Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Like Choosing Between My Children (If I Had Children, That Is)!...

This week Honey B Fly, the official fan club for Ms. Mariah Carey, announced a contest for Mariah's upcoming "anniversary" (she was born on March 27 1970). Lambs are asked to send an email listing their Top Ten favorite Mariah songs (they can list why, as well), and the men and women who run the fan club will compile a countdown list, post some of the fan responses on the website, and even select a few lucky Lambs to win some Mariah-themed prizes.

Like any Lamb, I have always felt an extremely strong connection to Mariah's music. Certain specific songs of hers have come about in times when their lyrics mimicked nearly exactly what was going on in my own life-- or even just in my own head. Needless to say, it was ridiculously hard to pick my top ten favorite Mariah tracks, but damn it, I wanted a prize! I never win anything! So I gave it my best shot. Here are my picks in descending order (videos are included where available):

10) "Cruise Control," E=MC2, 2008-- It is just so much fun to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, windows down, stereo up, and blast this song!!!

9) "Close My Eyes," Butterfly, 1997-- As a kid, I spent most of my time alone. I was the kind of latchkey kid that came home after school to a television and a radio and a refrigerator full of food and told to fend for herself. So the lyrics here always spoke directly to my heart, in that I often wonder if I would be a different person today if I hadn't been such a "little grown up" and was instead just allowed to be a kid. "Growing up too soon" in some areas often stunts emotional growth in other areas...

8) "There's Got To Be A Way," Mariah Carey, 1990-- I was just a kid when Mariah's debut album was released, and this was the first time I ever thought about philanthropy-- the concept; I admit I didn't know the word at the time. The message is haunting, but so is Mariah's range in this song, and it gets me every time.

7) "Against All Odds," Rainbow, 1999 (Solo version)-- I love this song for getting me through some rough personal stuff during the 99/00 year, but also the arrangement is just phenomenal. The vocals sound semi-stripped down, so that all of the emotion in her voice really pops and shines. I still tear up when hearing the last verse.

6) "Always Be My Baby," Daydream, 1995-- This was the official "summer song" at the camp I attended. We sang it while sitting around in semi-circles by the pond; it was very "kum-by-ya."

5) "Honey," Butterfly, 1997-- The first time Mariah really broke away from her label's influence and did the music she wanted to (and the music that I tended to gravitate towards anyway). Plus, the video is just so much fun!

4) "Never Too Far," Glitter Soundtrack, 2001-- On the morning of September 11 2001, I stood in line at 8:45am at the Borders World Trade Center with this soundtrack in one hand and a copy of the Cosmo Girl with Mariah on the cover in the other. As I approached the register to pay, the lights flickered, the building shook, and the rest, as they say, was history. In the days after the event, I couldn't watch the news; I couldn't look out the window and see the dented skyline; all I could bring myself to do was listen to this song on repeat. It is haunting, but against the backdrop of that day, it became even more poignant.


3) "Right To Dream," Tennessee Soundtrack, 2008-- I am a freelance writer/producer, who ended up taking a "day job" this past year to have a steady income, health benefits, and a 401k for once. All year I fought with myself because I knew I was "settling" and I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do. Then "Right To Dream" dropped, and once again I was reminded that it is okay to be an artist and a dreamer.


2) "Side Effects," E=MC2, 2008-- I love the fact that the subject matter, which seems like a perfect fit for a ballad, was set against a heavy beat so that it becomes an anthem for any woman in a bad relationship. We are victors, not victims!


1) "Fly Like A Bird," The Emancipation of Mimi, 2005-- This is the kind of spiritual song that makes me want to go to church. The vocals are incomparable, of course, too. It makes me pump my fist in the air every time she hits that high note, and hands down, this is the best song to see her perform live-- especially when the gospel choir trots out behind her. Chills. Nothing but chills.


As much as I wanted to include one of her Christmas tracks ('cause we all know how much I love Christmas!!), I restrained because it was hard enough to narrow almost twenty years' worth of music down to ten tracks. But if I had more room, "All I Want For Christmas" would without a doubt make the cut!! (As would at least a dozen other non-holiday tracks, but I won't get into that!) I didn't even consider them in the running, much the same way I didn't allow any collaborations or guest "featurings" to make the cut either. I'm an MC purist!

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