QuickPost: Thanks, MariahDaily!

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Quick Posts | Posted on 16-04-2010-05-2008


Has JacksonPMutley.com hit the big time? The one and only MariahDaily Journal has given me a plug and it’s only proper that I give ‘em a shout back. You can find them on my “Links” widget on the sidebar along with other fine sites.

I’m working on a fresh batch of new articles for ya, so stay tuned! In the meantime, let everyone know what you think of JacksonPMutley.com!

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Separate-But-Equal Alive and Well in the Music Business

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Articles | Posted on 02-04-2010-05-2008


I hear the R&B water is pretty good.

Once upon a time, the music business was segregated along racial lines, and artists, albums and singles were made and marketed specifically to audiences based on perceived racial makeup. That’s outrageous, Jack! What crazy, backwards time period are you referring to? I’m talking about the year 2010.

Google brings up 268,000 for the search terms “what’s the difference between pop and R&B” and the results include understandably confused music listeners such as “Music Fanatic” here:

i know that chris brown sing r7b, but also they called him the king of pop. i tough he sings r&b not pop. also when i listen to pop music and r&b the beats sound exactly the same, i dont see no difference in them expect that some r&b is sad music but also some is more energenic like rihanna song called dj replay. and some pop is sad music and at the same hand some is also energenic like hannah montana. SO WHAT EXACTLY IS THE DIFFERENCE?

Music Fanatic

“Music Fanatic” may be forgiven for being confused when you’re faced with two songs like the following:

The first song, Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” was sent to urban radio and even hit #1 on the Billboard R&B charts. The second song, Utada’s “Come Back to Me” was sent to top 40 and crossover radio and was never serviced to urban format radio stations. This is despite the fact that both songs have similar instrumental and vocal arrangements and indeed shared the same producers: Norwegian production duo Stargate engineered the backing tracks for both songs. The difference between the “R&B” song and the “pop” song is negligible.

Perhaps looking at Billboard magazine’s history with their R&B singles chart could shed some light on this. Wikipedia has a chart that recounts the genre’s prior incarnations over the decades:

Billboard sure was more honest back in the day, wasn’t it? There’s a reason why stores will stock their pop and R&B albums (sometimes even rock) in the same section, and only part of the reason is because they’re too lazy to organize two different shelves. The reason is that pop and R&B are not musical genres, they’re marketing categories.

Market segmentation is a long-standing concept of dividing the market into groups and targeting particular populations to reach those most likely to buy your product. The pop and R&B “genres” are one of the most predominant examples of this. Starting back in the 20s, labels would produce “race records,” popular jazz music performed by black artists that would appeal to black listeners. This continued as “soul,” as black artists started taking inspiration from their gospel and blues roots. As the gospel vocal influences waned and artists like Prince started taking precedence, the predominant name for this marketing category became “R&B,” which carries over to this day.

In effect, there is little to no real difference between pop and R&B – R&B is simply pop music for black people. In Billboard’s most frank period as it concerns this market segmentation (the 80s, believe it or not), the R&B charts were labeled the “black charts,” and Billboard made no bones about what the charts were meant to measure: pop music that black audiences listened to.

Two of pop music’s all-time biggest successes happened specifically because they transcended this market segmentation. Elvis famously hit not just the pop and R&B charts but the country and gospel ones as well. Michael Jackson became “King of Pop” by making music for anyone that would listen. Their success was certainly not due to any highly targeted market segmentation.

And yes, the number one reason Mariah Carey is arguably the biggest pop artist of the last two decades is because her appeal runs the gamut: her single “I Want to Know What Love Is,” for example, was sent simultaneously to six different radio formats. She is essentially the ultimate multiformat crossover artist of the last twenty years. Mariah herself is very much aware of her advantage:

But her mixed race background has become what marketing men would call her brand key, the core of her market identity and appeal. This year, she has pulled off the remarkable feat of remaining number one on both the pop and hip-hop charts for 15 weeks with the same single, “We Belong Together”.

