Throwback Tuesday : Mariah Carey’s ‘Honey’

It’s Throwback Tuesday people! Time to discuss how a big-ass song changed the face of music back in the day and blazed a trail!

We’ve given our props to Whitney, Madonna and Janet in our past Throwback Tuesday posts, so why, I repeat WHY would you even imagine the diva-est of them all divas not getting some may-jah shout-outs from our diva-loving adorbz blog? Le Duh.

Mariah Carey was the highest selling artist of the 90’s, and the 00’s and the 10’s have not slowed her down by any means. With 18 # 1 singles, 200 million records sold worldwide, and a discography like no other artist in the history of contemporary music, Mariah Carey is one of the most prolific vocalists in the history of ever. Everybody has a fave Mariah song and a fave Mariah album. You just cannot ignore her incredible influence. Period.

For me, the R’n’B Mariah rules over the vintage-pop Mariah any day. The precise reason why I chose Mariah’s ‘Honey‘ as my Throwback Tuesday choice for today. After her stunning 1990 self-titled début, Mariah Carey had already established herself as a force to be reckoned with, a position that she solidified with her subsequent releases ‘Emotions’ and  ‘Music Box’, the latter of which remains as one of the highest selling albums of all time with over 28 million units sold worldwide. But with these albums, Mariah excelled at what 2 other fellow divas were already good at, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Contemporary ballad-heavy pop and ground-breaking vocals were their signature style.

Mariah wanted to deviate from the ‘safe’ sound of her previous albums and experiment, and that was a step that her record label was not too comfortable with. They wanted her to stick to her tried and tested formula, and in that process compromise her growth as an artist. It did not help that her husband Tommy Mottola was the CEO of Sony Music, and he held the creative and artistic reigns of every step she took as an artist. After 5 years of sticking to the same sound, the transition of Mariah Carey had begun with 1995’s ‘Daydream‘, where elements of R’n’B and Hip-Hop were evident. But it was 1997’s ‘Butterfly‘ that Mariah Carey declared her independence and came into a league of her own, after a much-publicized divorce with Tommy Mottola.

‘Butterfly’ was a defining album of the 90’s, and it was THE album with which Mariah pushed her creative boundaries as an artist and took a step further in flaunting her new-found independence away from her mild-mannered polite ballads and drippy sentiments of her earlier albums, much like Madonna’s ‘Ray Of Light‘ and Janet Jackson’s ‘The Velvet Rope‘. The sound of the album was a flawless blend of her urban roots with her previous contemporary pop style.

Honey‘ was the first single from ‘Butterfly‘, and it signaled the evolution of Mariah Carey as a more provocative artist as compared to her previous works. Mariah was more of a vocal artist than a video artist, but with the video for ‘Honey‘, Mariah established herself as the perfect balance between vocal goddess Whitney Houston and seductress supreme and music video icon Janet Jackson. The song was produced by Puff Daddy, Q-Tip and Stevie J along with Carey, and was a breezy, uptempo and street savvy number that still remains one of Mariah’s best up-beat songs of all time. The Puerto Rico filmed music video by Paul Hunter with a James Bond-esque theme garnered controversy by drawing comparisons to Mariah’s personal issues with her ex-husband Tommy Mottola, although Mariah denied these allegations. Watch it below.

‘Honey’ debuted at # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and so did ‘Butterfly’ on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. The album was a worldwide smash, selling over 4 million copies in the US, and over 11 million copies worldwide (although sales figures for the album keep varying at different sources with Sony mentioning album sales of 9 million, while Mariah’s fan-sites stating album sales of over 15 million worldwide).

Either way, a song that definitely deserves some major props for being what it is. ICONIC.

  • Varun

    Butterfly! Everything about this album and this time is just so special. What completely wins me over is the fact that everything was SYMBOLIC to her life. Honey was all about emancipation, it was so much more powerful than other emancipatory situations in her life :P

    Butterfly is the DEFINITIVE Mariah Carey album!

  • Rohan Tribhuwan

    this is everything 90s for me