Not just a sweet fantasy, Mariah Carey is in townMariah Carey brings to mind an old friend of mine, whom I’ll call Cassie. This woman was at Blockbuster with her boyfriend to rent a video. She spotted “Glitter,” Ms. Carey’s movie debut, and turned to her man with hopes of watching it.
He said, “I love you, but no.”
A few weeks later, Cassie convinced me to watch “Glitter” with her, swearing me to utmost secrecy.
You see, Mariah Carey is her secret indulgence. She has the albums “Mariah Carey,” “Emotions,” “Music Box,” “Daydream,” “Butterfly” “No. 1s,” “Sweetheart,” “Charmbracelet,” and even a bootleg version not listed on Ms. Carey’s official Web site (www.mariahcarey.com). Cassie drew the line at “Merry Christmas,” and she lacks two other albums.
What is it about Mariah Carey, who’ll be launching her Asia tour with a performance in Seoul tomorrow?
The pop star Sung Si-gyeong recently said on the radio that Mariah Carey was the reason he become a singer. He’s not the only one. Jo Sung-mo, Lee Su-yong, Koyote and the now-defunct girl groups Fin.K.L and S.E.S. cite Ms. Carey as an inspirational musician.
It’s no surprise. The singer has spent more weeks at the top of the music charts than the Beatles. But most people are candid about their admiration for the Beatles, whereas some people view Ms. Carey as a long-legged pop star bimbo, even with all the Best Artist awards she has won over the years.
Yu Yeol’s Music Album, a radio program on KBS2-FM, recently ranked Ms. Carey as Korea’s best-loved foreign artist. Her single “Through the Rain” from her latest album, “Charmbracelet,” ranked No. 1 in Korea for radio play through the beginning of this year.
Her popularity definitely isn’t due to her tour dates. She was originally scheduled to perform in Korea and several other Asian countries in May, but pulled out due to the outbreak of SARS in the region. Fans in Korea may have been disgruntled, but 4,000 tickets were sold on the first day tickets were made available. The promoter, SJ Entertainment, says it expects a capacity crowd of 13,000.
Could it be her looks? AskMen.com advises taking a look at her music video, “Heartbreaker,” saying “An accomplished artist, Mariah proves that you can have a beautiful voice, be a great songwriter and be hot.”
It’s probably not her acting. The New York Times called “Glitter” a “listless flop.” My friend Cassie fell asleep watching it.
Could it be Ms. Carey’s electrifying concert performances? She’s traveling with an entourage of 70 ― musicians, back-up singers, dancers and sound and lighting technicians.
Could it simply be her songs? Ms. Carey has written and co-produced many of her compositions.
Ahn Eun-gyeong, who founded one of Ms. Carey’s fan clubs 13 years ago, became a fan as a freshman in high school. “I had all the emotional problems that come with being a teenager and I felt like she spoke to me,” Ms. Ahn says.
Because Mariah Carey is of mixed racial heritage and is a major star only a few years older than Ms. Ahn, she became a role model.
Now there are four major fan clubs and several online clubs in Korea. The clubs have about 100,000 members.
As luck would have it, Ms. Carey switched record labels a few years ago. In Korea, her new album is distributed by Universal Music where Ms. Ahn now works.
As for my friend Cassie, she broke up with her boyfriend. Could it be that he lacked the Mariah Carey connection?
by Joe Yong-hee
Mariah Carey’s concert begins at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Olympic Park Complex. For ticket information, visit the Web site www.ticketpark.com. Tickets are 30,000 to 150,000 won ($25-$125).