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Published on April 18th, 2016 | by Manuel Simbürger

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Ave Mariah

Popfenster-Gastautor Sankil Jones stellt sich pünktlich zur Wiener Audienz von Superstar Mariah Carey die Frage, wieso die Diva eine der letzten lebenden echten Legenden im Musikbiz ist, was überhaupt eine Legende ausmacht und wieso es am Ende des Tages nur auf die Fans aufkommt.

There are three types of music legends:

The ones that are dead and therefore beloved and forgiven all their poor musical and personal choices… like Whitney, who went from crackhead to saint faster than u could say „Bobbyyyy“. Or Michael, who managed to turn his own, personal freak show around and ended up back on the charts.
Then there are the legends in the making. The top sellers that own the charts, who constantly get criticized for „selling out“ but have actually been around long enough to be considered true legends by far…Beyoncè, Justin or Britney have made (and continue to make) their mark on musical history and a surprising amount of younger artists are showing a high potential for longevity in today’s crazy media world.

And then there’s the living legend. The living legend is a rare, shy species that has enjoyed one or more career highs and is now…even though a household name…not so sure about its place within the entertainment industry anymore. The brand is still intact and the loyal fan base still alive…but who wants to see an icon like Madonna beg for likes and followers?? The living legend works hard to keep up with the worlds new, fast pace but fails more times than not (George Michael, anyone??) and tries to re-invent itself over and over again hoping to be or stay current…except for the one woman spectacle that is Mariah Carey.

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Currently sailing on yet another career high by celebrating being just that: a living legend; her stoic ignorance towards any kind of trend is as legendary as her diva antics. When Mariah releases an album nowadays it’s for the fans…not for the charts. Or so she says. Because Mariah doesn’t really fail – even her colossal flop “Glitter” was certified “Best Soundtrack of the Year”. Mariah’s charmingly shameless tendency to acknowledge her own status by referring to her songs as “classics” explains her success: She single handedly changed the landscape of female pop music forever. And not only that: her astounding vocal- and songwriting-abilities set the bar so high she is still unmatched to this day. Like her or not, these are the facts and Mariah will let u know. Her success is no longer defined by charts or trophies. And certainly not by anyone’s opinion but hers.

Mariah has come a long way from Huntington/Long Island. Ranked the most successful female artist of all time in the US she was our rags to riches story to begin with. She was the gifted underdog; the poor mixed race girl with a dream and a voice the world would soon gasp over in disbelief. Album after album; single after single she morphed from Whitney-esque soul/pop newcomer to the full-fledged pop diva that eventually even made Christmas her own. She introduced rap and hip hop to the mainstream, jump started the careers of heavyweights like Puff Daddy or Jay Z and was huge on the dance market with her remixes. Every girl wanted to be Mariah and every boy wanted to be with Mariah. When she eventually married the most influential man in show business the world watched her enter a glass cage she took seven years to break. But what a break it was. When Mariah left her ballad-driven palace of Sony family entertainment and decided she wanted to be a bit slutty she didn’t ride a wrecking ball or post naked selfies…like a true living legend she simply reminded the world that she is black and introduced not only her future music style and skanky look, but also the iconic image that embodies her and her music so well: Butterfly. Hoodriah was born and she was ready to party.

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As rap features became more frequent in her music the hits became less, and while she flopped with her acting in “Glitter” and got lost in 80’s nostalgia on the OST a few years before everyone else did, she had to watch other artists like Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera or Leona Lewis take the music and singing style she had been such a big part of in creating to the top of the charts. But none of that mattered because Mariah had a trump card that made her virtually untouchable: Crystal clear, pitch perfect and inhumanly flexible, Mariah’s voice was instantly recognizable and truly one of a kind. She may not have been the first soprano in pop music but she owned those fluttery high notes like no one else. More ethereal than her earthy “rival” Whitney, the fragile quality of her powerhouse vocals was where the money was at, so when she started showing signs of vocal exhaustion and the clothes couldn’t have gotten any less she took a break…in a mental institution. Like a true legend would.

