by Jo Michelmore
Some pop ‘musicians’ (?)/stars are easy to mock. This week I saw a photo of Mariah Carey, taken recently and it was not very flattering. In fact, it was incredibly unflattering. It brought thoughts of Mariah to my mind and admittedly, they weren’t immediately good thoughts. You know what though? Poor Mariah, she’s had some good moments, in fact, she’s had some awesome pop moments and I’m not speaking of the ‘Hero’ style ones that everyone knows and are mostly totally sick of by now. There’s a reason Mariah became so famous, other than the fact that she was married to the head of her record company and we now get to enjoy(?) unflattering photos and random rants of the drunk and sober variety of her circling the internet. Let’s explore the interesting concept of some of Mariah Carey’s finer moments from the past. They weren’t world changing, they weren’t that innovative, they were just pop music of the time. I present, vintage Mariah, her better moments of the 1990’s, no mocking allowed.
Vision of Love
Album: Mariah Carey (1990)
Her debut single from her self titled debut album, this one introduced the world to Mariah. A simple, low budget clip, a typical scene of an innocent, sweet girl sometimes perched on a swing, singing her heart out. The curly hair, the sweet face, it’s hard to see this as the Mariah we have come to now know. ‘Visions of Love’ is where she used the singing style of melisma (for those who are not music nerds, that’s the ‘wiggly’ singing style now common place, especially in pop; the singing of one syllable while moving through numerous notes. All the greats and not so greats do it now.) While I find this style well overused and a little annoying at times, she managed to use it to perfection, staying completely in tune and never hitting a wrong note along the way. “I had a vision of love and it was all that you’ve given to me”, it’s just pure early 90’s pop at its best.
Album: Emotions (1991)
Just a year later, Mariah released ‘Emotions’; still the sweet, innocent Mariah accepted and loved. Pushing no boundaries, she kept to a pure pop formula, this song written by super pop creators David Cole and Robert Clivillés who wrote hits for numerous chart topping artists; Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin to name a couple, so Mariah was surrounded by good company. This was where she really showed off her incredible range, which, love her or hate her, cannot be denied. That high note she hits at each chorus is where the world really got to appreciate her supposed five octave vocal range and regardless of how many octaves she can actually sing, those notes are pretty darn impressive.
Album: Music Box (1993)
I kind of like this Mariah. I love the music box start to this cute little number and the simplicity of it is what a good, non-offensive, non-challenging pop song should be. The clip is hilarious, so cliché it’s sickening, Mariah innocently rolling around in a field of hay, check shirt, short shorts and sneakers, it’s again, not the same Mariah we learnt to love (or learnt to mock) later on. The dance routine in the field, the random appearance of a hot air balloon, Mariah falling over with her hands in the air at the final line “I wanna share forever with you baby…”, it’s all so darn cute.
All I Want For Christmas Is You
Album: Merry Christmas (1994)
Ok, so you didn’t think you’d get through this without this one did you? Yes, it’s a Christmas song, yes, it’s not Christmas time, but you can’t mention Mariah’s finer moments without a word of the song that will probably keep feeding her and her children for the rest of her life. Played once a year, but played to death, her annual royalty cheque would be a sweet one. There are not a lot of Christmas songs that get written today that become instantly recognisable at that time of year. The thing is, it’s a great Christmas song. It’s fast, it’s cute and it’s fun. Don’t tell me you haven’t hummed this when they play it in the supermarket at Christmas time. I know you have. You know you have. I know I have. Don’t be ashamed, it’s catchy; “All I want for Christmas is youuuuuuuuuuuu, youuuuuu baby…” They play this in supermarkets. Yep, that would be a very attractive royalty cheque Mariah.
Always Be My Baby
Album: Daydream (1996)
If I had to choose a favourite Mariah song, this one would probably be it. There is something so simple and so darn catchy about this song, I kinda love it and that’s not even a guilty pleasure, I’m happy to admit it. The film clip is all dreamy, starting with the “do do do do” of good sing-along songs, Mariah wearing an all denim ensemble (an immense amount of clothing, considering her wardrobe choices in the 2000’s) and sitting atop a tyre swing (she seems to have a thing for the swing, interestingly) Hanging over a pond, it’s beautifully shot, simple, just a pop clip that’s a pleasure to watch. The unfortunate part of this song is that for me, it will be stuck in my head for a good couple of days now. (Apologies to anyone hanging out with me this week, you’re going to hear my version of this a lot.)
See? Mariah Carey. She wasn’t always all bikinis and stilettos and butterflies and charmbracelets and stinky, stinky cheap perfume and “I'd rather be on stage with a pig - a duet with Jennifer Lopez and me just ain't going to happen“ and unfortunate photos. Someone I know (who happens to be my editor on this blog) once said “One misstep should never see you give up hope on a previously successful artist.” He’s right. I’ll give her another chance, and another, and another, and probably another. She’ll get it right again, someday. If not, let’s hope she has another drunken rant sometime soon. That’s always good for a giggle.