ICONS | Mariah Carey

ICONS | A Vision of Love

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My love of Mariah Carey is no secret. Over the years I have openly discussed my love for her music, song writing, iconic voice, personality and diva tendencies. Her large catalogue and discography is a connection I hold dear to my heart. As a business woman I feel she is  entirely discredited. She is the biggest-selling female artist of our lifetime. She has managed her own career and finances to an outstanding success that anyone would be enviable of.
IMG_4114Her famous Cinderella like, rags to riches story depicts her as a Princess, and few know nor respect the side of that tale which shows a young multi racial struggling girl, from a highly dysfunctional family, who built her way up in one of the most toughest industries in the world to a height that even surpassed Elvis Presley, the King. (Mariah has spent more weeks on the Billboard music charts at the number one spot than Elivs, and is a couple of weeks away from surpassing the Beatles! who hold the top spot).
She has had to overcome many personal and career lows, fighting against them and is always working hard and gracefully to reign again. Her perseverance and work ethic is admirable. In the 1990s, she released an album every single year for a whole decade. That is unheard of for artists, particularly commercial artists who tour as well as record music.
She has proved the haters wrong time after time, showing the world just how strong and resilient she is.
I am always astounded when people ask me why Mariah is my idol. I assume its because they don’t know anything about her, because if you glimpsed at her life and career, you wouldn’t doubt or question what a great role model she is.

IMG_4115She is apart of the Vocal Trinity (Mariah, Whitney, Aretha), named the best singer in the world by Stevie Wonder (Mariahs idol), and countless others. She has a 5 Octave range, and is the blueprint for every and any vocalist since 1990. The American Idol blueprint is based on Mariah Carey.
I could write for hours about THE VOICE and the way she uses her voice as an instrument. But I won’t, as her voice speaks (sings) for itself.

Mariahs has contributed to many musical breakthroughs which again, she is barely recognised for. She has worked with Artists from all genres of music; from Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, to Pavarotti to Michael Jackson, to Patti LaBelle and Carol King, to Whitney Houston and Damian Marley, to every rapper and hip-hop producer you could name!
Her Christmas song (All I want for Christmas is You) which she wrote in 15 minutes has become a global Classic, hits the number one spot every year (for the past 17 years). People often don’t believe me when I tell them, that she penned that song – it isn’t a 1940s song that she covered, she wrote it. She could live a financially successful life off of that one song alone.
She has had 17 Number one singles, spend 64 weeks on the number one spot, more than any other solo artist in history. She was named the Billboard Artist of the Decade, and holds the record for Song of the Decade not once, but twice (the 1990s for “One Sweet Day” and the 2000s for “We Belong Together”

However for me, her ground breaking efforts are the ones where she has pushed the musical boundaries often against her labels wishes.
Every pop song on the radio now has a rapper in it, or has a rap in the remix. Its very common in 2018 to hear a Taylor Swift song with Kendrick Lamar in the bridge, or Katy Perry with a Snoop Dogg cameo.
Do you know who started that whole trend? Mariah.
IMG_2848_Facetune_05-09-2018-13-16-43In 1994, against her husband and labels wishes, Mariah invited a relatively unknown under ground rapper, Ol’ Dirty Bastard to rap on her smash hit, Fantasy. Not only that but she invited a hip and young (but then relatively unheard of) hip-hop producer, Puff Daddy, to produce the track. She picked a 1980s sample to loop on the track and made what is now known as the Fantasy Remix into a world wide smash. It was ground breaking at the time to combine hip hop with pop. It was unheard of for a commercial and girl-next-door artist to work with rappers let alone have rap and pop combined on the radio.
Her labels strongly advised her against this, but she knew it was right and she went with her gut anyway.
The hip-hop world was never the same after that. It became an instant success, catapulting rap music into the worldwide commercial spotlight. Many hip-hop artists contribute this rap-pop take over to Mariah.
It was a snow ball effect, and after the Fantasy Remix was released, every pop star started doing guest features with rappers, and rappers started invited pop artists to sing choruses on their tunes.
Mariah started it all.

IMG_2845_Facetune_05-09-2018-13-11-16Rap has always been a huge love of Mariahs, and another reason why I adore this woman.
She debuted with a commercial sound due to label pressure, but always aspired to be a R’n’B artist.
In the mid 90s, once finally able to work with urban artists and create the sound she had always fought for, Mariah made more ground breaking records.
Mariah penned one of the first rap/singer duets; a song sample and idea which was actually stolen from under her, by Sony and Jennifer Lopez (so perhaps don’t be too harsh on Mariah when you see the meme “I don’t Know her” because theres far more to the rift between them than you know.
Mariahs r’n’b classic ‘Breakdown’ featuring Bone Thugs n Harmony is a beautiful execution of blending rap and singing together to combine a harmony that set the standard of hip hop infused r’n’b music.

I could write about this topic for days, but finally I will instead discuss her Debut and the reason for Mariah Carey being my second look in my Icon series.
A Vision of Love. Mariah burst on the scene with her natural curly locks, a black dress and gorgeous natural makeup and of course a killer song with amazing vocals. The video clip and imagery around her debut is classic 1990s, and classic old school, Mariah. Its instantly recognisable, so simple and breathtaking. Of all the Mariah reinventions and images taken over the years, this is one of my most loved photoshoots. It symbolises the start of something great, a magnificent debut. It felt only right to make Mariah my ICON for my second blog entry in this new series.

I hope you enjoy the images, my take and inspiration of the beautiful and talented, Mariah Carey.

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Love Always, Phoenix.