This is like the second or third Mariah Carey interview I’ve read in the past year where I came out of thinking “Mariah really isn’t so bad.” As much as we think that she’s a somewhat crazy diva or eccentric wackadoodle lacking in self-awareness, Mariah actually knows who she is and what she’s doing… sort of. Mariah covers the latest issue of V Magazine, and of course the interview was conducted while Mariah lounged around in lingerie, which is how she’s “comfortable.” But then she talks about her image and the Grammys and… well, she comes across as so smart. It took me aback. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
Getting credit for being a songwriter: “It’s something that I think a lot of people don’t give women enough credit for, unless they are known visually as someone strumming a guitar, or they’re behind a piano most of the time. I also have that diva thing attached to me; I mean, I’m sitting here doing an interview in lingerie. But I was just like, you’re totally gonna understand that this is what I’m gonna wear! Why should I wear something uncomfortable? This is what I like.
Whether she focuses on the business side of music: “[Before,] I was in a different place in terms of who I was working with for the business side of things, which is everything. The whole thing is business, really. I consider myself more of a musician first than a business person, I don’t necessarily think of things that way; it’s music first. That’s the most important thing for me. That’s why I think there hasn’t been that synergy of, oh my gosh, we’re going to do this fashion moment with Mariah. I mean, only certain people get that. That’s why we love Karl [Lagerfeld] so much. I think he kind of gets the kitsch element [laughs]. Certain people get that: “Let her come in and be wacky and have fun, we’ll do some cute shots, and it is what it is.”
On the Grammy timeline: “In the music business, if you care about the Grammys and submitting your stuff before a certain time frame, you want a single out in the summer, and then you want to have your record [out] before the Grammys [consideration] deadline, which has changed. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. I mean, I have five Grammys. That’s cute. There’s people that have been doing this half the time that have twice as many [Grammys]. I won two Grammys the first year I started, but after that, [the Grammys] are like, “We don’t go with the people that are selling a lot of records and are popular; we’re gonna go the opposite way.” So I got screwed out of certain years. I wasn’t bitter about it. I was just like, okay, well, I guess I’m not standing here barefoot onstage singing and trying to go a certain way. I’m just me.
She’s never going to be the artsy, hipster singer-songwriter: “I mean, tell me the truth. If you were to see me walking around suddenly with, like, I don’t know, suspenders, baggy pants, probably there’d be a neon bra with a low-slung tuxedo shirt, some green hair, probably little shorts, some high boots—wouldn’t you be like, what the hell is she going for? Yet if somebody else did it, it’d be like, oh my gosh, genius, it’s heaven. [Laughs.] I’m not trying to make fun of anybody’s way of analyzing something. Personally, I don’t care, I like what I like. So I feel like it’s trying too hard if I suddenly was like, I think I’ll do the pink hair thing. No! I actually like my hair my color. Like, I’ll go different shades of blonde and dark blonde, but that’s not changing things drastically.
First of all, I love Mariah’s art of digressing – she’s answering a question in a really interesting way by talking about her career and then she digresses to talk about something else about herself. It’s narcissism-digression. It’s amazing. As for what she says about the Grammys… it feels like she was referencing specific people, but I don’t know. The first person who came to mind was Adele – as in, what is Adele doing that so different than what Mariah did in the ‘90s? As for the shade for artists who do a certain “look” to show off how “different” they are – I’ve never really thought about it like that, and she’s completely right. If Mariah tried to change up her image and suddenly become grunge/indie/alt-rock, zero people would buy it.