In a business where “pop” and “hip-hop” have become euphemisms to describe white and black audiences, this is a rare phenomenon. “I can’t even name a singer right now who crosses both genres because there really is a barrier,” Carey says.

From Financial Times 2006

Being a multiracial person, Mariah is such a literal example of a crossover artist that it’s downright embarrassing to think that this probably means that this “brand key” was some kind of accident and not something her management and Columbia Records counted on when she was introduced.

And that’s because record companies are so devoted to these market segments they’ve carved out that they don’t realize what they’ve done is fragmented the market. You’re not going to produce the next Elvis, Michael Jackson, or Mariah Carey by only going after a piece of the pie.

market fragmentation
Emergence of new segments (in a previously homogeneous market) which have their own distinct needs, requirements, and preferences. These fragments reduce the effectiveness of mass marketing techniques and erode brand loyalty.

From Business Dictionary

For a brief period in the 60s, the crossover success of Elvis and the rise of Motown convinced Billboard to retire the R&B charts. It was brought back as the British invasion seemed to have differentiated white and black audiences again (what was really happening was the seed-planting of the “rock” genre). As pop and R&B are again as indistinguishable as ever, perhaps the record business should consider putting the divide to rest for good.

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Mariah Carey Shelves “Angels Advocate,” Saves Face

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Articles | Posted on 27-03-2010-05-2008


Ever notice that many stars handle flopping with all the grace and dignity of someone on all fours in a public place hollering to passerby, “Have you seen my contact lens?!”

Chronic hypocondriac Janet Jackson has a tendency to go ill whenever things aren’t going her way, Madonna started making out with Britney Spears and prancing around in pink leotards (in her defense, they eat that stuff up in Europe, apparently) in order to get people to pay attention to her, and film director M. Night Shyamalan had a meltdown in front of Disney executives when they dared question him after his The Village disappointed at the box office.

The king of not taking flopping too well may well be the King of Pop: Michael Jackson organized his fans in a rally protesting his record label for not providing enough marketing support for his album, and called boss Tommy Mottola “a racist” and “very, very devlish.” The kicker? The album in question, 2001’s Invincible didn’t even do that bad – it went double platinum!

Alas Mariah, too, isn’t always the epitome of poise and composure in the face of flopping – at least not her team (Mariah herself tends to be at her craziest right before flopping, actually). In the years following Glitter team Mariah was so desperate for a hit that when the Busta Rhyme single she was featured in, “I Know What You Want” started blowing up in 2003, they did just about everything they could to co-opt the song as her own. She started performing the song on tour sans Busta Rhymes, re-released her Charmbracelet album overseas with the song attached, and appeared on a TV special on VH1 that claimed she had “one of the biggest hits of the year!” Mariah’s team even killed a planned “I Know What You Want” remix that would have replaced Mariah with a featured male R&B singer, so intent they were on keeping the song associated with her.

I’m afriad the hits aren’t over there, Mariah.

Five years later when second single from E=MC2, “Bye Bye,” was beginning to stall at radio, Island Def Jam chairman LA Reid commissioned a remix of the song that shoehorned in Akon and Lil Wayne guest spots, despite the fact that “Bye Bye,” already had a remix that featured Jay-Z in rotation at urban radio. Moreover, “Bye Bye” was written by Mariah as a tribute to her late father, and the additions of of-the-moment hitmakers to an already questionably over-produced record about death made the whole affair seem awfully chintzy. It didn’t work in the end.

R.I.P. Dad… oh by the way, here’s Lil Wayne!

Mariah’s planned 2010 project Angels Advocate (don’t ask me where the apostrophe went) wasn’t conceived as a last-ditch “save the album” effort, but after Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel tanked that’s what it became – and moreover how it would be perceived. Originally an appeasement to Mariah for making her record an album without any featured guests tailored to an adult contemporary audience, Angels Advocate would be a special edition of Memoirs with a bonus disc featuring guests ranging from the established (R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige) to the flavors-of-the-month (Nicki Minaj, who didn’t yet release her debut album):

The “Obsessed” producer wouldn’t quite categorize the work in progress as a remix album. “They’ve said that it’s a remix album, but really what it is is a features album. [The songs] won’t necessarily be remixed. It’s just an album of features, really cool features on the exact same album.”

