Once upon a time, two great artists were in the same room (or tent) together. The late great Jeff Buckley was in a Sony sponsored event to sing a Led Zeppelin song. Mariah Carey, for some reason (but reason is probably that she was a Sony artist herself and married to the Sony big boss Tommy Mottola), was in the same event, looking plain and undiva like. I’m excited by this, that Mariah got to see Jeff Buckley perform, a male diva himself (voice-wise) once upon a time. It’s not everyday you get to hear about Jeff Buckley and Mariah Carey mentioned in the same thought together. Not that it would have been possible that the two would have performed or recorded a song at the time, in the 90s but wouldn’t that have been something, Mariah and Jeff Buckley in a song together? It was probably wishful thinking even then when Buckley was still alive but just the thought of that sends shivers. And speaking of would have been great duets, how big a loss is it that Mariah and Tupac never got to record anything, because you know she would get all living rap artists to sing a song with her. But she and Jeff Buckley, that would have been something. You never hear her pay homage to artists outside her pop/r&b genre, it’s always been the Aretha Franklins, the Diana Rosses, the Minnie Rippertons and on some level the Whitney Houstons, but she and Jeff Buckley although understandably inconceivable to some, their inhuman vocal capacities share the same dynamics. But okay, she probably didn’t listen much to rock so maybe she never even got to know about him until that fateful day in that tent. They probably didn’t even speak. I’m dying to know what she thought of him. Mariah, please leave a comment, please?
I don’t get it when people say Mariah Carey songs changed their lives, whichever songs that may be, because with the exception of Hero, I don’t see how Heartbreaker, Dreamlover, Fantasy, Honey and other boy-come-rescue-me songs of hers can change anyone’s life. But maybe I’m underestimating the power of such songs since no one speaks more effusively about boyfriend-longing than she does and maybe these songs really are life-changers in their own special ways. Her songs certainly haven’t changed my life but I will say that her album releases mark one of the highlights of my year, at least since the dawn of the blog, which is to say around the Emancipation of Mimi period, around the time when album information is updated at a pace approximating the speed of light. I don’t camp out of record stores in anticipation in the same way that Star Wars fans camp out of cinemas or Harry Potter fans camp out of bookstores although I think that doing so is romantic and crazy, but I certainly take a moment out of my life to relish a Mariah Carey album release, from the blog-stalking to purchasing to actual listening.
Today would have been the release of Angels Advocate, the supposed remix version of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, but it’s not going to happen since allegedly, or perhaps matter-of-factly, the album was such a flop. My guess is that it didn’t sell because we are now in an age where music can be obtained for free, true at least for people who don’t care to own CDs anymore and multimillion selling singers such as she are the ones who stand to lose from this the most. Or it could simply be that people’s taste for pop has radically changed and some just simply don’t care anymore for those artists who at some point in their careers have been so successful and popular. It’s kind of sad.
But it’s okay that she puts a halt on the album’s release. I’ll move on. What’s annoying about it is that you just know that the scrapping of the album is due to the fact that her recent efforts (Angels Cry & Up Out My Face) weren’t the hits they were projected to be. Mariah is unabashedly a commercial artist whose fame was largely brought by commercial success. Memoirs the remix could have been a better version but the boardroom presentation of market statisticians and prognosticators at the record label which showed her sale’s steep decline must have prevented the album from being released. And that sucks! Selfishly, I thought it wouldn’t have mattered if she flopped again because flopping is all the rage nowadays anyway and it’s quite cool for Mariah to not care about sales and her songs charting just as long as she releases an album, because finally, people might shut up about her sales already and she can finally really be free artistically and maybe make the best music of her career, #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 or not. If only the decision had been on her instead of on record label executives.
I’d say it’s fine, her not releasing the remix album but it’s really not. If there’s any consolation to that, it’s that there’s not going to be a repeat of the flop fiasco and she’s spared the embarrassment of selling so few. I can live with Memoirs for the meantime since it’s for me one of her greatest, I could listen to it for years, but it breaks my heart just the same. It would have been nice to hear her trade verses with R. Kelly in Betcha Gon’ Know or diva off with Mary J Blige in It’s A Wrap which is one of the cancellation’s major heartbreaks, not to mention the Jump Smokers remix, but such is the state of album selling these days.
