP the strongest, most genuinely musical record she has ever made. Oh, the elaborate acoustic accompaniments (and especially the gospelstyle backup singing) make her sound as if she’s at a costume party, dressed up as some R&B legend from the past. But there’s life inside the packaging, especially when she and her backup gang whip so much fire into ‘If it’s over’ that the song almost levitates. Mariah comes off as vocally phenomenal and artistically little more than a kid. Did this live performance help her take her first steps toward growing up?“ Sean M. Haney from All Music Guide wrote, “This live performance is the perfect peek into the life of rising pop/soul vocal sensation Mariah Carey at a youthful and innocent age in an intimate, acoustic setting. Throughout this performance, recorded live for MTV’s Unplugged, Carey is quite electric and charismatic within her vocal presence and succeeds in enlightening the already engaged audience from the get-go. The audience

MTV Unplugged certainly feels the warmth and sincerity of Carey’s lyrical messages of longing, loss, friendships, and love. Carey’s supporting cast of gifted group musicians back her up with soulful melodiousness, spontaneity, and enriching percussion. Gradually, the power and esteem of these tales lift to new heights and remain at a peak with the breathtaking, moment-making performance of ‘I’ll be there’, a charming song first cut by the Jackson 5. All and all, this is an inspiring event, though still simple enough for the listener to catch those musical places that need to be polished. ‘Can’t let go’, Carey’s radio single for the album, makes it as the seventh and final track, though the cameras are shut off for the Unplugged episode. Certainly, this is a record of hope, virtue, and the possibilities of newfound love.” The groundswell was such that Columbia was more or less forced to issue the show. People wanted to play it at home, in their cars, wherever. And more than anything, they wanted to listed to that version of “I’ll be there”. So that was what the company gave them. MTV Unplugged came out as a reducedprice EP, because of its shorter length, and “I’ll be there” was released as a single. Mariah wrote in the booklet, “Performing live on MTV Unplugged was a unique experience for me. I felt extremely close to the audience because it was such an intimate setting. We broke the arrangements down to their simplest forms by using only acoustic instruments on all of the songs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Love & thanks, Mariah.” Mariah and Columbia Records decided to donate part of the proceeds from the MTV Unplugged EP to a number of charities: AmFAR (the American Foundation for AIDS Research), the United Negro College Fund, Hale House Center, Inc., and the T.J. Martell Foundation, another AIDS-related organization. It seemed only right, after all,


chapter 4 - they’d had a hit record given to them from something they’d never intended to release. But still, it was a magnanimous gesture, and one that was rightly done with a minimum of publicity. Both were unsurprisingly successfull. “I’ll be there” debuted on the Hot 100 at number 13, the highest entry yet for one of Mariah’s songs. Probably not even Mariah could have dreamed that it would do so well, nor could she have imagined that such a hastily chosen and rehearsed cover song would give her a sixth number 1 hit. But it did, barely pausing on its way to the top of the charts. After two weeks, it was in the number 1 spot, after brief pauses at number 4 and number 2. “I’ll be there” was the number-one song on the Hot 100 for two weeks, from June 13, 1992 to June 27. It was the second time that the song hit number one. It replaced “Jump” by Kris Kross, and was itself replaced by “Baby got back” by Sir Mixa-Lot. It also became a number-one success on the Adult Contemporary chart. “I’ll be there” was Mariah’s breakthrough hit outside the USA, becoming her most successful single in numerous markets. It topped the Canadian Singles Chart for two weeks, and became her biggest hit in the United Kingdom (where it hit number 2) and Australia (where it reached number 9). It peaked inside the top twenty in most markets across Continental Europe, where Mariah’s success had previously been limited. In the Netherlands, it became Mariah’s first numberone hit (the other one was another cover, “Without you”, which became a huge hit in 1994). The EP debuted on the album charts the week the single reached number 1, coming in at number 8. The next week it rose to number 5, and then it peaked at number 3. Not as good a performance as “I’ll be there”, but it was still far more than credible for a piece of

MTV Unplugged work which wasn’t even originally going to be released. The album remained in the top 20 for fourteen weeks, and on the chart for fiftyseven (making one re-entry). As of 2005 it had sold 2.73 million copies in the USA according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the RIAA certified it three times platinum in December 1994. By 2005, MTV Unplugged had sold approximately nine million copies worldwide. The EP yielded a second single, “If it’s over”, which was not released in the USA and failed in most markets. There was also a video, and later a DVD, of the performance released, called MTV Unplugged + 3. Given that performance itself only ran for half an hour, Columbia added the three videos from Emotions - “Emotions”, “Can’t let go” and “Make it happen”, which hadn’t seen any previous commercial release. The clips were preceded by an interview with Mariah (accompanied by her Doberman pinscher, Princess, and her cats Ninja and Thompkins), in which she talked about her experiences making two albums back-to-back, which made them seem like one long album to her. She also discussed what she saw ahead for herself. Then, at the very end of the tape, just before the credits, there was some homemovie footage of Mariah: backstage footage of Mariah rehearsing and performing on Soul Train, running on the beach with Princess, swimming, signing autographs in a record store. Her voice ran over the pictures, thanking the fans who’d helped her along the way with their support, their letters. It was a simple gesture, but one most artists wouldn’t have thought to make, one that reinforced the idea that Mariah was truly a lady. Put together this way, it made a very nice package, a present for old fans and new converts alike. Those who’d discovered Mariah’s music throught the Unplugged show


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footage from the home video MTV Unplugged + 3

heard a sampling of album material, which contrasted the rawness of the live experience with studio polish. In September 2007, Columbia/Legacy rereleased the album, this time together with the DVD of the performance in one package. And altough they promised previously unreleased tracks and extras, there were none on the CD and DVD. 3.2 Trey Lorenz The success of “I’ll be there” had a gratifying side effect. It gave Trey Lorenz a solo career. Epic (part of the Columbia family of labels and one-time home of Brenda K. Starr) signed him, not just on the strength of that one song, but also because of his own ability, as well as the other work he’d done with Mariah. Suddenly, the important thing was for Trey to get a good record out as soon as possible, before his name was forgotten. I turned out that he had the best possible help. Mariah and Walter had been looking ahead to her new album but Mariah sais, “I really didn’t want all the fun and interest behind Trey with the ‘I’ll be there’ record to go to waste, so we just went at it for about three months.” So, what had been a writing session

MTV Unplugged

Mariah and Trey at the VH1 Save The Music Foundation benefit concert (April 9, 2005)

for Mariah “became a Trey writing session instead. I was really into the project.” In fact, she was so into it that she chose to produce or co-produce six tracks on Trey’s album. On five of those, she worked with Walter Afanasieff. And they were not the only star talents employed in the production booth. There was Keith Thomas, who had worked with both Amy Grant and Vanessa Williams; Mark C. Rooney; Mark Morales; Glen Ballard, who’d go on to real fame and fortune with Alanis Morrissette; and BeBe Winans, part of the soul/gospel group the Winans. Mariah co-wrote two of the songs, which proved to be the most difficult for her to produce. “I’m sort writing them as we go along,” she said. “When you don’t have a demo to refer to and you’re doing the track, it’s like, ‘What am I going to sing on this line and how should the background go on this one?’ as opposed to when someone has already written it and you just do it.” Quite naturally, the arrangements centered around Trey’s vocals, with many of the vocal arrangements and backgrounds handled by Mariah, as well as by Will Downing, Audrey Wheeler, and Cindy Mizelle (who had appeared with Mariah on Emotions). The


chapter 4 - production experience triggered in Mariah the idea of perhaps producing other songs (”possibly a contemporary gospel” artist), although no names were mentioned, nor any time. However, this was Trey’s big break. Mariah’s involvement was important, both to the album having happened in the first place and to its future success, but in the end it all came down to Trey and the work he’d put in over the years. Mariah took a great deal of pride in her protégé’s acceptance by the record-buying public. “I’m trying not to talk too much and let the music speak for itself, but I think people are ready to hear him.” The single “Someone to hold” (co-written and co-produced by Mariah, who also sang backup vocals) peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The album itself, however, performed poorly and only peaked at number 111 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Trey was born in Florence, South Carolina on January 19th, 1969. His father is Lloyd Lorenz, the director of a local job-training program and his mother is Bernice, a history teacher at local Wilson High. Both parents and Trey sang in church. Trey learned to read music through a brief stretch of piano lessons. During his freshman and sophomore years, Trey was lending vocals and keyboards to the Players, a Top 40 band whose set list rambled from the Romantics to the Ramones. When Trey met Mariah, he was in his junior year at Farleigh Dickinson University, majoring in advertising, and he had been in a group called Squeak & the Deep, but only lasted a short time. Trey said, “We were only together for a minute.” “I met Trey in February 1990,” Mariah said, “when I was working on my first album. I was recording a song called ‘There’s got to be a way’, and one of the backup singers was

MTV Unplugged friends with Trey and had brought him down to the studio for the session. I heard someone singing all the high, top notes with me and I’m like, ‘Who is that?’ I turned around and it was Trey. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Trey toured with Mariah as her backup singer for her first promotional tour in 1990, for her debut album. Not only touring, Trey has written songs with Mariah and they have become very close friends. His self-titled debut album, Trey Lorenz, was released to critically acclaim. Unfortunately, the album never had good sales and Trey was dropped from Epic. Later, he recorded another album, but it was never released. He has continued to sing with Mariah. He has co-written songs for her and continued to do background vocals. During Mariah’s Butterfly tour in 1998, he sang “Let’s make this a night to remember” with Mariah’s other backup singer Melanie Daniels. Trey also toured with Mariah on her Rainbow tour in 1999, and the Charmbracelet tour in 2003, singing “I’ll be there”, and leading the background singers in a song called “Friend of mine”. Trey sang backup vocals on four songs on 2005’s The Emancipation Of Mimi: “Get your number”, “I wish you knew”, “Joy ride”, and “Fly like a bird”. Trey had been present on the promotional tour for the album and The Adventures Of Mimi tour in 2006. In April of 2005, AOL’s BlackVoices asked Mariah about Trey. “You know what? Trey is on a lot of songs on the new album. He’s like family to me at this point. He’s really doing his own thing right now; a lot of writing, and an inspirational project he’s working on. So I’m all about supporting him in whatever thing he’s working.” Trey recorded the songs “Make you happy” for the Men In Black soundtrack, which he co-wrote with Mariah and Cory Rooney, and


chapter 4 - “I’m still not over you” for the Money Train soundtrack. He was signed to Mariah’s shortlived imprint label, MonarC, and to Jermaine Dupri’s Atlanta-based So So Def Records label, but he never put out any music under the label. Trey’s second album, Mimi Presents Mr. Mista, was released on September 16, 2006. Among the songs on the new album is “See you sometime”, a song he sang during the Charmbracelet tour. Trey launched his second album during the time he was prominently featured in Mariah’s The Adventures of Mimi tour, doing background vocals and singing three songs, “Never too much”, “A house is not a home” and “Crazy”, during one of her many costume changes. 3.3 Daryl Hall Working with Trey Lorenz for his album was a challenging process for Mariah, and her success as a first time producer had whet her appetite to produce and write on other artists’ record. In fact, her second outside gig would come sooner than expected. Daryl Hall, of the famed white soul dou Hall and Oates, was gearing up for a solo project entitled Soul Alone and was looking for outside material. Mariah took the leap, and acting purely as a songwriter, wrote “Help me find a way to your heart”, which ended up on the album. The album was released in 1993 as Daryl’s third solo album on Epic, and was distinct from the Hall & Oates sound. The album featured a more soulful and jazzy feel, however, Epic failed to find a marketing niche for Hall’s new sound. Despite one single being released, (”Philly mood”), the album was not a commercial success. 3.4 American Music Awards On January 25, 1993, Mariah won two awards at the 20th Annual American Music Awards. She received awards for Favorite Pop/Rock

MTV Unplugged Female Artist and Top Contemporary Album. This gave a boost to her sales: the Unplugged EP rose back to number 44 from 71 a week later.

Mariah holding her two American Music Awards


chapter 4 -

Music box 1. Recording the album 1.1 The question Mariah had not seen it coming, but in December 1992, Tommy Mottola asked her to be his wife. “It was very romantic,” Mariah said of Tommy’s proposal in a TV Hits magazine interview. “He’s a very romantic person.” Mariah did not think long before she said yes. She knew she had a lot of resistance to the institution of marriage, but in the face of Tommy’s truly loving and romantic nature, how could she say no? “I guess I finally realized that marriage doesn’t have to be so bad,” she recalled of her decision in Ebony magazine. “A lot of girls get disillusioned looking for Mr. Right. He never shows up in most cases. But in my case, yes!” That was the way Mariah talked about her romance and upcoming marriage, when she finally was willing to open up about it. Actually, it wasn’t really a case of being willing to open up. It was rather that she couldn’t keep it a secret anymore, not after a wedding date had been set and all the arrangements had been set in motion. At first, Mariah was reluctant about the relationship. Although there was a definite attraction between her and Tommy, Mariah said, “I was so shell-shocked. I couldn’t see anyone in a romantic light. But over the next few months, as we began to work more closely, our relantionship changed and developed. It was a gradual, beautifly thing. I’ve now got the man of my dreams.” One other reason not to talk about it, Mariah said, was that it was better not to say anything “until we decided what we were going to do. He was pretty much my first serious boyfriend - I mean, anyone else was in my high school days.” There was one factor that made the pairing seem strange: Tommy was almost twenty years older than Mariah. While there have been many successful, happy unions with such an age gap, it remained unusual. However, Mariah insisted, “I don’t focus on it. We don’t look at each other with


chapter 5 - a big age difference. We are just right for each other, and that is all that matters. If you are really right for each other, that will will shine through all the differences, everything - age and race.” And she added, “I don’t think of Tommy as an older person. I think of him as a very special person. Everybody who knows us realizes we’re right for each other.” Still there would be a few small things that would highlight how many years stood between them. Mariah admitted, “occasionally he’ll know a song that I’ve never heard of, or I’ll know songs that I’m like, “Oh, this reminds me of seventh grade’, and it not that long ago.” But it still seemed odd. Mariah, so young and bouncy, with so much living to do, had very strong views about her independence. And Tommy, whose daily life was consumed by business matters, was a collector of guns and a hunter. There were so many opposites. Still, as the old saying went, love conquers all, and it apparently had done so in this case. “Tommy is just the greatest person,” Mariah gushed to Steve Dougherty in People magazine. “He knows so much, he’s funny. I can’t imagine anybody else who would be so supportive and so understanding and so helpful. He lifts me up.” These were indisputably the words of a woman in love. Even so, the fact that she was actually going to get married, to make such a huge commitment, seemed to surprise Mariah. “I never thought I would get married because my parents got divorced and it gives you a different attitude about that sort of thing. It kind of hardens you, you know what I mean?” It was quite understandable. She’d seen the bad side. She had the deep memories of the fights, the tears, the pain, and she knew what it was like to grow up in what was used to be called “a broken home”. It would be enought to make anyone think twice about taking such a big step. Later, Mariah would admit that her friends were equally surprised by her move, half-expecting her to have an attack of cold feet

Music box before the wedding happened. “Everybody that knows me was freaked out that I actually did it. I think they thought I was going to run at the last minute.” Tommy and Mariah agreed that a traditional June marriage would allow them to finish up their professional duties and leave them time for a long honeymoon. They did not take any pains to hide their pending nuptials, and so it was not long before Tommy and Mariah found themselves all over the front page. There were the expected good wishes as well as the smattering of negativity directed towards Mariah. Some wags charged that her marriage to Tommy was nothing more than a career move to solidify her stature at Sony Records. Mariah, who normally let negativity roll off her back, bristled at the charge, which she vehemently denied in an interview with TV Hits. “All I can say is that I had a lot of success before we decided to get married. Somebody as powerful as Tommy can help people get started, but they can’t make people sell millions of records.” 1.2 In the studio Shortly Mariah was scheduled to enter the studio, Tommy had popped her the question to marry him. As with her previous projects, her state of mind was integral to her approach to making the next album. With Mariah so obviously in love, the feeling was that Music Box was going to be a light, pop-flavoured outing, heavy on glossy production and light on messages. But as production began in earnest, Mariah indicated that Music Box was going to be a much more subtle progression. The songs would range farther afield to incorporate even more disperate elements of soul, jazz, and gospel. Her upperregister vocals, an admitted trademarl by this time, would be more subtle. She conceded that the album would contain some light, up-tempo songs, but that by her standards, it would contain more substantial, defining moments.


chapter 5 - By the time Music Box was in production, Mariah actually admitted she was looking forward to working with another set of gifted producer-songwriters. By this time, this had become a given on all Mariah’s albums. Returning from Emotions were Walter Afanasieff, Robert Clivillés, and David Cole. Coming into Mariah’s world for the first time were David Hall and Babyface. Babyface, whose real name is Kenneth Edmonds, was just beginning to come into his own as a multifaceted upper-echelon producer, writer, and performer. One of the earliest songs to come out of the sessions with David Hall was the spirited, up-beat pop ditty “Dreamlover”, which in its final form, would project a kind of retro fifties feel that appealed to Mariah. Encouraged by the success of Emotions and MTV Unplugged, Mariah decided that this album would be a hybrid - leaning towards the basic R&B feel while not forgetting the orchestration and polish of her debut album. Lyrically, the songs would carry the same reflective feel of her previous music. But the memory of her successul remake of “I’ll be there” had also made her aware of the commercial potential of redoing an oldie but goldie. This time, Mariah chose to go back once again to the seventies with the song “Without you”, which was a big hit in the seventies for pop singer Harry Nilsson, and which was written by members of the sixties rock group Badfinger. Mariah had been enamored of the power behind the simple lyrics of the original and felt she could bring that gem successfully into the nineties. Right Track in New York had become Mariah’s favourite studio for vocals, a place where she could lose herself singing. “I love to go in and sing all the background parts and then hear like twenty tracks of my own voice coming back through the speaker,” she said, describing the place where she felt happiest. By spring, the project had been completed, ready for release in

Music box the late summer or early fall, one of Columbia’s big albums of the season, which would lead into Christmas and generate plenty of extra sales. The promotion machine was once again in high gear in anticipation of the September 17 release of Music Box, which for Mariah meant making another video of the first single off the album, “Dreamlover”. There was also the expected round of publicity interviews. Mariah launched into the promotion of the album with a sense of joy and purpose. Music Box, with its signs of lyrical and vocal maturity, was an album she was truly proud of, and she was going to do everything in her power to help make it a smash. Most observers of the music scene looked at the arrival of Music Box as a pivotal point in Mariah’s career. For all the plaudits for MTV Unplugged, the fact remained that it did not succeed in erasing the lukewarm reception accorded to Emotions. If Music Box was not a critical as well as commercial success, there was the danger that Mariah would be perceived ultimately as a slight artist with commercial potential but limited artistic prospects. 1.3 The marriage It was time to get married. Mariah wanted a traditional wedding, but when it came to traditional, she did not have a clue. “I didn’t know anything about traditions because I wasn’t one of those girls who grew up thinking about getting married,” she told US. Finally, she decided that the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles was similar to the type of tradition and fantasy that she wanted for her own special moment, and she watched tapes of that lavish ceremony a number of times to get some ideas that she could incorporate into her big day. Reports had her watching the tape of the royal wedding “over and over”, getting the flavour of it and absorbing ideas. But that wasn’t exactly the case, she’d insist later. “The ceremony was really traditional, so I wanted to to look at examples of


chapter 5 -

Mariah and Tommy getting married

a traditional wedding to get some ideas. So I watched it, like, twice. I didn’t sit at home with the VCR and the clicker and keep rewinding it.” Although they were not royalty, Tommy and Mariah did not have to worry about paying for their traditional wedding. Money was no object, and Mariah, who had grown up around few niceties of life, was going to spend like there was no tomorrow. Mariah was able to employ wedding consultants to take care of most of the work. Like every bride, she wanted her wedding day to be special. Unlike most of them, she had the money (not to mention the name) to make sure it would be. To be certain the press wouldn’t spread all the details beforehand, some of the consultants, at least the ones dealing with what she would wear, had to sign four-page affidavits binding

Music box them to secrecy before they were employed. Able to take her pick of designers, Mariah finally settled on Vera Wang, a well-known name in the fashion world who specialized in wedding dresses. Her custom-made wedding dress, complete with a 8 meter train and 3 meter long veil, reportedly came to somewhere in the vicinity of $25,000. Likewise, a pair of wedding shoes from famed designer Vanessa Noel cost $1,000. But it was the small things that meant the most to Mariah. The gown had taken care of the something new. Something old was an 1893 English six-pence, a family heirloom, which she put inside one of her shoes. Something borrowed was another old family heirloom, a tiara, which she had redesigned into a replica of the one Princess Diana wore. And something blue? Well rumour had it that it was a garter, but nobody knew for sure. That would be the part of the wedding that would always remain a secret. The rest of the wedding was anything but. Word of the Mottola-Carey nuptials was once again the top entertainment story around the world. Mariah and Tommy had always known that they could not keep their plans a secret, but they took great pains to keep it as private as possible. Access to the church ceremony and the party afterwards would be restricted - a two-hundred-member private security force would be enforcing their privacy. Putting the finishing touches on Music Box had been a welcome distraction from the wedding plans, but with the completion of the album, Mariah grew increasingly tense as the big day approached. She was not sleeping well, and while no one believed that she was having second thoughts, were the wedding day jitters another form of her old stage fright? “I wasn’t nervous about the wedding. But I was afraid that I would be walking down the aisle and trip,” she once said. “The night before the wedding, I did not sleep at all. I hung out with my bridesmaids in ahotel suite, and we stayed up really late and


chapter 5 - had a great time.” One the morning of Saturday June 5, 1993, Mariah looked out of her hotel window at darkening skies and the promise of rain, not the best omen to begin a new life with the man she loved. But Mariah had long ago stopped being superstitious, and so, as she got into her bridal gown, the only thing she was visualizing was blue skies and sunny days. Mariah’s limo drove slowly down the New York streets, rounded a corner, and pulled up in front of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church. The skies had indeed opened up but rather than a downpour, had produced only a drizzle. Mariah was happily surprised to see fans waiting outside the church. It wasn’t a small group who’d turned out, the numbers rose throughout the morning until they reached several hundred, with reporters, photographers, and television news crews jostling to the front for a better view and better pictures. This was an important occasion, a celebrity wedding, and magazines and six o’clock reports were all primed to give it coverage. But Mariah didn’t find all the attention invasive. “I mean, it wasn’t annoying or anything,” she said. “It was pretty exciting, actually.” In terms of pictures, only one thing would sour the memory. “One of our guests had snuck in and sold a bunch of pictures when we hadn’t given anybody pictures of the church or the reception. It made me feel really violated.” Mariah struggled out of the limo and with the aid of half a dozen ladies-in-waiting, manoeuvered her way into the church. The church was packed with faces familiar to any casual reader of entertainment magazines. Barbra Streisand, Michael Bolton, Bruce Springsteen (one of the few men who didn’t dress in black tie) with his wife Patti Scialfa, and Robert DeNiro, for whom the event was so important he was willing to take a day’s break from his directional debut, A Bronx Tail. Billy Joel and his then-spouse, supermodel Christie Brinkley; Latin pop star Gloria Estefan, fully recovered from her broken back; television

Music box sitcom star Tony Danza; actor William Baldwin, accompanied by girlfriend Chynna Phillips, of the singing group Wilson Phillips; and perhaps surprisingly, heavy-metal singer Ozzy Osbourne. Even veteran disc jockey and gameshow host Dick Clark was in attendance. All in all, there were about three hundred guests. The marriage ceremony was brief. Their vows, heartfelt and sincere. The pronouncements were full of good cheer and bright hope for Tommy and Mariah’s life together. At the words “You may kiss the bride,” Tommy turned and kissed Mariah for the first time as his wife. They turned and walked hand in hand down the aisle, out of the church, where forty-seven flower girls waited to shower the happy pair with rose petals. And once again through the multitude of cheering fans and flashing cameras, and into the waiting limo that would take the happy couple over to the exclusive Metropolitan Club were the bride and groom would party the night away. The music at the party was a mixture of the couple’s favourites. Tommy favoured old-school Motown, while Mariah grooved to the driving beat of seventies disco. None of Mariah’s own music was played at the wedding reception, and at no point did she even consider the idea of singing. This was her day to be young, in love, and happily married, and she was not going to let even the slightest bit of her professional life seep into the proceedings. In between greeting their guests, Mariah and Tommy would hit the dance floor, smiles permanently etched on their faces as they whirled around to such songs as The Dixie Cups’ “Going to the chapel” and Stevie Wonder’s “You and I”. Mariah recalled later, “The whole thing was like a dream. Tommy has a lot of friends who happen to be famous.” After hours of dancing, eating, drinking champagne, and being with friends and family, Mariah and Tommy said their good-byes and were off to a limo that would whisk them to the airport and their extended honeymoon in Hawaii.


chapter 5 - As they were leaving, Mariah realized that she had not thrown the bridal bouquet. She wanted the time-honoured tradition to be special. “When I was leaving the reception it was like one o’clock in the morning, there were a bunch of fans that had waited around. So I thought it’d be nice to throw the bouquet to them. Somebody said that I hit a guy in the head, but that’s totally not true, because I saw a picture of the girl who caught the bouquet.” Inside the Metropolitan Club, the party continued, with celebrities dancing, eating, and having a chance to let their hair down together. Later, the cost of the whole day would be estimated at $500,000. The amount could be seen as sheer indulgence, a lot of money spent unneccessarily. It could also be looked at as something both the bride and the groom could easily afford without the usual scrimping and saving a wedding demands, so why not? The time in Hawaii was a relaxing break from the couple’s hectic working lives. By the time the couple returned from Hawaii, Mariah was emotionally at peace. She was happy and content in her new life as wife. No longer did she have the insecurities surrounding the institution of marriage. She no longer felt, as many of her peers had, that marriage was somehow the end of the road. From where she was standing, marriage to Tommy was only the beginning, and the future looked bright. “When I look back and think about it, it’s so unbelievable,” Mariah gushed to People magazine. “I mean, it really is like Cinderella.” The rumours soon began to fly that Mariah was going to take some time off, and that she and Tommy were trying to have a baby. However, Mariah laughed off that notion in US magazine. “A baby? Not for a long time. I wouldn’t want to be one of those people who gives my child to a nanny to raise.”

Music box 1.4 Bedford Mansion Upon their return to New York, the newlyweds quickly settled into two residences. Since so much of their time was centered in New York City, they wisely decided to take an apartment in the upper west side of Manhattan. But the home that Mariah favoured was the comfortable and spacious estate in Bedford in upstate New York. That home, located in the Hudson River Valley, was very country in tone and appealed to Mariah’s sense of getting away from it all. There was ninety acres of both woodland and mowed pasture, where she could indulge her passion for the outdoors, either in vehicles - a Jeep and an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) - or on one of the four horses in the barn, including Mariah’s favourite palamino, Misty. The horses were among the new additions to Mariah’s menagerie. There were still Ninja and Thompkins (as well as Mariah’s oldest cat, Clarence, brought from her mother’s house) and Princess, but they’d been joined by another Doberman pinscher, Duke, and Jack, a Jack Russell terrier with a passion for water. Near the main house, which stood on a hill overlooking the property and which the couple planned to expand very soon, was the guest lodge, ready for whoever might drop by. Inside the main house, the decor was chic, expensive country, the two main rooms filled with comfortable couches and chairs, and saddles resting in seemingly odd places, on banisters and on the arms of chairs, ready to be carried out and used. And of course, the place was filled with photographs of Mariah and of Tommy. Their life together in the country was quite relaxed and contented. There was only one realm where Tommy was the undisputed king the kitchen. “Tommy is a wonderful cook,” Mariah said happily. “I’m so spoiled by his cooking. I bake when I’m bored, but he’s the chef.” With the remodeling plans, it would be 1995 before Mariah and Tommy would truly be able to live there. The core of the house was old, and they

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the Bedford mansion

wanted the rest to look the same. “We’ve built it from scratch,” she’d tell English Vogue. “I found a picture in a magazine that I liked, and we showed it to the architect, and we just built it from there. It’s supposed to look like a 200-year-old manor house. But it’s brand new. So it was hard to make everything look old. We got the brick from Florida. Took four months to find it. It’s made to look old. You can’t use actual antique brick because it’s too porous.” In the end end, it would be a mix of styles, with domes, rotundas, colonnades, balconies, summerhouses around the grounds, even a clock tower. There would be a full recording studio where Mariah could work whenever she wanted, overlooking the indoor pool, which had the sky painted on the ceiling. There would even be a movie screening room with a chrome bar and a jukebox. It took a long time to complete, and initially didn’t do much for Tommy’s and Mariah’s relationship with the neighbours. “Everyone is complaining,” she said, “the trucks just keep going up and down.” But when it was over, they had what she thought of as “a small castle”. When asked how many rooms were in the house, she had to admit, “I really don’t know, but

Music box since I get asked the question a lot I’ll count them some day. There are not that many actually, they are just big rooms, not so many. I need a lot of space to move.” Mariah would spend many happy hours in the many rooms, when she could find the time. The entire third floor was used by Maraih to store her immense wardrobe, and had a swing installed in an upstairs gazebo, where she often sat to watch sunsets. The mansion had also seven fireplaces, a pistol range, a ballroom, a conservatory, and an outdoor swimming pool. Mariah and Tommy started to built their dreamhouse in 1993 after buying the land for about $2 million two years earlier. After Mariah and Tommy divorced, the mansion was sold for $20 million to financier Nelson Peltz, a longtime Bedford resident who also owned a neighboring 106-acre estate. It remained vacant since the sale, until a fire destroyed it on December 21, 1999. Firefighters said the cause was likely faulty wiring. Neale Albert, a Manhattan lawyer who represented Nelson Peltz, commented, “It was a wonderful house and it was going to be even better. The house was built for just two people, Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola. The Peltzes were turning it into a place for a family.”


