Thursday, September 1, 2011

Songs that Changed Everything: Mariah Carey- Fantasy (1995)

In a new segment, I thought it'd be cool to address familiar pop songs that have had an extremely significant impact on pop music and culture in general. My first idea was for the most influential pop song of the 2000's- Daft Punk's "One More Time", but I decided to focus on one of the most influential songs of the 90's, (I haven't forgotten about the obvious "Smells Like Teen Spirit" choice) and one you wouldn't even really think was highly influential- Mariah Carey's "Fantasy".

Can you imagine a time when pop, R&B, and hip-hop were three distinct genres that were never crossed? Today's current radio is a hodgepodge of pop, house, r&b, and hip hop, with DJ sets literally being broadcasted on LA's most popular radio station. So when "Fantasy" exploded in the winter of 1995, it was a foreign idea for a white artist known for power ballads and midtempo pop tunes to take on a beat endlessly sampled by hip-hop artists, (Tom Tom Club's classic "Genius of Love") create a remix with Ol Dirty Bastard, and thus becoming not only one of her most recognized, but one of the most transformative pop songs of the decade. Shortly after the success of "Fantasy" ushered in the true hip-hop takeover of the music landscape with Puff Daddy, (as he was known then) Mase, the posthumous Notorious B.I.G., and more. By the time of Carey's next lead single from an album, "Honey", in the fall of 1997, Puff Daddy had claimed the year's #1 with "I'll be Missing You".

In today's world, the pop artist with the rap feature is the one of the tried and true formulas of hitmaking. You could say that Carey accidentally bridged the gap seeing hip-hop's . Today's most successful pop artist, Katy Perry, gained her 4th and historic 5th #1 singles off the backs of rap remixes featuring Kanye West and Missy Elliott. Given, they were hits in the beginning- but we now live in an era where a rap feature proves beneficial to the artist at stake. Back in the late 1990's, I remember rap features being edited out on radio. I vividly remember Lil Kim's part in "Lady Marmalade" in 2001 getting edited out because of a phobia to hip hop- now it's glorified to the extent that artists like Katy Perry get Kanye West for "E.T." and Missy Elliot for "Last Friday Night" for remixes to help propel her songs to #1.

Very few pop artists today have contained as much a dominant, commanding presence on the airwaves as Carey in the mid-90's. She followed this song with (on paper) the biggest Hot 100 song ever- "One Sweet Day". To this day, every success she's had since "Fantasy" can be directly traced back to the song- and when she's strayed away- like releasing the pop ballad "Through the Rain" off of 2003's "Charmbracelet", she's flopped. Her success since "Fantasy" has been directly correlated with how R&B/Hip Hop flavored her songs have been. To sum it all up, "Fantasy" played a huge part in top 40 music throwing a few genres in a blender, creating a fresh new sound and giving the pop music landscape a facelift.

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