It’s weird that a very successful artist such as her is still constrained by record companies that she ’emancipated’ herself from so many times already. It kind of makes you think that all the emancipation proclamations were just in service of an album theme, the truest in essence of which is exemplified by Butterfly, not that other more explicit emancipation album, The Emancipation of Mimi. With her albums, you never really notice the ‘themes’ because they’re almost non-existent anyway because you obtain a Mariah album to hear her wail and sing with rappers and fellow divas. Personally, I’m glad that she’s sold a gazillion albums in her 20 years of singing but I wish she would just let go and really truly emancipate herself.
Ace of Base. Glicos. Streetboys. Universal Motion Dancers. Pearl Jam. That’s Entertainment. St. Mary’s Academy. Archie & Jughead Double Digest 256 pages. X-Men. Cedie. Uhaw. Solid Gold Songhits. Cutterpillow. Mariah Carey. One Sweet Day. Always Be My Baby. Bone Thugs N Harmony. Bone Thugs N Harmony feat. Mariah Carey. CrazySexyCool. Dragonball Z. Palibhasa Lalake. Cynthia Patag. Gardo Versoza. Seiko Films. Priscilla Almeda. Cory Aquino. Filbars. Goldcrest. Mercury Drug. Nintendo. Rockman 1, 2, 3, 4. Backstreet Boys. Spice Girls. Robin Padilla. Beverly Hills 90210. Cartimar. Jagged Little Pill. Puff Daddy/Bad Boy Records. Typewriter. Boyz II Men. Miss Universe. Miss Belgium. 3-story Tower Records. Quad 2. Quad. Return to Innocence music video. Paolo Contis. Tropang Trumpo. Melrose Place. Cristy Per Minute. Eric Fructuoso. Thank God It’s Sabado. Wacks/Kiko. Donita Rose. VHS Porn. VHS. Angie’s Video House. Ferris Beuler’s Day Off. Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion. Sega. United Colors of Benetton. Hanson. Freddy Krueger. Dawson’s Creek. Dawson’s Creek Soundtrack Volume 1. Tira-tira. Star City. MTV Soul’d Out. Camille Pratts as Princess Sarah. Angelica Panganiban as Becky. Kurt Cobain. 7-11 nachos. Barbie’s Cradle. All Saints. Top 20 at 12. Fun House. Manilyn Reynes. Jay Manalo. Devon Sawa. Are You That Somebody music video. Aaliyah. Semi-charmed Life. Titanic. Always (Erasure). Low-waist. Nerds candy. Fanta. You on My Mind. Penthouse. Mix tape. 200 pesos pirated CD. Dave Matthews Band. Crash Into Me. Brown-out. Flintstones chewables. Bubble Tape. Cry Baby. Silent All These Years. Sustagen. Kero Keropi. Fido Dido. Tina Paner. Nova Villa. Laser Disc. The Cask of Amontillado. N*SYNC. The Boy Is Mine. Joyce Jimenez. Acne-free. Corn Flakes. TT Boy. Ron Jeremy. Taboo. Nokia 3210. Ice candy. Freestyle Live! Building a Mystery. Landline. Autograph. Sometimes (Britney Spears). 10 Things I Hate About You. Phoebe Buffay. Joey Tribbiani. Floppy disk. Prince of Persia. Lemmings. Michael Myers. Matthew Mendoza. Patrick Guzman. Gelli de Belen. Carmina Villaroel. Decades Bar. Tom & Jerry. Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween Special. Suddenly Susan. Bugs Bunny. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Maala-ala Mo Kaya. Youth. No Internet.
I’ve been lamenting the absence of Quality, Serious, Oscar-whoring films in Manila for such a long time when what I should have been doing was scouring through Makati Cinema Square’s valuable trove of (technically) stolen DVDs, because where else could I find soon-to-be but probably never going to be released underground Mariah Carey movies such as Tennessee and Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire? I haven’t really found either of these two but I’ve seen the Oscar-whoringer movie, Precious because of my precious.
The film is as good and as ‘dark’ as it’s hyped but you’ve seen grittier and obscener Social Relevance Movies because no country does poverty movies quite like the Philippines. Aside from gay indies, Star Cinema rom-coms and Bong Revilla Best Actor-snatching fantasies, we churn as much poverty-themed movies as much as we do cornies. I’ve seen grittier films but none that would have Mariah in them so Precious trumps everything else.