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Music box 2. The album 2.1 Introduction Music Box was released on August 31, 1993 in the USA. The lead single “Dreamlover” became Mariah’s most successful single at the time of its release when it topped the USA and Canadian singles charts, and “Without you” became her first to reach number one in the UK and several other countries across Europe. Mariah was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Dreamlover” at the 1994 Grammy Awards, and she received the same nomination for “Hero” at the 1995 Grammy Awards. Music Box is still Mariah’s most successful album to date. Music Box entered the U.S. Billboard 200 at number 2 and ascended to number 1 fifteen weeks after its release, staying at the top for eight non-consecutive weeks. It remained in the top twenty for forty weeks and on the Billboard 200 for 128 weeks (more than two years, and the most for a Mariah album), re-entering the chart three times. The album also reached number one on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and as of 2005 it had sold more than 7.16 million copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan, with an additional 0.74 million sold at BMG Music Clubs. Music Box was the secondbest selling album in the United States in 1994, only behind Ace of Base’s The Sign. In Canada the situation was quite different. Carey’s previous albums had performed well in that country, but despite the success of “Dreamlover” there, Music Box peaked at number five. The album was a large seller elsewhere because of its singles, and it topped the charts in Australia (18 weeks), the Netherlands (12 weeks), Germany (11 weeks), Austria (11 weeks), France (4 weeks), Switzerland (1 week), and the United Kingdom. In the latter it debuted at number 1 (a feat the album didn’t achieve in the USA) where it stayed for one week, returning to the top spot in February 1994, to spend another


chapter 5 - five non-consecutive weeks at number one. With this, it was just the tenth best-selling album of 1993 in the UK, but the third best-selling album of the following year in that country. Additionally, the album became the number-1 selling album of 1994 in many European, Asian, and South American countries. Music Box is Mariah’s most successful album to date worldwide, and by 2005 it had sold approximately 30 million copies worldwide. Music Box yielded Carey’s seventh and eighth USA number 1 singles, “Dreamlover” and “Hero”. One of the first things to strike a listener to Music Box was that Mariah barely touched her infamous upper register. This time around, there was absolutely no reliance on that gimmick to sell her music, and in the brief instance it did occur, it provided a fitting climax to the material. Mariah was relying purely on her singing and her powers of interpretation to make the material work. “It’s not that I’m experimenting with lower notes,” she told US magazine. “I actually think my natural voice is low. My speaking voice is low, you know what I mean? And I’m really comfortable singing in my lower register, I sing from my heart. Whatever the music makes me feel at the time, I go into the studio te sing a song, that’s what it’s going to do. Some people like it, some people don’t. But it’s just a part of my voice and that’s it.” The other immediately noticeable factor was the production. As had been seen previously, Mariah was torn between two things - studio perfection and a raw, “live” sound. She loved to layer backing vocals, and her recordings used mostly synthesizers and drum machines, whereas live, she used real instruments and a large number of backup singers. On Music Box, it seemed af is she’d finally achieved a balance between the two apparently opposite ideals. She brought in a number of other people to sing behind her, and although she continued to make full use of synthesizers and studio technology

Music box (or, to be more precise, Walter did), there was far more space in the overall sound, letting “some air” into the songs, as it were. Evertything appeared much less produced than on Emotions, and most definitely, much, much less produced than on her debut album, which seemed cluttered and overflowing by comparison. Music Box seemed to have less gospel and soul influence than did its predecessors, which was a little surprising, giving its overwhelming presence on MTV Unplugged. Where it did occur, it tended to spring from the backing vocalists, who’d all sung with Mariah before, either on Emotions or on MTV Unplugged. About the only conclusion to be drawn was that Mariah was moving forward in her music, and that, however much she loved both those styles, it was time to progress and change a little. For if Emotions had demonstrated her quick advancement from the material on her debut album, then Music Box stood as a quantum leap forward. Mariah had hinted at her growing sophistication all along, on songs like “Vanishing” and “The wind”, both of which made real use of her singing skill. But on this album, she’d fully fused that ability into every song, not only in her voice, but also in the vocal and instrumental arrangements. And while there was a danger that doing this might remove her somewhat from pop music and put her into a more adult area (which might well have been Columbia’s ultimate intention), the success of the singles appeared to show that she’d been able to retain her old audience, and that the public at large had embraced this “new” Mariah with open arms. Astonishingly, the critcs weren’t happy with this album. They seemed to find it lacking in substance and emotion. In Time, Christopher John Farley called it “perfunctory and almost passionless”, although he did admit “there are some great moments on Music Box. The gospel flavoured ‘Anytime you need a friend’ demonstrates Carey’s vocal power, although


chapter 5 - too fleetingly. And the title is one of Carey’s loveliest songs to date.” But he felt, “One gets the sense that Carey is squandering her chance at greatness.” While many reviewers had taken Mariah to task for her lyrics, generally dismissing them as trite and trivial, the truth was that she had never been afraid to explore her emotions and open her heart in her songs. Never had that been more the case than on Music Box, were the joy was apparent throughout much of the album. Even the sad pieces were full of compassion, however much they were tempered by sorrow. While that could have been expected from someone so deeply in love, it still remained a wonderful message to pass on, when so much that was currently released was either full of anger and hatred (a lot of gangsta rap) or apathy (a lot of the grunge and alternative music of the period). If the mainstream artists chose to accentuate positive values like love and friendship, then all the better for them. At least, judging by their sales, they were striking a chord somewhere. Music Box as a whole had a great deal of power. It was a very personal statement, something the reviewers missed, and that may well have been the biggest piece of growth it demonstrated. Yes, musically it was more sophisticated , and often more subtle, than Mariah’s earlier work. But the words pushed it across the line into art. What the critics dismissed as “hackneyed high-school poetry” really explored matters of faith - faith in love as a reason to carry on and as an inspiration. “Mostly I’m choosing specifically to write lyrics that might inspire someone, because I’ve been blessed with a positive and incredible life,” Mariah said, adding, “I tell my stories in my own way.” Stephen Holden of Rolling Stone wrote about the album, “With a voice that could stop a truck, a husband (Sony Records chief Tommy Mottola) who runs the store and only the hottest songwriting and producing collaborators going

Music box (Walter Afanasieff, C&C Music Factory and Babyface), Mariah Carey is the closest thing to a sure bet in pop music right now. And at 23, she has years to go before having to face a generation gap in taste. Every song on Music Box, an album dominated by huge soaring ballads, has been written and arranged as a potential home run: Imagine and album containing four or five cuts with the commercial aspirations of Whitney Houston’s ‘I will always love you’. One of the likeliest contenders is a remake of Harry Nilsson’s 1972 chart topper, ‘Without you’, in which Carey dips into her lower register and is accompanied by backing singers (including herself) magnified to sound like a mighty gospel chorus. Carey’s singing has undergone some subtle but strategic stylistic shifts. The success of last year’s Unplugged EP, with its hit remake of the Jackson Five ballad ‘I’ll be there’, has encouraged her to try to sound a little more like a wailing street kid and a little less like Houston. The effect is liberating. Some of the songs appear to be strongly influenced by other hits. ‘Hero’, with its message of self-sufficiency, aims for the inspirational grandeur of ‘Greatest love of all’, while ‘Just to hold you once again’ and “All I’ve ever wanted’ chase the tail of ‘I will always love you’. If the album has a weakness, it likes in Carey’s lyrics, which are made up entirely of pop and soul cliches. Music Box would be an exercise in bombast if Carey didn’t infuse these greeting-card sentiments with a sustained passion that enhances the record’s wedding-album feel. Her singing, trimmed of some of the frills that seemed gratuitous in the past, measures up to the forever-and-a-day sentiments and their glittering, gift-wrapped surroundings. In fact, Music Box is so precisely calculated to be a blockbuster that its impact is ultimately a little unnerving.” Ron Wynn from All Music Guide wrote,


chapter 5 - “Mariah Carey has been stung by critical charges that she’s all vocal bombast and no subtlety, soul or shading. Her solution was to make an album in which her celebrated octave-leaping voice would be downplayed and she could demonstrate her ability to sing softly and coolly. Well, she was partly successful. She trimmed the volume on Music Box. Unfortunately, she also cut the energy level. Carey sounds detached on several selections. She scored a couple of huge hits, ‘Hero’ and ‘Dreamlover’, where she did inject some personality and intensity into the leads. Most other times, Carey blended into the background and let the tracks guide her, instead of pushing and exploding through them. It was wise for Carey to display other elements of her approach, but sometimes excessive spirit is preferable to an absence of passion.”

scene from the “Dreamlover” video

2.2 Dreamlover “Dreamlover” was written and produced by Mariah, Dave Hall and Walter Afanasieff. It is built around a sample of The Emotions’ “Blind Alley”, written by David Porter, but uses a Hammond B-3 organ. It was released as the first single from Music Box in the third quarter of 1993, and marked the start of a trend of Mariah to use samples as backbones for the lead singles from her studio albums. Later examples include “Fantasy” (1995), “Honey” (1997) and “Heartbreaker” (1999). The song was nominated

Music box for the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, losing to “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston. It won a BMI Pop Award, as had Mariah’s every USA single other than “I’ll be there”. Mariah had worked on the song with Dave Hall, a record producer who’d recently finished Mary J. Blige’s album. “I loved what Dave was doing at the time,” Mariah told Fred Bronson. “I wanted to do something that had a happy feeling, and that’s really not Dave. It’s very anti what he’s about. So he said, ‘Oh, you want to do that happy stuff? All right, all right.’ He wasn’t into doing it. Then we listened to a lot of loops, and we used the Blind Alley loop and I started singing the melody over it.” The “Blind alley” loop came from an old record, and was so low in the mix it was barely audible. “It was used on a rap record called ‘Ain’t no half-steppin’ by Big Daddy Kane and probably a lot of other things,” Mariah explained. “But it never had this kind of song over it. We built the song from there and I wrote the lyrics and the melody and Dave ended up liking it.” In fact, Hall ended up enjoying his entire time with Mariah. “My experience with Mariah was a good one,” he agreed. “Some artists don’t arrive on time and you sit in the studio waiting. But Mariah was always on time, very on point. She’s a perfectionist. She knew exactly what she wanted to do when we got in the studio. We would lay down some ideas in the morning, and she would go home with it that evening, until the next evening. We would get the hook down that night. She’s pretty quick on that.” Mariah played Tommy the version of “Dreamlover” that she and Hall had concocted. While he liked it, he felt it needed more to be properly commercial, and he approached Walter about lending his talents to the track. “Mariah and Dave did this loop thing, and it was new to us pop producers at that time,” Walter said. “Their version of ‘Dreamlover’ was missing a lot


chapter 5 - of stuff. The spirit of the song was up but it wasn’t hitting hard enough.” Walter’s solution was to rearrange the drums and keyboards, to give it more swing, and more drive. “It put a whole different shade of colors to it.” “Dreamlover” has been one of Mariah’s most popular songs in concert, through 2006 holding a regular slot in all of her tours’ setlists, often near the beginning of the show. Bruce Springsteen sampled “Dreamlover” for his song “Let’s be friends”, from the album The Rising (2002). “Dreamlover” became Mariah’s seventh number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and was easily her biggest hit in the USA at the time. It reached number one in its sixth week (her quickest climb) and spent eight weeks at the top (her longest stay at the time), from September 5 to October 30, 1993. It replaced “Can’t help falling in love” by UB40, and was replaced by Meat Loaf’s “I’d do anything for love (but i won’t do that)”. It spent twenty-six weeks in the top forty and was ranked number three on the Hot 100 1993 year-end charts, making it one of the biggest hits of the year. The song topped eight other Billboard charts, and was Mariah’s first single to be certified platinum by the RIAA. The single was also a success outside the USA, becoming Mariah’s fourth consecutive number-one single in Canada and another top ten hit for her in the United Kingdom and Australia. It was moderately successful across Continental Europe, making the top twenty in most markets, but failed to reach the top forty in France and Germany. The video, directed by Diane Martel, picked up on the song’s summery sheen with its images of Mariah swimming in a pool by a waterfall with her dog Jack, lying in a field of wildflowers, and singing in front of a group of hip-hop dancers. (Mariah commented later that the water was so cold that she refused to swim until Diane dived in first.) The casual feel, almost like clips from home movies edited together, captured the song’s off-

Music box the-shoulder airiness, and its frequent showing on various video-music channels did nothing to hurt the song’s success. “Dreamlover” marked the first time Mariah was given control over remixes of her songs. She enlisted David Morales to create the “Dreamlover (Def Club Mix)”, and it was the first of her remixes to use re-recorded vocals. The success of the remix contributed to Morales’ career as a remixer, aided in bridging the gap between pop and house music, and also started a trend of having renowned remixers create new versions of pop singles. The “Def Club” mix of “Dreamlover” is considered a breakthrough record in the house music industry.

scene from the “Hero” video

2.3 Hero “Hero” was written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff, and released as the second single off Music Box in the fourth quarter of 1993. “Hero” is considered one of Mariah’s signature songs, and she regularly performs it when invited to charity events and closes most concerts with it. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance”, losing to Sheryl Crow’s “All I wanna do”. Curiously, “Hero” wasn’t originally intended as a song for Mariah to sing, let alone as a single. It was meant to be the theme for the movie Hero,


chapter 5 - starring Dustin Hoffman and Geena Davis. “The people over at Epic Records were going to do the soundtrack for the film,” Walter Afanasieff explained to Fred Bronson. “They wanted to have Mariah sing the theme to it, but they didn’t really think they could because at that time you couldn’t get near Mariah to do anything film-wise. So they wanted to try the next best thing, which was to have us write something.” The movie had been screened for Walter, and he’d been advised that Gloria Estefan would probably sing the theme. This happened while he and Mariah were working on Music Box. “I went to New York and we were in the studio and came to a break. I was sitting at the piano and told Mariah about this movie. Within two hours, we had this incredible seed for this song, ‘Hero’. It was never meant for Mariah to sing. In her mind, we were writing a song for Gloria Estefan for this movie. And we went into an area that Mariah really didn’t go into. In her words, it was a bit too schmaltzy or too pop ballady or too old-fashioned as far as melody and lyrics.” The two were still working on the song when Tommy came into the studio to meet Mariah. Hearing a rough take, he asked what it was and they explained it to him. “Are you kidding me?” he replied. “You can’t give this song to this movie. This is too good, Mariah, you have to take this song. You have to do it.” And so, with some lyrical changes, making it very personal, that was what she did. Walter told the Epic soundtrack people that he’d been unable to come up with a song, and the movie’ s theme, “Heart of a hero”, ended up being written, recorded, and produced by Luther Vandross. There were two versions of “Hero”: “a simpler performance on tape and a more difficult one, with Mariah singing out more. But we choose a happy medium. The song really calls for not anything really fancy. But she’s always fighting the forces inside of her because she’s her own devil’s advocate. She wants to do something

Music box that’s so over the top and use her talents and the voice she has. But she also knows she has to restrain herself and do what music really calls for.” Mariah realized the power of this ballad. “One person could say ‘Hero’ is a schmaltzy piece of garbage, but another person can write me a letter and say, ‘I’ve considered committing suicide every day of my life for the last ten years until I heard that song and I realized after all I can be my own hero.’ And that. that’s an unexplainable feeling, like I’ve done something with my life, you know? It meant something to someone.” “Hero” was the subject of one of the most infamous copyright plagiarism cases of all time. Christopher Selletti, a former limo driver for Sly Stone, said that the lyrics were based on a poem that he showed Stone in 1991 (and that he believed Stone had shown to Mariah). Mariah defended herself with entries from her personal lyrics notebook, but the lyrics from the notebook were dated six weeks after the release of the film Hero. The $20 million lawsuit was eventually dismissed, and Selletti was forced to pay a fine to Mariah. Years later Selleti launched a second lawsuit, which was also dismissed, but he has stated that he will try a third time. Around 1995, another claim came from Rhonda Dimmie, who said the music was hers. However, Christopher and Rhonda had never met or even heard of each other. “Hero” became Mariah’s eighth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was her first Christmas number-one on the chart. It reached number one in its tenth week and spent four weeks at the top, from December 19, 1993 to January 15, 1994. It replaced “Again” by Janet Jackson, and was replaced by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting’s “All for love”. It remained in the top forty for twenty-five weeks, with fourteen of those spent in the top ten. It received heavy radio airplay and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It was one of the year’s biggest hits, being


chapter 5 - ranked fifth on the Hot 100 1994 year-end chart. It sold 3 million copies worldwide. “Hero” became a major hit outside the USA, reaching the top ten in the UK (where it peaked higher than “Dreamlover”, the previous single from Music Box) and Australia. It became Mariah’s first number-one in Brazil since her debut single, “Vision of love”, and was a radio hit there. It was more successful across Continental Europe than “Dreamlover” by reaching the top ten in most markets, but it performed moderately in Canada compared to her previous singles. The proceeds from the single were donated to the families of the victims of the shooting on the Long Island Rail Road, a commuter line Mariah knew well. On December 7, 1993, a man had gone on a shooting rampage on an evening train. Mariah had often taken the LIRR in her younger days, when she was still living on Long Island and working with Ben Margulies at Bedworks. As one of Mariah’s signature songs, “Hero” is known for being one of the most frequently performed songs at her concerts next to “Vision of love”. The single’s video, directed by Larry Jordan, is derived from Mariah’s 1993 concert at Proctor Theatre, which became a television special and was later released on the home video “(Here is) Mariah Carey. Mariah also rerecorded the track in Spanish from a translation by Jorge Luis Piloto, and the Spanish language version was included as a B-side on various singles released outside the USA between 1994 and 1997. Parts of “Hero” were incorporated into Mariah’s charity single “Never too far/hero medley” from 2001. One of the most widely seen performances of “Hero” was at the 2005 London Live 8 concert, during which she sang the song with the African Children’s Choir. Later that year a cover of the song by operatic pop vocal group Il Divo was released on their album Ancora. “Hero” is included on Voices from the FIFA World Cup, an album comprising songs featured

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in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. 2.4 Anytime you need a friend “Anytime you need a friend” was written and produced by Mariah and Walter, and released as the album’s fourth and final single in the second quarter of 1994. It is a pop ballad where Mariah could let her voice roam free, and interestingly, when she did so, she again kept clear of her high register, preferring a low, rough growl. Once more, there was a positive message in the words. This song offered the only trace of gospel music on Music Box, even then, it seemed muted and more secular than holy. All of Mariah’s previous singles had been top five hits on the Billboard Hot 100, but “Anytime you need a friend” ended this streak and peaked at number twelve, remaining in the top forty for eighteen weeks. Despite this, it was popular on the radio and was ranked number forty-seven on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts, giving Mariah three singles in the top half of the chart. It was her also unsuccessful on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and did not make the top twenty, but it reached the top five of the Adult Contemporary chart, and a remix of the song became Mariah’s fourth number-one single on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The single performed moderately elsewhere following the massive success of “Without you”, peaking in the top twenty in most countries. It was most successful in the United Kingdom where it made the top ten, becoming the second consecutive single by Mariah to be more successful in the UK than the USA. The single’s video, directed by Danielle Federici, features Carey walking along the streets and among a choir. Shot in black and white, it is intercut with scenes of depressed people whom Carey comes to befriend. “Anytime you need a friend” was remixed by David Cole and Robert Clivillés of the C&C Music Factory. Although over fifteen various edits and

scene from the “Anytime you need a friend” video

extended mixes were created, for the most part they are based on the “C&C Club” mix. Other variations, extended mixes, and edits include but are not limited to the “All that and more” mix, “Dave’s empty pass” mix, and the “Boriqua tribe” mix. Corey Rooney and Mark Morales created a soul convention and a stringapella for the song. Because of the large number of remixes, two maxi singles were released in the USA. Mariah was given co-producing credit for both the C&C mixes and the “Soul convention/stringapella”, the first time that she had been given producing credit on remixes of her songs. A video was commissioned for the “C&C club” mix of the song. Known as the “C&C video edit”, it was also directed by Danielle Federici and serves as a behind the scenes addendum to the main music video. It is filmed in black and white, and is composed of clips of Carey and her friends goofing around and having fun. 2.5 Music box “Music box” is another ballad written and produced by Mariah and Walter. It had a subdued, sighing, contented tone, and such a gentle love song stood tall among Mariah’s compositions. It required a great deal of control to sing properly, to keep the tune’s softness and sweetness without resorting to volume and at

Music box the same time to not go too far the other way and become saccharine. Mariah managed to maintain that delicate balance in a manner that seemed effortless, floating easily above Walter’s keyboards and the shimmer of Michael Landau’s guitars. Lyrically, with its promise of giving and commitment, it had the feel of wedding vows, and the tinkling music-box line played on the synthesizer conveyed the sense of a wedding cake with figures of the bride and groom preched on the top. 2.6 Now that I know “Now that I know” is the first dance song on Music Box, one of the two pieces Mariah cowrote and co-produced with the Clivillés-Cole team. After four mid- and slow-tempo songs, it offered a bright contrast, carried by the rhythm rather than the melody. Chris Nickson thought this song and the other one - “I’ve been thinking about you” - were not as strong as the dance tunes on Emotions, which may have been the ultimate reason why neither song was released as a single. But he didn’t think of them as fillers. Mariah had shown herself to be too much the perfectionist to allow such a thing. Again, the words were positive, of a woman moving from uncertainty about a lover to being sure in her own heart that love was real, which could have been taken as a reflection of her own life. 2.7 Never forget you “Never forget you” is a song written by Mariah and Babyface, and produced by Mariah, Babyface and Daryl Simmons. ”Never forget you” is made poignant because Mariah starts off singing in her lower register as if she had been crying, even more so with the cord change about two-thirds of the way into the song. Often referred to as a song dealing with a breakup, it appears to be more apt to the death of a lover. The song contained a lovely keyboard line that hovered over the verses. Mariah was able to


chapter 5 - indulge her passion for overdubbing her own voice for the backing vocals on the chorus. If any criticism could be leveled at the tune, it was that it slipped by too quickly. In three-quarter, or waltz, time, it had an air of partners gliding around the dance floor in memories. Indeed, the very fact that it wasn’t in four-four, or straight, time made it stand out, and it could quite easily have been a hit single, with an appeal that would easily have transcended generational barriers. “Never forget you” was released as the third single from Music Box in the first quarter of 1994, as a double A-side with a cover of Badfinger’s “Without you”. At the time of the single’s release, Billboard’s rules allowed double-sided singles to chart together as one entry. The single which would pick up most airplay/sales for the respective chart would be listed as the A-side. On the USA pop charts, including the Hot 100, “Without you” was listed as the A-side. The R&B charts were the opposite, with “Never forget you” being listed as the A-side. Unlike “Without you”, no video was commissioned for the song. It reached the top ten on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart primarily because of its sales, and the RIAA certified it gold. Billboard magazine wrote about the song, “While top 40 punters nibble on Carey’s cover of ‘Without you’, urban-ites are urged to dine on this softly rhythmic pop/R&B slow jam, equipped with a deliciously catchy chorus and wonderfully booming instrumentation. Carey’s vocal is sweetly sincere as she ponders a love affair that has come to an end. Another sparkling moment from the diva’s current Music Box opus.” Jermaine Dupri created several R&B remixes of the song, and they are included on its maxisingle release. A radio edit and an extended version take away Babyface’s production on the original version and leave Mariah’s vocals intact over a new, pulsating synthetic R&B rhythm. There was no music video commissioned for the album version or any of the remixes making

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it Mariah’s first commercially released single not to be accompanied by a video. Mariah has never performed this song live. 2.8 Without you “Without you” is a song originally recorded by Badfinger for their album No Dice from 1970, and written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans and produced by Geoff Emerick. Its verse was composed by Pete Ham, originally titled “If it’s love”, but had lacked a strong chorus. Tom Evans had written a chorus without a strong verse, so the duo fused the two sections together. Badfinger’s recording of the song, which is more brusque than its successors’ versions, languished as an obscure album track until it was noticed a year later by Harry Nilsson. In an ironic twist to the lyrics, both Pete Ham and Tom Evans later committed suicide by hanging. “Without you” became a hit single after being covered by Harry Nilsson for his album Nilsson Schmilsson from 1971. It stayed at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, from February 13 to March 11, 1972. The song has been covered by several other artists, including Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, Heart, and Air Supply, before Mariah decided to cover it. Harry Nilsson’s version was considered the definitive version, making Mariah’s decision to cover it a formidable proposition, since Harry’s rendition would be what her interpretation would be measured against. But there was little cause for worry. Mariah’s execution was every bit as strong and tasteful as her work on “I’ll be there”. Mariah co-produced the song with Walter Afanasieff, and the production is based on Harry Nilsson’s version, making it one of her most soft rock-styled productions. It was also one of her most powerful vocal performance in using the mid-note range. From a simple piano opening, the verses remained quite stark, building to the grand swell of the chorus, where a powerful vocal was necessary to overcome the strong melody.

scene from the “Without you” video

Needless to say, that was no problem for Mariah, and the low harmony she used emphasized her head line. The backing vocalists entered close to the end of the song, adding depth and grandeur and allowing Mariah to play the diva, and to let her voice glide around the melody, once more in a low register. “Without you” was released as the album’s third single in the United States on January 24, 1994, just over a week after Harry Nilsson had died of heart failure. In the USA, it was promoted as a double A-side with “Never forget you” and reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the top forty for twenty-one weeks. Both radio airplay and sales were strong, and it was certified gold by the RIAA. It was ranked sixteenth on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts. “Without You” is still Mariah’s biggest hit outside the USA and was largely successful across Europe. It became her first UK numberone single, and still remains her only number one there as a solo artist. It stayed at number one for four weeks and became her third number-one single in Brazil. It was also her first chart-topper in Italy, but was most successful in Switzerland (with ten non-consecutive weeks at number one) and the Netherlands (with five weeks, her second number 1 hit after “I’ll be there”). Thanks

Music box to “Without you”, Music Box would become the best-selling album of 1994 in the Netherlands. The single also topped the singles chart in Germany for four weeks and Austria for eight weeks, where Mariah’s success had previously been limited. It was able to make the top three in Canada, France, Norway and Australia. The single’s video, directed by Larry Jordan, was derived from Mariah’s 1993 concert at Proctor Theatre. However, the ending has been taken form another song, which she also performed at the same concert. 2.9 Just to hold you once again Lyrically, “Just to hold you once again”, a ballad written and produced by Mariah and Walter, was a despairing, confused tale. The singer wondered why the breakup had happened, even as the love refused to leave her heart. It was only natural, with Mariah’s increasing stature as an artist, that she would want to create something that would last, and with dance music becoming dated so quickly, ballads seemed like an obvious choice. 2.10 I’ve been thinking about you “I’ve been thinking about you” was the album’s most fascinating songs, written and produced by Mariah, David Cole and Robert Clivillés. What made it so interesting were the production tricks employed throughout the first verse, where all the instruments except percussion were dropped from the mix behind Mariah’s voice, to reappear very briefly at unusual intervals, an idea adapted from reggae/dub music. It certainly had the effect of catching the listener’s attention and dragging it into the song. As a song, “I’ve been thinking about you” probably stood as the most contemporarysounding piece Mariah had commited to tape. While much of this was due to the production (and largely the rhythm track, at that), a great deal of the arrangements ideas came from


chapter 5 - modern R&B, which in turn had taken its cues from hip-hop. So everything ended up very jerky, with no real flow, or rather the flow seemed interrupted. It was pleasant enough. One of the things that worked against the song was its wordiness, merely fitting in the lines precluded the expression of emotion. How ironic then that out of this track Mariah would see a way ahead that would be expressed more and more over the next few years. 2.11 All I’ve ever wanted “All I’ve ever wanted” was the album’s final track of the American release. Closing with a ballad was good, particularly one as strong as this. The song was vaguely reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you”, but certainly not close enough to lose its own identity. And for an album that had dealt so much with love in such an honest and disarming way, this was an appropiate end. It was a simple love song quite obviously addressed to Tommy Mottola. That the melody was faily basic was irrelevant, it was the words that were important here, echoing the sentiment of the title all the way through. It was a song that might in the future compete with Whitney’s, to be sung at weddings, or at least at receptions. 2.12 Everything fades away “Everything fades away” can only be found on the international releases of Music Box. It was also released as the B-side to the second single, “Hero”. The song was written by Mariah and Walter. The protagonist sings about an ending relationship (”let it all fade away, don’t you know that love is gone, it’s too late”), while her lover wants to hold on (”so hard for me to let you go, don’t leave me standing in the cold, oh darling give me one more chance, I know that we can make it last”). This is the first time one of Mariah’s USA albums misses a song that can be found on

Music box international releases. Rumours are that Tommy Mottola didn’t like the lyrics - obviously, because he just married Mariah - and decided it would be omitted from the American and Canadian releases. Even on the international releases, there are no lyrics of “Everything fades away” in the booklet.