Her obvious attempt to slow down her pace also showed in her reduced vocal delivery. Criticized as “too whispery” Carey’s singing was now under detailed evaluation and word on the street was that the once mighty goddess was struggling. Mariah, however, basically shrugged her shoulders, released a comeback album no one remembers and successfully went on the “Charmbracelet” world tour during which she was almost banned from performing in Malaysia for “dressing too sexy”. Legendary.

MIMI PRESS SHOT

Cue in “The Emancipation of Mimi”. Suddenly Mariah was everywhere. Or, better, Mimi. Mimi sounded, talked and looked like (a very photo shopped version of) Mariah but Mimi didn’t give a shit. Mimi told it like it was. And Mimi sang with the grits and gusto Mariah had been missing. She seemed more relaxed and happy than ever and continued with her transformation; busy building her own legend. Almost as if she had told herself “Fuck it, I AM Mariah Carey” every morning for the last years she started presenting herself exactly like her fans saw her…larger than life, glitter, drama, hair, make up, boobs, legs for days and forever and always THAT VOICE. She opened up about her crazy private life and adopted a self-ironic way of joking through interviews, always playing towards her now more-than-ever religiously adoring fans. According to Carey it had been Patti LaBelle she’d turned to in tough times and her infamous Grammy performances of “Fly like a bird” and “We belong together” reeked of the earthy soul mother’s influence and were…u guessed it…legendary.
But while the world rose to its feet to celebrate the fallen angel’s return she had already lost interest. She had fallen again…for Nick Cannon, who she ended up divorcing after 6 years and a set of twins. Looking like 20 and skinnier than ever, she returned to club bangers, sex kitten imagery and countless failed attempts to re-create her millennium hit “We belong together” on three ridiculously under promoted albums. But no shade for lack of musical ingenuity or vocal prowess could touch her ability to seem completely oblivious towards her own shortcomings. Stoic as ever, with her trademark little-girlishness plastered all over, her performances turned into Russian Roulette. Pristine on good days, but a mere shadow of herself on bad ones, she appeared either as a perfect glorification of herself, or as a breathless, horse matron sewed into the skin tight gowns she is now famous for. Nevertheless, this is Mariah Carey and it didn’t stop her fans from loving her nor the world from talking about her then or now, so to this day she does what makes sense the most: cater to her huge fan base. Albums, set lists, interviews…her entire existence is an endless, nostalgic inside joke between her and her fans. But one thing remains: once she pops her finger in her ear u KNOW shit is about to go down.

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So what’s to come? Who knows? The world loves to hate its living legends. But Mariah can take the heat. New hubby, family, TV show, tour and who knows what else she will wrap her 5 octaves around in the near or far future leave no doubt that competition is beneath her. This living legend is living, working, breathing and embodying her own legend and no one can tell it better than Mariah Carey herself. *pops finger in ear* *cue high note*


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Der österreichisch-amerikanische Soulsänger Sankil Jones nahm bei der österreichischen Vorausscheidung des Song Contest   “Wer singt für Österreich?” teil und belegte den vierten Platz. Sein bekanntester Hit ist die orientalische Dance-Hymne “Fire”.  Aktuell arbeitet er an einem neuen Album.

 

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About the Author

Ich bin freiberuflicher Journalist in Österreich (I’m a freelance journalist in Austria) – und wie das bei Journalisten so ist, schreibe ich über alles (naja, fast alles) lieber als über mich selbst. In meinem Fall: Kultur, Pop, Popkultur – und alles, was dazwischen liegt. Weil man Lifestyle, Musik, Film, TV, Gesellschaftskritik, Politik und Gossip nun mal nicht trennen kann. Weil Populärkultur der Spiegel der Gesellschaft ist. Und weil ich als Journalist der Gesellschaft einen Spiegel vorhalten will. Man könnte auch sagen: Popkultur mit Niveau. Infotainment vom Feinsten.



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