Mariah Carey's '#Beautiful' is #Ugly
In case you didn’t know (or didn’t care) Mariah Carey has released a new single, the third in a line of tracks she’s been drip feeding fans over the past twelve months in lieu of an actual album. The new song is called #Beautiful. No, I didn’t just lean on my keyboard; that’s the actual name of the song.
Fortunately, I can spot a hyperbolic hash tag from at least half-a-metre away from a laptop screen. So I streamed it on Spotify—my go-to place when I want to listen to music I don’t really like—rather than forking out two-whole-dollars and nineteen cents for it on iTunes. I don’t love it. In fact, you might say I was whelmed.
Now, before I continue, let me say that I am a Mariah fan. No, I’m not your garden variety Mariah Carey fan—I don’t identify as a Lambily (wtf) and I happen to consider 2001's Glitter to be maybe the worst thing ever (and I mean ever)—but I do listen to All I Want for Christmas in March. And I do never tire from making fun of her.
What's not to laugh at? Her voice spans five octaves—in Idol-speak she can “sing anything”—yet she routinely whistles along to a backing track. She’s shamelessly flamboyant, but in a tacky Kath and Kim kind of way—her hilariously Cinderella-themed vow renewal ceremony—and she’s apparently incapable of constructing a coherent sentence without trailing off to list her own career highlights and achievements.
But I admired her too. Her oddities were part of her charm; she had always marched to the beat of her own music. Until now. Now, she’s on the Home Shopping Network, peddling her range of self-designed jewellery, handbags, and velour tracksuits. In the video for her previous single, 'Almost Home' she was wearing such a scandalous amount of clothing—a structured jacket and cleavage covering dress—like she’d just popped in from traffic court. MC! You didn’t show any legs or top-boob! At first I was alarmed; I never thought I’d see the day when Mariah Carey didn’t show an inappropriate amount of skin, and when I did, I thought it would mean one thing: Vegas. And I mean, Celine-Dion-pant-suits Vegas, gambling-your-millions-away Vegas. So naturally, I was relieved to learn Mariah was “pon de studio” (officially), working on a new album. But then #Beautiful (pronounced: "hash tag Beautiful") happened.
Now it wasn't going to be an enduring classic—the hash tag is hardly the keystroke to success. If it were I expect Gershwin would have prefaced a few of his classics with the hash tag ("I’ve written a new opera, it’s called hash tag Porgy and Bess." Swell!). And Mariah is not the first artist to appropriate the hash tag outside the realm of twitter—on Will.i.am’s forthcoming album, #willpower, the hash tag also appears in the song '#thatPOWER' featuring the Biebz (who is apparently the giver of relevance and youth-appeal for increasingly irrelevant artists).
Mariah, it seems is feeling the pinch of irrelevancy, too: her once-anticipated position on the judging panel of American Idol has bombed, and it was rumoured Fox execs wanted to replace her with ex-Idol judge, Jennifer Lopez (like that wasn’t 2001 all over again for poor Mimi. And also, Jenny from the Block, really? What does she even know about music, anyway? She had like two hit albums twenty-seven years ago.) But it’s not the hash tag, itself that makes '#Beautiful' such a yawn. It’s that there's so little of Mariah in it. Save for a few bits of awkward chuckling in her lower register, it’s like she’s the featured artist in her own song. Indeed, she doesn’t do any of the singing until the 1.30 mark, allowing Miguel (head-kicker extraordinaire) take the lead.
I don’t see the point of '#Beautiful'. It’s not completely terrible; it’s a bit retro, a bit Motown (which is new for MC), but it’s no 'It’s Like That'. It’s not even vaguely like 'Loverboy' or 'Make it Happen', which were both previous chart failures. It’s an deeper album track, at best. She sings for a collective 60 seconds out of 3.30 minutes. And it's a single? If Mariah wants to reinsert herself into the conversation, it needs to happen with better songs than this - not hash tags.
Angela Hawksford (@whatangdid)