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Music box 3. After the album release 3.1 (Here is) Mariah Carey Behind the scenes, Mariah’s management was looking for new ways to promote their superstar, and in the late summer they negotiated a deal with NBC television for a one-hour special. Mariah warmed to the idea of the traditional variety show, which could have lots of singing, some dancing, and numerous costume changes. It would allow Mariah and her band to rehearse her upcoming concert set in a fairly relaxed atmosphere. It would also give Sony a chance to tape the concert for a video that would be rushed onto the market in time for Christmas. The television special was filmed at the legendary Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, New York, not far from Mariah and Tommy’s new estate, on July 14, 1993. The theater was an ornate, venerable building, and an excellent location for both the set and the cameras, with a stage big enough to accomodate all the participants without seeming overcrowded. From the audience’s viewpoint, the band took up the left side of the stage. To the right stood the backup singers, with the string players behind them. The set, a cityscape, was simple but powerful, with plenty of lights shining both onto the stage and into the auditorium to create effects that would, at times, appear almost surreal. The night of the taping, the theater was packed to the rafters with enthusiastic fans, many of whom carried signs with messages for the singer. Backstage, Mariah was calm and upbeat and with a good reason - she had an escape hatch. Since the show was being filmed for later airing, they could cover up any flaws in the performance with a retake and judicious editing. She was also feeling comfortable because the show’s director, Larry Jordan, had worked with her on a number of videos as well as the MTV Unplugged show. Although it would be one-hour special special, the stop-and-start nature of filming would mean


chapter 5 - many hours of work to complete the project. This would, to her way of thinking, be the closest she would ever come to a perfect performance, and Mariah was pleased with that notion. The lineup was the same one which had backed Mariah on MTV Unplugged. Walter played piano and Hammond organ, and directed the musicians. Vernon Black was on guitar, Randy Jackson on bass, Gigi Conway on drums, and Dan Shea on keyboards. About the only changes were that Ren Klyce was now also playing keyboards, instead of percussion, and Peter Michael had replaced Sammy Figueroa as percussionist. The backup singers had all worked with Mariah before: Cindy Mizelle (her old friend from the days when Mariah was scuffling for session work), Deborah Cooper, Melanie Daniels, and Kelly and Shanrae Price. Strings would be added for some of the numbers, with a base of five players who would be augmented by the Empire State Youth Orchestra. But the orchestra was extra, the icing on the television cake. The others were the ones who’d be taking the show on the road. The television special turned out to be a spirited musical exercise on Mariah’s part. Rather than just trot out her greatest-hits package for the camera, she chose to mix things up with moments of humour and a flamboyant approach to the show. Mariah, who had admitted that she was not much of a dancer, nevertheless found that her band had set up an easy groove to which she could smoothly move around the stage. There were the inevitable breaks between songs as Mariah would disappear for a custome change while stagehands rearranged microphones and set up new backdrops. But despite the mechanical, jerky stop-and-go nature of the filming, Mariah came off as a polished performer who could take command of the stage and move the audience with her songs. She emerged from the filming of the television special confident that she could move from

Music box entertaining the TV audience of a few hundred to the upcoming concert tour at which she would be performing in front of thousands. The special opened with a favourite, “Emotions”. Mariah was dressed in her trademark black (as were all the other participants), in a long, flowing dress that was slit up both sides. Around her neck she wore the heart-shaped pendant that had made its debut in the “Love takes time” video, and on her left hand the huge diamond of her wedding ring caught the light. The musicians swung with the beat, and the kick of a real band put an edge on her singing. Not quite as raw as Mariah’s MTV Unplugged show, her singing was still less polished than on her records, allowing her the freedom to weave around the lines more and to interplay with the backup vocalists, with whom she frequently traded smiles. The sound, it should be noted, was superb. Everything was as clear as a studio recording. After the rapturous reception the song drew, Mariah lowered the energy level by singing “Hero”. Cameras panning across the audience showed many singing along, taking in the full meaning of the lyrics. Sung with the emotion of the moment, the song came across far more strongly in this setting than on Music Box. Whatever accusations had been leveled at Mariah, being a plastic performer who just mouthed the words hadn’t been among them, and here she seemed to consider every line before it came out of her mouth, and to deliver it forcefully. Notably, even live, she used her upper register very sparingly, relying, as on Music Box, on the quality of her voice rather than on any trickery to push her songs across. “Hero” was followed by a costume change, with Mariah appearing next in wide flared black pants, a shiny black tee shirt, and a thin quilted vest. The new clothes brought another tempo change, accelerating the pace again with “Someday”. The band showed their true worth here, injecting some funk under the melody


chapter 5 - and truly kicking it along, projecting the feel of a steamy dance club into Proctor’s Theatre. As the crowd swayed and sang along in time, Mariah prowled from side to side like a lioness, her hair becoming more attractively tousled as she moved. She brought two of the singers out into the spotlight with her, trading voices on the choruses, a very impressive display of vocal power on the part of all three, and letting the voices build as the instruments dropped out, until the song reached its triumphant climax. After this came another ballad, “Without you”, from the newest album. It was an understated version, gathering all the more strength because of it, and was a firm reminder of why Mariah had so often described her music as “vocally driven”. She and the backup singers worked so well together that, with the swell of the chorus rising mightily, the instrumental accompaniment was virtually unnecessary. Even so, as on the recorded version, there was very little gospel feel to it, but rather an emphasis on the lyrics’ huge sense of loss. For “Make it happen”, Mariah began by sitting on the edge of the stage, as hands pressed towards her and faces looked up and sang along. Even with such close personal contact, she seemed quite comfortable, as if the audience’s warmth was given her a boost. But by the first chorus, she was on her feet and moving around the stage, and things began to really loosen up. “Dreamlover” brought the show’s only colour to the stage, in the form of coordinated hiphop dancers with bright tee shirts. By this time, the strings had been cleared away, along with their chairs and music stands, leaving plenty of space. The dancers’ presence at the rear of the stage, ignored by everyone else, seemed a little out of place. By her own admission, Mariah was no dancer, and no one expected to see her moving with them, but the way they were used came across almost as an afterthought, a late concession to a youthful audience. It was a

Music box

Mariah performing “Dreamlover”

shame, because they were good, although they might have been better used on a faster tune, like “Someday”. (Interestingly, the choreography was by Diane Martel, who had also directed the “Dreamlover” video. Obviously, she was a woman of many talents.) Still, it was more that the camera concentrated on the dancers, rather than on the dancing itself, that made them seem intrusive. Had there been some interaction between them and Mariah, however small, then they would have seemed to fit in. But, “Dreamlover” still as bubbling and friendly as a summer’s day, worked. It was one of the best pop tunes of the nineties and quite justifiably Mariah’s biggest hit so far. It transformed the auditorium into a grassy meadow on an August afternoon, as people all over the theater began to smile at the song’s opening notes. Next, after the opening chords of “Love takes time”, the spotlights dramatically caught Mariah at the rear end of the stage - and dramatic was the ideal adjective to describe her reading of the song. With a voice full of wrenching emotion, she truly gave it everything she had. If her version of the tune on Unplugged had seemed low-key, this was quite the opposite. Indeed, for the rest of the show, Mariah seemed to slip into a higher


chapter 5 - gear emotionally to put her material across, and to finish on a metaphoric (if not literal) high note. Musically, this was identical to the recorded version. What gave the song its kick was Mariah’s performance. Contrasting this (and later “Vision of love”) with the original hit, Mariah’s growth over three years was quite apparent. The younger Mariah had belted the songs out, it seemed. They attacked you. The more mature woman, even with more emotion, sang with far more subtlety. She still remained the excitement, but had tempered it with experience and control, a guaranteed winning combination. Another costume change brought Mariah back for the show’s final segment. She reappeared this time in a long, tight, sleeveless black dress with a high neck, slit on the side to make movement easier. “Anytime you need a friend”, the fourth song performed from Music Box, was arranged to pay homage to Mariah’s love of gospel music. The Refreshing Springs Church Choir took up the stage behind Mariah, who performed on a stool. In their white robes, the choir members offset the other performers, and with the five backup singers, they formed a huge wall of vocal sound, which was used to good effect. However, Mariah was still able to wail over the assembled voices, and she proved that gospel still had a strong place in her heart. The last song of the evening, “Vision of love”, was greeted passionately by the crowd, who seemed intent on weighing her down with bouquets of roses, offerings she gathered from their hands as she sang. There was a cocky edge to her performance. However, it wasn’t dismissive of the tune - quite the opposite. Mariah treated it more like an old friend who didn’t need to be handled gently. As a climax to the show, it was perfect. It had been around long enough to have been heard and recognized by a great many people. The lyrics focused on positive sentiments, on looking ahead, and its tempo was faster than much of the material Mariah had

Music box performed during the evening. But more than anything, it left everyone wanting more, the very best thing anyone onstage can ask for. This concert aired on November 25, 1993 and received rave reviews and monster rating. It was interesting that NBC chose to air the special on Thanksgiving, for it meant that the company anticipated very strong ratings for the show. The holiday is traditionally a time for families to be together, so programs with the highest ratings tend to be those which appeal to more than one sex or age group. In other words, NBC was banking on Mariah being considered vital viewing by not only the kids, but also moms and dads and grandparents. It was a sure sign that Mariah was being seen as a true entertainer, not just a pop singer. A video was released in late 1993, known as Here Is Mariah Carey or simply as Mariah Carey, and a DVD followed on September 12, 2006. The release includes additional behindthe-scene footage and a bonus music video of “Dreamlover”. In addition to the performances, a pre-recorded duet of “I’ll be there” with Trey Lorenz was shown, performed on the theater’s stage for a group of inner-city children sponsored by New York City’s Police Athelic League, a charity with which Mariah had become involved. Mariah and the other performers were all

scene from the home video (Here Is) Mariah Carey


chapter 5 - casually dressed, and the moment captured a version of the tune that, while obviously well rehearsed, still had the spark of spontaneity. The kids loved it, gazing in frank adoration at Mariah, oblivious to the cameras filming their reactions. It was a special moment. 3.2 Touring After Music Box was finished, Mariah was ready for something new. She decided it was time to tour. Going on tour for the first time was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. By the time she was putting the finishing touches on Music Box, plans for Mariah to go live were already in the works. In 1992, she had said to Stephen Holden in the New York Times, “I’m not into performing. If I toured, I wouldn’t have had another album out for at least another year. It’s so hard on my voice. When I go out there, people don’t want to hear me breeze through the songs. They want to hear every note.” So the announcement of the venture came as something of a surprise, albeit a very pleasant and welcome one. What had changed her mind? It was never revealed, but one theory was that after nearly four years of nonstop studio work, she was getting cabin fever. Another was that Mariah was curious about how her music would sound in a huge concert venue in front of thousands of fans. But the consensus of those around Mariah was that her surprising ease in front of an audience during the taping of her Unplugged show as well as the increasing lack of nerves in her handful of television and awardshow appearances over the past two years had finally given her the confidence to test the waters in performance. “I’m jittery, but I’m very excited about it,” Mariah admitted. “I didn’t start out performing in clubs like most people do, so it’s very new to me. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to keep it separate. I definitely wasn’t ready before, although I’d done it a few times. I was thrust out into the public in front of millions of people, like

Music box when I sang at the Grammys in front of every star in the music industry. And that’s crazy.” Tommy was thrilled at Mariah’s change of heart. From a creative as well as financial point of view, touring was important to the longevity of her career and her continued popularity. But Mariah made it clear that she was not ready for the physical and emotional demands of an extensive tour that would last for months. To her way of thinking, a dozen dates would be stretching her endurance - six shows, she reasoned, would be much more manageable. And so, Sony set about dealing with a number of promoters who were falling over themselves to be a part of Mariah’s first tour. It would not be an extensive one, totaling just six dates in Miami, Florida (November 3, 1993), Worcester, Massachusetts (November 9, 1993), Rosemont, Illinois (November 17, 1993), Los Angeles (November 23, 1993), Philadelphia (December 2, 1993), and New York City (December 10, 1993). The shows would not be on consecutive nights in order to give Mariah the chance to rest up and retool between performances. She immediately began an extensive round of rehearsals after recruiting a stellar cast of musicians. She worked out the kinks - known as “wood-shedding” in the biz - in the studio, crafting a strong live set that she would feel comfortable taking on the road and that would have the biggest impact. It was a given that Mariah’s first concert tour would be made up primarily of her best-known songs, the radio-friendly hits that had paved her way to the top. But she was eagerly looking forward to the prospect of slipping in a handful of songs that had not made the commercial cut but that she considered worthy of public exposure. However, word of Mariah’s tour did not result in a mad rush for tickets, and there was some apprehension when it didn’t sell out overnight. But sales were steady and almost all the shows sold out within a couple of weeks. Mariah’s energy level was high as she made the final


chapter 5 - preparations for the tour. She was confident that she was up to the task, but only time would tell if she was right. The first stop on Mariah’s exploratory minitour was Miami Arena, a huge concrete hall, not exactly the best place to hear music of any kind. The size and construction of the building obliterates any kind of subtlety. Only 10,000 of the 16,000 seats had been sold. The record execs were worried by the fact that her first show was not completely sold out, but Mariah put a positive spin on things, saying that she preferred it this way because it made the show feel more intimate. She was encouraged by the fact that rather than a largely teen audience, which was her preceived fan base, the Miami show attracted many young couples. As Mariah prepared to take the stage, the first-night jitters she had experienced in the past returned. “I was OK until I had to walk up this big ramp to the stage,” she recalled in a Q magazine interview, “and I heard this deafening scream and it was kinda like everything in my life, this whole incredible whirlwind I’d been going through, it had all been leading up to that insane moment and there I was. That was so intense.” The stage set was elaborate, described by Sandra Schulman in Billboard as looking “oddly like an industrial church”. But it was used largely as a backdrop, despite the platforms that were there. The main effect was the lighting, pinpointing the performers and also shining and sweeping into the crowd. Needless to say, the band and backing singers were all in black, as was Mariah herself, even through all the custome changes, which had her wearing a leather jacket, then a bodysuit, and finally a gorgeous gown with a glittering necklace that she put on for the encore. As on the special, what colour came onto the stage was courtesy of the choir and the dancers. The show on November 3, 1993 lasted seventy-five minutes and it was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with both high and low points

Music box for the singer. On the plus side, Mariah was comfortable when she was singing, and the audience was treated to a spirited mixture of her hits as well as a variety of album cuts and the odd cover tunes. She sang all her hits, and added another cover song, a soul hit from the mid-eighties by the SOS Band, “Just be good to me”. The audience saw a confident Mariah whose voice and songs struck an emotional chord with the appreciative fans in attendance. Mariah was in command of the stage, moving from side to side and acknowledging the fans while doing a variety of subtle moves. But then the rollercoaster dipped and there was the downside of the performance. When she was not singing, Mariah looked like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Her nervousness was betrayed by the forced between-song patter that she kept to a bare minimum and seemed anything but natural. One of the reviews said, “Carey seemed to shrink during between-song patter. Opening night jitters led her to repeat ‘Thank you’ and ‘I’m so happy to be here’ more often than seemed natural.” However, by the time Mariah stepped out for the final encore of the evening, she felt that the audience was in her corner. She believed they knew that this was her first big live show and were supportive. “I think I sang well in Miami,” she would relate to the Los Angeles Times after the tour was over. “I did the best show that I could.” But as she climbed into her limo and drove back to her hotel following the concert, Mariah knew that the critics would not be as kind as her fans. Her premonition was correct, Miami was a critical disaster. Mariah would later recall that the reviewers, both local and national, had ripped her opening-night performance to shreds. And Mariah had to admit that by her own standards the Florida show was shaky. But the true impact of her first live concert hit her the hardest that night in her hotel room when she was lying on her bed watching CNN. The entertainment reporter


chapter 5 - rattled off a litany of negative comments about the performance. For Mariah, it was the worst kind of slap in the face and her worst nightmare come true. “They killed me. Not the audience they knew it was my first show, they were very supportive. I got really bad reviews, though. Well, there were a lot of critics out to get me: this girl’s sold all these albums, she’s never toured, let’s get her. So they did. I turned on the TV in bed that night and the CNN guy was saying, ‘The reviews are in and it’s bad news for Mariah Carey.’ It really hurt me a lot.” Billboard looked at the Miami show quite fairly. The magazine found much to praise and very little to fault in Mariah’s performance. The reviewer’s only advice was that “the concert seemed to be a bit too much too soon. A smaller venue with a more intimate setting would have shown off Carey’s presence and ability to better advantage.” With all the negative reviews, Mariah’s confidence was shattered. She was upset, angry, and the worst part of all was that she would have a whole week to brood over the slights before her next scheduled concert. During those days, Mariah overcame everything but her anger. In a highly defensive posture, she lashed out, saying that she knew the critics had been waiting for an opportunity to get her, and that their attacks were part of a backlash against her. But once she calmed down, she decided that the best defense would be a good offense. She told Q magazine, “The next show I did, in Worcester, Massachusetts, I put all my anger into it, let go all my inhibitions and just lost myself in performing. Not like this is what matters to me, but the reviews were raves.” The November 9 show in The Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts was sold out. And despite being the second stop on her tour, a crowd of 11,046 was rewarded with Mariah’s unofficial coming-out party. That night, Mariah sang like she was hungry for the spotlight and the attention. Her voice echoed through the arena

Music box with a power and a passion that immediately pushed her performance to new heights. The insecurities that had marred the Miami show had disappeared, and in their stead stood the image of Mariah Carey as a masterful, confident live performer. The Boston Globe called it “a spectacular performance which bowled over the crowd with a confidence that grew before their very eyes,” after Mariah “shook off her nervousness at the start.” Eight days later, she would prove that the Worcester show was no fluke when she wowed another sold-out audience at Rosemont Horizon in Illinois with a forming persona. Once more, it was a sellout, with 9,438 fans crammed into the theater. Happily, she could no longer be dismissed as the “studio creation” who had “lucked into” or “married into” a career. In the eyes of the public and critics, Mariah was a legitimate all-around performer who could walk the walk and sing a mean song. On November 23, 1993, Mariah performed live at the Uninversal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Chris Nickson in his biography “Mariah Carey revisted” and Marc Shapiro in his biography “Mariah Carey” both only mention five concerts, forgetting about this concert. But this concert was released as a bootleg in 1994, called “One night in L.A.” The tour continued in early December, with the final two shows at The Spectrum in Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden in New York. Philadelphia was a sellout, over 12,000 people filled the Spectrum to see Mariah. Trey Lorenz was the opening act. Madison Square Garden did not sell out. Taking up 96 percent of the buidling’s capacity, 15,050 people paid from $28.50 to $37.50 to spend an evening with Mariah. In those shows, Mariah showed a definite sexy “uptown” performing style to match the strength and range of her voice and the lyrical power of her songs. For “Just be good to me”, Mariah wore in New


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Mariah performs at Madison Square Garden

York a black leather cap of the type associated with seventies discos. When the song ended, she took the cap from her head and tried to fling it into the audience. Unfortunately, it somehow ended up behind her, which amused not only the crowd, but cracked up everyone on stage - including Mariah. She picked the cap up, commented on how weak a future she had in professional sports, and tried again. This time she succeeded, and the people loved it. On a more somber note, the concert came just a few days after the tragic shootings on the Long Island Rail Road. Mariah had already announced that the profits from “Hero” would be donated to a fund set up to help the victims’ families. Now she dedicated the song to those victims. But the concert couldn’t end in such a serious vein. She needed to lighten up, and for the final number, that was exactly what she did. It was December, Christmas was in the air, and Mariah wasn’t going to let anyone forget it. “I was going to sing ‘Santa Claus is comin’ to town’. I had a red dress, a sort of Jessica Rabbit dress. And I had five people backstage, and they couldn’t zip it up. The band was vamping the intro. Four times. The crowd was yelling. And I’m behind a tiny little curtain with five people going, ‘You guys better get that up! Right now! Do it, you

Music box

Mariah performs “Santa Claus is comin’ to town”

guys!’ And though it’s not totally me personality, I became like the world’s biggest bitch. Meanwhile fake snow was falling and the band is vamping and the crowd is screaming and finally they say, ‘You better go right now, Mariah!’ So I said, ‘I hate all of you’, and I ran out. I’m out there singing, waving my arms and everything, in this sexy, lowcut dress and I made it through.” Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote on December 13, 1993, “If Ms. Carey was nervous, it didn’t show. Smiling and strutting across the stage, moving easily to the music without obvious choreography, she combined the assurance of an arena-scale pop performer with the casualness of a suburban girl-next-door.” He continued with “Ms. Carey’s concert was about mastery, not innovation. It followed arenapop conventions, with costume changes (all black until a red evening dress for the Christmas encore), a number sung seated at the edge of the stage, and cues for audience participation. Her co-producer, Walter Afanasieff, played keyboards in her band. A gospel choir appeared for a few songs, and male dancers arrived for uptempo tunes. Wisely, Ms. Carey didn’t join the chorus line, treating the concert more as a


chapter 5 - vocal showcase than as a spectacle. Her songs also follow conventions: big-build ballad (’I don’t wanna cry’), girl-group update (’Dreamlover’), uplifting pop-gospel homily (’Make it happen’), dance workout (’Emotions’). But they are goodnatured, catchy vehicles for vocal display. Beyond any doubt, Ms. Carey’s voice is no studio concoction. Her range extends from a rich, husky alto to dog-whistle high notes; she can linger over sensual turns, growl with playful confidence, syncopate like a scat singer. Although rock concerts aren’t known for precise intonation, she sang with startlingly exact pitch. She has soaked up ideas from gospel, soul, rock, jazz and pop singers, particularly the melismas of singers from Barbra Streisand to Aretha Franklin to Minnie Riperton to Thelma Houston. In some songs, Ms. Carey could challenge the world record for notes packed into a single syllable. On albums, Ms. Carey’s singing often sounds narcissistic, as if she has to cram every phrase with virtuosity. On an arena stage, however, her flamboyance was just right, especially because Ms. Carey didn’t overdo it. Most songs were strategically plotted as arcs: introductory wordless ooh’s, slow and sultry opening verses, then a gradual climb to rippling gospel phrases and those ultra-high notes, followed by time to taper off. When Ms. Carey sang remakes of 1970’s hits, like ‘Without you’ or ‘I’ll be there’ (a duet with Trey Lorenz, who also appeared with her on MTV Unplugged), she mimicked enough of the original to make a connection, then set off her own fireworks. For all Ms. Carey’s skill and discipline, her concert wasn’t a display of cold perfectionism. After singing the S.O.S. Band’s ‘Just be good to me’, Ms. Carey went to toss her disco-nostalgia leather hat into the audience, and accidentally flung it backward on stage instead. She retrieved it, joked about her dim prospects in sports, and hurled it forward as planned. The crowd was happy, its polished pop idol wasn’t afraid to look

Music box human.” The overall the impression was, especially framed by the opening night, that most critics gave negative reviews to the the Music Box Tour. As a result, Mariah would avoid North America on her next two tours, the 1996 Daydream World Tour and the 1998 Butterfly World Tour, and would not tour the continental United States again until seven years later during the 2000 Rainbow World Tour.

Mariah recording “Endless love”

3.3 Endless love After “Anytime you need a friend”, Mariah didn’t stay away from the singles chart for too long. She returned, accompanying Luther Vandross in a duet, a remake of the song “Endless love”. “Endless love” is a song originally recorded as a duet between soul singer Diana Ross and pop singer Lionel Richie, who wrote the song. In this ballad, the singers declare their “endless love” for one another. The song for the Motown label, and it was used as the theme for the film Endless Love starring Brooke Shields. Produced by Lionel Richie, it was released as a single from the film’s soundtrack in 1981. While the film was a failure, the song became the biggest-selling single of the year in the USA and landed at number one on Billboard magazine’s Pop chart, where it stayed for nine weeks from August 9 to


chapter 5 - October 10, 1981. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart and the Adult Contemporary chart, and sold more than 2 million copies. The soulful composition became the biggestselling single of Diana Ross’ career, while it was one of several hits forLionel Richie as the 1980s progressed. Diana recorded a solo version of the song for her first RCA Records album, Why Do Fools Fall in Love?, but the famous version was her last hit on Motown. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Original Song” for Lionel, and was the second song with which Diana was involved that was nominated for an Oscar. It also won a 1982 American Music Award for “Favorite Pop/Rock Single”. Walter Afanasieff produced Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey’s cover of the song for Luther’s Epic Records-released album Songs, and it is known for being Mariah’s first “high-profile” duet (an earlier duet, “I’ll be there”, was with the thenunknown background singer Trey Lorenz). At the 1995 Grammy Awards, the song was nominated in the new category of “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals”, losing to “Funny how time slips away” by Al Green and Lyle Lovett. Columbia Records later included the song on Mariah’s compilation album Greatest Hits (2001). In their cover version of the song, Mariah and Luther sing more powerful and more emotional then the original version of the song. It was released as the second single from Songs in 1994 and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Luther’s fifth top ten single and Mariah’s twelfth. It was the highest peaking song of Luther’s career in the USA, remaining in the top forty for thirteen weeks, and was ranked number fifty-six on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts. It was also an improvement over Mariah’s previous single, “Anytime you need a friend”, which had missed the top ten. It was certified gold by the RIAA and reached the top five in the UK and Australia. Two videos were released for the single: one features Carey and Vandross

Music box recording the song in a studio, and the other shows the two performing the song live at Royal Albert Hall. Some versions of the song itself were released, in which Mariah or Luther sings solo.


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Merry Christmas 1. The album 1.1 Introduction Mariah’s first Christmas with Tommy as husband and wife continued the fairy-tale nature of their relationship with gifts, good cheer, and some quiet times. In fact, Mariah was so caught up in the Christmas that unbeknownst to any but a close circle of friends, she ended the year in the recording studio with Walter Afanasieff recording a soulful version of “Silent night”. It was the first song for a Christmas album of traditional carols and brand-new tunes that Mariah hoped to have out in time for Christmas 1994. A Christmas album might have seemed an odd choice for a woman who’d become the bestselling female artist of the nineties, but to Mariah it made perfect sense. “I’m a very festive person and I love the holidays,” she explained. “I’ve sung Christmas songs since I was a little girl. I used to go Christmas caroling. The first song I did was ‘Silent night’. The decorations didn’t seem too out of place in the room at that point, and it didn’t seem too strange to be singing Christmas music.” As time passed, and the seasons turned into

Mariah at the launch of Merry Christmas


chapter 6 - spring and summer, it became “kind of like the Christmas that never ended”, with decorations still hanging in the studio for atmosphere. Mariah and Walter wrote and recorded the original Christmas tunes “All I want for Christmas is you”, “Jesus born on this day”, and “Miss you most (at Christmas time)”, as well as mellow versions of the time-honoured classics “O holy night” and “Joy to the world”. Recorded at Sony Studios and the Hit Factory in New York, the album Merry Christmas used many of the musicians who’d worked with Mariah in the past. Needless to say, Walter Afanasieff played a major role, co-producing and co-arranging the majority of the record’s tracks, and playing keyboards. But Melanie Daniels, Shanrae Price, and Kelly Price also returned to sing background vocals. And there was also Loris Holland, whom Mariah asked in. “He co-arranged and co-produced some of the songs,” she said, “and that added a really authentic gospel flavor to a lot of the stuff.” Mariah had never hidden her feelings about (and her gratitude to) God, although she’d never pushed them on her audience. But the reverence in her heart was allowed to shine through in a gentle way on Merry Christmas. Most songs were religious, and quite unashamedly so, which was certainly appropriate and perhaps even praiseworthy, given the way commerciality had overtaken the season. But there was no danger of the album becoming too serious though, with tracks like “Santa Claus is comin’ to town” and a playful cover of “Christmas (baby please come home)”. Shortly before its release on November 1, 1994, the album was heralded by a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, and Billboard magazine lifted the veil on the secret of Mariah’s Christmas present. It was an interesting, if ultimately slight effort. As Christmas albums go, Mariah’s mixture of classics and originals was head-and-shoulders above most of those released by established artists that year.

Merry Christmas All of the songs benefited from Mariah’s soulful vocals and from crisp arrangements. This feelgood album would become a perennial on radio stations for many Christmases to come. As Mariah told Larry Flick in CD Review, “You have to have a nice balance between standard Christian hymns and fun songs. It was definitely a priority for me to write at least a few new songs, but for the most part people really want to hear the standards at Christmas, no matter how good a new song is.” The result was a collection that maybe more than any other showed her gospel roots. “Sometimes, when I’m singing gospel,” she said, “everything seems to be right. I’m not thinking I don’t know how I’m going to sing the next line because I’m letting go. There’s an uplifting spiritual moment where the voices connect with the music and what I’m feeling. It comes from somewhere else.” Merry Christmas debuted at number thirty on the Billboard 200 with 45,000 copies sold in its first week. It peaked at number three in its fifth week with 208,000 copies, but its sixth week (when it was at number six) was its most successful week of sales, with 500,000 copies sold. It remained in the top twenty for eight weeks and on the Billboard 200 for just thirteen weeks, but it had re-entered the chart three times. It peaked at number 149 the first re-entry, at 115 the second and at 61 the third. In total it has spent a total of twenty-seven weeks on the Billboard 200. As of 2005 the album had sold almost 5 million copies in the United States, and over 16,5 million copies worldwide. It has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA. On October 25, 2005, Sony re-released Merry Christmas. The anniversary edition was a DualDisc CD consisting of the original album with exclusive videos and two additional tracks, including “Santa Claus is comin’ to town” (anniversary mix, remixed by Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox, which


chapter 6 - was included as a CD single with the DVD of the 1970s film Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town). Merry Christmas re-entered the Billboard Top Comprehensive Albums chart at number 136 and peaked at number one on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Catalog Albums chart. On multiple occasions following its original release, the album has reached number one on Billboard’s Top Comprehensive Albums and Top Holiday Albums charts. As of December 2005, its run on the former has lasted eighty weeks, and on the latter 130 weeks. Not all critics were positive about the album. Roch Parisien fromAll Music Guide called “O holy night” pretensions to high opera and “Joy to the world” a horrid danceclub take. But he was positive about “All I want for Christmas is you”, calling it “a well-crafted Phil Spector tribute, with Beach Boys-style harmonies, jangling bells, and sleigh-ride pace, injecting one of the few bits of exuberant fun in this otherwise vanilla set.” 1.2 Silent night The original lyrics of the song “Stille nacht” were written in German by the priest Father Josef Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz X. Gruber. The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber’s original. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain. The carol was first performed in the NicolaKirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria on December 25, 1818. Mohr had composed the words much earlier, in 1816, but on Christmas Eve brought them to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the church service. In his written account regarding the composition of the carol, Gruber gives no mention of the specific inspiration for creating the song. According to the song’s history provided by Austria’s Silent Night Society, one supposition

Merry Christmas is that the church organ was no longer working so that Mohr and Gruber therefore created a song for accompaniment by guitar. Silent Night historian, Renate Ebeling-Winkler says that the first mention of a broken organ was in a book published in the U.S. in 1909. Some historians believe that Mohr simply wanted a new Christmas carol that he could play on his guitar. The Silent Night Society says that there are “many romantic stories and legends” that add their own anecdotal details to the known facts. The original manuscript has been lost, however a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr’s handwriting and dated by researchers at ca. 1820. It shows that Mohr wrote the words in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria, and shows that the music was composed by Gruber in 1818. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr’s handwriting. Gruber’s composition was influenced by the musical tradition of his rural domicile. The melody of “Silent night” bears resemblance to aspects of Austrian folk music and yodelling. Another popular story claims that the carol, once performed, was promptly forgotten until an organ repairman found the manuscript in 1825 and revived it. However, Gruber published various arrangements of it throughout his lifetime and we now have the Mohr arrangement (ca. 1820) that is kept at the Carolino Augusteum Museum in Salzburg. It is believed that the carol has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects around the world, and it is one of the most popular carols of all time. It is sometimes sung without musical accompaniment. Although written by Catholics, it is given special significance in Lutheranism. The most well-known English translation of the carol is by Reverend John Freeman Young, who served as the second Episcopal bishop of Florida. “Silent night” is a true Christmas carol.


