Music Video of the Day: Fantasy by Mariah Carey (1995, dir. Mariah Carey)

“I’d done a lot of videos and wasn’t always a hundred percent thrilled. For the most part, I was never thrilled with the results, so I figured I would give directing a shot. It was a pretty simple concept. Most of the scenes were featured at the amusement park, at a late-night outdoor celebration. I was really happy to be able to include O.D.B in the remix video.” — Mariah Carey

If Carey wasn’t thrilled with her earlier videos because they were too well-made, then she sure changed that for this music video. I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise seeing as twenty years later she would get behind the camera to make her first feature film for Hallmark called A Christmas Melody (2015). I saw it this year, and its one of the worst I’ve seen of the current 263 Hallmark films I have watched almost entirely because of the directing. If that movie is any indication, then she shouldn’t be behind the camera.

As “simple” as Fantasy is, she could have done a much better job. The dancing scenes at night aren’t done very well even if they sort of cap a storyline that is told by the setting sun. There is a drastic overuse of blur (not really a reflection of the title). Also, her earlier music videos had her as the singer surrounded by other people who appeared to organically gather around someone who was a good singer. In Fantasy it feels artificial (again, not a reflection of the title), dated even faster than her earlier stuff, and makes the whole thing feel like two videos spliced together. Carey started it right by shooting it during the day at the Playland amusement park in Rye, New York. So many of her earlier videos were done on studio sets/interiors. I love those rollercoaster bits and when I went into writing this post, I was surprised when it switched to the night dancing sequence. They are so forgettable, while the rollercoaster parts are so memorable, that even 20+ years later, I remembered them distinctly. I forgot that there were any other parts to the video.

However, if Carey wasn’t thrilled with her earlier music videos because they were last generation and made her seem interchangeable with other female artists of the time, then it’s a good thing she made this music video regardless of quality. Her earlier music videos portrayed her like Céline Dion or Whitney Houston. Excellent singers, but whether you like, or can’t stand Carey looking unreal and dolled-up, it is her thing. It makes her stand out and is the stamp of Mariah Carey so much so that you can still find comments on IMDb for Precious (2009) from people surprised that it was her in the movie. It’s her brand.

In summary, I don’t think Carey did a good job here, but she did need a break in the style of her music videos even if that meant ending up with something substandard. It sent a message to other directors–some of whom she had worked with before–that this was the way to film her. You can even see the difference in One Sweet Day that was done by Larry Jordan who directed at least five of her pre-Fantasy music videos, and that was just her in a studio with Boyz II Men. She would go on to direct the music video for Always Be My Baby before largely returning to other directors.

There is also a reworking of this music video that Carey did, which incorporated O.D.B.

That’s all it is. She just added a few bits with him singing, and rearranged the scenes from the original video.

One last thing. I’m sure I will mention it again, but Carey is one of those artists that clearly recognized the talents of legendary music video cinematographer Daniel Pearl. From what I can gather, he has shot about twenty of her music videos. He also shot her movie Mariah Carey’s Merriest Christmas (2015). She even got him to direct two of her music videos. To my knowledge he has only done that five times in his close to fifty-year career. That’s amazing since Pearl has even been quoted as saying that he is perfectly happy with being a cinematographer, and doesn’t see cinematography as a stepping stone to becoming a director–at least for him. Seeing as I did this music video today because I did Genius Of Love by Tom Tom Club yesterday, then I guess I will do one of the music videos Daniel Pearl shot and directed for Carey tomorrow. It’s night-and-day by comparison to this one.

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