90s

Pure Pop Perfection - Mariah Carey’s 1995 Madison Square Garden Concert

My productivity slows down immensely as soon as I type in "youtube.com" in my web browser. Can you relate? It's a vortex I easily get sucked into. Whether it’s music videos, personal VLOGs or cat videos I seriously need help.

But today I felt it was time well spent, since I was indeed watching music videos -- it’s for work right? More specifically, Mariah Carey music videos. More specifically Mariah Carey concert videos. And more specifically Mariah Carey’s October 1995 concert at Madison Square Garden.

Bruh.

This was Mariah in her prime. Mariah before she Mimi needed to be emancipated. She was five albums into her career, had 10 No. 1 singles (six of which she performs in this show) and two Grammy awards. She was an icon of beauty.

And it was 1995, literally the mid 90s. A decade that brought us baggy jeans, Must See TV Thursdays, big hair, smooth R&B and dance pop perfection.

Notably though, the 90s brought us Mariah.

With all the aforementioned attributes, this concert, in her hometown of New York City, epitomizes the pop music scene of the time. Her background dancers had those robotic 90s dance moves (while wearing said baggy jeans). Mariah had her perfectly flowing, curly locks of hair. Her wardrobe was perfect, consisting of that half button down sweater look that every 16-year old 90s girl had. The one that slightly, yet tastefully exposed a bare navel when raising ones arms. She had perfectly hemmed pants that flared at the bottom, making room for her chunky heeled black booties. I’m pretty sure every girl I knew was wearing these in the Fall of 1995. And she also defined formal style of the day, wearing an off the shoulder number that hugged her body and fell straight to the floor, the direction in which I’m sure everyone’s mouth went when she walked on stage wearing that dark blue dress.

But most of all it’s the music and her voice. Mariah singing a dance tune instantly brings the mood from nothing to happy. Mariah singing a ballad is an introspective and moving experience. There are women who have voices and there are women who have instruments.

Mariah is of course in that company -- which includes Whitney, Celine and Christina just to name a few -- of vocal instruments. Here are five of my favorites from this show where her instrument shines.

Dreamlover

I swear, when I play this song, anyone born between 1965 and 1989 gets moving. I’ve had more looks over to the DJ booth in approval on this one than probably any other by her.

Forever

The only non- No. 1 on this list. Casual MC fans may have forgotten about it, which just cracked the Billboard Top 10 in 1996. It was a performance debut, so likely unknown to the NYC audience. But what a great performance it was.

Vision of Love

There has not been a better R&B Ballad released in the past 20 years than this. The run she does with her voice at the 2:40 mark is magical.

Hero

Oh hey Mariah .. are you singing actual words? All I’m hearing is pitch perfect melodies coming through my headphones from you and your choir. And why am I crying?

One Sweet Day

Wait a minute. So you’re telling me Boyz II Men are going to sing live with Mariah? BOYS TO FREAKING MEN!!

FYI, this performance was essentially a debut for the song. It would not be released commercially for another month. I imagine Boyz II Men strolling on the stage was just a teeny bit of a surprise.

I can’t even finish writing this … literally dead.

Kurt Cobain: A Beautiful and Tortured Soul

Four years. That is essentially how much time we had with Kurt Cobain. Nirvana released its first album in 1989 and it’s third and final in 1993.

Last night I watched Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the documentary about the Nirvana front man and 90s alternative rock icon.

I hesitate to use the word icon. And not because I don’t think Cobain is deserving of the label. In fact, I, along with many others view him as one of the catalysts for ushering in a new genre of music. Grunge came at the right time, just as music culture was getting over it’s fill of heavy metal and hairbands.

I hesitate to use the word icon, because after watching the film, I realize that label may ultimately be what caused his death. That the pressure of being a voice of a generation is what drove him to suicide. 

From what I saw, all he wanted out of life was a stable family environment and a platform to release his creative energy. That is what is so sad about this. That he became so great, but it ultimately led to his demise.

Four years is all he had.

So I ask, would you rather showcase your art to a limited audience for a lifetime; or for millions for a limited time? 

In this case, four short years.