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scene from the “All I want for Christmas is you” video

1.3 All I want for Christmas is you “All I want for Christmas is you” is a song written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff. Its protagonist declares that she doesn’t care about Christmas presents or lights, all she wants for Christmas is to be with her lover. It is unrelated to the 1989 Christmas hit single by novelty act Vince Vance and the Valiants. It was released as the album’s first single in December 1994 and reached the top ten in several non-USA countries, and it is one of the most commercially successful Christmas singles of the modern era. According to The New Yorker, it is “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon”. Despite the success and acclaim it has achieved in a relatively short time period, it is an original song written by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff. It has been covered by singers such as Shania Twain and Samantha Mumba, bands such as My Chemical Romance, and girl group The Cheetah Girls. It was performed by Olivia Olson in the film Love Actually (2003). By late 2006, it had become the best-selling holiday ring tone of all time in the U.S. There are three (technically four) music videos for “All I want for Christmas is you”. The first and most commonly seen is a home video that shows Mariah celebrating Christmas with snow, presents, and loved ones. Mariah’s

Merry Christmas then-husband, Tommy Mottola, makes a cameo appearance as Santa Claus. In the other video, inspired by Nancy Sinatra, Carey dances around in a 1960s-influenced studio surrounded by go go dancers. For a 1960s look, the video was filmed in black and white. An alternate edit of the black and white video appeared on the 2005 DualDisc re-release of Merry Christmas. In this version, some of the clips are replaced by alternate takes of the performance. It is not clear whether the inclusion of this obvious rough-cut version on the DualDisc was an error. When the song was first released as a single, no remixes were commissioned. Mariah re-released the song commercially in Japan in 2000, with a new remix known as the “So So Def” remix. The song features new vocals and is played over a harder, more urban beat complete with rap and spoken parts by Jermaine Dupri and Lil’ Bow Wow, respectively. The remix is featured on the compilation album Greatest Hits (2001) as a bonus track. A video was created for the remix, but it does not feature Mariah or the rappers and is animated instead. The style of the animation is based on a scene in the video for Mariah’s “Heartbreaker” (1999). Besides cartoon cameo appearances by Mariah, Jermaine Dupri, and Lil’ Bow Wow, the video also features cameos from Luis Miguel (Mariah’s boyfriend at the time), her dog (Jack), and Santa Claus. The music video director is credited as “Kris Kringle”. Because of Billboard magazine rules at the time, the song did not chart on the Hot 100 during its original release because a commercial single was not issued. It was popular on USA radio and peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart, and was also a big hit elsewhere. It reached number two in the United Kingdom for three weeks and has been certified for selling over 400,000 copies there, losing out to East 17’s “Stay another day” for that year’s Christmas number-one single. The single also peaked at number two in Australia and Japan, where it


chapter 6 - was used as the theme song to the drama 29-sai no Christmas, and was titled “Koibito-tachi no Christmas”. It sold 1.1 million units in Japan, and remains her best-selling single there. In 2000 the song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number eighty-three for one week. This was because after 1999, singles were capable of charting on the Hot 100 without a commercial release and the song had received enough radio airplay to appear on the chart. Billboard magazine has since added restrictions to Christmas songs, but with the growth of allholiday-music formats in the USA, the song is played on the radio at the end of every year. Although the song is ineligible for the Hot 100, it peaked high on the Hot Digital Tracks chart during the 2003 and 2004 Christmas seasons. In 2005 it rapidly ascended to number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Recurrents chart (for songs no longer eligible for the Hot 100), giving it a new peak. During the same period it became Mariah’s first number-one single on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart, on which it reappeared in 2006. It is noted by Billboard that, if eligible, “All I want for Christmas is you” would have entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 6 that year, eclipsing its previous Hot 100 Airplay peak of number 12. In December 2006, “All I want for Christmas is you” became the first holiday ring tone to receive a gold certification from the RIAA for sales of over 500,000. 1.4 O holy night “O holy night” (”Cantique de Noël”) is a wellknown Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), an accomplished amateur. Cappeau was asked to write a Christmas poem by a parish priest. It has become a standard modern carol for solo performance with an operatic finish. In the carol, the singer recalls the birth of Jesus. It was translated into English by Unitarian

Merry Christmas

scene from the “O holy night” video

minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight’s Journal of Music in 1855, and lyrics also exist in other languages. On 24 December 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian inventor, broadcast the first AM radio programme, which included him playing “O holy night” on the violin. The carol therefore appears to have been the first piece of music to be broadcast on radio. Known for its difficulty, the carol has been recorded by various artists. Mariah’s version was first only released as a promo in the USA in November 1996. Four years later, a live version, called “O holy night 2000”, was released on the Japanese CD-Single “All I want for Christmas is you 2000”. A new video for “O holy night 2000” debuted on the Canadian television channel Much Music. The video features new vocals, including some high notes. In the video Mariah is wearing a long velvet maroon dress, while she is singing in a candle-lit church with a choir. 1.5 Christmas (baby please come home) “Christmas (baby please come home)” is a song by Darlene Love from the 1963 Christmas compilation album, A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. The song was written by


chapter 6 - Phil Spector, along with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, with the intentions of being sung by Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes. According to Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector was not able to put as much emotion into the song as needed, so Darlene was brought into the studio to record the song instead, which eventually became a big success. Darlene Love has performed the song on the final new episode of the Late Show with David Letterman before Christmas every year, since 1986 (previous to 1994, the performances were on NBC). The song is always performed with the Late Show’s house band, the CBS Orchestra, augmented by additional strings and other instruments, as well as a full choir. The song was not widely recognized after its initial release. However, it has since been covered many times by different artists over the years. The first cover was recorded by U2 in July 1987 during a soundcheck at a stop during their Joshua Tree Tour in Glasgow, Scotland. Darlene Love provided backing vocals for U2, and the song was eventually released on the A Very Special Christmas compilation album in 1987, and later on the Unreleased & Rare album on “The Complete U2” digital box set in 2004. Other artists have also covered the song on their respective albums, including Jon Bon Jovi, Cher, Hanson, and Brenda K. Starr. Mariah obviously loved the song, and while she and Walter didn’t try to reproduce Spector’s trademark “wall of sound” technique, they did have fun with the style. 1.6 Miss you most (at Christmas time) “Miss you most (at Christmas time)” was one of the three new compositions on Merry Christmas. It was a sad ballad, very much in line with the work Mariah had produced in the past, the type of tune that had provided most of her hits. Over keyboards and a synthesized orchestra, courtesy of Walter Afanasieff, Mariah sang of a long-gone

Merry Christmas

scene from the “Miss you most” video

lover, crystallizing the way that Christmas brought memories of the past into focus. 1.7 Joy to the world “Joy to the world” is one of the best-known and best-loved of Christmas carols. It contains a message of joy and love replacing sin and sorrow. It may also be interpreted to be about life after the second coming of Christ. The hymn is significant for its widespread use throughout Christian denominations and for the musical stature of the people who created it. The scripture-based words are by Isaac Watts. The music was adapted and arranged by Lowell Mason from an older melody which was then believed to have originated from Handel; not least because the theme of the refrain (”And heaven and nature sing...”) appears in the orchestra opening and accompaniment of the recitative “Comfort ye” from Handel’s Messiah, and the first four notes match the beginning of the choruses “Lift up your heads” and “Glory to God” from the same oratorio. However, Handel did not compose the entire tune. One of the most well known recordings of “Joy to the world” is an instrumental version by conductor Percy Faith. First recorded in 1954 on his Music Of Christmas LP, it was rerecorded in stereo in 1959. John Rutter arranged


chapter 6 - the carol in the style of Handel and recorded this arrangement twice with the Cambridge Singers, for their Christmas albums Christmas Star (1983) and Christmas with the Cambridge Singers (1989). Hoyt Axton also wrote a song named “Joy to the world”. It was made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song is also popularly known by its incipit, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”. The words are nonsensical. Axton wanted to convince his record producers to record a new melody he had written and the producers asked him to sing any words to the tune. Three Dog Night’s version went to number one on the pop music charts in February 1971, and was on the band’s album Naturally. Three Dog Night never really wanted to record the song but they needed one last track for their album. The group had been on an overseas tour when that album was released and were greatly surprised to hear that the song they didn’t want to record ended up being a big hit. Creedence Clearwater Revival also made the song famous.

scene from the “Joy to the world” video

Mariah included a refrain of Hoyt Axton’s “Joy to the world” in the traditional song to create something far less secular. “Joy to the world” was first released as a promo only in November 1994. A year later, it was released as a commercial single in Australia. There were

Merry Christmas several club mixes made of the song, and a remix video was shot. 1.8 Jesus born on this day “Jesus born on this day” was one of the three new compostions on Merry Christmas. A fullblown production number, it employed not only Walter’s synthesized orchestra, but background singers and a children’s choir as well. The tune was quite solemn and hymnlike, but the arrangement, oddly, made it less religious and rather more glitzy, behind lyrics that overtly praised Jesus. As Mariah told Larry Flick in CD Review, “You have to have a nice balance between standard Christian hymns and fun songs. It was definitely a priority for me to write at least a few new songs, but for the most part people really want to hear the standards at Christmas, no matter how good a new song is.” “Jesus born on this day” was only released as a promo in the USA in November 1994.

scene from the “Santa Claus is comin’ to town” video

1.9 Santa Claus is comin’ to town “Santa Claus is coming to town” (sometimes with Coming changed to Comin’) is a Christmas song written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie, and was first sung on Eddie Cantor’s radio show in November 1934. It became an instant hit with orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music the next day and over 400,000 copies sold by Christmas.


chapter 6 - The original version of it was recorded on September 26, 1935, by Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra. Many believe that Benny Goodman was the first to record the song, but in 1935 Goodman actually recorded the Johnny Mercer tune, “Santa Claus came in the spring”. Goodman never recorded “Santa Claus is coming to town”. The song is a traditional standard at Christmas time, and has been covered by numerous recording artists. In 1970 Rankin-Bass produced an hour-long animated television special based on the song, with narrator Fred Astaire telling the original story of Santa Claus. In 2005, a re-recording of Mariah’s version of this song, coproduced by Jermaine Dupri, was released as a CD single with the purchase of the DVD. Other artists that have made notable covers of “Santa Claus is coming to town” include The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Bing Crosby, The Jackson Five, Dolly Parton, The Partridge Family, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, and Luis Miguel. 1.10 Hark! The herald angels sing/Gloria (in excelsis deo) “Hark! The herald angels sing” is written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley. It appeared in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739. The original opening line was “Hark! How all the welkin rings”. The version known today is the result of alterations by various hands. One of the original tunes that “Hark! How all the welkin rings” was sung to was also used as a tune for “Amazing grace”. Many hymns in the eighteenth century consisted merely of printed words without music. It was left to those leading the singing to choose an appropriate tune based on the metre of the verse. Wesley himself, however, envisioned that his lyrics would be sung to the same tune as his Easter hymn, “Christ the Lord is risen today.” The tune that is now almost universally used for this carol was composed by Felix

Merry Christmas Mendelssohn in 1840, as part of the cantata “Festgesang” (”Festival song”) honoring printer Johann Gutenberg and commemorating the invention of his printing press. The cantata was presented at the great festival held at Leipzig. Mendelssohn said of the song that it could be used with many different choruses but that, ironically, it should never be used for sacred music. The reason for this could be that the melodic and harmonic structure of the tune are so similar to the Gavotte of Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 4 that Mendelssohn (who has always been linked with the music of Bach) might simply have adapted Bach’s music for his chorus, as proposed by Nigel Poole with his (transposed) arrangement of the Gavotte as Bach’s Christmas Carol. The most popular arrangement of the Mendelssohn tune for “Hark! The herald angels sing” is probably that by Sir David Willcocks (published in 1961 in Carols for Choirs) which adds a descant for the third verse, in addition to the basic Cummings harmonisation for the first two verses. “Gloria in excelsis deo” (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”) is the title and beginning of the Great Doxology used in the services of many Christian churches. It is derived from the Great Doxology, a longer and fuller version, used in the Byzantine Churches. The text of the song begins with a slight variation on the words sung by the angels as part of the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the field. The song continues with verses added to make a proper doxology. This song was originally in Greek and goes back very far in the history of Christianity. Another form of the song goes to at least the third century, if not to the first. A longer version dating to the fourth century is still sung in the Greek Orthodox church. The Latin version differs from the present Greek form. They correspond down to the end of the Latin.


chapter 6 - The song was gradually adopted as a fixture in the Roman Catholic liturgy. The first Pope to order this part of the liturgy was said to be Pope Telesphorus, who ordered it sung at every Christmas, and Pope Symmachus (498–514) ordered that it be said every Sunday. The Gloria is a hymn of praise addressed to each person of the Holy Trinity, although the clause about the Holy Spirit is very short and may have been added later. The clauses are arranged in parallels with a certain loose rhythm. This song also appears in the Book of Odes, a deuterocanonical book for the Greek Orthodox Church. In the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, for centuries the only official prayer book of the Anglican Communion, the Gloria was moved from its place after the Kyrie, and was instead said or sung at the end of the liturgy, before the final Blessing. 1.11 Jesus oh what a wonderful child Mariah had been able to record some real gospel music for this album. Her version of “Silent night” had large elements of the style, but it was on “Jesus oh what a wonderful child”, a traditional song, that things really took flight. “We cut the track live and had the guys that play it in church and the girls singing it. I had all my backup singers and their husbands and their babies playing tambourines, so we got to experience some real authentic church flavour.” The song really did sound as if it had been recorded in church, with a simple combo (keyboards, bass guitar, drums, percussion, backing vocals, and Mariah) cutting loose. Mariah’s love of gospel really came through here. She led the band without pushing herself forward, letting the song develop and work out, trading lines with the chorus until, after the crescendo, the musicians moved into a fast double time to the end. It was perfect, pertinent to the season, religious without being offensively so. And it left the listener wondering whether

Merry Christmas Mariah would someday fulfill her promise and record an entire gospel album. 1.12 God rest ye merry, gentlemen “God rest ye merry, gentlemen” was first published in England in 1833, when it appeared in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys, though its incipit was in William Hone’s “List of Christmas carols now annually printed” in Ancient Mysteries Described, 1823. The author is unknown. This is the carol of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 1843: “At the first sound of “God bless you merry, gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!”, Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost.” The comma after “merry” shows that the carol is not an address to “merry gentlemen”. Other artists who covered this song were Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Neil Diamond, Garth Brooks, and Boyz II Men, amongst others. Mariah’s version appeared on the internatinal releases of Merry Christmas, but not on the original releases from the USA and Canada. The 2005 re-release did have the song included.


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Merry Christmas

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2. After the album release 2.1 Camp Mariah On December 8, 1994 Mariah performed at the Fresh Air Fund benefit concert at St. John the Divine, a Manhattan cathedral. The Fresh Air Fund was dedicated to taking underprivileged kids from New York to summer camp in the country, exposing them to another world. “I had gone to a camp when I was little,” Mariah recalled in a radio interview. “It was an underprivileged kids’ camp and I hated it. It was the worst experience of my life, so I thought that I could contribute to making something not so horrific as that for those kids. So they happened to have a camp that needed someone to get behind it and help with the finances and things.” Her concert did more than just raise a little money for the camp, a Career Awareness Camp in Fishkill, New York. It completely funded it, bringing in $700,000. And that was enough, in

Fresh Air Fund The Fresh Air Fund is an independent, not-for-profit agency that provides free summer vacations to New York City children from lowincome communities. More than 1.7 million children have been helped since 1877 and nearly 10,000 New York City children now enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2006, 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada; 3,000 children attended five summer camps on a 2,300 acre (9 km²) site in Fishkill, New York; and the fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year. Boys and girls, from six to eighteen years old, visit over 300 Fresh Air Friendly Towns each

Mariah at the Fresh Air Fund benefit concert

July 1995, to have it renamed Camp Mariah. “It’s amazingly flattering to me of course,” she said, “but it dictates to me that I should do

summer. Children on first-time visits are six to twelve years old and stay for two weeks. The program also has a special one-week option for New York City families who would like to host children on their summer vacations outside the city. Over 65 percent of all children are invited to stay with host families again, year after year. Youngsters may continue with the fund through age eighteen, and many spend the entire summer in the country. Children and volunteer families often form bonds of friendship that last a lifetime. Children are selected to participate based on financial need. Children are from lowincome communities, with the majority receiving some form of public assistance. Youngsters are registered by more than 60 social service and community

organizations in all five boroughs of New York City. The innovative Career Awareness Program is designed to help New York City youngsters understand the relationship between school and work and how to make choices that will determine their futures. Youngsters aged twelve to fourteen participate in job shadowing that offers a close-up view of business, and a career fair. The year-round program includes weekend camping trips and an intensive three-and-ahalf week summer session at the Career Awareness Camp - Camp Mariah. The career camp is named in honor of Board member Mariah Carey for her dedication, support and commitment to Fresh Air youngsters.

Merry Christmas even more. I want to teach the kids about the recording business and show them they can be singers, engineers, record company presidents or secretaries.”


chapter 6 - they can get comfort from, to point out the right direction in their lives.”

Mariah at Camp Mariah

Mariah had also become involved in other charity work, primarily with the Police Athletic League in Manhattan. In one instance, combining good works with her love of fashion, she attended a Chanel show and luncheon to benefit the obstetrics department of New York Hospital - Cornell Medical Center. While no one would have doubted that such things were in her heart, she did say, “I try to be a good person and make a difference where I can, in the world and with people.” Her involvement with the Fresh Air Fund had sprung from childhood memories, but a family event proved to be the catalyst. Mariah’s sister, Alison, had been diagnosed as HIV positive. She’d been addicted to drugs and worked as a prostitute, although she was the mother of a son. “When I found out she had AIDS, I cried for days,” Mariah recounted in Bravo. “She could never really care for her son again. He now lives with my mother. This sad family story made me care more about other children in need. To give them advice and to see that they get a better life. I think organizations like the Fresh Air Fund are really important because some kids just don’t have a role model in their lives, someone

scene from the Christmas special

2.2 Mariah Carey Christmas special The star on the tree came on December 14, with the Mariah Carey Christmas Special on MTV. In conjuction with the release of the album, the music video channel had run a contest that offered the prize of a trip to New York, $10,000, and a chance to meet Mariah and attend her December 8 concert to benefit the Fresh Air Fund. The one-hour special featured extensive footage of the winner, and showed her spending some of her winnings. It also included the alternative video for “All I want for Christmas is you”, presented in black-and-white sixties style, with go-go dancers, backup singers, and Mariah herself, in a minidress, white boots, and teasedup hair, looking for all the world like a member of the Ronettes. The show climaxed with an out-and-out gospel performance of “Joy to the world” from the Fresh Air benefit show. Helping underprivileged children had long been close to Mariah’s heart, and the benefit, which combined that impulse with her singing, was a truly bighearted gesture.

Merry Christmas 2.3 A new house for mom No Christmas would have been complete without gifts, and that year Mariah had bought the ultimate gift for Patricia Carey, the kind of thank-you she’d always wanted to give - a new house. Patricia was still living out on Long Island, and with Mariah spending most of her time up in Bedford, it was hard for them to see each other. Mariah’s solution was to move her mother closer, and she planned the whole thing as a complete surprise. “I said, ‘I want to get a house for you, but right now there’s nothing on the market.’ So I made up the whole lie,” she recounted in an interview with Jamie Foster Brown. “It was almost a year ago. So I said, ‘What we can do is take some of your stuff out of the house and put it in storage, because when you move, it’ll probably be January of February and there won’t be any time.’ I said, ‘It’ll be too much snow on the ground to get the piano and all that kind of stuff.’ So she thought there was something going on, but when I sent the people over there, I had them write out a slip and make like it was going to storage.” Then Mariah took some time and decorated the house she’d secretly bought for Patricia. “I put everything in there down to her food and pajamas. I got all her old pictures of her and her mom and framed them and put them on a wall.” The furniture - all picked out by Mariah - was new, but she knew her mother’s tastes. Finally, Mariah was ready to present the house to her mother. She installed two friends, Ronnie and Carol, in the house, making it seem as if it were theirs. Then she told her mother the friends were coming along to help them look at properties, but they’d have to pich them up first. Mariah pulled into the driveway of the rustic, secluded place, and her mother was enchanted. “Carol was standing in the door. She said, ‘Come on in, Pat.’ And we walked in and she was looking around and saying, ‘Wow, this is gorgeous!’ So all of a sudden, I point up to the wall and I go,


chapter 6 - ‘Mom, look.’ It was her pictures and everything, and she almost fainted. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever been able to do.”

Daydream 1. Recording the album 1.1 The end By 1995, there were already signs that Mariah and Tommy were on shaky ground and that the image of Cinderella living happily ever after had faded. Mariah should have seen it coming. From the beginning, Tommy Mottola (as the head honcho at Sony) had had this thing about controlling every aspect of Mariah’s career. He brought in producers and writers to work on Mariah’s sound. He even suggested what songs were best for her and who she should work with in the studio. Mariah has admitted to being controlled by Tommy, but early on, she was willing to go along with it for the sake of her career. “I used to be insecure and cautious, and so I would listen to what other people said,” she told Star magazine. And so when Tommy nixed the idea of her wearing revealing clothing onstage, Mariah tended to agree. Consequently, despite having a killer body and the ego to want to show off, during the early years, Mariah rarely appeared in a miniskirt or a low-cut top. Despite the occasional experiments in her music, Mariah was constantly being reminded by Tommy or one of his handpicked handlers of what worked and why they should not attempt anything different. Tommy’s control over his “discovery” was so complete that he even got to approve all interviews and would automatically eliminate any media that had ever presented Mariah in anything but the most positive light. Even those who made the media cut were often subjected to long, pre-interview grillings from the PR people, during which time reporters were given a list of “sensitive” questions that could not be asked. It got to the point where at least one Sony representative had to be with Mariah at all times. In looking back, she could remember the constant distraction of someone looking over her shoulder from the moment she signed with Sony.


chapter 7 - There was the day in 1994 when Mariah, being interviewed by a Vogue magazine writer, decided to make things interesting by driving around New York in her limo during their discussion. The limo was about to take off when two Sony employees appeared on the sidewalk and began frantically banging on the limo windows, wanting to know what she was doing and where she was going. Just as the vehicle pulled out into the street, one of the Sony people jumped into the front seat beside the limo driver. Mariah and the journalist felt that the Sony presence cramped their style, and so Mariah pressed what she called “her privacy button”, which cut off all sound to the front seat. The media began to pick up on these things. Descriptions of Tommy as Mariah’s Svengali soon escalated to terms like control freak, and the idea that Mariah was the puppet being manipulated by Tommy was now being proclaimed throughout the media. People at Sony knew the reality of the relationship, but they liked their jobs too much to say anything negative about the boss. There were those occasional watercooler observations about how other acts on the label were not getting nearly the same amount of attention that Mariah got. Mariah’s naiveté led her to believe that Tommy had only her best interests at heart, and so she let a lot of his controlling nature slide for the good of her career. But once they got married, she found that his possessiveness was beginning to intrude on their personal relationship as well. Prior to their marriage, Mariah would always boast that despite their age difference, Tommy was quite a hip dude and all-around cool guy. But they had hardly finished saying their “I dos” when she began to discover another side. Mariah, in her early twenties, was now attempting to have the fun she did not have while growing up. More and more, she wanted to go into the big city and party at nightclubs with her peers - a loose amalgamation of hip

Daydream musicians and producers, friends she had made in New York, and the occasional mate from her youth. On the other hand, Tommy began to show his age and preferred to stay at home in their mansion and have quiet dinners with his business acquaintances. And so, more often than not, Mariah acquiesced and would end up spending her nights at home, dying of boredom amid a wash of shoptalk and a lifestyle that was slowly smothering her. Mariah would later state that while the house “wasn’t a prison”, she would rarely leave it for the first couple of years of marriage. The tension between Tommy and Mariah began to grow. As chronicled in a Vanity Fair article, the couple began to argue at the drop of the hat. Curses - as well as the occasional object - flew back and forth. These arguments would often end up with Mariah locking herself in her room and cranking up a rap album on the stereo. Over the din, Tommy could be heard outside the door, pounding and shouting at her to stop. Amusing as those scenes may have seemed, in retrospect, Mariah could sense that the marriage was in trouble. “People just grow up and apart and continue to change,” she told a New York Post reporter in December 1997. “And I guess we both changed. I know it wasn’t just me.” 1.2 A new direction After the immense success of Music Box, Mariah announced that she wanted to take her music in yet another new direction when recording Daydream. 1.3 Jermaine Dupri One of the new producers to work with Mariah was Jermaine Dupri. In his book Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul, Jermaine recalled how he met Mariah: “In 1995, I got a call from Sony’s boss Tommy Mottola to come to New York, to do some producing for his wife at the time, Mariah Carey. I never worked


chapter 7 - with a pop diva before, so I was kinda surprised they wanted me there. I thought my style would be too street for her. But it turns out that having me up there was all her idea. We first met at a Grammy party with Kris Kross a few years before. We talked about some kid she and her manager were thinking about signing but it never worked out. One of the Kris Kross guys was crushin’ on her at the time and was all excited about meeting her, but that period was a blur for me. Or maybe I just wasn’t all that impressed back then.” Soon Jermaine found out that Mariah wanted to do something new, even though the Sony executives didn’t like it. “For a minute Mariah - or MC as I like to call her - had been itching to do something different from the usual safe stuff that her label wanted her to stick with. But every time she suggested some hip-hop guy to work with Tommy said, ‘No way.’ He didn’t trust some rapper/producer being around his girl. I guess it was part jealousy and part fear that an association like that might hurt her image with her fan base. Even though Mariah always considered herself to be first and foremost a black woman, everyone at the label was scared of her being too urban. She’s far from some ‘hood rat’, but she’s definitely a lil’ ghetto and she was tired of being called the ‘ballad queen’. Whatever reservations he had about his girl going hip hop, for some reason Tommy was okay with me. It probably helped that I was already part of Columbia and he was the CEO of Sony. That basically made him my boss’s boss. He already knew from Xscape that I could do crossover R&B stuff, so he was comfortable with my style. He figured I could give his girl a vibe that was new and fresh, but not too off the charts. Or maybe he was fine with it because in his mind I was just a quiet lil’ country boy from Atlanta who didn’t seem like too much of a threat.” The song Jermaine and Mariah worked on was “Always be my baby”. “Me and MC knocked out our first song, ‘Always be my baby’, at the Hit

Daydream Factory in New York. At first I didn’t even want to speak up when I had an idea about how a song should go. I was way out of my comfort zone. Most of my artist had no idea what to do and were looking to me to tell them, but Mariah sold tens of millions of records and I didn’t think she’d take kindly to being bossed by me. On top of it all, our work schedules weren’t really meshing. I’m used to starting late and working through the night. My creative juices usually don’t get flowing until after midnight, but on her clock we had to start before noon. When Tommy came by the studio to pick her up and take her to diner around six we wouldn’t see her for the rest of the day. No matter what we were into at the studio, even if I was in the middle of working on some crucial hook, the work had to stop for dinner. It went like that for the whole week we were recording together. Being a collaborator with someone as big and talented as Mariah was something totally new to me. I couldn’t find my voice in that situation because my confidence still had to kick in. Then Mariah kinda corrected me. She told me my silence was bugging her out. She needed me to be me and assert myself. ‘Look, I didn’t ask you up here to nod and smile and say yeah all the time,’ she said. ‘If you’ve got something to say, say it!’ That girl expanded my mind. Once I knew what she wanted from me, it was nothing less than a full partnership. We bounced ideas back and forth. When we were exploring an idea together and something really clicked, we’d both look up at each other at the same time. We just knew. MC knew exactly what she wanted and what she needed to take from me, and she worked fast. Once we were ready to record, it almost never took more than one take to get it right, and if I needed a redo I didn’t even have to tell her. She just fixed it right away.”


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2. The album 2.1 Introduction Daydream was released in the USA on October 3, 1995. Musically, Daydream was slightly different from Mariah’s previous albums, as it leaned increasingly towards R&B and hip hop music. Publications such as The New York Times, People magazine and Time magazine named it one of the top ten albums of 1995. Daydream debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart with 224,000 copies sold in its first week. It stayed at number one for six nonconsecutive weeks, in the top twenty for fortyone non-consecutive weeks, and on the Billboard 200 for eighty-one weeks. The album sold more in each week between its eighth and thirteenth weeks of release than in its opening week, peaking at 760,000 copies in its twelfth week. This set a record for what was, at the time, the highest one-week sales for an album by a female artist. The sales of Daydream during 1996 made it the second best-selling album in America in that year, behind only Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. More than ten million copies of the album have been shipped to retailers in America, making it Mariah’s second album to be given diamond certification by the RIAA. It is Mariah’s most successful album in the USA. By 2005, it had sold approximately 25 million copies worldwide, making it her second best-selling album worldwide after Music Box. It also reached number one in Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, and the top five in Canada. Daydream is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Daydream yielded three USA chart-toppers: “Fantasy”, “One sweet day” (a duet with Boyz II Men) and “Always be my baby”. “Fantasy” debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number one, making Mariah only the second artist (and the first female) to accomplish this feat. “One

Mariah at the launch of Daydream

sweet day” (the album’s second single) repeated the former feat, making Mariah the only artist at the time to have two number-one single debuts. The song remained at the top of the chart for sixteen weeks, becoming the single with the longest run at number one. “One sweet day” was replaced from the number one position by Celine Dion’s “Because you love me”. But Mariah wasn’t finished with the singles chart yet. On May 4, 1996, “Always be my baby” toppled Celine’s single. It hadn’t gone straight in at number 1, but it did manage to climb there, giving Mariah her eleventh number-one hit (which put her in tie with Whitney Houston and Madonna as the female artist with the most top singles). In the United Kingdom, the reception was less strong. Daydream debuted also number one, remaining in the top spot for one week. The four singles released in that country reached the top ten, including the non-USA single “Open arms”, which reached number four. Additional

Daydream singles from the album included “Forever”, and were less successful. The album’s final single, “Underneath the stars”, was a promotional release in the USA only. Daydream and its tracks were nominated for six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year (for “One sweet day”), and Best Pop Vocal Album, winning none. The Album of the Year award was given to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, Record of the Year went to Seal’s “Kiss from a rose”, and Best Pop Vocal Album was awarded to Joni Mitchell’s “Turbulent indigo”. Daydream was ranked 116th on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “Definitive 200” albums, which lists “some of history’s most influential and popular albums”, according to the organisation. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly called the album “easily the best collection Carey has put out since her self-titled 1990 debut” on his review, giving the album a B grade. Stephen Holden from The New York Times called the album “make-out music”: “Voluptuously romantic make-out music is rarely taken seriously unless there is a cynical messages buried inside it. That’s why it would be easy to dismiss Mariah Carey’s subtly innovative new album, Daydream, whose best cuts bring pop candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement. At the same time, Ms. Carey’s songwriting has taken a leap forward, becoming more relaxed, sexier and less reliant on thudding cliches.” 2.2 Fantasy “Fantasy” was written and produced by Mariah and Dave Hall, and released as the first single from Daydream September 1995. It is built around a sample of the Tom Tom Club’s single “Genius of love” (1982), which was written by Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Steven Stanley and Adrian Belew. The urban remix of “Fantasy” features Ol’ Dirty Bastard and is widely credited with popularising the rap/sung collaboration. The


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scene from the “Fantasy” video

album version of the song was nominated for the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, losing to “No more ‘I love yous’” by Annie Lennox. The song is featured in the film Rush Hour (1998), and Owen Pallett (a.k.a. Final Fantasy) has covered it live at various gigs. “Fantasy” was as close to absolutely perfect pop as Mariah had come. That seemed to be the overwhelming opinion all across the United States. The single was co-produced with Dave Hall (who’d worked with Mariah on “Dreamlover”). “I had the melody idea for Fantasy and then I was listening to the radio and I heard ‘Genius of love’, and I hadn’t heard it in a long time,” Mariah told Fred Bronson. “It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and the feeling that song gave me seemed to go along with the melody and the basic idea I had for ‘Fantasy’. I initially told Dave Hall about the idea and we did it.” Once the idea had clicked into place, and permission had been gained from the Tom Tom Club to sample the song, putting everything together was a snap. “Mariah brought me ‘Genius of love’ and I laid some strings on it,” Dave Hall recalled, “and put it to a groove that I felt would really fit her. And that song didn’t take us but a minute to do, because she really busted that out within two days. We did a rough copy and let Tommy Mottola hear it and he loved it,