According to Tricky, 90 percent of the record will contain a featured guest, while there’s a small possibility of one or two all-new tracks. The as-yet-untitled project will go by the Memoirs title. “It will be the same name, but it will probably have something to it. I’m not sure what they’re going to call it, but it’s the same album.”

from MTV

However, once Memoris had already come and gone on the charts, Mariah’s team opted to re-brand the project as something on its own. It was given its own title, and Mariah’s 2010 tour was even named after it, not Memoirs. Promotional materials to radio programming directors hailed singles “Angels Cry” and “Up Out My Face” as being attached to “Upcoming Album Angels Advocate!”

The disassociation of Advocate from Memoirs was a smart move – who would be interested in a spin-off of a dud? – but it wasn’t fooling anyone: in spite of everything the two really were the same album, only with a bunch of featured guests and a couple bonus tracks. Only “H.A.T.E. U.,” “Candy Bling,” and “I Want to Know What Love Is” had remixes in the sense most people think of, in which the background arrangement and tempo are altered, and the only outright new tracks were the Timbaland-produced “Skydiving” and Mariah’s winter Olympics theme “100 Percent.”

For Angels Advocate to have a chance at working, it would have had to use the opportunity to truly re-work the songs into something new, or better yet, record new singles entirely. “Up Out My Face” and “Angels Cry,” however, sound identical to their incarnations on Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. For the most part Angels Advocate was the “Bye Bye” remix mentality applied to an entire album: the audience already rejected Memoirs, (for reasons which I’ve explained before) they’re not going to fall for it simply because it’s put into a new package. It didn’t work then. It wouldn’t work now.

It always sucks to have a project get canceled, but at least now Mariah gets to save face and avoid having another episode of celebrity-can’t-handle-not-being-on-top that Angels Advocate was shaping up to be.

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QuickPost: Justin Bieber Prefer’s Mariah’s Old Stuff… But Which “Old Stuff?”

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Quick Posts | Posted on 25-03-2010-05-2008



“I don’t love her new music, it’s not the same [as her old stuff],” the Canadian singer [Bieber] told UK paper The Sun. “It’s like Michael Jordan coming back out to play in the NBA. She is past her best.”

Old stuff, you say? One might be tempted to think he’s talking about Mariah’s Music Box AC days, but think about it. Music Box was probably released before he was born. He probably hasn’t even heard it.

No, Bieber is probably more than likely thinking of The Emancipation of Mimi as her “old stuff.”

Come to think of it, I’m older than this Justin Bieber kid and I’m a dog!

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QuickPost: Greatest Misheard Lyrics Ever

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Quick Posts | Posted on 25-03-2010-05-2008


Honestly, I think these are better than the actual lyrics! CLICK!

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QuickPost: This Ain’t Nickelodeon, Baby

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Quick Posts | Posted on 20-03-2010-05-2008


There need to be more canine TV stars, dammit.

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4 Things People Don’t Realize About ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Articles | Posted on 19-03-2010-05-2008


That’s not actually Beyonce, for one.

4. “We Belong Together” isn’t really her comeback song
I understand this one might need a little explaining: of course “We Belong Together” is the biggest solo hit of Mariah’s career, song of the decade, signature tune from Emancipation, etc. But what often gets overlooked is that the actual song that brought Mariah back into pop music’s good graces was the single before, “It’s Like That.”

But Jack, “It’s Like That” only peaked at #16, that’s not a comeback. That might not sound super-impressive, but when you consider that prior to “It’s Like That” Mariah had not a single song reach into the top 20, make that the top 50, make that the top 75 in nearly four years (this is of course excepting her parts in the Busta Rhymes hit “I Know What You Want” from 2003 and Jadakiss single “U Make Me Wanna” in 2004). “Never Too Far” and “Through the Rain” each peaked at #81. “Don’t Stop (Funkin’ 4 Jamaica)” didn’t chart. “Boy (I Need You)” didn’t chart. “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” didn’t chart.

