World News – AU – ‘Suddenly Mariah’s Cool Again’: How Mariah Carey’s New Memoirs Do The Pop Diva Justice


2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Mariah Carey, pop diva and singer par excellence, burst onto the music scene with her self-titled debut album

Carey was only 20 at the time, but the album sold over 15 million copies and won her two Grammys – the first in a long series

It was the start of a tumultuous but ultimately ascending career; Carey is the second behind the Beatles to have the most number one singles on the Billboard charts

And now, after years of Carey eliminating interview questions with the phrase « I’m saving this for my book » – we have the book: a memoir, co-authored with Michaela Angela Davis

In The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the singer honestly and painfully details, for the first time, parts of her personal life that had previously only been mentioned in her music.

She also writes extensively about her struggle to be recognized – and taken seriously – as a songwriter and producer

But throughout, the memoir is supported by his resilience, ambition and dedication to his music

The memoir landed in late September alongside a new B-sides album and New Yorker interview, and quickly rose to the top of the New York Times non-fictional bestseller charts – proving to be a hit with Carey (aka Lambs) fans and novices alike

Explaining the general appeal, broadcaster and writer Maria Lewis (definitely a lamb) credits « those dark places she’s ready to go »

« She talks about really tough things, talks about violence, not just family violence, but relationship violence and trauma and how you deal with that [and] it’s treated so lovingly, and in an honest and sensitive way, ”she told Stop Tout! co-hosts Beverley Wang and Benjamin Law

Carey may be known for her diva antics, but in her memoir, she describes a childhood of poverty and neglect, as well as the emotional and physical abusive behavior of her mother and siblings.

Carey is biracial, and the racism her family experienced (as well as the racism perpetrated by her white mother), and her feeling of not quite fitting in, are also key elements in her memories

These elements are skillfully and powerfully rendered, aided by co-writer Michaela Angela Davis – an activist and writer who has written on race, gender and hip hop in the past

In a heartbreaking scene, Carey says her mother called the police on her during an argument

The memoir also delves into the most high-profile periods of Carey’s career, including her breakup in 2001 (which led to her being diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder), and the failure of her feature film and of the soundtrack that accompanies it Glitter (released on 9/11)

In The Meaning of Mariah Carey, Carey writes about the merry childhood Christmases she spent with her “guncles” (gay uncles), which were a respite from her often bleak family life

Carey credits her pistols with inspiration from All I Want for Christmas is You, her all-time greatest hit, which has been so entrenched in the cultural Christmas canon that Carey is known as the « Christmas Queen « 

« To this day, she’s a very set, very festive person I think [this chapter of her life] explains a lot why she’s drawn to this kind of world, » says Nick Bond, News Entertainment editor at ( and yes, another Lamb)

Carey married Tommy Mottola, head of his music label at the time – and 20 years her senior – when she was only 23

In the book, we find out about his stifling life in « Sing Sing » (Carey’s tongue-in-cheek nickname for the couple’s mansion outside of New York City, and reference to maximum security prison) where Carey was constantly watched

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Carey explains how her husband « controlled and patrolled » her movements, music and image As she writes: « He tried to wash the ‘urban’ out of me (translation: black) »

While Carey devotes an entire section of her memoir to Mottola, her second marriage, in 2008, to TV host Nick Cannon – the father of her twins – is only briefly covered

While Carey’s brief affair with baseball player Derek Jeter receives sexy treatment, her 10-month engagement to Australian billionaire James Packer is notably missing

« If it was a relationship that mattered, it’s in the book Otherwise, it didn’t happen »

Bond says he would have liked « more of a review of the rough years » of Carey’s recent era – including, most famously, a disastrous New Years Eve 2016 performance

With her 1995 album Daydream, Carey solidified her turn to R&B and hip hop – but in her memoir she reveals that around the same time she was working on a grunge album for a band called Chick

Carey writes: « I was playing with the style of white punk-light-grunge singers that were popular at the time » (This was the time of Alanis Morissette and Garbage)

« It’s just another layer of the depth that she has as an artist, that she was able to achieve »

According to some, the audiobook The Meaning of Mariah Carey, read by Mimi herself, is the only way to go

Carey’s signature vocal performance imbues the narrative with her sense of humor – plus she erupts regularly in the song

Glitter and the other albums that followed his escape from Mottola made Carey a target of derision

« She presents herself as overtly feminine; she loves sequins, butterflies, unicorns, pink… [but] things that are overtly feminine are often not taken seriously, » says Lewis

Despite criticism and setbacks, Carey has remained committed to her music – as well as her OTT aesthetic

And in the memories, Carey takes his career reassessment in hand, tapping into what Bond describes as his « encyclopedic knowledge » to tell his now legendary artistic output

Lewis says: « The biggest advantage for me was regardless of her troubled childhood and everything she went through Mariah Carey has always known her value, she has always understood that her art has value « 

That said, the outpouring of recognition for this memoir – including positive coverage in the Washington Post and Rolling Stone – must be gratifying for Mimi and her lambs

« It’s really great to see her seize her moment on the 30th anniversary of such an incredible career, » says Lewis

« It’s not just as a singer, but as a songwriter, producer, actress, writer, businesswoman »

The Meaning of Mariah Carey is now available via Pan Macmillan, Audiobook is available via Audible

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and BBC World Service which is copyrighted and may not be reproduced

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas Is You (SuperFestive!), Christmas Music, Lush

World News – AU – « Suddenly Mariah is Cool Again « : How Mariah Carey New Memoirs Do The Pop Diva Justice
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