Mariah shines on with "Glitter"
The summer climate is well underway in New York City. Folks tired of wearing all those extra
garments are more than happy to be walking around in shorts and T-shirts, as they finally get
to make their way through some outdoor activity. But singer-songwriter Mariah Carey has nothing
but non-stop work on her plate. That's to her sudden new lucrative deal with red-hot Virgin
Records (she reportedly gets close to $25 million per LP), she's pressed to finish mastering
her label debut disc, "Glitter", which is the soundtrack of her likewise titled motion picture
debut. Plus, she's already well into filming her follow-up film. This just happens to be the
pace a woman who has sold in excess of 150 million LPs and singles worldwide keeps to sustain
such a level of popularity. After all, she doesn't have more #1 hits than any other female, or
male #1 hits than any currently active recording artist, for nothing. So, there just aren't
enough hours in each day for the world-renowned superstar, who seems to bustle from one
work-oriented meeting to another.
While more than one person scheduled to spend a few hours with her wondered if causal summer
dress was appropriate to wear in her presence, Mariah shows up at one of Manhattan's grand,
old-world hotels with a white tank top and charcoal gray colored sweats (designer, of course).
The face is fully done, as is the extremely blonde hair, which implies those retro flips worn
during the '70s and '80s. Though she looks like she could do anything from walk down posh Fifth
Avenue for a shopping spree, to walk onto the set of BET'S "106th & Park" or to MTV's "TRL",
she instead finds herself sprawled across a plush love seat, talking about "Glitter", the movie -
and the LP.
Having grown up on movies like "Fame", "Flashdance", and "Grease", and fixated on the widely
eclectic, cutting edge sound come from New York City's popular urban radio stations of the time,
Mariah was inspired to incorporated everything '80s in her feature film debut, while bringing
back the long-abandoned bug-budget musical. But, though Americans had already welcomed various
'70s styles back in vogue for a time, were they ready for the sometimes gaudy '80s? Apparently,
there were those who didn't believe we were ready.
"When I pitched the ideas to the studios," she recalls with a chuckle in her tone, "people were
like 'Why should it be '80s? Nobody is ready for the '80s.' And I was like, 'Yes they are.' People
gradually listened, and now everything's '80s. I just felt like people were ready for that to
come back." With that's he delved head-first into writing music for the project with super-producers
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who had worked on her "Rainbow" release.
Leading us back to the time of Calvin Klein jeans, Jheri-curled hair and breakdancing, Mariah
makes her big screen debut as aspiring singer Billie Frank. Billed as a love story that occurs
amidst the early '80s club scene in New York City, "Glitter" plays out Billie's struggle to
overcome the reality of being abandoned by her mother, while following the often volatile
relationship between Billie and "bad boy" DJ, Julian Dice (portrayed by Max Beesley). With
Dice serving as her musical partner, producer and lover, they find their way through no shortage
of drama, as Billie rides the rollercoaster ride to superstardom. Directed by Vondie Curtis Hall
(director of Tupac's "Gridlock'd", star of "Eve's Bayou" and "Chicago Hope"), also features rap
star Shawntae Harris (a.k.a. Da Brat), Terrence Howard ("The Best Man" and "Big Momma's House"),
R&B star Eric Benet, veteran actor Dorian Harewood ("Full Metal Jacket" and "Roots"), Tia Texada
("Nurse Betty" and "Bait"), Tony-nominated performer Valarie Pettiford and Anne Magnuson in
co-starring roles. While shooting a debut film can be nerve-wracking for even the most confident
actors, Carey's co-stars had nothing but great things to say about the rapport they shared with
the world-renowned superstar on the set. "I'd say that Mariah and I hit it off immediately,"
recounts leading man, Max Beesley. "You know, she's really a lovely lady and very generous. I
saw that in her immediately upon meeting her and reading with her. We bonded then and there,
and we remained close throughout the production of the film. I hope our mutual respect and
admiration for each other shows in the work that we did together." Director Hall agrees, adding
"The chemistry between the two of them jumped right out at us. They seemed to gel immediately;
it was amazing. You've got one of the biggest superstars in the world in the same room with a
virtual unknown, at least to North American audiences, and you could feel this sort of incredible
video from the two of them. It was wild, and it worked."
Though she serves star and co-producer of "Glitter", writing the music from the mind-set of her
character and coordinating her slew of collaborators served as Carey's true passion. The set
would unknowingly become her debut release for Virgin Records. With Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
serving as co-executive producers, Mariah kept things authentic to the period's club scene by
working with famed DJ Clark Kent, Roc-A-Fella's DJ Clue (co-producer of Mariah's smash,
"Heartbreaker") and Damizza (producer of her "Crybaby" single). "I'm a huge fan of Jimmy Jam &
Terry Lewis," Mariah admits, on the subject of her "Glitter" collaborators. "To me, the Alexander
O' Neal and Cherelle records are like the soundtrack to my life. Those guys are geniuses, and
there was no question that they're the ones I should have done this with. They're incredible
artists, and they're also professional."
Striking a balance between uptempos and her signature, emotional ballads, "Glitter", features
remakes of dance-oriented songs from the '80s ("Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" and "I Didn't
Mean To Turn You On"), as well as breathtaking slow numbers ("Reflections", "Never Too Far",
and "Lead The Way"). "I think people who were fans of 'Vision Of Love' and those types of songs
are going to really like these ballads." Mariah says. "And the uptempos are kinda crazy party
records. "Glitter", the album stands alone as a Mariah Carey album; It's like the next step for
me. Since "Butterfly" it's my favorite record that I've done so far." Also making for "Glitter"
mix are '80s King of Punk Funk Rick James, Busta Rhymes and DJ Clue protégé, Fabolous (who on
Lil' Mo's "Superwoman Pt. 2").
Yet nothing could prepare her for the thrill of having '80s funk group Cameo in the studio with
her to re-create portions of their hit "Candy" for her Clark Kent-tracked "Loverboy" single.
Though the song had started out using a loop of another obscure classic, she feels her connection
with Cameo was meant to be. "It was so exciting for me to sit there like a fan of the song
'Candy,' and everything dating back to 'She's Strange,'" she says of the in-studio experience
with the veteran outfit. "They were so cool and so nice, and I'm sitting there like, 'Okay,
this is Cameo.' So, this project has basically let me relive my childhood memories, and insert
a sort of new-ness to them." As everyone no knows, the radio remix of "Loverboy" features
rappers Da Brat and Ludacris trading off verses with newcomers Twenty II and Shawnna.
While some are skeptical or scared of change, Mariah welcomes the challenge of starting at a
new record company, while kicking off her new career as an actress (she has already wrapped
another role in "Wise Girls"). But she's not leaving her music behind one bit. "Yes, making
this film was all pretty scary," she confesses, "but I felt I had a big support system there
for me. This project was a long time in the making, and it has certainly evolved over time.
With great satisfaction, it has ended up being so much better than I ever could have imagined.
In the movie, you'll hear the original versions of the songs, and then on the soundtrack, what
I tried to do is - in bringing whatever guest artist I brought in - take the essence of the feel
of those '80s songs are, and add the flavor of 2001-2002. I would just like my music audience
to know that listening to the album and watching the movie are gonna be two different
experiences." Whatever those experiences may entail, there's literally of nation of Mariah
fans ready to take them on.
Many thanks to Will from MCWNO.
||SEARCH THE NEWS|
||THIS DAY IN HISTORY|
||Do you want to share your thoughts and ideas with other Mariah Carey fans.
Are you looking for a special item for your collection? Or do you just want to talk about Mariah? You can
do it all on the Mariah Carey Archives messageboard.