Daydream so all we had to do was bring it back in and mix it down.” “Fantasy” became one of the biggest hits of Mariah’s career and was her ninth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was the first single by a female artist to debut at number one in the USA, and only the second single to do so after “You are not alone” by Michael Jackson. It spent eight weeks at the top of the chart, from September 24 to November 18, 1995, Mariah’s longest stay at the time alongside “Dreamlover”. It replaced “ Gangsta’s paradise” by Coolio, and was replaced by Whitney Houston’s “Exhale (shoop shoop)”. “Fantasy” spent twenty-three weeks in the top forty and was successful on other Billboard formats, including the R&B and dance charts. Its strong sales led it to be certified double platinum by the RIAA, Mariah’s first single to do so. It was ranked seventh on the Hot 100 year-end charts for 1995 and forty-ninth on the 1996 year-end charts. The single was very successful outside the USA, topping the charts in Canada (a record twelve weeks) and Australia and producing another top five hit for Mariah in the United Kingdom. It remained at the top of the Canadian Singles Chart for twelve weeks, a record it shared with six other singles until the release of “I’ll be missing you” (1997) by Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans. “Fantasy” also reached the top ten in most countries across Continental Europe, and the top twenty on the official singles chart in Japan. The single’s video was the first that Mariah directed entirely on her own. She can be seen exploring an amusement park (Playland, located in Rye, New York, where scenes for “Big” and “Fatal attraction” were shot), on roller blades and riding on a roller coaster, before joining a group of hip hop dancers after nightfall. The video also contains a scene involving an overweight young girl who tries to emulate Mariah and whose character reappears in the video for Mariah’s


chapter 7 - single “Shake it off” (2005). The video premiered September 7 on the MTV Music Video Awards. Mariah said about the roller-coaster ride, “They did not expect me to get that shot. They were saying, ‘How she’s going to sing on a roller coaster?’ We put a little speaker in the bottom of the car, where my feet were. We built the rig in front of the roller coaster and the lens kept falling off.” Directing seemed a natural extension to Mariah, given that she’d been unhappy with some of the results in the past. “I just wanted to do it because it’s my song and I really want it to come out the way I want it to be.” Mariah worked with producer Sean Combs (Puff Daddy) to create the “Bad Boy” remix of “Fantasy”. The album version of “Fantasy” combines sensibilities of pop and hip hop music, but the “Bad Boy” remix developed that concept by using guest raps from the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB). Mariah had previously been famous for pop/adult contemporary ballads, though her own personal tastes leaned towards R&B and hip hop. Some of the song’s pop elements were removed for the remix, while the bassline and the “Genius of love” sample were emphasised. Part of the beat from “Fantasy” was also used in Mase’s “That’s the way”. The choice to use Puffy, who wasn’t widely known outside hiphop circles then, seemed odd. Mariah could have had her pick of any name producer to do the remix. “He’s so known in the street and he’s one of the best people out there. We kind of did what we both do and having O.D.B. took it to another level. He was my ultimate choice, so I was really happy about the way it turned out.” It is perhaps most known for the participation of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The idea of an allegedly “clean” pop singer and a rapper working on the same song caused some controversy, further enforced with lines by ODB in the remix such as “Me and Mariah go back like babies on pacifiahs”. “I’ve been a fan of his style since Wu-Tang first

Daydream came out,” Mariah said. “I just think it’s kind of unique about how he raps and kind of sings, too. I thought that because we were using the Tom Tom Club track that his voice was perfectly suited for it. We got a hold of him, and we did it. He basically went in and freestyled.”

scene from the “Fantasy” remix video with ODB

A video was created for the remix, compiled from footage shot for the original video and scenes involving ODB rapping. “He was a little reluctant when I told him there was going to be a clown in the same scene as him,” Mariah told Rolling Stone. “But then when he realized that he got to tie the clown up and put him on top of a pole, he was OK.” The clip opened with O.D.B. on a boardwalk, rapping that Mariah is “hot like fiy-ah”. As he flashed his 24-karat grin and mugged for the camera, it’s impossible not to watch him. “My idea for O.D.B. is that he kind of comes in and takes over the video and just steals the show,” Mariah said. “He wore a wig at one point because he wanted to be a crazy kind of character, introducing himself. And at the end of the video, he does a singing part, and I really wanted to get that on film, because his style of rapping and then singing is really an important part of who he is, and I wanted to capture that, too.” The remix of “Fantasy” is seen as one of Mariah’s most significant contributions to


chapter 7 - popular culture and the music industry, it is often regarded as the first true pop/hip hop collaboration and inspired a trend in modern pop music that has continued well into the 2000s. John Norris of MTV called it “the single most important recording that she ever made”. Mariah re-recorded vocals for club remixes of the song by David Morales. One of these remixes won the Winter Music Conference National Dance Award for “Dance Record of the Year”. Stephen Holden of The New York Times states that, “With ‘Fantasy’, Ms. Carey glides confidently into the territory where gospel-flavored pop-soul meets light hip-hop and recorded some of the most gorgeously spun choral music to be found on a contemporary album.” Larry Flick reviewed the single for Billboard: “One of the many things we dig about Columbia pop diva Mariah Carey is her ongoing acknowledgement of those who have long supported her in clubland. This is especially laudable given how even some of our own greatest and most successful exports into the mainstream are quick to forsake those who first buttered their bread - that is, until sliding record sales have them living on Saltines and plotting a return ‘to their only true home’. In fact, it has become common for Carey to not only offer credible dance remixes of nearly every single, but to actually return to the studio and suitably recompose and rerecord her songs with house rhythms. Carey once again makes good on that practice with ‘Fantasy’, the first single from her imminent, as yet untitled collection. In many ways, ‘Fantasy’ is a logical sequel to her 1994 mega-smash ‘Dream lover’. Dave Hall joins Carey at the production and songwriting helm, molding a joyous jeep love romp with ample room for some signature note-scaling and breathy ‘shoo-da-da-do’ vamps. The surprising twist is the use of instantly recognizable keyboard samples from the Tom Tom Club’s post-disco classic ‘Genius of love’. We are pleased to note,

Daydream however, that the quality of the song does not hinge on samples. They merely add spice to an already juicy jam. The cool coda to the song is Carey tossing off a couple of refrains from ‘Genius of love’ at the close of ‘Fantasy’ with the reverence of a fan. Nice touch. A double-pack of club versions of ‘Fantasy’ goes to DJs during the first week of September. Dance music’s top dog, David Morales, produced the house incarnation of the song with Carey, which teeters somewhere between state-of-theunderground house and vintage disco. Carey’s vocal is a bit more springy here, as she seems to harken back to the legendary ladies of dance music for inspiration. Imagine Lolatta Halloway with a broader, more acrobatic range, and you have a clear picture of what’s going on here. Drama down... Carey appears to have found a perfect club counterpart in Morales, who gives his all here - much like he did on his version of ‘Dream lover’, which is now rightly regarded as one of his best efforts to date. On the hip-hop tip, the untouchable Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs kicks a spare, more direct groove, stripping the layered vocal arrangement down to a singular line that should do well in urban circles. Listen for a surprisingly sympatico guest rap by Old Dirty Bastard in these mixes.” 2.3 Underneath the stars “Underneath the stars” was written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff, and was the first track recorded for Daydream. The protagonist of this ballad recalls “drifting away” as she explored young love “underneath the stars”. Mariah has been quoted as saying this was her favorite track on the album. The citation for this quote can be found on the bootleg concert album Out In Japan, where Mariah performs the single live because as she says, it is her favourite song from the album and lots of people in Japan have mentioned to her that it is their favourite too. It “has a real ‘70s soul vibe”, Mariah thought. “We


chapter 7 - even put those scratches you hear on old records to give it that kind of flavor. It was a good place to start, because it got me into the head of making an album that was more R&B - more in the vibe of the Minnie Ripperton era, which has always been an inspiration to me.” Indeed, it had that feel, melodic and airy. But unlike Minnie’s recordings, there was little evidence of Mariah’s higher register. Indeed, as she’d progressed from her debut album, she’d used it less and less (on her 1999 album Rainbow, she started using her higher register once again). As she explained to Tabitha Soren on MTV, “What I tried to do is put it, sort of, as more of a texture on a lot of songs, like as a background part I did certain things, and you know I just meant to get a little bit more creative with it.” Which was exactly what she’d done. Her reputation and following were strong enough now that any gimmicks were unnecessary. “Underneath the stars” was released as the Daydream’s sixth and final single in October 1996. Because Sony executives wanted to maintain Mariah’s record of hit singles and believed “Underneath the stars” was not good enough to be a single, it was only given a promotional radio release in the USA. It received sufficient airplay to appear on the Hot R&B/HipHop Airplay chart, peaking at number sixty-nine. It sold 100,000 copies worldwide. Although no video of the song has been released by Sony, former employees connected to Tommy Mottola have claimed that one exists but was shelved after Sony halted promotion of the single. Mariah announced to her Daydream Tour audience in Rotterdam, the Netherlands that her performance of the song that evening would be filmed for the music video. A remix (known as “The Drifting Remix”) was commissioned by The Trackmasters, and features Mariah resinging her vocals over a darker and more urban beat. Stephen Holden of The New York Times said “Underneath the stars” “achieves the same

Daydream dissolving synergy between a lyric and entwining vocal lines as she sings: ‘Beautifully and bittersweetly/You were fading into me.’ ”

scene from the “One sweet day” video

2.4 One sweet day “One sweet day” was co-written by Mariah, Walter Afanasieff and Boyz II Men members Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, Nathan Morris, and Michael McCary. It was co-produced by Mariah and Walter, and released as the Daydream’s second single in 1995. It holds the record for the longest run at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (16 weeks total), and is one of the biggest hits of both Mariah’s and Boyz II Men’s careers. Popular both within and outside the USA, it is widely considered the most successful non-charity single of all time in the United States. “One sweet day” was inspired by the death of David Cole and Mariah’s “Guitar Legend”, Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark, in 1991. While brainstorming with Boyz II Men on a possible collaboration, Mariah discovered that the group had written a tribute to their manager who was murdered while they were on tour. Her song plus theirs became “One sweet day”. David Cole worked with Mariah on her two previous albums, including her MTV Unplugged album. During this period, she had arranged to record a


chapter 7 - song with Boyz II Men. “I wrote the initial idea for ‘One sweet day’ with Walter,” Mariah explained, “and I had the chorus. I stopped and said, ‘I really wanna do this with Boyz II Men’, because obviously I’m a big fan of theirs and I just thought that the work was crying out for them, the vocals that they do, so I put it away and said, ‘Who knows if this could ever happen, but I just don’t wanna finish this song because I want it to be our song if we ever do it together.’ “ The song was about the “whole idea of when you lose people that are close to you, it changes your life and changes your perspective”. Finally, Mariah had the chance to team up with Boyz II Men. “When they came into the studio I played them the idea for the song and when it finished, they looked at each other, a bit stunned, and told me that Nat had written a song for his road manager who had passed away. It had basically the same lyrics and fitted over the same chord changes.” Was it coincidence, or just meant to be? “It was really, really weird,” Mariah said. “We finished the song right then and there.” “We were kind of flipped about it ourselves,” Shawn Stockman agreed. “Fate had a lot to do with that. I know some people won’t believe it, but we wouldn’t make up such a crazy story.” The protagonists of this memorial pop anthem lament the deaths of friends, but say that they will be together again “one sweet day”. The single’s video, directed by Larry Jordan, is made up of footage showing Mariah and Boyz II Men writing and recording the song in the studio, as it was difficult for both Boyz II Men and Mariah to schedule a time to film a video. Walter Afanasieff recalled for Fred Bronson: “It was crazy. They had film crews and video guys. I’m at the board trying to produce. Boyz II Men are the busiest guys in the world. Their managers and bodyguards are in the waiting room and it’s 4:30 and they have until 7 o’clock. You’ve got four guys and you haven’t even worked out

Daydream their parts yet. So I was sweating. And these guys are running around having a ball, because Mariah and them are laughing and screaming and they’re being interviewed. And I’m taping people on the shoulder. ‘We’ve got to get to the microphone!’ They’re gone in a couple of hours, so I recorded everything they did, praying it was enough. After going home to my studio, I put the tracks together and did a rough blend of the four guys. And then Mariah went in and did some more voices to fill in a little bit, because it sounded like it’s all Boyz II Men and there wasn’t enough Mariah Carey on it.” There are no major remixes of the song, but there is a Chuck Thompson-produced remix, “One sweet day (Chucky’s remix)”, which gives the song a slightly more R&B feel. An a cappella version of the song, known as the “Sweet a cappella”, features slightly different vocal arrangements and a new intro which also serves as a counter melody throughout the song. The single became Mariah’s’s tenth numberone single on the Hot 100 and Boyz II Men’s fourth, remaining at the peak for a recordbreaking sixteen weeks from November 26, 1995 to March 16, 1996. Boyz II Men had previously held this record twice, with “End of the road” (1992), spending thirteen weeks at the top, and “I’ll make love to you” (1994), spending fourteen. (The latter song shared its record with Whitney Houston’s cover of Dolly Parton’s “I will always love you”.) “One sweet day” replaced “Exhale (shoop shoop)” by Whitney Houston at number one, and was replaced by Celine Dion’s “Because you loved me”. The single also debuted at number one, making Mariah the first artist to have more than one number-one debut, and also the only artist ever to have two consecutive singles debut at number one. The record hasn’t been broken yet. The single spent twenty-six weeks in the top forty, was certified two times platinum by the RIAA, and ranked number two on the Hot


chapter 7 - 100 1996 year-end charts. Despite its success in the USA, it was not as big a hit elsewhere as previous singles such as “Fantasy”, the first release from Daydream. It failed to top any chart outside the USA aside of New Zealand’s and the Philippines, but was a top ten hit in the United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Canada. It had some success across Continental Europe, but failed to match the success of “Fantasy”. It did though top the United World Chart, staying there for 6 weeks. It ranked number 5 at the end of the year chart. It was Boyz II Men’s biggest success outside the USA since “End of the road”, and was later included on their greatest hits release Legacy: The Greatest Hits Collection (2001). In the Philippines, it became Mariah’s biggest hit, topping the Philippines Singles Chart for 14 weeks, the longest number-one ever. Due to this huge reception, the song became MTV Asia Hitlist’s longest number-one single, topping the charts for a record-breaking 11 weeks. The record in the Philippines has not been broken yet, but in tha MTV Asia Hitlist, Mariah broke her own record with 2005’s “We belong together”. “One sweet day” was nominated for the 1996 Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, losing both categories. As two of the top nominees at the 1996 Grammy Awards, Mariah and Boyz II Men were invited to perform, and sang “One sweet day”. Mariah began the evening happily as she had been nominated for six Grammys that night. “One sweet day” was the current numberone record on the Hot 100 at that time, and the following morning it was announced that it had just broken the record set by Whitney Houston, giving Mariah a “consolation prize”. Stephen Holden of The New York Times said: “On ‘One sweet day’, the singer joins forces with Boyz II Men, those masters of pleading post-doo-wop vocal harmonies, for a tender eulogy that suggests that the singers have been personally touched by the AIDS crisis. The song

Daydream is a dialogue between lovers, one of whom has died, leaving the other full of regrets for things left unsaid. The uplifting chorus looks forward to a reunion that involves more than just two people: ‘And I know you’re shining down on me from heaven/Like so many friends we’ve lost along the way,’ it begins. Corny, perhaps, but touching in its faith and fervor.”

scene from the “Open arms” video

2.5 Open arms “Open arms” is a song originally recorded by American rock band Journey and written by Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain, two of the band’s members. It is a ballad depicting the struggle of lovers who are trying to reconcile by starting anew with “open arms”. Journey recorded “Open arms” for their seventh studio album, Escape. Jonathan Cain had begun writing the song while he was still a member of the rock group The Babys, but Babys vocalist John Waite turned down the melody as “too syrupy”. Cain eventually finished the song with Steve Perry during the writing sessions for Escape, but it was almost left off the album. Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon reportedly “hated” the song (drummer Steve Smith recalls that Schon noted that it “sounds kinda Mary Poppins”), and the other members of the band were against performing ballads. Steve Perry


chapter 7 - later recalled of the song’s recording: “I had to keep my head down on the console when ‘Open arms’ was on. There is one line in the song that I always wanted to be a certain way. I have ideals about certain things. The line ‘wanting you near’ I just wanted that line to go up and soar. I wanted it to be heartfelt. Every time it would come by I would just have to keep my head down and try to swallow the lump in my throat. I felt so proud of the song.” During an episode of the radio show In the Studio with Redbeard devoted to the album Escape, Jonathan Cain said he was ill with a bad cold when he recorded the piano track to “Open arms” and wanted to re-do the track. Everybody else disagreed and they used the track Cain recorded while “under the weather”. “Open arms” was released as the third single from Escape in January 1982 in the USA, where it became one of Journey’s biggest singles there, and the most successful of the five singles released from Escape. Although it never reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it stayed at number two for six weeks, and it was also a top ten hit on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. The song and its status as a power ballad has been remembered years following its original release. One critic praised “Open arms” as “a lyrical rock ballad and one of the band’s bestwritten songs”, while the Associated Press wrote that the song was “fueled by Perry’s operatic, high-flying vocal style”. It has also been referred to as a “wedding anthem” (in a December 2005 Lumino Magazine article), and VH1 placed the song at number one on their “25 Greatest Power Ballads” list. All Music Guide said, “One of rock’s most beautiful ballads, ‘Open arms’ gleams with an honesty and feel only Steve Perry could muster.” And a review of a Journey concert in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution characterised the song as a “classic ballad”. Steve Perry told the Boston Globe, “I can’t tell you how many times

Daydream I get a tap on the shoulder and somebody says, ’This was my prom song’.” Mariah co-produced her cover of the song with Walter Afanasieff. Mariah’s career has crossed paths with Journey’s: the band’s drummer Steve Smith played drums on many of her earlier singles, and its bassist for a short period in the mid-1980s, Randy Jackson, has worked with her for a long time. “Open arms” was released as Daydream’s third single in February 1996 in most markets outside the USA, and performed moderately. It became a top five hit in the United Kingdom and was popular in the Philippines, where it competed directly with Mariah’s preceding single from Daydram, “One sweet day”. Both songs topped the charts of numerous radio stations. “Open arms” did not reach the top ten elsewhere, but sold 700,000 copies anyhow. The single’s video, directed by Larry Jordan, is a live performance of the song by Carey at Madison Square Garden. The video for the Spanish version of the song, “El amor que soñé”, is also a live performance from that night. In 2003, American Idol contestant Clay Aiken performed the song during a key semi-final round of the show, and later in a duet with fellow Idol Kelly Clarkson (the winner from the previous year) on their joint February-April 2004 concert tour. The song was also chosen for third place American Idol 5 contestant Elliott Yamin by Clive Davis before being eliminated. Furthermore, “Open arms” was included on the set list for Britney Spears’ 1999 ...Baby One More Time tour. 2.6 Always be my baby “Always be my baby” was written and produced by Mariah Carey, rapper Jermaine Dupri, and songwriter Manuel Seal. Released in 1996 as the fourth single from Daydream, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, number two in Canada, and peaked within


chapter 7 -

scene from the “Always be my baby” video

the top twenty of the majority charts on which it appeared. Although the lyrics chronicle a relationship that has ended, the protagonist asserts that her former lover will “always be her baby”, and will come back to her once he realises that he misses her. The song received a 1996 Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. “Always be my baby” was solicited to radio on March 26, 1996 in the USA, and it became Mariah’s eleventh number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100. However, unlike its predecessors “Fantasy” and “One sweet day”, the song did not debut at number one but at number two, and ascended to the top position four weeks following its release. It spent two weeks at number one and nine non-consecutive weeks at number two, Mariah’s longest stay at the second position. “Always be my baby” also managed to reach number one on the Hot R&B/ Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. “Always be my maby” was the most-played single in the USA in 1996 and appeared at number-one on the year-end Hot 100 Airplay chart, but despite this achievement it never reached number one on the Hot 100 Airplay throughout the course of 1996. Due to its airplay, it became Mariah’s first number-one on the Adult

Daydream Top 40 format. It also reached the top five on the Adult Contemporary and Top 40 Mainstream charts. Along with “Hero”, it remained one of her most popular numbers on adult contemporary stations into the 2000s. Outside the USA, the song became another success, but it was unable to match the chart success of “Fantasy” in most markets. Although generally performing less well than “One sweet day”, it reached the top five in Canada and the United Kingdom, where it fared better than all of Carey’s releases from Daydream. In Australia, it reached the top twenty. Mariah had been a fan of musician and producer Jermaine Dupri ever since she’d heard Kriss Kross’s “Jump” (Dupri had gone on from there to found his own So So Def label). For “Always be my baby”, Mariah noted, “Jermaine, Manuel and I sat down and Jermaine programmed the drums. I told him the feel that I wanted and Manuel put his hands on the keyboards and I started singing the melody. We went back and forth with the bridge and the B-section. I had the outline of the lyrics and started singing ‘Always be my baby’ off the top of my head.” Although the background vocals included longtime co-horts Kelly and Shanrae Price and Melanie Daniels, it was mostly Mariah, building the wall of voices that she loved. This would be true for all the album’s backing vocals. The rhythm of “Always be my baby” was a little downbeat, but the changes had a warm feel, and Mariah’s vocal almost purred over the top. Indeed, on much of this record, she sounded slightly different from the Mariah of old, a little sassier, a little more R&B, like a soul sister. And it wasn’t someone playing a wannabe, either. This was in her blood and was gradually coming out. Her love of soul, gospel, R&B, and hip-hop all fed into it. While not quite a slow jam, the song had a lush, sexy vibe that just glowed. The music video for “Always be my baby” was


chapter 7 - the second to be directed by Mariah. She is the seemingly happy narrator of a tale of young love, as a young boy and a girl elope in the middle of the night. The video was filmed on location at Mariah’s sponsored charity, Camp Mariah. The main remix of this song, also known as “Always be my baby (Mr. Dupri Mix)”, features re-sung vocals with most of the melodic structure being retained, but uses a sample of the song “Tell me if you still care” by the S.O.S. Band and includes background vocals from Xscape. The remix is the first to feature Da Brat, who would later go on to become Mariah’s best friend and raps on remixes of “Honey” (1997), “I still believe” (1998), “Heartbreaker” (1999) and “Loverboy” (2001). And Mariah also gave her voice in Da Brat’s “Gotta thing 4 u” (2002), A video was created for the Mr. Dupri mix, which shows Mariah, Da Brat, and Xscape hanging out around Carey’s former mansion. It is in black and white and has the shot of Mariah in a beret that would become the cover for this single. Dance remixes with re-recorded vocals were created by David Morales and Satoshi Tomiie of Def Mix Productions. There is also a reggae remix featuring Lil’ Vicious. In his book Young, Rich, and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul, Jermaine Durpri recalls how Mariah met Da Brat. “When Brat arrived at the mansion she was all nervous. At first she couldn’t even write her verse because she was so star-struck over meeting Mariah. MC was just as taken with my lil’ sister. Even though Mariah was all girlie with her Hello Kitty obsession and sexy clothes, Brat’s tomboy style was like her flip side. Brat acted out the way Mariah wished she could if only she didn’t have Tommy’s people always watching her. Brat couldn’t handle how clean and perfect the whole place was. Even the food bothered her. She was hungry, but she didn’t want to touch all the fancy caterer stuff like bagels, cut fruit, and cheeses that were laid out in the studio. ‘This is video shoot food,’ she said,

Daydream stamping her feet. Then she did her Brat thing and stirred up some major trouble. ‘I’m hungry! Let’s go get a cheeseburger,’ she said to Mariah. It was the excuse Mariah was looking for to get out of there and go for a joy ride in one of the dozen sports cars she was never allowed to drive. Brat made her feel real bold. Finally Mariah had a partner in crime. She was only too happy to give Brat a ride to McDonald’s, so the two of them split without telling anyone where they were going. The girls weren’t gone long, maybe half an hour. But you’d think by everyone’s reaction that Mariah was being kidnapped at gunpoint, not getting a cheeseburger and fries. After the incident nothing more was said, but Brat and Mariah have been the best of friends ever since that lil’ joyride together. Seeing Mariah’s life was an awakening for Brat. She was always obsessed with having stuff, ever since that tantrum over the Mickey Mouse watch in the mall. She was just starting to come into her money and thought her platinum album meant she’d be able to buy all that stuff and her life would be happy. But meeting Mariah, who had all the toys and clothes Brat could ever dream of, and coming to understand how sad and lonely her life was at the time, was just the thing to give Brat some perspective. Even though she never let it affect her grind as an artist, I’m sure it was tough for Mariah living like some caged canary and being watched all the time.” Larry Flick reviewed “Always be my baby” for Billboard: “This week we begin with a pleasant reminder that sometimes all you got to do is ask in order to win your heart’s desire. Several weeks ago, regular readers will recall us sending a little positive projection into the Mariah Carey camp with hope that the pop princess might bestow club land with an up-tempo version of her fabulous ‘Always be my baby’, which was reportedly not on the song’s original remix agenda. Seemingly moments later, a slammin’


chapter 7 - house post-production of the song by the eternally golden David Morales is complete and ready to work punters into a peak-hour frenzy. Now, we will not be so bold as to imply that Carey has responded to our specific wish. Actually, we are simply one of countless voices in clubland urging her to maintain the visibility that has placed her among today’s more beloved dance-floor divas. The good news is that she never fails to heed the call of this industry sector, even though she clearly doesn’t have to. As Carey racks up deserved accolades for her theatrical way with a pop ballad, it is pretty nifty to also hear her soulfully throw down an edgy house beat - which she certainly does with Morales on ‘Always be my baby’. Amid a storm of tribalistic drums and quirky keyboard effects, Carey flexes the smoky lower register of her voice, playfully vamping new lyrical refrains and weaving a hook that is radically different from that on the album. Reliably, Morales kicks three forcefully anthemic mixes, fleshing out the 12-inch package by soliciting a break-smart dub from comrade Satoshi Tomiie.” 2.7 I am free With “I am free”, written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff, the album would move to the closest it would come to gospel. With Loris Holland on Hammond organ behind Walter’s keyboards and programming - Holland had helped out on Merry Christmas - the gospel feel was perfectly genuine and unforced, an indication that Mariah wasn’t abandoning her roots by any means. However, her writing and arranging were both becoming more sophisticated, as the lines of the chorus seemed to cascade into each other, something a less technically gifted vocalist would have trouble singing, but which seemed just right coming from Mariah.

Daydream 2.8 When I saw you Mariah was slowly moving away from the “standard” ballad, and edging slowly toward territory that seemed more Toni Braxton than Celine Dion. It suited her, but ballads had been her bread and butter, her stock-in-trade, since her debut album, and she wasn’t about to abandon them completely. Nor did she need to. “When I saw you”, co-written and co-produced with Walter, showed she hadn’t lost her touch. About love at first sight, it rang with hope, and offered a reminder of just how powerful her voice could be when she chose to unleash it. Many fans urged Sony to release this song as a single, but it never happened. 2.9 Long ago After the ballads, it was a quick return to hiphop/R&B territory with “Long ago”, where Mariah let her voice slide silk over an insistent bassline. Her second collaboration with Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal in writing, arrangement, and production, it could easily have been another single from Daydreame, with a nagging chorus and a sliding instrumental hook. 2.10 Melt away “Melt away”, which Mariah had written with Babyface and produced by Mariah alone, could just as easily have served as a single. A gorgeous slow jam, it lived up to its title, as the two voices really did melt into each other, after Mariah’s low “Barry White” introduction. It was curious that Mariah produced this track alone, given Babyface’s pedigree at the controls. But there was no denying that she’d done a superb job, as the song glided into its chorus, as strong as any jam released in the nineties, and one that would find a lot of favor late at night with dancers. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called “Melt away”, a collaboration “with the popmeister Babyface where their two voices wind around


chapter 7 - each other like bolts of chiffon in a lyric that describes exactly what their multitracked voices are doing: melting into each other with repeated avowals of love in a state of sweet surrender.” Holden, however, was wrong, because it wasn’t a duet, mistaken Mariah’s low introduction for Babyface.

scene from the “Forever” video

2.11 Forever “Forever” was written and produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff. The protagonist of this 1950s-inspired romantic ballad knows that her relationship is over, but that the boy will be hers forever in her mind. “Forever” brought up memories of fifties ballads in its chord changes and in the way guitar arpeggios stayed at the forefront of the music. In many ways, the song harkened back to the feel of Mariah’s first album, but with a richness to the voice and the sound that she hadn’t been capable of then. The song was released as the album’s fifth single in September 1996 in most markets outside the USA (excluding the United Kingdom) and was not intended to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, as Billboard magazine rules at that time stipulated that a song must have a commercial release to be eligible for inclusion on the Hot 100. “Forever” was still a major radio airplay hit in the USA, reaching the top ten on the Hot 100

Daydream Airplay chart and the top five of Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. It reached the top twenty in Canada and the top forty in Australia. The single’s video, put together by Mariah herself, is made up of scenes of her performing the song live in Japan at the Tokyo Dome intercut with black-and-white sequences in which she explores Japan. The track listings for the song’s major CD-Single releases include its album version and a live recording, the album cut of the Daydream track “Underneath the stars”, and a live version of “Make it happen”. Billboard said about “Forever”: “The ever hot Daydream continues to spawn sparkling hit singles - this time in the form of a sweet and swaying nugget. With a retro-pop musical setting that is warmly reminiscent of her breakthrough hit, ‘Vision of love’, Carey plays the romantic ingénue with convincing, wide-eyed innocence and infectious hope. This is a pleasant change of pace from the street rhythms of the recent No. 1 smash ‘Always be my baby’ and a delightfully playful shift from the project’s mournful and monumental ‘One sweet day’. Expect pop and AC radio to have a programming field day with this lovely effort.” 2.12 Daydream interlude For “Daydream (Fantasy Sweet Dub Mix)” Mariah had brought in David Morales, best known for his club mixes, to help remix “Fantasy” into soemthing quite different, something that brought to mind dub music, with elements dropping in and out of the mix. The result was something quite adventurous, with Mariah’s voice being just one element (and not necessarily the main one) in the musical stew. Its sights were quite firmly set on the dance floor, and in those terms, it succeeded, a declaration of intent that Mariah was expanding her horizons. Dance music in particular, but also hiphop, had changed beyond recognition in the last few years, becoming much more a part


chapter 7 - of mainstream culture. When Mariah made “Dreamlover”, Walter had been unfamiliar with the technique of using loops; now it was common practice. Hip-hop ruled the charts, R&B was decidedly radio-friendly, and the dance revolution had spread across the country. Mariah was familiar with it all. She listened avidly to the radio, took it all in. And, at twenty-five, she was young enough to be a part of it all, something she wanted to be, a member of her own generation, not someone isolated and timeless, which had seemed to be where Columbia had wanted to put her after Music Box. Stephen Holden of The New York Times called Daydream’s title track “a hypnotic, playfully sexy dance tune that samples from the Tom Tom Club’s 1982 hit, ‘Genius of love’. With its light, saucy vocal and instrumental spueaks and squeals, it feels like swining jauntily on a star.” 2.13 Looking in “Looking in” moved into far more personal territory than anything Mariah had done before. This was as naked as she’d let hersef appear on record, the accompaniment suitably stripped down, as she refelected on her life now, the changes she’d gone through, and the difference between the public perception of Mariah Carey and the real person. Intimate and revealing, it made an appropriate end to the album, and was evidence that Mariah was growing, changing, and becoming much more herself, confident of who she was and what she could do. As she explained in Vibe: “I sometimes defer to people who’ve had more experience. That was my motto for a long time. But now I’m able to say, ‘I don’t agree with you.’ Now if I don’t do what I want, I’m the only one to blame.” “Looking in” was written and produced by Mariah and Walter. Stephen Holden of The New York Times said about the last song that “the singer paints a picture of herself as a lonely,

Daydream misunderstood diva who ‘harbors adolescent fears’ and ‘wades in insecurity’. If this slow piano-and-voice ballad drags a bit, it finds Ms. Carey, who is still only 25, struggling to develop a more personal lyrical voice. Whether or not she succeeds almost doesn’t matter so long as she continues to make pop music as deliciously enticing as the best moments of ‘Fantasy’.”


chapter 7 -

Daydream 3. After the album release

Mariah at Madison Square Garden

3.1 Mariah at Madison Square Garden On October 10, 1995, Mariah performed a soldout show at Madison Square Garden. It was a one off show, partly to celebrate the release and immediate success of Daydream, but mostly to prepare Mariah and her crew for the coming tour. And it also provided the opportunity for another home video, Fantasy: Mariah Carey At Madison Square Garden, again directed by Lawrence Jordan. It might have been Mariah’s second concert video - amazing for a performer who’d only played a handful of live shows - but it was more relaxed and upbeat than her last outing. This was immediately apparent when Mariah took the stage clad in the pants and shirt she’d worn for the album cover and went straight into “Fantasy”. She was accompanied by the people who’d become her live musical core: Dan Shea on keyboards, Vernon Black on guitar, Randy Jackson playing bass, Gigi Conway on the drums, percussionist Peter Michael, and music sequencing by Gary Cirimelli. All were under the direction of Walter Afanasieff, while Kelly and Cheree Price, Melonie Daniels, and Cindy


chapter 7 - Mizelle provided backing vocals. It was a crew that was used to each other, that worked well together. The concert offered a selection of material old and new, with the emphasis on tunes from Daydream. Mariah was joined by Boyz II Men for a glorious version of “One sweet day”, and then Wanya Morris took Trey Lorenz’s part for “I’ll be there”. Perhaps the biggest surprise to everyone came at the end of the concert, however, when Mariah left the stage after “Vision of love”. The Puffy remix of “Fantasy” began to play over the P.A., and Ol’ Dirty Bastard was suddenly onstage, rocking the house with his rap, as images from the video flashed on the screen. All in all, the concert was a huge success, giving Mariah the chance to air her vocal chords in public. And for someone whose performances had been limited, she seemed remarkably at ease in such a big place, working the crowd, establishing a rapport. The concert was released on video on March 4, 1996, and on DVD on November 16, 2004. The video also has a snippet from the Fresh Air Fund benefit she’d done the year before at St. John the Divine, with Mariah singing “Joy to

scene from the Fantasy: Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden video

Daydream the world”, as well as footage of Mariah at Camp Mariah, talking to the kids. And, to round things off nicely, there was also the video for “One sweet day” and the remix video for “Anytime you need a friend”.