In the first half of the 00s, the Billboard Hot 100 was essentially a radio airplay chart (the CD single had just died and digital downloads weren’t significantly counted), and from 2001 to 2004 Mariah was toxic at radio. Stations wouldn’t even poke her singles to make sure they were dead.

Suddenly, out of the blue, in early 2005 “It’s Like That” changed all that. The lead single from Emancipation, here was a track that was so hot, so infectious, so in-tune with audience tastes that radio couldn’t hold it back.

It wasn’t for lack of trying, at least. When Mariah interviewed with Detroit radio station 95.5 FM to promote the song, the DJs played “cuckoo” noises during the interview and cracked jokes about her before and after. In the same week, a DJ at 92.3 FM in Peoria, Illinois insulted listeners that called in to request Mariah live on-air:

“Instead of spinning the song as requested, {DJ} Brandon dished out rude comments that were insulting to both Mariah as well as the people requesting her single. “No hoes are played on this station,” he told one listener. “Mariah is a slut, that’s why she doesn’t have any fame anymore. She opens her legs for everybody, even the farm animals.””

From MariahDaily

Nice, huh? As you can see, the uphill battle was immense, and in this atmosphere garnering a top 20 hit was not merely a modest success, but a wholesale triumph. It was, in fact, Mariah’s biggest solo airplay hit since “Honey” in 1997.

By the time “It’s Like That” had peaked, Emancipation had debuted to career-best numbers for Mariah and the stage was set for “We Belong Together”s record-breaking run. Mariah was already “back” by the time “We Belong Together” hit. In fact, it could be argued that “We Belong Together” would have seen only a fraction of the success it did if it weren’t for “It’s Like That” taking the bullet first.

3. Emancipation is a 70s throwback album.
You would never know this judging by the singles, but Emancipation is a call back to the R&B soul numbers of the 1970s. Take the original edition of Emancipation, remove the Neptunes and Jermaine Dupri productions (added in for the hit factor), and what you have left are mostly soft ballads with a live band along with a heavy slant of 70s keyboards that Gladys Knight and the Pips would feel right at home singing along to.

The Emancipation of Pipis

The more upbeat, higher tempo Kanye West-produced “Stay the Night,” too, was 70s as all get out, even going so far as sampling 70s staple “Betcha By Golly Wow”. And if that weren’t enough, the unreleased song “I Feel It” is nearly a direct remake of the Dynamic Superiors’ groovy album track “Here Comes That Feeling Again.”

And when you really think about it, that album artwork wouldn’t be out of place in the 70s, would it?

Translucent ponchos were all the rage in the 70s, I hear.

2. The title isn’t just a Butterfly retread.
Mariah’s 1997 album Butterfly and its title track represented Mariah coming out of her cocoon (read: her marriage, the adult contemporary genre, et al) and emerging as a free butterfly – “the real her.” Years later with Emancipation Mariah explained that letting loose “Mimi,” a childhood nickname that represented “the fun side, the real me, and not the image and the baggage that comes with the whole ‘Mariah Carey’ thing.”

Mariah’s cocoon was made out of shirts apparently.

So one would be forgiven for thinking Mariah was simply reliving past personal glories and recycling old things. Butterfly, though, was about a personal emancipation: her divorce brought her away from the controlling arm of ex-husband Tommy Mottola (to a point; he would continue to be her boss until she left Columbia Records in 2001) and the subsequent MOR princess image he kept her in. Emancipation, on the other hand, was about redefining her identity as a celebrity. As I explained before, with this album Mariah shifted her narrative to become a “normal person playing the part of a superstar.” She of course left which side of her – the poised virtuoso or the humorous sex kitten – to be the ‘normal’ or ’star’ role up to the opinion of the audience member.

