THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Mariah Madness

I challenge you to sing three of her songs. Hell, I challenge you to NAME three of her songs!


Let's see… There's "Vision Of Love", a teenager demonstrating melisma for all to see, unleashing upon us countless copycats with vocal training, but no ability to write meaningful music. Then there was "We Belong Together"… Histrionics on steroids, if that concept is even possible. Then… There was that video of her being a bad girl in the bathroom, directed by Brett Ratner. And the one of her on the roller coaster. Oh yeah, and the one of her shaking her mini- tits, before she got that porn star boob job, in the school hall. But what were those records again? And what were the verses of "Vision Of Love" and "We Belong Together"? In both cases I can only remember the single line from the chorus.


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

Hell, I'm no Elvis fan. But rather than tote up the reasons why he's no match for the Beatles, I'll tell you I can sing UMPTEEN of his hits. From "Hound Dog" to "Suspicious Minds". Maybe because they're classic songs, hits no matter who might have done them. Maybe because I was subjected to many on Top Forty radio again and again. To say that Mariah has eclipsed Elvis' string of number one hits is akin to saying that some quarterback playing Arena football has got a better passing record than Dan Marino… THAT'S RIGHT, THEY'RE DIFFERENT LEAGUES!


Elvis was competing against everybody, when the whole world was watching.

The whole world isn't even listening to music anymore. Hell, there are hundreds of cable channels and multiple video games with a greater visceral effect than ANY of Mariah's hits. Music counted because that's where the innovation was, that's where the flavor was. What exactly is Mariah Carey saying? I'm an uneducated twit who loves junk food who must be supported by the public because I demand so?

And we've got a mainstream media lapping this stuff up. Hyping Mariah like someone cares. Well, SOMEONE does, but not many. She's a sideshow for those lost in the twentieth century.

Not only are many not paying attention to music, a great percentage of those who do ARE NOT LISTENING TO TOP FORTY RADIO!

That's the only place Mariah counts. It's like she's the star shotmaker on an NHL team. Interesting if you're into hockey, but most people DON'T CARE! Saying 500,000 people bought her record the first
week out is like saying 1 in 600 people voted in an election… HUH?
That's how few care about Mariah. In a country of 300 million, she doesn't mean DIDDLY SQUAT!


But that's the main asset a major label has today. Its media relationships. With favors traded for years, labels can count on a sycophantic media wined and dined into pledging fealty to run nincompoops like Mariah Carey up the flagpole. Come on, her album is a train-wreck. It's like having Quincy Jones, Trent Reznor and Tiny Tim make a record. It's like having the body of an Aston Martin powered by a four-banger with a manual transmission out of a Ford Focus. E=MC2 isn't a record, it's a PRODUCT, constructed by an industry that's lost touch with what the consumer desires. People don't want flash, they want SUBSTANCE! Something meaningful, that they can sink their teeth into.

Enough with the lowest common denominator tripe. Didn't we learn that a great percentage of the public is fed up in last week's debate? I mean if they're booing at a debate, what do you think they'd do if Mariah Carey took the stage? Laugh? Leave? No one who is not a fan gives a crap. And we're lucky, she's running for President of a club we're barely aware of, that we don't have to pay attention to.


Ooh… In an era when the Raconteurs and Elvis Costello release instant albums, sans endless hype, we've got a paint by numbers album massaged into nothing over YEARS marketed for months so that a big first week SoundScan number will be achieved. If this is the game you're playing, I hope no one is watching your expense reports, that you've got a blank check. Because you're wasting tons of money on one act who's only as good as her last record. Yup, Mariah is one stiff away from playing theatres, at best. Hell, she doesn't kill on the road, she doesn't play ten arena dates in one town, that's the classic rock acts. And, don't tell me it's
apples and oranges, she's constantly comparing herself to Elvis and the Beatles, but the Eagles can do ten times her live business, and they didn't even have TEN number one singles, never mind the twenty Mariah's going to achieve to become BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES!

But when the Eagles reigned the first time, it was about the album, about FM, about the MUSIC! The trappings were close to insignificant. Band made record, then raped and pillaged on the road, little girls sacrificing their virginity to musicians who wrote songs that changed their lives. If you want one night with Mariah, based on the vapid music she's released, then you must not be married, you must only visit prostitutes, because you're not CAPABLE OF HAVING A MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION, the underpinning of a great relationship!

Mariah is a cartoon. But she's no match for Veronica. And she's certainly no Betty.

But I don't read comic books anymore. Oh sure, there's a Comic-Con, but it's easy to ignore. Just like Mariah Carey and her music.

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