Mariah receives two American Music Awards

3.2 Award shows After the release of Daydream, Mariah received many award nominations, including two American Music Award nominations and a remarkable six Grammy nominations. Daydream had obviously had a major impact on the awards committees. But it was the American Music Awards that provided the greatest gratification, as Mariah won the award for favorite female artist in both the Pop/Rock and Soul/R&B categories. For someone who was just beginning to see herself as an R&B singer, this was heartwarming indeed. It was certainly better than the Grammy show.


chapter 7 - Mariah performed “One sweet day” with Boyz II Men, and after her performance, Mariah spent the rest of the evening in her seat, passed over time and again in every category in which she’d been nominated, as Joan Osborne and Alanis Morrissette walked away the big winners of the evening. “What can you do?” she’d say later. “Let me put it this way. I will never be disappointed again. After sitting through that whole show and not not winning once, I can handle anything. But - and I know everyone always says this - I wasn’t expected to win.” However, she didn’t let the losses get her too far down. Once the show was over, the parties began, and although there were reports that Mariah spent the entire time in a corner, sulking, that simply wasn’t the case. In fact, she said emphatically, “I actually had a great time there and was one of the last to leave. I practically closed the joint.” 3.3 The Daydream tour The Daydream world tour was Mariah’s second tour, after the Music Box tour in 1993, and her first tour to have dates out of the United States. The tour was held in honor of the success Daydream, but also to promote the album across Europe and Asia (specifically Japan). The tour was her second shortest tour to date, with only seven dates in Japan (March 7, March 10, and March 14 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan) and Europe (June 14 at the Festhalle in Frankfurst, Germany; June 17 at Ahoy in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, June 20 at Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy in Paris, France; and June 23 at the Wembley Arena in London, the UK). The brief tour was considered both a commercial and a critical success. Many of her fans believe that her voice during the tour was at its highest point, she sang from a low husky voice to strong high climaxes, her voice was so rich and powerful and many of the performances from the tour are considered to be her best live

Daydream vocal performances. This tour established Mariah’s concert-going fan base in Japan; all of her subsequent tours would also visit that country, a regularity unusual for an American artist. Mariah broke the box office record at the 50,000 seat Tokyo Dome after her three shows there sold out in less than half an hour, a record which had been held by the Rolling Stones.


chapter 7 - Everything reached fever pitch on March 7, as Mariah took the stage in Tokyo for the first time. Japanese audiences had a reputation for being reserved, but they quite openly adored her. For Mariah, though, it was nerve-racking at first. “First of all, you’re in front of so many people that basically don’t speak your language,” she said on MTV’s “Week in Rock”, adding “It took a little getting used to, but I think by the end of the show, you know, everybody started to kind of relax.”

Mariah at the Wembley Arena in London

As the anticipation for Mariah’s arrival and her shows grew, Japan found itself in the grip of Mariah mania. There were articles and pictures everywhere. She was even covered on the national news. Merry Christmas became Japan’s all-time top-selling album, only to be surpassed a few weeks later by Daydream. This would give Mariah four of Japan’s top five all-time bestselling albums. Of course, she had been quite visible in Japan for a while. In 1994, Sony had made her its “image girl” in a MiniDisc advertising campaign. And “All I want for Christmas is you” had been the theme song for a very popular Fuji TV Christmas drama. Then, to coincide with the tour, Mariah’s face began appearing in lipstick ads for her own brand, manufactured by the Japanese cosmetic company Kose (one of the sponsors of Mariah’s Japanese dates).

Mariah descending in an elevator

The stage set for the tour was the largest Mariah had performed on. It contained three sections: center stage, left flank, and right flank. Center stage contained two platforms where the band and backup singers were situated, a center set of stairs, a curved staircase to the right, a giant screen at the center, a huge chandelier that hung from the ceiling, and a giant cylindrical cage with an elevating platform in the middle for Mariah to make her entrance at the start of the show, which can me moved aside when not needed. The left and right flanks were both the same: they had long runways extending outwards in opposite directions, the walls were giant screens which changed colors throughout the show for ambiance, and at the end were saller screens so the audience could see Carey

Daydream performing. The concert began with “Daydream interlude (Sweet Fantasy Dub Mix)”, with Mariah being taken down the cage on the elevating platform. She ad libed the words to the song quietly over the microphone, and the song stopped when she opened the cage’s doors, and the lights flicked on and off rapidly as she greeted the audience. The band then started playing “Emotions”. The intro to the song was cut in half, and the ending skipped from the last chorus to the famous whistle register notes at the song’s end. She then sang her rendition of the Journey classic “Open arms”. The next song she performed was her then-single at the time, “Forever”. She moved over to the set of stairs on the right side of center stage and surprised her fans by singing “I don’t wanna cry”, a move most unexpected, since she has stated that she tries to sing the song as rarely as possible. After her song ended, the band continued playing an instrumental version of the song while Mariah was offstage, changing costumes for the next section of the concert. Music began playing again; it was a soft, and almost sci-fi sounding, combining synths and chimes, which turned out to be an extended version of the intro to the lead single of Daydream, “Fantasy”. Mariah performed the original version of the song, as opposed to singing the “Bad Boy Remix” of the song as she did during the Butterfly and other later tours. A group of dancers joined her during the performance, using the same dance moves seen in the song’s music video. She then spoke briefly with the audience, telling them that she wanted them to sing with her during the next song, “Always be my baby”. The part she taught with them was “do do doop”, and told them that it was a competition between each section of the stadium on who could sing it the loudest. She then exited the stage to change outfits yet again, and the background singers got a chance to shine on Shaka Khan’s “Ain’t nobody”.


chapter 7 - The lights dimmed a dark blue and purple color, and on screen appeared stock footage of Boyz II Men from the Fantasy: Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden concert in October 1995. The band began playing “One sweet day”. Because of conflicting time schedules between Mariah and Boyz II Men, Boyz II Men was unable to tour with her, so during the song at all the concerts, Boyz II Men’s parts from the album cut were played over the speakers and footage of them appeared on the center screen, while Mariah continued to sing live. After the song was over, the curtains fell, and Mariah sang her “favourite song from the new album”, “Underneath the stars”, followed by her rendition of the Badfinger song “Without you”. She was then accompanied by the Chapel of Hope Choir in singing “Make it happen”. After the lights went down at the end of the song, she left the stage for yet another costume change. The lights suddenly flickered on, and a pop/rock instrumental played, while a dancer appeared and started brakedancing. He was them joined by a group of other dancers, followed by Mariah, who began singing a cover of The SOS Band’s “Just be good to me”. She then sang “Dreamlover”, and then left the stage for one final costume change. A familiar synth intro started playing, and Mariah began singing her first single, “Vision of love” as she appeared at the top of the winding staircase. She continued singing as she slowly made her way down the stairs. Once the song was over, she sang her signature song, “Hero”. The last song of the show, “Anytime you need a friend”, she dedicated to the audience. She was accompanied once again by the Chapel of Hope choir, and started off with the album version. She then surprised the audience by transitioning into the more upbeat “C&C Remix” version of the song, and she exited the stage via the spiraling staircase, while the choir, band, and dancers continued the song, thus ending the concert.


Mariah performing “All I want for Christmas is you”

During the Tokyo Dome concerts, following the performance of “Anytime you need a friend”, Mariah returned to the stage for one last encore by performing her biggest Japanese hit, “All I want for Christmas is you” specially for her Japanese fans. Footage of the home video version of the music video played, while she wore the red dress and go-go boots from the back and white 1960s music video. She exited the stage through the elevator cage, ending the concert with one last kiss to her fans over the microphone. 3.4 Crave Records Where Mariah went was a place not many had expected her to go: she started her own record label. Her aim was not to release her own records - she was very firmly contracted to Columbia, and had no wish to change that - but to run the label herself, under the auspices of Sony, which would give her excellent distribution. She’d spent a lot of time talking to people at Sony about it, and planning everything. The label, which she christened Crave (although she would never reveal why), was formed on February 12, 1997 by Mariah, Epic Records Group Chairman David Glew and Rick Bisceglia. In many ways, it would be a vanity project, not unlike Madonna’s


chapter 7 - Maverick label, which was distributed through Warner Bros. However, it would also be a viable commercial entity. “I want to discover new talent that otherwise would end up nowhere,” she said. “I know exactly how it feels to have a tape and not to have anybody listening to it seriously. I had a lot of luck. I was there at the right moment. For a lot of upcoming talents it is very hard to get in touch with the important people.” The first act Mariah signed was a hip-hop duo from Queens, New York, called Blue Denim, which included Kimberly (”Kimmie Kat”) James, the younger sister of Salt’N’Pepa’s Cheryl James. Immediately, Mariah was working with them in the studio, writing and singing hooks on a few tracks, on an album that would be released in the fall of 1996. But it would be early 1997 before Crave achieved its first chart hit, when the single “Head over heels”, by the all-female R&B group Allure, cracked the Billboard Hot 100. “I’m trying to work with any of the artists who want my input or want help or want to collaborate,” Mariah told Fred Bronson. “And it’s cool for them because I’m a peer. I reached success at an early age and it’s easy to relate to me as a friend, not just a record company person.” Mariah also signed male R&B trio 7 Mile, who

David Glew, Mariah, and Rick Bisceglia

Daydream released a self-titled album. Crave Records came to an end in July 1998. Rumours are that Sony stopped this project after Mariah and Tommy Mottola split up. On July 14, Mr. Showbiz reported that “Mariah Carey seems to be tying up all the loose ends from her prior life as the wife of Sony music head Tommy Mottola. The Hollywood Reporter says the scantily clad Butterfly singer has decided to shut down her Sony Music label, Crave Records, the home to such acts as Allure and 7 Mile. Carey did not give a reason for the decision, but said she will work with Sony to find a home, most likely at Epic Records, for the artists and her Crave employees. The diva also seemed to hint that more changes may be in the works: ‘The most important thing for me and Sony Music is making sure the artists are well taken care of, whether they end up somewhere else with me in the near future or stay within the Sony system.’ Carey formed Crave last year, but the label’s future has been in doubt since the singer’s quickie divorce last March from Mottola.” Mariah was disappointed and relieved at the same time. Being involved with developing new artists and working with them in the studio had been a joy, but dealing with the endless rounds of paperwork and the corporate bottom line had not. During its one year of existence, Crave had produced one top ten single - “Head Over Heels” by the group Allure - and its other acts had shown across-the-board promise more than enough to justify Crave’s survival. So, what happened? The press reported that the end of Crave was caused by a combination of financial considerations and Mariah’s lost of interest in the day-to-day work required to run a label. The rumor-mongers immediately jumped on Crave’s end as a nottoo-subtle act of revenge against Mariah in the aftermath of her divorce from Tommy. Mariah did not want to believe that was the case, but she confessed in Lounch magazine, “My situation with Sony is far more unique and complex


chapter 7 - because of the personal aspect of what it used to be.” In 1999, she told the News Straits Times what happened to Crave Records: “It was a total mess. It didn’t work out for political reasons. If I had a label again, I’d want to be more involved creatively.”

Butterfly 1. Recording the album 1.1 A change The remainder of 1996 saw Mariah writing, working in her home studio in Bedford, and thinking. Thinking about her life. Success could seem like an end in itself, and Mariah was continually surrounded by the rewards of everything she’d done: the awards, the platinum records, even the house itself, which she and Tommy had spent a reported $10 million on, splitting the cost right down the middle. She was beginning to have an inkling, however, that something in her life wasn’t the way she wanted it to be. Everything seemed idyllic, almost as if her life was charmed, but that was simply on the surface. Deeper down, Mariah wasn’t happy. As usual, she’d be staying up all night, working until 7am. Or if she was spending time in the city, she’d be out, hanging out at clubs, hearing the latest music. She could sense the changes happening in herself. She was ready to have her music move even more radically toward R&B and hip-hop for her next record, but according to sources, Columbia wasn’t too happy about that. When she’d done the “Fantasy” remix with O.D.B., she said, “Everyone was like, ‘What are you, crazy?’ Columbia is very nervous about breaking the formula. It works to have me sing a ballad on stage in a long dress with my hair up.” While Columbia president Don Ienner, who’d been involved with her career at Columbia from day one, said he’d been “incredibly positive” about the remix, he did admit that “There might have been some who fought it.” But the remix worked. Not only did it garner a lot of press, it was incredibly popular, proving Mariah right. And she was realizing that the girl who’d built her career on ballads had grown up, had become a sensual woman. The big ballads no longer represented her quite the way they once had done. It was a change that had been


chapter 8 - happening gradually, but it was definitely there. Now she was, by her own definition, R&B. “She gets in the car, puts on her radio stations, and it’s always R&B,” said Walter Afanasieff. “She knows every song, every word, every rap out there.” As the year progressed, Mariah found herself taking on a number of different writing partners for her upcoming project. There was Walter, of course, but also people like Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot, who was just starting to hit it big; Cory Rooney (who also happened to be in charge of Black Music at her Crave label); and Stevie J. She’d even be talking to Sean “Puffy” Combs about having him produce one of the album tracks, as opposed to just a remix. This time out, she was going to fully show her colors. “I’m not this one-dimensional girl who sits in a field wearing a flannel shirt or stands onstage singing only ballads,” she insisted. “And I feel I’m in a better position to ecpress myself at this point.” According to some, Tommy preferred her singing ballads. Perhaps it was something that illustrated the eighteen-year age gap between them. Perhaps it was his personal taste. It made for an odd situation, albeit one they’d always managed to work out. He was her husband, and ultimately her boss. But she was one of his star attractions. 1.2 Acting lessons By January 1997, Mariah was ready to record, eager to get into the studio, a place that, over the last few years, had been virtually a home to her. But at the same time, that feeling gnawing at her made her want to try something new. In early interviews, she’d always denied wanting to get into movies, but now she started acting lessons, five days a week, with renowned New York coach, Sheila Grey. In some ways, it worked as therapy, giving her a chance to return to some of the rocky terrain of her childhood. “It’s been an incredible release for me,” she admitted. “I



chapter 8 -

would come out of sessions emotionally drained, because I was getting in touch with all this stuff that I’d never really dealt with - even things from my childhood.” One moment of revelation came when Grey asked her to return to a place in her life where she’d felt safe and “I didn’t have one. I couldn’t think back to a place that didn’t give me a feeling of shakiness or some negative memory.” 1.3 The seperation Whether the acting lessons were the catalyst, or whether something had been building for a long time and finally reached a head, on May 30 Mariah and Tommy announced their separation. To those who’d said from the very beginning that they were an unlikely match, it was time to rub hands gleefully as their predictions came true. In reality, however, it was a sad time; there’s never joy to be found in the end of a marriage. Immediately, rumors began to fly about the causes. Some charged that Tommy had been nothing less than a control freak, refusing to let his wife have handsome men in her videos, not wanting her to wear tight, sexy clothing she loved, even monitoring her calls at home. Supposedly, in December 1996, Mariah had begun spending more and more of her time in Manhattan, rather than Bedford, using New York studios to do all her pre-production work on her new album, and living in hotels. There were also unconfirmed rumors floating around that she’d begun an on-and-off affair with New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, whom she’d met at a benefit for the Fresh Air Fund in November. A few went so far as to cite this as he cause for the breakup. Naturally, there were cynics who believed that Tommy had married Mariah both as a trophy and as a ticket to greater success for his label, and those who felt she’d wed him as a way to further her career. All this, however, was nothing more than speculation and innuendo. But it was generally

Mariah and Tommy at the TJ Martell Foundations 22nd Annual Awards Gala on May 8, 1997

agreed that Tommy hadn’t wanted the marriage to end, and that Mariah had done her utmost to make it work. “She gave it a million percent,” one friend commented. Many factors can strain and break a marriage. It was quite possible, in this case, that the age difference and the difference in tastes had something to do with it. And the mix of personal and business situations couldn’t help but complicate any other issues. Mariah was twenty-three when she married, and still had a lot of growing to do. Her childhood might have been hard, but for the most part, her adult years had been insulated, hidden away in recording studios. She hadn’t had a change to spread her wings and truly discover herself. Perhaps in Tommy she saw the father figure who had never really been present in her life. Whatever the reasons, with the announcement, the marriage was largely over after a little less than four years. Both Mariah and Tommy had stayed largely quiet about the causes. They hadn’t been the ones assigning blame and firing salvos at each other. Instead, they’d taken the high road of silence. But no matter what they said or didn’t say, the rumors would have flown, anyway; that was the nature of the world. And silence was all for the best in

Butterfly more ways than one. Tommy had signed a new contract with Sony that would keep him in his position for another five years, and Mariah still owed the company five albums, which meant they’d be working together for quite a while. Acrimony wouldn’t have served either one of them well. “I love Tommy, and he always be a part of my family,” Mariah said in an interview with Elysa Gardner in The Los Angeles Times. “There’s absolutely no bitterness between us. The best thing I could hope for would be to have a great friendship with him, becuase he is someone I respect and admire and look up to in many ways. But right now, it’s my time to grow as an independent woman.” And that, if the tabloids were to believed, meant being seen out with all manner of men. Besides Jeter, Mariah was linked with Sean “Puffy” Combs, rapper Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, and even Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris, the two having apparently fallen for each other during his birthday party at the Metrodome in New York. There were also rumors that she was partying with gangsta rappers. Not long after the rumors appeared in print, Mariah’s application to buy a Manhattan apartment in a co-op building was turned down by the board. “It was ridiculous,” Mariah said. “There were rumors and lies about me about me being the next queen of gangsta rap, which did not help.” And, she admitted, the press attention she was receiving was unlike anything she’d known before. “I’ve never had to deal with this before, because I’ve never been out there in this way. All of a sudden, journalists are like, ‘Whoo! Here she goes! Stop the presses, she’s going wild!’ The fact is, I end up collaborating with more men than women in my work, and I form friendships with most of the people that I work with. But that doesn’t mean that I’m sleeping with all these guys! I’m not!” In truth, the last thing Mariah wanted was to go into another relationship. “I have a lot of trust issues,” she admitted in


chapter 8 - Cosmopolitan. “I don’t know if there’s anybody whom I fully trust. And I don’t need to sleep with, like, one hundred guys to make up for lost time. If I’m with somebody, it’s going to be because I really love him, not because I feel the need to go wild.” She’d made the personal break from Tommy, although she’d never had any intention of leaving Columbia - for one thing, she was legally tied there. To signal the start of a new life, a new Mariah, she also parted company with her manager, Randy Hoffman, and her attorney, Allen Grubman. Her new manager would be Hollywood dealmaker Sandy Gallin, who was based on the West Coast.

1.4 In the studios “My songs have never been this personal before”, Mariah said, and once glance at the lyric sheet emphasized the truth of that statement. Musically, not everything on “Butterfly” was as drastic a move toward hip-hop as “Honey”, but nevertheless this didn’t seem like the same Mariah who’d made “Music Box”. There were ballads, with the title track Mariah’s “absolute favorite”, which she called “the best ballad I’ve ever written”. But even the ballads were lean, sinewy, and strongly weighted to R&B. And it was very notable that one of them was dedicated to Tommy. For the up-tempo tracks, Mariah had widened

Butterfly her range of collaborators. She seemed to have her finger on the pulse of music, picking people who would become very hot, like Puff Daddy and Missy (”Misdemeanor”) Elliot, with whom she cowrote “Babydoll”. “Mariah, she listens to rap”, Elliot said. “She’s straight up just cool.” On remixes of “Honey”, there would be raps from Da Brat and Mase, while “Breakdown” would find Wish Bone and Krayzie Bone from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rapping. This was the album of someone way into hip-hop, not a wannabe. All the money in the world couldn’t buy this kind of credibility. “I started the album last January [1997] and finished early August”, Mariah explained in Jet. “But, I did three videos in between [as well as “Honey”, she made video for “Breakdown” and “Butterfly”, the last of which she’d also directed]. This album is definitely something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. There were songs I wanted to do in the past. I recorded them, but they never got on the album. That happened even on the first album because some people felt they were too R&B or whatever the terminology was. It’s been a gradual process of my being able to say that this is what I’m doing to do at this point. People owe it to you to let you express yourself. With all the changes that I’ve gone through both professionally and personally, it was a release to work on the album.” For the first time, she’d really thrown her caution away, and that made this album particularly gratifying, “because it’s something that I feel fully responsible for and because I took chances.” It wasn’t just “Honey” that was getting widespread airplay. “Breakdown” was being widely requested, as was “Butterfly”, particularly after the video Mariah conceived and directed began hitting heavy rotation on the music channels. It seemed odd, at leat part of her inspiration came from the “weird dreams” she’d had after taking melatonin to help her sleep. In one dream,


chapter 8 - she’d been chasing something that leapt a barbed-wire fence. Mariah had tried to follow, but couldn’t, and cut her finger on the wire. “I didn’t put the blood in the video. Too gory.” “Butterfly” gave new grist to the critical mill, but the acceptance that had begun with “Daydream” seemed to more or less continue, albeit rather halfheartedly. Writers seemed to want to point out Mariah’s split from Tommy, noting its impact on her lyrics, now that she was a “free woman” again. “Fans will find Butterfly full of the kind of glossy, richly decorated love tunes that shimmer when illuminated by Carey’s bright voice”, noted David E. Thigpen in Time, pointing out, “It continues the evolution that Carey began on Daydream - away from pure pop toward a keener-edged R&B and hip-hop influenced sound.” He felt this was a much more adult record: “Underneath its cool sheen runs a thread of insecurity and loneliness that gives Butterfly a richer, more mature outlook.” In Entertainment Weekly, David Browne found her a slightly unconvincing R&B queen, simply because of the “penthouse-culture setting” that was her lifestyle. He was willing to concede, though, that she was moving toward R&B, but she was “caught between old and new habits and taking cautious baby steps into the future.” Overall, the record didn’t convince him. While it was “pleasant”, he felt that “Carey’s attempt at musical maturity ends up backfiring. The very-slow-jam grooves have an intimacy lacking in her previous work. But the arrangements especially the oozing vocal harmonies on many tracks - mute the impact of the lyrics. The most distinctive tracks on Butterfly are still its gushy, sky-high ballads.” While it was true that there were out-and-out dance tracks on the album, that had never been Mariah’s intention. Hip-hop had largely moved away from the freneticism of Public Enemy to catch a groove that was more laid-back, a groove that suited Mariah’s voice perfectly. Whether or

Butterfly not the critics accepted it, those involved in hiphop did, and most importantly, so did the fans, the final arbiters of what was good or bad. If they hadn’t liked the album, they wouldn’t have gone out by the millions and bought it, quickly sending it to triple platinum in the United States and to number 1 in Japan.


chapter 8 -

Butterfly 2. The album 2.1 Introduction Butterfly includes contributions from producers such as The Trackmasters, Puff Daddy, Stevie J and Walter Afanasieff. In a 2006 interview with MTV Overdrive Carey referred to the album as “ahead of its time”, and she said she considers “Babydoll”, “Breakdown” and “The roof” as “still some of my favourites”. She referred to Butterfly in a 1997 MTV televised interview as one of her closest albums, because it was the first to really begin to express her personality. When asked which among her albums is her favorite, Carey insists that Butterfly would be at the top of the list. Butterfly debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart with 236,000 copies sold in its first week. It remained at number one for one week, in the top twenty for twenty-one weeks and on the chart for fifty-five weeks (making one re-entry). The album sold more in both its fourteenth week and fifteenth week of release than in its opening week, peaking at 283,000 copies in its fifteenth (when it was at number eight). It has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA and produced two number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Honey” and “My all”. “Honey” became the sixth single (and the third by Mariah) to debut at number one on the Hot 100. The album also yielded the airplay-only singles “Butterfly” and “Breakdown”. “The roof” and “Whenever you call” received limited release in some countries. By 2005, the album had sold over 3.7 million copies in the USA and over 15 million copies worldwide. “Honey” was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song, while “Butterfly” was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The album won International Pop Album of the Year at the Gold Disc Awards in Japan, and also won at the IFPI Platinum Europe


chapter 7 - Awards. For Butterfly, Carey won the Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B award at the American Music Awards of 1998. The album also helped Mariah win the BMI Pop Awards for Songwriter of the Year and the Songwriter awards for “Honey”, “Butterfly” and “My all”. Additionally, Mariah won the Top Female Artist Blockbuster Entertainment Award. In Asia, it is the only album of Mariah to have released six singles, four of which went to number one, with the two other singles reaching the Top 20. This is the most successful album in terms of single release, as the songs went to maintain in the charts for a long period, from late 1997 until mid-1998. Rolling Stone described Butterfly as “a transitional album” for Mariah, who placed herself firmly in the “milieu of hip-hop-inflected R&B” and give it three stars: “On what is something of a transitional album, the recently separated Mariah Carey moves still further away from the warmed-over Whitney Houston of Carey’s early recordings and firmly into the milieu of modern, hip-hop-inflected R&B. The surprise is that she does it rather well.” All Music Guide gave it four stars, stating that “it is one of her best album”. “Upon its release, Butterfly was interpreted as Mariah Carey’s declaration of independence from her exhusband (and label president) Tommy Mottola, and to a certain extent, that’s true. Butterfly is peppered with allusions to her troubled marriage and her newfound freedom, and the music is supposed to be in tune with contemporary urban sounds instead of adult contemporary radio. Nevertheless, it feels like a Mariah Carey album, which means that it’s a collection of hit singles surrounded by classy filler. What is surprising about Butterfly is the lack of up-tempo dancepop. Apart from the Puffy Combs-produced ‘Honey’, Butterfly is devoted to ballads, and while they are all well-crafted, many of them blend together upon initial listening. Subsequent plays

Butterfly reveal that Carey’s vocals are sultrier and more controlled than ever, and that helps ‘Butterfly’, ‘Breakdown’, ‘Babydoll’, and the Prince cover, ‘The beautiful ones’, rank among her best; also, the ballads do have a stronger urban feel than before. Even though Butterfly doesn’t have as many strong singles as Daydream, it’s one of her best records, illustrating that Carey is continuing to improve and refine her music, which makes her a rarity among her ‘90s peers.” Billboard magazine called it “a milestone record for one of the most successful and visible artist of the nineties”, while Slant included it in the feature “Vital Pop - 50 Essential Pop Albums” giving it four and a half stars. An entire episode was dedicated to Butterfly on VH1’s Ultimate Albums series. The 2005 book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die referred to Butterfly as “astonishing”, “stunning”, and “an album on which bitterness becomes beauty and glumness becomes gold”.

scene from the “Honey” video

2.2 Honey “Honey” was the first single of Mariah’s album “Butterfly” and released in August 1997. Especially for this album, Mariah measured herself a new look. She was sexier than ever. The public got its first taste of the new, freer Mariah when the video for “Honey” premiered on MTV. As it was meant to do, it turned heads. Suddenly, Mariah was grown up, Agent M, very sexy, showing a lot more of herself - in


chapter 8 - more ways than one: in action escaping from a mansion, riding a jet ski while evading the pursuing thugs, and ending up on a beach safe in the arms of a hunk. This was, for the first time, Mariah as a babe. Not only that, but the music was different. “Honey” went all the way into hiphop, further than Mariah had ever gone before, thanks to Puffy being at the controls. Apparently, he had been given a free rein to do his magic - magic that already produced two consecutive number 1 singles, “I’ll be missing you” and “Mo money mo problems”. About “Honey” Mariah says: “Puff and I wanted to work together, making the first single. We were doing all sorts of things, so I already had a few songs I liked, but it wasn’t quite exactly wat I was looking for. The original idea for ‘Honey’ is based on the song ‘Body rock’ by Treacherous Three. He let me hear it on the phone, and my reaction was: This is it. So I wrote ‘Honey’ referring to that song, and we worked together at Puffy’s house.” The idea for the video had been entirely Mariah’s. “It was my whole concept,” she said. “Director Paul Hunter and I talked about it for a while, and collaborated on it.” Shot during the summer in Puerto Rico, “It was a grueling process, I’m not going to say it was easy. I got up at 3 am every day, and worked until 9 in the morning the next day - for four hours in a row, swimming in my Gucci pumps. I can’t say that I really jumped off the roof, but I did dive into the pool. And I did wear and swim in those pumps, and I was not happy.” The video starts out with Mariah, clad in a revealing dress and 4-inch metal stiletto heels, being held prisoner in a mansion. After escaping her captors via a swimming pool, she takes off her dress in the water to reveal a bikini, inspired by Bond girl Honey Ryder’s famous white bikini in Dr. No (1962). Mariah dresses into a wetsuit and uses a watercraft to evade her captors, who are also on watercraft. The video is intercut with sequences of Mariah singing in a two-piece