So Jack, what’s the final thing people don’t realize about The Emancipation of Mimi?

1. It was almost a disaster
We’re strictly talking commercial disasters here, of course. But think of the memorable hits from Emancipation: “We Belong Together,” “Shake it Off,” “Don’t Forget About Us,” “It’s Like That” come to mind. Oh, also there was “Say Something.”

You remember “Say Something,” right? It was the fifth single from Emancipation, featured Snoop Dogg and was produced by The Neptunes. It went to #79… oh, maybe that’s why you don’t remember it.

Say something… except for that ‘g’ at the end of ’something’!

Well, “Say Something” was originally planned to be the lead single of the album. Now, “Say Something” is a nice, easy-breezy understated midtempo groovy number, but it’s probably best left as an album track, not the intended hype-producing first single from an important project.

And apparently the fans agreed. “Say Something” was leaked online in late 2004 and the response was rather muted. People wanted something that hit harder and was more immediate. Now, in fairness to “Say Something,” when it was eventually released in 2006 Emancipation had already been out for a year and interest in further singles had waned some. But if the track couldn’t perform well on the tail end of a blockbuster, could we really expect it to breakthrough the Mariah radio boycott she faced at the beginning of the era (see above).

That wasn’t all though. The other track that was being hyped and primed for a single release was “Mine Again,” another ballad in the aforementioned 70s-retro vein. “Mine Again” was recorded largely as a response to fan dissatisfaction of the breathy, ‘whispery’ vocals on prior album Charmbracelet. The result is a song in which Mariah not so much sings the lyrics but rather shouts them from the top of her lungs.

You ask, but why would they choose tracks like “Say Something” and “Mine Again” when they already had obvious hits like “It’s Like That” and “We Belong Together”?

The reason for that was they weren’t recorded yet. Yes, Emancipation was being primed for release without its most memorable songs. It wasn’t until the very last moment in December 2004 when LA Reid decided to pair Mariah again with longtime collaborator Jermaine Dupri to record a couple more tracks. The results were “It’s Like That” and “We Belong Together.”

Imagine: we were this close from a reality in which The Emancipation of Mimi was lead by “Say Something” and “Mine Again,” and moreover “We Belong Together,” “It’s Like That,” and “Don’t Forget About Us” (which you will recall was added on the later Emancipation re-release) never existed. The Mariah comeback almost didn’t happen.

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Not Just a Singer Anymore: Mariah Carey’s Most Difficult Twist Yet

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Articles | Posted on 16-03-2010-05-2008


“Here’s my new song! It’s a song that you SMELL rather than hear! I’m so innovative.”

We’ve entered the time-traveling DeLorean from Back to the Future, and ventured back to the fall of 2007. Mariah fans all over the world were anxiously anticipating the first single from her forthcoming album, the successor to The Emancipation of Mimi, and they new it had to be coming soon… Mariah was appearing on magazine covers, radio interviews, even TV appearances were planned; it all seemed like the perfect setup to promote a new single.

And when the promotions hit… the single was nowhere to be found. Mariah briefly commented on her upcoming music, but it sounded vague, distant. What was upfront and center, however, was her new product: “M” by Mariah Carey. Mariah was there to plug her new product, alright, but it wasn’t new music: she was pushing her new perfume.

And this kind of thing hasn’t stopped since. Mariah still pumps out plenty of music, of course, but in the same timeframe she’s put out two more fragrances, appeared in three movies, a champagne. Nick Cannon just recently had to clear up speculation among fans when Mariah mentioned “something special” was in the works. New music? A baby? No, no, no. “”It’s funny because the big surprise has to do with Home Shopping Network or something like that,” Cannon replied. “”She has a new product coming out.”


Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. And it’s not uncommon for big popstars to appear in movie roles or even start a second career in acting. What’s interesting here is that this isn’t merely Mariah appearing in ads in sponsorship deals like Michael Jordan on Wheaties. The perfumes and champagnes and whatever else that’s coming up are actual Mariah products the same way her albums are.

