Friday, April 18, 2008

Mariah Mania in LA!...

There are some "private hells" that not even when we claw our way to the top can we shake. Mariah Carey's life seems to be littered with those moments-- from growing up biracial in a time/town that didn't understand to her sister's struggles with addiction to being trapped in an unhealthy marriage to her father's death. Despite the carefree, childlike aura she so desperately wants to emulate now (how else can you explain her past album name choices?), these are things that still attack her subconsciously and can only work their way out through song when she spins the negativity into something positive, lucrative, and spiritual. More than a decade since Carey left that most recent private hell of "Sing Sing," she certainly still has a lot of emotions (pardon the pun) boiling inside of her, and on her twelfth studio release, E=MC2, she still remains strongest when belting them out from her gut.

E=MC2 is the perfect title for this point in Carey's career because of the very simple formula she adopts for success: one part "praise the Lord" ("I Wish You Well"), two parts autobiographical ("Side Effects," "Bye Bye"), two parts wedding/prom themes ("I Stay In Love," "Love Story," "Last Kiss"), and two parts just-for-fun club tracks ("Touch My Body," "Migrate," "O.O.C"). After eighteen years (that's a whole child of legal age!), Carey knows how to work the numbers to top the charts, get airplay, sell out huge arenas, and most importantly, stay relevant, and it is the tracks where she stands... er, sings alone that are the strongest. Jermaine Dupri's influence is well-felt by his beats; it is just superfluous (and kind of annoying) that he feels the need to offer grunts and/or intros on just about every other song. Carey does not need an introduction; everyone knows who she is, and J.D. might only weigh her down from flying (like a bird) back up to the top. That being considered, one might think Carey should have stuck with her original album title, "I'm That Chick (You Like)," taken from the a very Janet Jackson-reminiscent track (in part due to the breathiness of the vocals, and in part because of the "Off The Wall" sampling, and let's face it, Michael always sounded just as feminine as his sister), to drive that point home to critics, haters, and collaborators.

And Mariah gets the numbers when it comes to fans coming out to show their support, as well. While fan listening parties pop up all around the globe (and there was even a fragrance release party in Japan back in November), this past week seems to have been unofficially deemed MC week. First there was her second single dropping on Monday, a day before her full album, and then were days of back to back television appearances, with dozens of people lining up outside the gates of the various studios to get a picture, an autograph, or just a look. Almost one thousand of her "lambs" showed up at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Citywalk on Thursday for the chance to see her donate some memorabilia and sign her new CD.

Some fans were old, having been listening to Mariah since her early nineties debut; some fans were new, first discovering her in 2005 during the height of the Emancipation of Mimi press-deemed "comeback" (though those long-time fans know she can't "come back" if she never left in the first place); and some fans were new in the literal sense as the second generation who learned to love Carey when her CD was in the car with mom on the way to or from school. But all shared a genuine love and admiration (and yes, even awe) for the woman who helped get them through some particularly rough times, and none of them seemed to mind braving the heat, the crowds, and the chaos for even the quickest of glimpses at their favorite superstar.

The donation ceremony was set to start at 5:45 with a red carpet to follow and then the CD signing. Fans started lining up at midnight the night before to be at the front of the line, even though CDs were being signed through a wristband system: if you pre-ordered her album at a local FYE store, you'd get a receipt with a number, and if it was under 1000 you redeemed it at the FYE booth set up on site on the day of the event. Her new album pumped through the speakers in the open air courtyard over a loop of her most recent videos on a screen worthy of an arena next to the stage. The carpet (which was actually purple, I must add, to go along with the colors of her album jacket) was rolled out in the heat of the afternoon, but naturally, because Mariah must be exhausted from being shuttled to and from appearances, and because she was doing some sit-downs prior to the donation, things got off to a very late start. The hype man even got booed once or twice and lambs just started chanting her name.

Finally at around eight p.m., the doors to the Hard Rock opened to a fury of lens flashes, as first Mariah's long time friend and collaborator Da Brat (iTunes offered her bonus track "4real4real" to anyone who pre-ordered E=MC2 through them) practically skated down the carpet; she walked so fast. Mariah was ushered out by a swarm of security, publicist, and her manager Benny Medina. She didn't stop to offer interviews, but she did turn and pose in all directions every few feet her so. And though the sun had set, she donned her trademark tinted sunglasses. Perhaps it was because she was tired or perhaps just to go with her ensemble (black on black), but whatever the case, after the week she's had, who could blame her?

The line of fans snaked around the Hard Rock and up to the second floor walkways, but Mariah calmly sat and signed CD after CD. Some fans brought gifts; others brought signs; but all came prepared with a message of how much Mariah means to them, and as they inched closer after hours of waiting, it was blatantly obvious just how many (and how much) she has touched men and women (and girls and boys) all over the world.

Two weeks ago, Mariah stamped her place in history by surpassing Elvis for the amount of Number 1 singles, making her the top selling solo artist, and now she is on track to take the throne as the top selling artist in general from the Beatles, as well. Through the years she has most certainly made her way from the outside, where she used to just look in, to the front and center of music and pop culture. Next Friday, Mariah will make history yet again when the Empire State Building lights up for the weekend in her colors. Who else could influence the city (and in turn generations) in that way?

1 comment:

What's Happening LA? said...

very cool you got to go Danielle! i heard it was nuts! and thanks for the comment and forwarding :). so how do you suggest i go about posting the celeb spottings as well? i'm trying to round out the events with some flashier stuff, but have had a time finding things that aren't too $ for the average angelino. let me know! -V