Butterfly outfit on an island, and sequences involving her dancing with sailors. Mariah’s captors interrogate the sailors, but she is nowhere to be seen. The video ends with Mariah frolicking around on a beach with Cuban American male model David Fumero and her dog, Jack. The video was nominated at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video but lost to Madonna’s “Ray of light”. Many at the time (and up to the present day) made comparisons between the video and Mariah’s real life. Prior to the release of the Butterfly album, Mariah had spent several years married to Sony Music Entertainment executive Tommy Mottola, who was also responsible for discovering her. Mariah has commented that she was very unhappy in the marriage, and likened the experience to imprisonment. In addition, she charges Mottola with being very jealous and, as a result, Mariah was made to cover her body with clothing so as not to come off as sexually desirable. In the video, Mariah is imprisoned by thuggy Italian-types, which reflects on Tommy’s Italian heritage and his rumored ties to the Mafia. When she escapes, she sheds her dress and (for the first time in her career) is without clothing, appearing in just a bikini. People saw the whole video as a passive aggressive slap in Tommy’s face, especially because the video was all Mariah’s concept. Even Walter Afanasieff, who was loyal to both Mariah and Tommy (his employer), called it “the most incredibly coincidental thing that you could put out. Everything in the video is ‘Fuck you, Tommy’.” Mariah, however, insisted that that simply was not the case. There was no slight to Tommy intended in the video, and the people who thought there was were just imagining things. Even so, a few insisted that the video was a parody of the way she’d been treated. And what was Tommy’s reaction? “Tommy loves the video,” a spokesperson said, “and says it’s the best yet from Mariah.” With its clothes and sensuous


chapter 8 - looks, it was certainly racier than any video she’d made before. “I don’t really think the video is overly sexual,” Mariah contested. “But for me - I mean people used to think I was the nineties version of Mary Poppins.” Wether the “Honey” video was controversial or truly innocent was irrelevant to most of the people who watched it on television. Or to those who rushed out the week of the single’s release and gave Mariah something that had never been achieved before - her third single to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number 1. Its importance went well beyond its chart placing, however. “Honey” was the record that gave Mariah hip-hop credibility. Before that, she’d been seen as a pop singer with R&B tendencies, someone who might have liked hip-hop, but who wasn’t really a part of the scene. “Honey” changed that perception, and even those who’d once dismissed Mariah as a wannabe were forced to take a second look. To be fair, a good deal of this success had to do with Sean (”Puffy”) Combs’ production, but the song had originated with Mariah, after she’d worked with rapper Q-Tip, from A Tribe Called Quest. “They had an idea and they asked me to come in and produce the record,” Combs said. So far it seemed so good. But he wasn’t allowed in the studio when Mariah was doing her vocal takes - an odd situation for a producer. “A lot of people feel I’m overbearing,” Combs explained, “so I wasn’t allowed there. I’m trying to work on that. I’m such a perfectionist, sometimes I don’t give people the chance to breathe. Mariah recorded ‘Honey’ until she thought it was perfect, like a hundred times. She gave me a hundred tracks to choose from.” The combination of Mariah and Puff Daddy seemed to be magical, and there was no denying “Honey” had exactly what the charts were looking for, even if it seemed like a fairly radical departure for Mariah from the music for which she was known. But it was really the product of a woman who now felt in a position to express herself

Butterfly more freely. With its samples of “The body rock” by Treacherous 3 and “Hey DJ”, on top of Q-Tip’s drum programming, Stevie J’s keyboards, and additional vocals from Mase and The Lox, this was a Mariah no one had had a chance to hear before: very sexy, very sassy, very contemporary. Like all of Combs’ productions, “Honey” sounded dense, but there was a lot of space within the sound. “I don’t know where I got the idea about honey and love, but I like it,” Mariah said. This hit not only made her the first artist to have three singles go straight in at number one, but it also gave her the most number-one hits of any female solo artist - twelve - one ahead of both Madonna and Whitney Houston. And it put her in a fourth-place tie with the Supremes for the most number-one singles, behind only Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and the Beatles. She was now in very prestigious company. And, essentially, it made her a classic pop-era singer, not that she wasn’t one already. “Honey” only lasted at number one for two weeks, but somehow that didn’t matter. Its impact had been made, and the “new” Mariah had been announced. After its sales had begun to decline, radio airplay was not strong enough to keep “Honey” popular, and it began a new trend for Mariah’s singles that did not end until the release of “We belong together” in 2005: the CD-Single would sell well, but the song would only achieve average success on the radio. Her records became increasingly less successful on charts that were weighing airplay far more heavily than sales. “Honey” remained in the USA top forty for eighteen weeks and was ranked thirty-second on the Hot 100 1997 year-end charts. “Honey” was a substantial hit outside the USA, going top three in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. Its success across most of Continental Europe, however, did not rival that of singles such as “Hero”, “Without you” and “Fantasy”. It peaked inside the top ten in Sweden and Australia. In Asia, the song peaked at number one,


chapter 8 - though Mariah’s image seemed to be very controversial now that she had revealed more skin and exemplifiend a sexier look. The lyrics of the song according to some critics in Asia seemed racy, and the video itself was the manifestation of the different vibe Mariah had offered. In the Philippines, the song became the first single ever to debut in the top three. “Honey” debuted at number three on the United World Chart, making it the highest debut for a female artist on the chart at the time. Billboard wrote about the song: “Carey has been gravitating closer to the jeep/hip-hop realm with each release over the last several years. With this preview of her forthcoming album, ‘Honey’, she immerses herself in the sound with sterling results. Although the presence of the scorchinghot Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs is firmly felt, La C is no puppet. Her flair for giddy romance remains prominent in her lyrics, as does her penchant for complex, ear-pleasing vocal arrangements. The chorus is thickly layered with smooth, seductive harmonies that effectively drive home the quietly insinuating hook. And there’s nary a sign of her glass-breaking high notes. Instead, she serves rich and soulful midrange belting that indicates her notable growth as a stylist. Carey deserves mega props for breaking beyond her safety zone and accomplishing the tricky feat of delivery that will appeal to both the pop masses and hardcore street purists.” Several remixes were commissioned for “Honey”, most notably the Bad Boy remix and the Classic mix, the latter of which appears on Mariah’s remix compilation The Remixes (2003). The former is similar to the original version, but there is a new spoken intro from Mariah in which she states, “I thought I told you, we won’t stop.” The string chords present in the original “Honey” are entirely excised from the Bad Boy remix, and it features rapping by The Lox and Mase. The rap from Mase entirely replaces the second chorus of the song, while the Lox’s parts replaces a section

Butterfly of the song’s bridge. The song’s main remix, “Honey (Bad Boy Remix)”, also has a music video, with additional sequences directed by Paul Hunter. Much of the footage of the video for this remix is from the original video, with the new sequences featuring Mariah with Mase, the Lox (later known as D Block), and Puff Daddy in a long beige tunnel flowing with water (”The honey tunnel”). During Mase’s rap, Mariah is rescued by Mase (rather than joining the sailors on the boat) when he lowers a rope into the ocean from his helicopter. Another major hip-hop mix of the song was released: “Honey (So So Def Mix)”, produced by Jermaine Dupri and featuring raps from him and Da Brat. Mariah re-recorded some of her vocals, but most lyrical and melodic structures are kept similar to the album version. The song uses a new sample from “It’s great to be here” (originally performed by The Jackson 5), but it does not use “The body rock” from the album version and the Bad Boy remix. The So So Def remix does use the sample of “Hey DJ”, but in a different manner: the album version and the Bad Boy remix use the piano riff from “Hey DJ”, while the So So Def remix uses the line “Hey JD, won’t you play that song, keep them dancing, dancing all night”. David Morales created several dance remixes of the song, the most notable being “Honey (Classic Mix)”, and variations of this include “Honey (Def Club Mix)”, “Honey (Rascal Dub)”, and “Honey (Boss Anthem Mix)”. These give songwriting credit to the writers of “The body rock”, although this is not sampled. Morales is also credited as a songwriter for the remixes, although they are close to the original melodic and lyrical structure of the original song. Billboard magazine’s dance music editor, Larry Flick, wrote in his column: “One creative change Carey did not make in approaching ‘Honey’ was linking with David Morales to reconstruct the song into a hands-in-da-air house anthem. There’s no denying that Carey and Morales have


chapter 8 - a chemistry and kinship that results in records that could not be topped by others. Morales has built a festive, handbag-happy, beat that gives the chorus a fluttering urgency that begs for radio attention. Meanwhile, Carey has re-cut her vocal, underlining the song with a sassy, seductive, tone that would make a club legend like Donna Summer mighty proud. Although she’s turned up the voltage of her performance to match the groove, she continues to dodge the temptation to simply howl. She soars to impressive heights, but also plays with her words with the freewheeling flow of a jazz musician. In fact, there’s one point when she takes the phrase ‘I need it’ and hammers it into a vocal breakdown that rivals Morales’ typically aggressive percussion interludes. Midway through our first foray into the track’s eight-plus minutes, we got lost in fantasies of what will happen when Carey and Morales finally get around to writing together. Stoked and hungry for more? We certainly are.” “Honey” was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Awards for “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance” and “Best R&B Song”.

scene from the “Butterfly” video

2.3 Butterfly “Butterfly” more than lived up to the promise. Mariah had described it as her favorite, and the best thing she’d ever written, and it was easy to hear why. Co-composed with Walter Afanasieff,

Butterfly who, with Dan Shea, handles all the instruments, it was very personal, and different from any ballad she’d written before - richer, sexier, more grounded on the R&B she loved, but without any traces of gospel influence (indeed, there’d be none of that on “Butterfly”). As it was meant to, it soared. This ballad combines elements of pop and gospel, but Mariah had originally conceived it as a house record with David Morales titled “Fly away (Butterfly reprise)”. After realizing how personal the lyrics were and how they could be applied to the album, she wrote “Butterfly” with Walter. “Butterfly” was the second single from the album, released in November 1997. Mariah said about the song: “Some say that this song is completely different from my other songs, but I think it sounds like ‘Fantasy’ or something. It’s not sung very high, but more in the middle of my range. Strictly speaking, it all comes down to the use of my voice.” Although this is a very beautiful song, accompanied by a beautiful videoclip, the single was not very successful. In the UK it only reached number 22 (the worst result in five years time), number 27 in Australia, and in the Netherlands it got stuck at position 52. In the USA it wasn’t even released as a single. It did not appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart because it was not issued as a commercial single. Billboard magazine rules at the time stipulated that a commercial release was required for a song to enter the Hot 100. But it was a moderate success on charts that airplay-only singles were allowed to enter, such as the Rhythmic Top 40, Adult Contemporary and Mainstream Top 40 charts, and it reached number sixteen on Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay chart. The single’s video was co-directed by Mariah and Daniel Pearl. It is inspired by the Tennessee Williams’ play Baby Doll and a dream of Mariah’s. It starts with a man leaving a house with Mariah


chapter 8 - inside, and Mariah is then seen wandering through a forest with horses. David Morales created several dance remixes of the song - in addition to the original version of “Butterfly”, which is known as “Fly away (Butterfly reprise)” - among them the “Fly away club mix” (an extended version of “Fly away (Butterfly reprise)”) and the “Def ‘B’ Fly” mix (a variation of the “Fly away club mix” with completely resung vocals of the original “Butterfly”). “Fly away (Butterfly reprise)” reached the top twenty on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, and a shortened version is included as an interlude on the album Butterfly. Latin remixes of “Butterfly”, influenced by the musical styles of flamenco and salsa, were also commissioned by Meme. They include “Butterfly (Sambatterfly)”, “Butterfly (Classic Bossa Nova)”, and “Butterfly (Meme’s Extended Club Mix - Part 1 & 2)”. Billboard wrote about the song: “While ‘Honey’ had a natural edge of adventure, the lovely ‘Butterfly’ is classic Carey, from its gospel-kissed ballad instrumentation and choir chants to the diva’s soaring, glass-shattering performance. This should not imply, however, that she is covering crusty old ground. The notable maturity in her lyrics and worldly warmth of her vocal reflect the growth that she has continually strived to attain. The fact that it’s placed in a mildly familiar package that Carey’s faithful followers will be quick to embrace is only a bonus.” “Butterfly” was nominated for the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, which it lost to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a mystery”. 2.4 My all “My all”, another collaboration with Walter, took Mariah deeper into the territory she’d explored with Babyface on her last album. The surprise was that Babyface hadn’t been involved with the song. The sound, the lushness, even the style seemed to have his marks. But Mariah and


scene from the “My all” video

Walter wrote, arranged, and produced the whole thing themselves. Even the guitar arpeggios were not quite real, sampled then played on the keyboard. But “My all” succeeded, it had the kind of slinky, slow-jam R&B sound that Toni Braxton had once made her own, and it fit Mariah like a glove. Mariah about this song: “On this album is so much more about myself - more than I’ve ever recorded. It’s personal, I wrote ‘My all’ when I came back from Puerto Rico (after recording the video of ‘Honey’) and I think I was still in a Spanish sphere. There is an Latin kind of feeling in it.” Although “My all” was the fifth single released from Butterfly, it was only the third major single release and the second commercial release in the USA. “My all” became Mariah’s thirteenth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making her the female artist with the most USA number-one hits (she had previously shared this record with Diana Ross). Promoted in the USA as a double A-side with “Breakdown”, it debuted at number two (her second to do so following “Always be my baby” in 1996), and two weeks later it ascended to number one. It spent one week at the top of the chart, from May 17 to May 23, 1998, Mariah’s only one-week stay at number one at the time.


chapter 8 - “My all” continued the trend in Mariah’s singles begun with “Honey” of strong sales but moderate radio airplay, which worked against its chart performance because the formulations made by Billboard magazine during this period were becoming much more focused on radio airplay than sales. It spent eighteen weeks in the top forty, was certified platinum by the RIAA and was ranked sixteenth on the Hot 100 1998 year-end chart. The single was a success outside the USA, achieving top ten peaks in the United Kingdom, Brazil, France and Switzerland, and reaching the top twenty in many other countries. It remains one of Mariah’s most endearing ballads and a favorite among non-fans as well. The single’s video, shot entirely in black and white and on location in Puerto Rico, was one of the last music videos directed by fashion photographer Herb Ritts before he died. The video (released in March 1998) starts with Mariah lying on an overturned rowboat in the ocean and progresses to her exploring the beach past flowers and a beam from the beach’s lighthouse. The images of Mariah lying in the shell and in front of the flowers were inspired by Sandro Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus. The video climaxes to a scene where Mariah and her lover make love, but then ends with Mariah alone. “My all” ranks among one of Mariah’s most remixed tracks, and two maxi singles were released in the USA. The main R&B remix of this single is the “So So Def” remix, which features re-recorded vocals by Mariah. It is built around a sample of the Loose Ends song “Stay a little while”. Mariah’s vocal interpolation blends the first verse and chorus of “My all” with the verse and chorus of “Stay a little while”. It was produced by Jermaine Dupri and features raps from Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. The song’s main dance remix is by David Morales. Known as the “Classic Club mix”, it is Mariah’s first collaboration with Morales for

Butterfly which she did not record entirely new vocals. Consequently, the song is fairly close to the original chord progressions of the album version, though some new vocals were added. The remix was a major dance hit, consolidating Morales and Mariah’s positions as club hitmakers. This remix was used as a dance break on the Charmbracelet world tour in 2003 and the Adventures of Mimi Tour in 2006. Mariah recorded a Spanish version of “My all”, “Mi todo” (translated by Manny Benito), and it was released outside the USA on the “My all” single and the Latin American versions of Butterfly. Unlike “Hero” and “Open arms”, Mariah recorded the Spanish version of the song in a different key from the original English version. The first line of the song had been mistranslated and was grammatically incorrect, and Mariah later mentioned on her website that she would no longer record Spanish versions of her songs until she could verify the correct lyrics and pronunciation. Columbia Records commissioned Ippocratis “Grego” Bournellis (a.k.a. DJ Grego) to remix “Mi todo”, but these mixes were only released promotionally in Mexico.

scene from the “My all/Stay awhile” video

In June 1998, a remix CD-Single was released, called “My all/Stay awhile”, and a video was filmed, directed by Diane Martel. It features Mariah, Jermaine Dupri, Lord Tariq,


chapter 8 - and Peter Guns partying at a friend’s house. The video was shot in a grainy fashion to simulate a home video.

scene from “The roof (back in time)” video

2.5 The roof In Australia “Breakdown” was released as a single, but in Europe the executives choose “The roof (back in time)” as the next single. It was released in March 1998. Mariah: “This is my favourite song of the album. I’ve recorded it with the Trackmasters, they are so cool. I had an idea to do something with a sample of one of mine favourite songs, so I went to them and together we put everything in place. There’s only one version of this song on the album, but we’ll definetily make a remix, hopefully with those who did the original song.” “The roof” incorporated bits of “Shook ones” into its sound and produced by Poke and Tone with Mariah, it had been composed by Mariah with a number of others, including Cory Rooney, who contributed keys. Lyrically, this was some of her best work ever, the melody slinky and overtly sexy, confirmation - as if any was needed by this point - that this was a new Mariah. “The roof” was not released commercially in the USA, though its music video received rotation

Butterfly on MTV and VH1. The single’s main video, codirected by Mariah and Diane Martel, is based on the Mobb Deep extended remix of the song. It shows Mariah in a limousine on a dark and rainy night. Eventually, Mariah gets out of her limo and into the rain to relieve her memories. The video was re-edited slightly for the version of the song without the rap by Mobb Deep, and the re-edited video was also released to MTV and VH1. In 2003, Slant magazine named it the eighteenth greatest music video of all time, writing that it “finds the singer at her least artificial. Carey displays a stark innocence and authentic vulnerability that had been missing from much of her previous work. Shot in a seedy hotel room and a dark limousine, the gritty images did plenty to redeem the singer of her bubblegum pop past.” David Morales and The Full Crew created remixes of the song. 2.6 Fourth of July “Fourth of July” is another ballad co-written with Walter, and as close to the old Mariah as Butterfly came. And even this was jazzier than she’d been in a long time, much closer to, say, “Vanishing” or “The wind” than to “Hero”. But even then, it was less straight-forward, with more of a swing and even a touch of sass. 2.7 Breakdown “Breakdown” and “Babydoll” are perhaps Butterfly’s backbone, its real declaration of independence. “Honey” stood at one extreme, while some of the ballads stood at the other. Pure R&B, these songs occupied the middle ground. “Breakdown” saw Puffy and Mariah behind the boards again, with guest raps from Wish Bone and Krayzie Bone from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, who also helped out with the backgrounds. Like “Honey”, “Breakdown” showed Mariah treading forcefully into territory that was new for her and making it her own. It had a melody that


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scene from the “Breakdown” video

simmered under her vocal, and a groove that was irresistible. “Breakdown” was the third single of the album and released in February 1998. It was first released in Australia and only later in the USA (as double a-side, together with “My all”). In Europe, on the other hand, “The roof” was released as a single. Because of conflict between Mariah and her record label at the time, Sony, it was only given a commercial release in Australia, where it performed modestly and remained in the top forty for three weeks. A remix of the song was promoted to USA radio stations. It appeared on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 Airplay chart and reached the top twenty on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and Rhythmic Top 40 charts. In the Philippines it was a huge success, becoming one of first R&B and hip-hop songs to dominate the charts. Because R&B had a different vibe, Mariah’s affiliation to the urban scene increased popularity of the genre in the Philippines. The single eventually reached number one, matching the success of the previous Butterfly singles - “Honey”, “Butterfly”, and “My all”. Mariah about “Breakdown”: “I told ThugsN-Harmony I wanted to record something with them. Their reaction was something like ‘OK...’. I think I shock people with the ideas I have, but

Butterfly I believe the result is ok. You know you keep working on, so you don’t realise you’re breaking down, because you are so fixed on the thing you’re working on. That’s what this song is about.” Slant magazine called “Breakdown” “the song of Carey’s career where the lyrical strokes are as broad and obvious as they are naked. This is the height of her elegance and maybe hip-hopsoul’s, too.” In their review Billboard magazine called it a “wickedly infectious ditty”, and All Music Guide said that it “ranks among her best”. The LA Weekly mentioned that “Breakdown” “took signature elements of new-millennium R&B - breathy vocals, rap star cameo, lyrics about heartbreak - and did what almost no one else who’s used the formula has been able to do: trip onto that rarefied plane where music, words and voice all converge into pure emotion”, going on to call it a “sublime recording” and “one of the best R&B performances of the decade.” Since its release, “Breakdown” has become a favorite among several fans of Mariah and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, and Mariah commented in a 2006 interview with MTV Overdrive that “Breakdown”, along with other songs from Butterfly, was one of her favorite of her songs. She mentioned in the liner notes of her hits compilation #1’s (1998) that she intended the track to be included on a future “greatest hits” release. She suffered a physical and emotional breakdown in 2001, and consequently the song was not included on her compilation album, Greatest Hits, released later that year. It featured on her remix collection The Remixes (2003). The single’s video (released in March 1998) was directed by Mariah with the assistance of Diane Martel. It sees her take on the role of various “casino girl” roles, including the cabaret girl, showgirl, cowgirl and lucky charm, and members of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony make appearances in the video. Larry Flick wrote the following review for


chapter 8 - Billboard: “Carey dips into the jeep-smart Butterfly and pulls out this wickedly infectious ditty that pits her against the rapid-tongued rapping of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. But unlike other records of this ilk, the rhymes are tightly sewn into the track’s primary vocal arrangement and are crucial to the evolution of the song’s lyric. In fact, Carey successfully matches the unique pace and pattern of the rap with fluttering, high-pitched vamps. In a sea of sound-alikes, ‘Breakdown’ is a refreshing change of pace. It’ll help her make giant strides toward the hip-hop credibility she’s been gunning for while opening the minds of many a mainstream pop listener. 2.8 Babydoll “Babydoll” teamed Mariah with yet another writing partner, Missy Elliot. “I had the hook already,” Mariah explained, “as well as a melody and lyric for the chorus. Then she and I collaborated on a new melody for the verse, and we did the first verse, and the second half of the second verse together.” “Her people called and wanted me and (producer) Timbaland to do a song with her,” Missy told MTV News about the union. “So she flew down, I guess in her private jet, to Virginia where me and Timbaland live, and we went to the hotel, and kicked it for the whole night. Just sat in the hotel, and wrote a song called ‘Babydoll’ which is hot, it’s hot. It looks different because me and Mariah have two separate styles of writing and they come together, it’s gonna be something nice.” Unlike much of the album, which was recorded in New York at Mariah’s Crave Studios or The Hit Factory, or even at WallyWorld in California, Walter’s home base, much of “Babydoll” came together in Atlanta, where Missy lived. This had a bonus, since it helped reunite Mariah with an old friend who lived there - Trey Lorenz, who added to the background vocals. “Babydoll” was a vocally driven piece, as sensuous as Mariah was

Butterfly likely to get, with a sparse arrangement kicked along by some inventive drum programming by Cory Rooney. David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly: “On ‘Babydoll’, the creamy-smooth come-on at the center of Butterfly, she positions herself as just another lovesick homegirl waiting for the object of her affections to call. ‘‘Zoning out thinking about/ You and me between the sheets,’ she purrs over a comforter-soft slow groove imagine En Vogue just waking up. This homegirl, however, is hanging out in her ‘hotel suite’ and calling her service for messages. Taking a sip of wine, presumably delivered by the hotel restaurant, she sings breathlessly that tonight she’s going to ’leave my cell phone turned on’.” 2.9 Close my eyes “Close my eyes” was written and produced by Mariah and Walter, and a favourite of many fans. According to Mariah, women who have suffered abuse during childhood or in relationships have told her that “Close my eyes” saved their lives. David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly that ‘’Close my eyes” has a “late-night moodiness that effortlessly attains the aural sophistication she clearly wants. It isn’t the best song for postparty cruising, but sometimes, the girl can’t help that, either.” Mariah “paints herself as ‘a wayward child/with the weight of the world’ who worries ’maybe I grew up/a little too soon’. It isn’t a reach to interpret these songs as describing life with the reportedly controlling Mottola.” 2.10 Whenever you call “Whenever you call” was written and produced by Mariah and Walter Afanasieff. The protagonist of this ballad discusses how she didn’t want to fall in love but did, and that if her lover should ever need anything, she will be there for him “whenever he calls”. Because Sony had requested that Mariah participate in the release of a greatest hits


chapter 8 - collection, “Whenever you call” was issued as a promotional single only. Mariah re-recorded the song as a duet with Brian McKnight for the hits collection #1’s, but it was not given heavy promotion as a single. Despite lack of promotion, it was a minor hit reaching number 16 on both the Hot 100 and R&B airplay chart. Its video, directed by Diane Martel, is based on the solo version of the song from Butterfly. It is a montage of shots from Mariah’s 1998 Butterfly world tour as she travels to locations such as Hawaii, Japan, and Australia. 2.11 Fly away (Butterfly reprise) Mariah had visualized the title track, “Butterfly” as a house record. The legacy of this is in the David Morales-produced “Fly away (Butterfly reprise)” (based on the Elton John song “Skyline pigeon”). The song was made instead into a ballad, which she co-wrote with Walter Afanasieff. “It’s like a twist on the original record,” Mariah said. “Actually, when I wrote ‘Butterfly’, I had a house record in mind, but then I started thinking about it while writing it, and it turned into a ballad. But I had to do the other one too, so they’re both on the album.” This gave the fans a chance to explore the original possibilities of the song, and it did kick along to a thumping house beat, propelling some inventive keyboard and vocal work, showing yet another new facet of Mariah. 2.12 The beautiful ones “The beautiful ones” with Dru Hill is a cover of Prince’s song from the soundtrack Purple Rain. This wasn’t a reprise of “One sweet day” in any way, but a homage to one of Mariah’s favorite artists, done with the help of one of the best R&B groups around. Voices slid into each other, showing how simple, but how good and how effective the song was. And while it might not have added anything to the original, it did offer a lovely vocal outing. David Browne called “The beautiful ones”

Butterfly simply derivative and “reduced to a slushy vocal showcase for Carey and new-jack crooners Dru Hill.” 2.13 Outside Mariah has said the album’s closing track, “Outside”, is “about being multi-racial and feeling like I was from another planet”. It was written by Mariah and Walter, but interestingly, for the first time on one of the ballads, they added a third person in the control room, Cory Rooney, who added to the song’s feel. Spare, pleading, this was Mariah stripped to the basics, lyrically and musically, finishing it all as she’d started: stronger, prouder, a new woman, a natural woman who’d come into her own.


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Butterfly 3. After the album release 3.1 Release party The release was celebrated, not with a concert, but with a rare public appearance by Mariah, who autographed copies of the disc at Tower Records, at Sixty-sixth Street and Broadway in New York. Crowds lined the street overnight to have the chance to see her. The day before, she’d been on Oprah Winfrey’s show, singing “Butterfly” and “Hero”, and on November 12, she’d been the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” (just as she had been when “Mariah Carey” appeared), singing “Butterfly” and “My All”. And on September 16, came the “official” launch of the record, with a party at New York’s Pier 59 Studios.

Butterfly CD release at Tower Records, New York


chapter 8 - The moon and the stars were out Tuesday night September 16, 1997 at New York’s Pier 59 Studios to celebrate the release of Mariah’s new album, Butterfly. Models Tyson Beckford and Beverly Johnson brought the glamour, while Pras of the Fugees brought the praise for Mariah’s new release. “Oh yeah, she’s definitely going to sell some more records this time around. It’s got new flavours. It’s different. There’s a twist to it,” Pras said. Tommy Mottola also attended the party. Despite their recent separation, they were seen working amicably at the event. Mariah insisted that the situation is fine. “It’s called being grownup about the situation and moving on,” she said.