Why’s she doing this? She herself wouldn’t have been much interested venturing outside of music in the years before: “When I was starting my career I’d look at certain people who worked with, say, Pepsi, and I was like, ‘Why do they need to do that?’ I had an offer from a soda company when I first began. They wanted me to hit a high note and then the glass bottle would break. I told them, ‘I think it’s stupid. It’s tacky. I don’t want to do it.’ ”

Well, music sales aren’t exactly paying the bills like it used to. The record industry has been notoriously disrupted by the advent of the digital download and an artist either has to tour to make money or look for other revenue sources. Mariah tours sparingly (she doesn’t like it and it also wears down her golden voice) so of course that means going the “other” route.

Should Mariah continue to go down this “other” route, however, she may find that it may come with considerable resistance:

“There was the jewelry at Claire’s/Icing, then the perfume adventure (that EVERY celebrity is doing now, and it’s like “dang everyone is doing the same thing,” and when a new celeb does it its like “Oh great another one” smh.”
From “Open Letter to Mariah #1: It’s Been Done

Mariah’s trying to brand herself, and in 2008 she hired Chris Lighty as her new manager. She picked Lighty most specifically for his experience in turning music acts into brands.

The more you see her at work, the more you realise that Carey has grasped not just how her industry must move from a recorded-music business model to a brand-based model, but also that she is the best person to do it. Ask what her “brand” is, and she replies as well as any Madison Avenue advertising executive: “Optimistic, accessible, universal.”

From UK’s The Times

So what’s the problem, Jack? The problem is that “Mariah Carey” is not just a brand, she’s a story, a narrative. Remember? Mariah is essentially trying to change the very type of celebrity she is. As much as she’s evolved, the foundation of her narrative is still “The Chick That Sings.” She’s going from a singer to a kind of all-purpose celebrity like Jennifer Lopez or Cher: they call these “Personalities.”

Unfortunately for her, people have never really been interested in Mariah as a Personality. As I’ve mentioned before, Mariah’s magazine covers tend to sell mediocre numbers, and she has never been much of a tabloid queen unless she’s doing something crazy like having a nervous breakdown.

Or, you know, this.

Mariah draws in big numbers on TV if she’s performing or if she’s up for awards. Not so much if she’s going to be doing anything else. People follow her music much more than they’ve followed Mariah herself. That’s the kind of narrative she has.

I’ve drawn the comparison before (yeah, that’s the third time I’ve linked to the same page, sorry) that making changes to a celebrity narrative midstream can be like abruptly changing genres in the middle of watching a movie. But going from a singer to a Personality is like watching a movie and having it suddenly turn into a video game.

The “It’s Been Done” fan blog post I quoted earlier suggested Mariah come out with a line of Karaoke machines if she must continue putting out other products. I have no clue if that’s a good idea or not, but the general notion is that the best way to ease into this kind of thing is to recognize that to the public Mariah Carey is first and foremost a singer and that products that reflect her actual narrative at this point will be what’s most readily accepted. It’s all about evolution, not revolution.

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QuickPost: IT’S BACON!

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Quick Posts | Posted on 15-03-2010-05-2008


I’ve always loved this commercial:

nomnomnomonomomomommomo IT’S BACON!!!!!!

I’m currently working on some new articles for you, just stay tuned! In the meantime why don’t you help spread the word about the Jackson P. Mutley blog? Tell your friends!

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QuickPost: Neverending Candy Bling

Posted by Jackson Mutley | Posted in Quick Posts | Posted on 10-03-2010-05-2008


I’ve already pimped this one out on my Twitter page, but I like it so much I think it deserves its own QuickPost.

My personal favorite track from Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel happens to be “Candy Bling,” and if you’re like me you can put that thing on repeat multiple times on end. But why bother with the disrupting fade-ins and intros? YTMND certainly agrees, as they looped “Candy Bling” around so that it can go on FOREVER if you like. Also has some funny/trippy animation to go along with it. Check it out! Click Here or the image above.

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