Mariah Carey has been fighting a hard, public battle for more than 10 years now — with herself. Since the early 2000s, media has been lumping her into the category of fallen '90s angel, not unlike the very public, very widely reported struggles of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera to maintain their '90s viselike grip on pop and popularity.
In fact, Mariah’s 2005 release of The Emancipation of Mimi was supposed to be a rebuttal to just that, but instead it was met by a Mad TV sketch and a review from Rolling Stone that began, “First off: Mariah Carey's ninth album, The Emancipation of Mimi, doesn't suck as comprehensively as 2001's Glitter or 2002's Charmbracelet.” It’s been a rough millennium so far for Mimi. But if the headlines she’s grabbed in the first month of 2017 are any indication, she doesn’t give a fuck anymore.
I believe this "new" Mariah is nothing new, though. It all began about 10 years ago in a bathtub. If there is anything iconic about the singer (which I personally would argue there is plenty — she will be a Christmas staple for the rest of time, and try to look at a butterfly and not see her face), it was her infamous dip into that gilded tub on MTV’s Cribs.
You may have thought Mariah Carey lip syncing was bad, remember on MTV cribs when she got in the bathtub with a towel on. pic.twitter.com/HRjpentyUQ— Trev (@ForgotAboutTrev) January 2, 2017
The show, which exalted excess, gave celebrities a platform to embarrass themselves and was able to exist in a pre-Obama era before everyone got woke, is almost something out of today’s Trump era. Carey, appearing right after Emancipation’s release, provided the show’s most watched and replayed episode. With one flick of some bubbles, she gave a middle finger to everyone mocking her. Yes, maybe she’d lost some musical credibility and confidence, but here she was, still obscenely wealthy, sexy enough to get naked on camera and interesting enough to hold an hour-long special edition of the show.
So, what shouldn’t be surprising is that fact that Carey is still very much that bathtub girl. In December, when she gave what is probably the most talked-about Times Square New Year's Eve performance of all time, it wasn’t because she nailed it. It was because she handled not nailing it in such an inspirational way. I know that whenever things go wrong in my life in 2017, I will be channeling Carey shoving her way through those feathers at the end; half dancing, half eye-rolling through a five-minute public calamity.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Now, she’s becoming the ultimate role model for any broken-hearted, downtrodden woman by live streaming in only lingerie and working out in only lingerie, all in order to promote a music video.
Not just any music video. Her new video (watch below) was filmed in the Calabasas mansion she used to share with now ex-fiancé James Packer, with whom her breakup was very publicized and fiery. In it, Carey burns the $250,000 custom Valentino wedding dress she would have worn to walk down the aisle. If every woman in America who has ever ended an engagement or been divorced or broken up with didn’t go outside wearing only a bra and pour out a whole bottle of rosé in tribute, this isn’t America.
If you’re still with me, you now fully understand the evolution of Mimi (feel free to use that as your next record title, girl). Carey at age 46 is the diva we’ve always needed but never knew we wanted. After falling from great heights, she has done something quite different from a comeback: She carved out a career trajectory that wasn’t expected. She didn’t grovel for the same slot. She picked out a new one and said, “Come buy a ticket.” She stayed fabulous when everyone told her she wasn’t. She’s had twins and you're blowing up her live feed with “send nudes.” She’s a goddamn hero.
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