#1’s 1. The album 1.1 Introduction With Butterfly continuing to show a steady chart presence and its sales heading toward five million copies - ultimately reaching a total of ten million - there really was no rush to put out another studio album. But with the lucrative holiday season coming, Sony was wringing their collective hands at the possibility to having no Mariah Carey album in stores for the first time in nearly a decade. The answer seemed simple. Mariah had a total of thirteen number one hits in her career, more than enough to fill a greatest hits album. And greatest hits albums by topselling artists had become something of a Christmas tradition and were usually money in the bank as well as a guaranteed chart fix. But Mariah felt that simply releasing a greatest hits package was like preaching to the converted and believed her fans should be rewarded for their support with something new as well. She couldn’t spare the time to produce a whole new album from scratch, so a compromise was reached. The greatest hits album, #1’s, would also contain four new songs. The bonus tracks would include “When you believe”, her duet with Whitney Houston, another duet, this one with singer Brian McKnight, “Whenever you call”, “I still believe” and “Sweetheart”. International versions of #1’s also include “Do you know where you’re going to (theme from Mahogany)”. The album was released on November 16, 1998 in Europe and a day later in the USA. It was certified five-times platinum in the USA after debuting and peaking at number 4 on the Billboard 200. Sales of #1’s were higher than expected, and its commercial success has been credited with influencing the content of later greatest hits albums by other acts. #1’s was released in the same week as several other albums by high profile musicians such as Garth Brooks, Jewel and Method Man,


chapter 9 - as well as Whitney Houston’s My Love Is Your Love. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote “This is the week that the thunder rolls in your local music store. The mega events should be tripping over one another.” MTV News called November 17 “what is shaping up to be the music industry’s Super Tuesday. Most onlookers know that first week sales aren’t everything, but they will also tell you that they are pretty darn important.” #1’s entered the Billboard 200 at number four with 221,000 copies sold in its first week, which The Daily Cougar called a “smash debut”. It was Mariah’s lowest peaking album at the time alongside Emotions, but within a month the RIAA had certified it double platinum, and in its sixth week of release (ending January 2) its weekly sales peaked at 360,000 copies. As executives at Columbia had done during the album’s development, Eric Boehlert of Rolling Stone noted the importance of the release date of #1’s and other albums on sale during the same period: “Artists who make a habit of hitting it big during the holiday shopping season are wise indeed, as sales traditionally skyrocket. This year is no exception.” The consensus among the music press was that Mariah’s insistence on including the new material made all the difference in increasing sales figures more than expected. Including some new with the old in a greatest-hits package had been tried from time to time by other artists with varying degrees of success, but with the triumph of #1’s, it would become a regular element in nearly all future greatest-hits albums. As such packages go, #1’s was a solid retrospective of Mariah’s chart hits, but because these songs were oversaturating the radio, including a favorite nonhit album track or two might have made a nice change. The new songs were a definite bones even though none ever really rose to the spectacular level of her best, they added up to a nice touch but little more. #1’s was the nineteenth best-selling album

#1’s of 1999 in the USA, and the year’s second biggest-selling compilation album. As of late 2005 it had sold 3.52 million copies according to Nielsen SoundScan, with an additional one million sold at BMG Music Club outlets by early 2003. It reached the top five on album charts in Switzerland and Italy, and the top ten in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It debuted at number one on the Oricon album chart in Japan with Carey’s highest first-week sales (1,046,710 copies), and by late January it had sold 3.25 million. This made it the most successful foreign album of all time in the country, a record previously held by The Bodyguard (1992). By 2003, #1’s had sold an estimated fifteen million copies worldwide according to the website Dotmusic, which reported that it was the 103rd biggest-selling album of all time. As of 2005, #1’s has sold an estimated 17 million units worldwide. Mariah said she strongly felt that there should be a clear distinction between #1’s and a traditional greatest hits album, and because of this she lobbied for Sony/Columbia not to title the album Greatest Hits or refer to it as a greatest hits album. She told MTV, “It’s not a ‘Greatest Hits’, I ain’t even been out ten years. It’s only the number-one songs I’ve had.” In an interview with VIBE magazine she explained that her favorite songs she had recorded were ones “that never got any light. Everybody swung it like I didn’t want to put something out because I wouldn’t accept less than a number-one pop single. That’s not even true. Like I didn’t want to ‘break a streak’, I had records that didn’t got to number one.” She has frequently cited “Underneath the stars” and “Breakdown” as examples of songs she unsuccessfully campaigned for the commercial release of: “I’ll always be upset ‘Breakdown’ never got its shot,” she said. She also said that time limitations enforced by record executives prevented many singles from being released from each album: “With me it was like,


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album signing at Virgin Megastore, New York City on November 17, 1998

‘Get in the studio! More records! Sing! Sing!’.” In an open letter to the fans, Mariah wrote: “First of all - this is not a greatest hits album! It’s too soon, I haven’t been recording long enought for that! This album is a ‘Thank you’ and an acknowledgement of my gratitude to all of you out there for making these records #1 on the charts. One day, I will put out a greatest hits with songs that didn’t even go on the charts because they were never commercially released (i.e., ‘Breakdown’, ‘Underneath the stars’, ‘Butterfly’, etc.) or songs that came out that didn’t go to #1 that are, in my opinion, better than some that did (i.e., ‘Make it happen’, ‘Anytime you need a friend’, ‘Endless love’ with Luther, or ‘Can’t let go’). This is a tribute to my fans for all your love and support since day one. I chose the bonus tracks for various reasons. ‘Sweetheart’

#1’s - because I ain’t got one! Try that one on! Ha ha. ‘When you believe (from The prince of Egypt)’ - because to me, it almost is a miracle that Whitney and I are on a record together! After meeting and working with Whitney Houston, I have gained a whole other layer of respect for this truly talented woman in so many ways. ‘Whenever you call’ with Brian McKnight - I feel that it was one of the best songs on the ‘Butterfly’ album and Brian’s vocals made it so beautiful. ‘I still believe’ reminds me of the fact that not so long ago I was a teenage girl with nothing to my name but a demo tape, my voice and my ability to write songs. Brenda K. Starr treated me like a ‘star’ and gave me a shot as a back-up singer. This remake is my tribute to her. Thank you to everyone who’s ever helped me out in any way, shape or form. Encouragement, support, dedication and friendship. You know who you are (especially you, mom). Thank you God for my life and the faith in you that has brought me this far. Love and thanks, Mariah.” Stephen Thomas Erlewine from the All Music Guide wrote about the album: “Protest as she may - and she does - it’s hard to view #1’s, Mariah Carey’s first compilation, as anything other than a greatest-hits album. Carey was fortunate enough to have nearly every single she released top the pop charts. Between 1990’s ‘Vision of love’ and 1998’s ‘My all’” all but four commercially released singles (’Anytime you need a friend’, ‘Can’t let go’, ‘Make it happen’, ‘Without you’) hit number one, with only a handful of radio-only singles (’Butterfly’, ‘Breakdown’) making the airwaves, not the charts. That leaves 12 big hits on #1’s, all number ones. Since Carey’s singles always dominated her albums, it comes as no surprise that #1’s is her best, most consistent album, filled with songs that represent state-of-the-art ‘90s adult contemporary and pop-oriented urban soul. That said, it isn’t a perfect overview - a couple of good singles are missing because of the self-imposed ‘#1 rule’; plus, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard


chapter 9 - mix of ‘Fantasy’ is strong, but fans familiar with the radio single will be disappointed that the chorus is completely missing on this version. The album is also padded with a personal favorite (her Brian McKnight duet ‘Whenever you call’, taken from Butterfly) and three new songs - the Jermaine Dupri-produced ‘Sweetheart’, the Whitney Houston duet ‘When you believe’ (taken from The Prince Of Egypt soundtrack), and ‘I still believe’, a remake of a Brenda K. Starr tune - which are all fine, but not particularly memorable. Still, that’s hardly enough to bring down a thoroughly entertaining compilation that will stand as her best record until the ‘official’ hits collection is released.” Other critics were less favorable. Entertainment Weekly said the album “showcases Carey’s primary limitation: wan, homogeneous songs. Hearing them months apart on the radio makes them passable, but strung together they’re like a mile-long elevator ride.” Amy Linden of Launchcast commented, “While these may be the tracks that sold the most and charted the highest, these aren’t necessarily Mariah’s best songs. Not when the sinuous ‘Breakdown’ is left out of the mix in favor of the ersatz TV-theme music ‘Hero’.” #1’s received a 1/10 rating in Britain’s NME magazine, and its critic wrote: “I fear Mariah Carey. Superficially, she might seem like a purveyor of saccharine bilge like ‘Hero’. But that’s bullshit. You don’t sell 90 million records unless you reserve that fluffy bunny stuff for your sucker fans. You gotta be cold-eyed, hard-boiled and have balls of steel. She’ll do whatever it takes. And her most fiendish weapon is the duet. If the MOR market needs servicing, she’ll duet with Luther or Whitney. If her contemporary edge needs sharpening, she’ll hang with the Wu-Tang Clan. If you’re big in the R&B charts, like Brian McKnight, she’ll be in there, like a heat-seeking parasite. She don’t give a fuck. She destroys competition by sucking them dry and spitting

#1’s them out.” Slant magazine in 2001 called #1’s “self-congratulatory”, and referred to the album Greatest Hits as “the singer’s first proper hits compilation”.

scene from the “Sweetheart” video

1.2 Sweetheart “Sweetheart” was recorded by Rainy Davis and written by Rainy Davis and Peter Kessler. The song reached number 24 on the R&B chart in 1986. Jermaine Dupri and Mariah Carey coproduced their cover of the song for Dupri’s debut album Life In 1472. The song was released as a single on October 6, 1998, and was meant to be given full single treatment, with the manufacturing of commercial CD-Singles and CD maxi singles (among other single formats). Sony retracted the commercial single at the last minute, and it was never officially released. Some retail outlets received the commercial singles, and many of them were sold. Most stores gave them away free, or as free extras with the Life In 1472 or #1’s albums. Many were still left, and controversially sold them for a while from January 2000. “Sweetheart” was only given a commercial release in parts of central Europe and Asia, where it garnered minor success and reached the top twenty in most markets. In the Netherlands it


chapter 9 - reached number 14, in Germany number 15, and in Switzerland number 18. The commercial single was originally scheduled for release in the USA before the eligibility rules for the Billboard Hot 100 chart were changed to allow album cuts to chart. Following the change of rules for the Hot 100, the rules for the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart were changed as well, to allow airplay-only songs that were “bubbling under”, or had not yet entered the Hot 100, to chart there. “Sweetheart” began to receive radio and video airplay in autumn 1998, and on the first week of the rule change and at the end of its run as a promotional single, it entered the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at twenty-five and remained on the chart for one week. Mariah and JD re-recorded their vocals for a remix of the song, known as “Sweetheart (the story)”, which features more raps by JD and fewer vocals by Mariah. Lil Jon, Mark Picchiotti, and the Latin remixer known as M also created remixes of the song. The single’s video, directed by Hype Williams, shows Jermaine and Mariah in various locations ranging from a modern Spanish art museum (the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao) to a secluded beach and an exclusive nightclub. The song’s theme of having a “sweetheart” runs throughout the video. 1.3 When you believe “When you believe” is a song originally composed by Stephen Schwartz, and later refurbished by writer-producer Babyface, as the theme to the film The Prince Of Egypt. It was the main theme of the film and was released as a single by Mariah and Whitney Houston as the soundtrack’s first single in 1998. It was also the first single from Whitney’s album My Love Is Your Love. Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks used trickery to get Mariah and Whitney sing the lead song. He told Mariah that Whitney was

#1’s doing it and told Whitney that Mariah was doing it. They both said yes. Mariah said about the project: “The way they’re bringing the story to life is incredible. It’s a ground-breaking movie. Our involvement in it was something special.” For years, the press had painted Mariah as heir apparent to Whitney’s title of Queen of the Divas and, in the process, had built up a nonexistent rivalry between the pair with reports that the two singers would often fuel this conflict with alleged snide put-downs. The reality was that no such animosity existed as far as the two singers was concerned, and doing the song would give the the opportunity to clear the air. The recording of “When you believe” turned out to be a joyous occasion for Mariah. She and Whitney immediately bonded, and the session that resulted in “When you believe” was often punctuated by laughs and the kind of conversations only good friends have. Whitney agreed that “Mariah and I had good chemistry together”. Mariah added in an MTV interview, “If we were ever going to come together of any kind of record, this is definitely the right one, and really the coolest thing to me is all the drama and everybody making it like we had a rivalry. She was just really cool, and we had a really good time in the studio. We had fun.” Mariah and Whitney recorded their tracks separately, but Mariah decided to re-record her track after hearing Whitney’s. Babyface said he went through more than one version of the song and described its production as “an ordeal”: “It’s not a normal R&B song. It’s a beautiful song but it’s a movie song. It’s not a normal song for Whitney or Mariah or myself,” he explained. Mariah, however, said she “liked the song the way it was”. She has characterised it as “a very big ballad but in an inspirational way” and denied speculation that there had been prior rivalry or animosity between her and Whitney prior to its recording: “I never even really talked to her until this. We never had any issues between us. The


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scene from the “When you believe” video

media and everybody made it an issue.” Whitney said, “Mariah and I got along very great. We had never talked and never sang together before. It’s good to know that two ladies of soul can still be friends.” Years of media speculation of a feud between Whitney and Mariah led to expectations that a duet would be a great hit and break many chart records, especially as they were successive record-holders for a single with the most weeks at number one. But “When you believe” only peaked at fifteen on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It fitted a trend of Mariah singles during this period of high sales and low airplay, and most of Whitney’s singles before and after the release of “When you believe” were not as successful as her earlier releases. It remained on the Hot 100 for nineteen weeks and reached the top five on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, and it was both Mariah’s and Whitney’s first single to appear on the new Top 40 Tracks chart. It was certified gold by the RIAA, and was ranked ninety-ninth on the Hot 100 1999 year-end charts. The single was more successful outside the USA. It reached number 1 in Israel, the Philippines, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, number 3 in Italy, number 4 in the United Kingdom, number 5 in Italy and the Netherlands,

#1’s and number 8 in Germany. “When you believe” was also a top twenty success in Australia, reching number 13, but only peaked at number 26 in Canada. Mariah had been in disagreement with the producers of The Prince Of Egypt as she wanted to be involved in the writing and production of the song, but the producers did not want her to. Conflict also arose between Stephen Schwartz and Babyface after Schwartz left Babyface’s name off the submission sheet for the Academy Awards when the song had been nominated for “Best Original Song”. Schwartz had argued that Babyface should not receive Oscar credit as his version of the song (with Mariah and Whitney) contained additional musical elements (such as the new bridge) which had not been part of the original as heard in the film. Mariah and Whitney performed Babyface’s version of the song live at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1999, however only Schwartz was awarded the Oscar. In the film, this song of inspiration is performed by the characters Tzipporah (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Miriam (sung by Sally Dworsky). The protagonists of this ballad recall tough times that have them questioning their faith: they have prayed for many nights to God but those prayers seem to remain unanswered, and they wonder if they are wasting their time. Nevertheless, they realize that although times may be difficult, “there can be miracles when you believe” in God. For the commercial pop single, Babyface was enlisted as the song’s producer to make it more friendly to pop markets. The major change was that the section of the song featuring a children’s Hebrew choir was removed and replaced with a new bridge. “When you believe” won the 1999 Academy Award for “Best Original Song” and was nominated for a Golden Globes for “Best Original Song”. It also received a Golden Satellite Award nomination for “Best Original Song in a Motion Picture”. It was nominated for the 2000 Grammy


chapter 9 - Award for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals”, losing to “I still have that other girl” by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello. As Mariah is part Latin, Mariah and Whitney were also nominated for “Outstanding Performance of a Song for a Feature Film” at the ALMA Awards. The single’s video was filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and shows Mariah and Whitney in a dark studio accented by Egyptian settings, backdrops, and scenes inspired by The Prince of Egypt. An audience is on hand to emulate a concert like setting. Occasionally, home video clips of Mariah and Whitney appear throughout the video. The video ends as the room is illuminated, and the two singers are joined by a large choir. A few variations of the song exist, including an extended version with a longer intro and bridge which can be found on The Prince of Egypt soundtrack, a television track, and an instrumental version. One of the features of the song is when Mariah and Whitney sing a section of the song in thirds. They have done this live, and still kept in tune. 1.4 Whenever you call Mariah co-wrote and co-produced the song “Whenever you call” with longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff for the album Butterfly, but she said she decided to re-record it for #1’s as a duet with Brian McKnight because she felt it was one of the best songs on Butterfly and many of her fans liked it. She also said McKnight’s vocals “made the song so beautiful”. Brian said, “It was amazing to go into the studio with someone who’s so successful, and has that kind of track record. Mariah is someone who could ask anyone in the world to sing with her, and they called me. The album contains a duet with Whitney Houston... it’s just been great company to be in.” 1.5 I still believe “I still believe” was first recorded by Bunny


scene from the “I still believe” video

DeBarge in 1986. A year later, Chrysalis artist Brenda K. Starr also recorded a version of the song, who just happened to be employing a back-up singer named Mariah Carey at the time. The song is based on a real life relationship of one of its songwriters, Antonia Armato. Armato’s former boyfriend had proposed to her, but she felt that the timing was not right. He was not pleased, and pushed her into an ultimatium: to get married or break up. Even though Armato loved her boyfriend at the time, she stuck to her convictions and the couple broke up. To deal with her emotional pain, Armato wrote the song. “I still believe” was released as the first single from Brenda’s self-titled album in 1988 and peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Brenda’s first and only top twenty single on the Hot 100. Its video comprises scenes of Brenda singing the song in a warehouse intercut with scenes of her walking past many romantic couples. It is considered her signature song. In 1996, she recorded a new version of it. While the original version of the song was dancepop, the re-recording was based on a more Latin-styled production, and parts of the song were also translated into Spanish. The original version was ranked seventh on VH1’s list of “40 Most Awesomely Bad Breakup Songs”. Mariah co-produced her cover of the song with Stevie J and Mike Mason. It was released as the


chapter 9 - album’s second single on February 9, 1999 in the USA and on March 1, 1999 in Europe. Mariah re-recorded the song as a tribute to Brenda, as she had been her backing singer and Brenda had helped jump start Mariah’s career by handing a demo tape to Sony executive Tommy Mottola, who then signed Carey’s first recording contract. Unlike “When you believe”, “I still believe” enjoyed more success within the United States than elsewhere, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. Though it was Mariah’s first single to chart on radio airplay points alone, its airplay was relatively low while sales were much stronger. It was certified platinum by the RIAA, and was ranked thirty-sixth on the Hot 100 year-end charts for 1999. Outside the USA, it was most successful in the Philippines, where it peaked at number 1. However, in most countries it settled in the middle of the charts, such as in the United Kingdom where it reached the top twenty. It entered the Canadian top ten, but did not reach the top forty in Australia or Germany. The single’s video, directed by Brett Ratner, was heavily inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s 1953 visit to US troops in Korea for a USO show. It shows Mariah (who emulates Monroe’s make-up and hairstyles and Judy Garland’s performance gestures) visiting an air force base and singing for soldiers as Marilyn had done during the Korean War. A remix of the song was produced by Mariah and Damizza, titled “I still believe/Pure imagination”. It differs significantly from the original, as it retains none of the music and only minor lyrical elements. The melody is based heavily on interpolations of the song “Pure imagination” from the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), and the song features rapped and sung parts by Krayzie Bone (of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) and Da Brat. An abbreviated version of “I still believe/Pure imagination”, without Da Brat and more from Krayzie Bone, can be found on Bone’s album Thug Mentality.


scene from the “I stille believe/Pure imagination” video

A video for the remix was commissioned and directed by Mariah herself, showing her as a peasant girl in a Mexican village as she tends to her goats and gathers water for her family. Bone is portrayed as a pariah of sorts in the town, in whom Mariah may have a romantic interest. Da Brat takes on the role of the community gringo, as she arrives in a car with a lot of money. Several other remixes of the song were created, and each was carefully overseen by Mariah, who re-recorded her vocals for all of them. Stevie J, who co-produced the original song, enlisted the help of rappers Mocha and Amil to join Mariah on a remix he was developing. Although it contains completely new musical elements (with no music derived from the original and only small lyrical elements), Mariah, Stevie J and the rappers do not receive songwriting credit. David Morales created several remixes of the song, including the “Classic Club” mix. It retains the song’s original music and chord progressions with Mariah’s original vocals and considerable ad libs. Other remixes by Morales include “The King’s Mix” and the “Eve of Souls” mix, which do not contain complete vocals of the song, and feature little more than ad libs and shouting over club beats.


chapter 9 - Billboard wrote about “I still believe”: “Lifted fresh from Carey’s flawless #1’s collection, this new track will warm the hearts of those who recall Brenda K. Starr’s original version from 1988, since Carey recorded the track as a tribute to Starr. (Followers will remember that she’s the one who gave Carey a lead in the music biz all those years ago.) Friendship aside, this track features one of the most relaxed, breeziest vocal performances Miss Mariah has ever served up, alongside a simple arrangement that allows her voice to shine through. The track also ably walks the line between R&B and pop. For listeners who may have lost the faith with Carey’s ventures into hip-hop, this will reel them back into the fold. But it’s also no step backward. Newer fans will love the less-glossy production and the soulful grip that Carey puts around this song of yearning and ache. The commercial single is set to come with some fiery remixes, too, including a Stevie J. mix featuring Mocha and Amil, a Damizza edit with Krayzie Bone and Da Brat, and an uptempo David Morales remix that’s cool enough to work anywhere. Get ready, this one’s gonna tear up the charts like tissue.” On January 5, 2001, Kathi Pinto, a songwriter from California, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in United States District Court for the Central District of California over “I still believe”. Kathi alleges in the suit that she co-wrote a song entitled “I still believe” in 1981, which was sold to music publisher Galen Senogles at Simple Song Music that same year. As the song switched hands among various publishers and record execs over the years through Pinto’s desire for a recording contract, it eventually ended up in the hands of Tom Sturges at Chrysalis Records around 1985. Sturges allegedly helped pen a tune called “I still believe” with Antonina Armato and Beppe Canarelli. The suit read, in part, “The infringing song incorporates and copies the theme, words, and music of Pinto’s original. In particular, the

#1’s infringing song copies almost exactly the titlehook line in the chorus of Pinto’s original, the most memorable and commercially important part of Pinto’s original. The infringing song repeats this title-hook line several times in the chorus.” Pinto was suing for copyright infringement, violation of the Lanham Act, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, and accounting. In addition to Sony Music, Pinto also named Sturges, Armato, Cantarelli, Chrysalis Music Corp., and EMI Music Publishing in the suit. 1.6 Do you know where you’re going to “Do you know where you’re going to (theme from Mahogany)” was originally a song by Diana Ross from 1975 and called “Theme from Mahogany (do you know where you’re going to)”. It was written by Michael Masser and Gerald Goffin as the theme to the 1975 Motown/Paramount film Mahogany. The song is a ballad that portrays its protagonist as a poor African-American who becomes a successful Paris fashion designer, in keeping with the film the song was featured in. Remembering the happiness she had in the past, the song’s character faces the reality of a loveless future and decisions that brought her to this point. The chorus, “Do you know where you’re going to, do you like the things that life is showing you”, propagates the song’s sense of nostalgia and loss. The “Theme from Mahogany” became one of the most recognizable elements of the film Mahogany. Many critics reviewed the film unfavorably, but generally praised the song. The single became a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song. Diana Ross performed the song live at the Academy Awards ceremony via satellite from the Netherlands. In the late 1990s two Sony Music recording artists, Mariah and Jennifer Lopez, both recorded covers of “Do you know where you’re going to”


chapter 9 - at the same time. The Mariah Carey version, co-produced by Mariah and Stevie J and recorded in 1998, was intended to be released as a single. During the same period, actress Jennifer Lopez had recently signed to Sony and had recorded the song for her debut album On The 6. Executives at Sony decided that both versions would only be released as bonus tracks outside the USA. Although Mariah’s version was later given a limited release, pressure for her to complete a new studio album interfered with the song’s promotion, which was halted prematurely as a result. The song was then reissued in a remixed version as a promotional single for #1’s, and included on French editions of Mariah’s ninth album Rainbow. However, it did appear in the USA, on her Wal-Mart-only EP Valentines. Pinhead Gunpowder, featuring Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, did a two minute cover of the song for their Carry The Banner EP. And Australian singer Tina Arena also covered the song on her 2007 album Songs Of Love & Loss.


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2. After the album release 2.1 Luis Miguel As 1998 began to wind down, Mariah felt at ease, so much that she decided to take the month of December off to spend some quiet vacation time on the slopes of Aspen, Colorado. Aspen had long ago become the getaway of choice for the superstars of the entertainment industry, and since celebrity sightings are considered part of the scenery, the stars are pretty much left alone. Mariah wanted to be ignored for a while. This was the kind of get-away-from-it-all Christmas she was yearning for. The real-estate agent who rented Mariah her Aspen retreat was a big fan. What Mariah was unaware of was that her agent had a friend who had, coincidentally, rented a house to Latino singing sensation Luis Miguel, and that they had decided to moonlight as matchmakers. Mariah’s agent told her that Luis was in town and wanted to meet her. Miguel’s agent told Luis that Mariah was interested in meeting him. “Of course, they both kind of lied,” laughed Mariah. Mariah hesitated. She was a bit unsure. After all, she came to Aspen looking for solitude, not

Luis Miguel Luis Miguel Gallego Basteri was born on April 19, 1970 and is known as Luis Miguel. He is a Puerto Rican-born Mexican pop singer best known for his romantic ballads. Luis has been one of the most popular singers in Latin America since the early 1980s, and is commonly referred to as El Sol de Mexico (”The sun of Mexico”). Luis Miguel has won four Latin Grammys and five Grammys, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the age of 26. He holds the record as the best-selling living performing Latin artist, he has

Mariah and Luis in Marbella, Spain in 2001

a date. But she decided that with the relative anonymity Aspen accorded her, it couldn’t hurt to meet Miguel. She was, in fact, a fan of his music. So, unless he turned out to be a complete nincompoop, they would have something to talk about. Free and easy was what she had in mind. The pair got together the day before Christmas Eve. It was love at first sight. Mariah admitted that she did not know where

sold more than 90 million records worldwide. The details of Luis’ early life are somewhat unclear. He was originally thought to have been born in Mexico, as he grew up in the state of Veracruz. However, in the early 1980s it was reported in the press that he had actually been born in Puerto Rico during a very brief stay in the island by his parents. After it became public knowledge that he was born in Puerto Rico, the Mexican government granted him citizenship. When asked about it he recognizes that he was born in Puerto Rico, he goes on to say

he still considers himself 100% Mexican. Luis Miguel started his career at the age of eleven. It was also at this time that he was to embark upon the first of many international tours, and he made his first movie, Ya Nunca Mas, which was critically panned. Later he would deny his film career, never mentioning it again. Luis gained his first gold record for his interpretations of the songs in this film, the first of many. In 1985 Luis won a Grammy Award for a duet that he had recorded with Sheena Easton.

#1’s the relationship was heading during those first few days. Neither did Luis. The Latin singer had recently ended a long-term relationship with actress Daisy Fuentes and was gun-shy about getting romantically involved again. But both would later admit that something magic passed between them on the day they met. For Mariah and Luis, even the most mundane moments were the greatest things on earth. They were together constantly, and the intimacy and romance followed quickly. On Christmas Eve, Luis presented Mariah with a diamond necklace. But Mariah would later state that while the pure emotion of love washed over them, there were certain realities that instantly bound the two together. Their personalities meshed. Luis was a totally optimistic person and free with his attentions. And most important, he was not the controlling type, which fit perfectly with Mariah’s insistence on having her freedom. “Since Luis Miguel came into my life, I am a much more happy person,” she cooed in Gente magazine. “He’s a very self-confident person. That’s what I like about him. At this moment in my life, I’m so happy with the relationship. We have a lot in common. We both understand the pressures and the time you have to dedicate to this job.” Which was why, the same month they met, Mariah was not too upset when Luis had to jet off to the other side of the world for a series of concerts. Mariah was in love, but she was also cautious. She conceded that the whirlwind romance could have been a result of rampant emotion that could well have burned itself out. But, in the coming months, when the gifts, phone calls, and visits continued, Mariah knew this love was for real. “I used to have this dream when I was a little girl that someday I would meet somebody who was mixed race like me and who had a similar life, and that we would live happily ever after, and that he would complete me,” she told Rolling Stone. When she was not working, Mariah would hop


chapter 9 - a plane and jet off to be wherever Luis happened to be, which often meant far-flung locations such as Paris and Mexico City where the pair would be spotted holding hands and kissing in restaurants and other public places. Initially the couple had attempted to keep their relationship out of the public eye, but now, confident that their love was real, they made no attempt to hide their feelings. And for Mariah, the sensation proved liberating. She was tired of hiding her love affairs in dark corners and dodging the prying eye of the press. If she had taken nothing else away from her relationship with Derek Jeter, it was that she was not going to hide any future love affairs.

Mariah and Whitney at the Academy Awards

2.2 Awards After the release of #1’s, Mariah won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award in the category of “Favorite Female Artist - Pop”, and she was nominated for an MTV Europe Music Award for “Best R&B Artist”. #1’s won a 1999 Japan Gold Disc Award for “International Pop Album of the Year”. But the highlight was on March 21, 1999, when Mariah and Whitney performed “When you believe“ at the 71st Annual Academy Awards at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillon in Los Angeles, CA. That night, Stephen Schwartz won the Oscar

#1’s for “Best Original Song”. 2.3 The bachelor Mariah continued to set her sights on acting roles and, when her starring vehicle All That Glitters was once again delayed, she went after other parts. She auditioned for the role of Natasha in the live-action film The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle. She came close to landing it but ultimately lost to Renu Russo. Then she was rewarded with her first part when she won the role of Chris O’Donnell’s ex-girlfriend in the romantic comedy The Bachelor, which began filming shortly after the New Year. Compared to its source material, Buster Keaton’s 1925 comedy Seven Chances, it had virtually the same plot. The silent classic - actually, one of Keaton’s second-rung works, but, considering his genius, a classic compared to most other comedies - is pretty much about setting up an outlandish series of sight gags as Keaton is chased through town and country by hundreds of eager would-be brides. A thousand brides inhabitted the climax of The Bachelor, too. But the new movie was more about feelings than slapstick free-for-alls. Chris O’Donnell plays Jimmie Shannon who values his freedom more than life itself. As his male peers, even his best buddy, Marco, begin to hook up in marriage, Jimmie continues happily plugging away with his dating lifestyle, in no rush to find “the one”. When he least expects it, Jimmie crosses paths with the adorable Anne (Renée Zellweger) and falls in love. After a threeyear relationship, Jimmie feels the pressures of commitment and decides to “give in”, reluctantly proposing to Anne at the most romantic of restaurants. Sensing his uncertainty and angry over his botched and lame attempt at a proposal, Anne dumps Jimmie back into the town known as “Bachelorville”. Shortly thereafter, Jimmie’s grandfather (Peter Ustinov) passes away and wills a $100 million inheritance to his grandson,


chapter 9 - on the condition he marries before his thirtieth birthday, which is less than twenty-four hours away. After seeking advice from the family attorney and stock broker, a desperate Jimmie hastily arranges for a priest to wait in the wings while he finds a bride. He tries to reconcile with Anne and several other ex-girlfriends, including Buckley (Brooke Shields), a well-to-do exdebutante, and Ilana (Mariah), an opera singer.

Mariah playing Ilana in The Bachelor

Mariah played Ilana, one of the women Jimmy proposes. She answered: “Okay, how can I say this politely? If you hadn’t walked in here just now, I’d have forgotten about you. I mean, Joey, you strut onto my stage and dangle money in front of my face like I’m gonna swoon when all I even remember is we screwed a couple of times. And I recall thinking you look nice with your shirt off. But then again, so do I.” “It was supposed to be a cameo role, but the part became bigger,” Mariah said. “I get to die onstage, it was a lot of fun.” Wags might say that she knows something about playing the diva. But the part actually called for her to sing an aria in Italian. “Even though I’m just lip-synching, I wanted to do it right. So I learned Italian - at 3 a.m. for an 8 a.m. shoot.” The Bachelor was an eye-opening experience for Mariah. It was only one day of filming, but it proved to be a strenuous one. Mariah played an opera singer in a scene that called for her to sing

#1’s a rousing aria from the opera “La Traviata” before suddenly falling over dead. “It was totally over the top,” recalled Mariah in a Mirabella magazine interview. “The director said, ‘Okay you need a stunt double for that fall, right?’ And I said, ‘Nah, I can do that’, not realizing I was going to do thirty more takes. By the end of the shooting, my hips and knees were killing me, and a medic had to bring me ice.” 2.4 The video When the album #1’s was released, there were rumours there would also be a video with all her number 1’s. A year after the release of a promo videotape on October 22, 1998, Sony finally released a compilation of all her number 1 hits on December 8, 1999. Here is the official press release: Since her 1990 debut, Mariah Carey has sold more than 115 million records worldwide and has earned an astounding 81 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum records. Her career has been an extraordinary succession of #1’s and record-breaking firsts in the music world. With more #1 albums (4) than any female artist in the 1990’s, Mariah was the first female artist to see two of her albums (Music Box and Daydream) reach the 10 million mark in sales and is the only female artist to have eight albums certified triple platinum or better. Mariah’s her entire album catalog has achieved RIAA Multi-platinum status. She has had more #1 singles than any artist during the 1990s and seen more singles debut at #1 than any artist in chart history. At 60 weeks total, Mariah Carey’s singles have spent more weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 than any other female artist’s in history. Her 15 gold and 8 platinum singles are more than those of any artist during the 1990’s and her 8 platinum singles than any female artist in


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history has. Now, for the first time ever, all 14 of Mariah Carey’s #1 hit videos are now available to enjoy over and over again in this special DVD. As a DVD bonus, Mariah Carey’s #1’s features the exclusive promotional video “Heartbreaker (Remix featuring Da Brat & Missy Elliott)”. By the time of the release of this video, Mariah had already scored a fourteenth USA number one with “Heartbreaker”, from her latest studio release Rainbow. Its music video and the video of its remix (as a bonus track) were thus included on the DVD. Interestingly, not much later Mariah had also earned her fifteenth number one single with “Thank God I found you”. The DVD does not include the official music videos for “Vision of love”, “Love takes time”, and “Someday”, as Mariah is embarrassed by them and has often publicly criticised them. They are replaced by live performances culled from previous DVD/video releases.

scene from the #1’s video


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