Precious is perceived as ‘dark’ but it makes up for its dark subject, an obese, illiterate and HIV-infected teenage girl, by having elaborate and cute fantasy sequences. It makes you feel a little morose, even more so as the film progresses because the tragedies, in perhaps the same pace as Precious’ pounds, just keep coming at her. It tries to be optimistic but the joys are only fleeting. But despite the outrageous number of tragedies that you could swear is the most that ever befell a teenage girl, something about it rings true, such as having an abusive mother. It’s a little too obvious to say but the thing that makes it work is the acting. It is director Lee Daniels’ genius instinct to obsess over the actors’ faces over anything else because he knew (just as I knew) that his best instrument is an actor’s performance. Wow.
I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that Mariah just might be the new Cher who could win an Oscar, but I hope she does! I’m obviously not the most reliable person to judge her performance based on its actual merits and I’m probably the least reliable, but I’ve thought this over and hard. Mariah’s performance is a big deal because she’s probably the most dubious singer-turned actor to be cast in this type of movie, and it doesn’t help that she’s a big celebrity in a small, prestige movie, which is why it’s hard for some to appreciate the performance, which is the most uncharacteristic she’s ever been as an actress and a diva. In the last scene with Mo’nique (Mary) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Mariah (Ms. Weiss), all in under 15 minutes, did what she can with the little that she has to say, with only that rumble-y, worn out voice, ugly costume, and a veneer of toughness that’s the perfect buffer for Mo’nique’s intense monologue.
Depending on which part of the movie-anticipating part of the world you’re from, wanting to see a movie as hyped as Precious is like wanting to listen to depressing music and expecting to feel something beautiful. Lame analogy, okay, but anyway. We in the third world treat the coming of world cinema as if it’s the second coming because film distribution in our world is slow. I don’t mind very much but it’s annoying anyway. It makes me want to frying pan film distributors’ heads, Mary Jones-style.
Since Precious, the Mariah Carey movie that I’m dying to see is not going to be shown in Manila theaters anytime soon, and which might be shown mid-2010, by which time I would have already died from anticipation, I re-watched Wise Girls, a small movie that would have showcased the acting talent of the greatest diva of our time. Wise Girls tells the story of a certain New York-based, mob-run Italian restaurant that serves more than just pasta. Mira Sorvino, Melora Walters and Mariah Carey, who is not bad, play the waitresses. And if you really want to know what it’s about, go to IMDB because what I aim to examine and expound on is how Mariah is not at all a terrible actress as Glitter would have you believe.
Mostly I’m more interested in the experience of seeing a movie than the movie itself and I could say without reservation that Mariah would have been spared the breakdown had this movie been shown ahead of Glitter. If something as reputedly bad as Glitter can be shown in a third world, THX-equipped cinema, months after Rotten Tomatoes and just about every web traffic-hogging blogger had already proclaimed it to be bad, then an indieish movie such as Wise Girls can too, not because we have truly progressed as an above average appreciators of superior films nor because our local distributors never cared much for profit, but because and only because in the year that it was shown, 2002, Mariah was as popular as ever, and any movie that has at least one recognizable name in it will be shown, no matter how marginal the movie’s following is in the States or wherever. And so Wise Girls, the would/should-be launching vehicle of Mariah’s film career was shown here but in stinky SM Manila cinema, a telling sign that we were not going to see her in anything anymore.
I’m more concerned about critics’ assessment of movies so when I watch a movie that has her in it, and there aren’t many, I Google them and forget for a minute that I’m supposed to be doing other things in my life and I make searing commentaries such as this. And rewatching Wise Girls made me conclude, wow, that she isn’t so bad an actress after all. Even though I’m moved to mention her real life capacity for comedy, I could say with only the slightest bit of prejudice that she has put to great advantage her great comedic timing which she is supposed to have in real life. And even without having to say everything I’ve just said, I could never see her as anything but a wonderful human or actress.
I’ve seen this movie in the exact number of times that the average Mariah fan is supposed to watch it, which is to say, countless times, and the scene where she walks in the middle of the restaurant, gets her ass grabbed, and delivers what could have been THE career-shifting dialogue of her acting career, never fails to elicit a fawning, admiring gasp that can only come from someone who has had the nerve to bring his girlfriend to see Glitter and not be ashamed of his skin after pretty much giving away his real nature. And speaking of Glitter, is it really so awful? I think what paved the way for the tomato-throwage was that one corny scene where they were in a club and Max Beesley hands her a mic, done in a hazy, corny, slow motion sequence and she starts to spontaneously sing to the random beat being played. Apart from that scene, what else was so bad I just couldn’t see. Someone remove the blinders from eyes!