Which song will waft from your iPod while you sit on the beach nursing a warm can of beer (or… pop) this summer? That’s the question each Idolator editor has been tasked with answering this week. Robin Thicke‘s smooth voice is enough to liberate any good girl (or boy), while Daft Punk will soundtrack every party from now until September with “Get Lucky”. Then there’s the sheer escapism of Avril Lavigne‘s “Here’s To Never Growing Up” and the excitement of Miley 2.0. All worthy competitors, but I had to follow my heart and it belongs to Mariah Carey. Here’s why “#Beautiful” is my choice for 2013′s Song Of The Summer.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be part of a press junket following Mimi on her unexpected Australian tour. The legendary diva didn’t have any new material to perform and really only accepted the promoter’s offer (as I later found out) because she wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in a warm climate. I didn’t spend much time in her holy presence – I almost fainted when the Instagram icon walked past me backstage and casually said hello – but years of fandom told me there was something different about the serial chart-topper. Mariah looked happy and serene. She talked excitedly about her upcoming stint on American Idol and promised that she would get back in the studio soon.
Cut to June and Mimi is enjoying her biggest hit in four years with “#Beautiful”. The old school R&B anthem stands out like a sore thumb on radio for all the right reasons. It’s beautifully structured, subtly produced and completely gimmick-free. “#Beautiful” would have resonated just as well with listeners in 1973 as it does in 2013. The song’s timelessness bridges demographics like no other in Mariah’s discography since “We Belong Together”. The new generation of Lambs love it as passionately as the Mutton, who grew up listening to gems like “Hero” and “One Sweet Day”. Even if the thinking person’s summer anthem doesn’t reach number one – or the top 10 – it’s still a classic and everyone knows it.
I like to think of “#Beautiful” as a karmic reward for sitting through hours of American Idol. Let’s be honest. Mariah looked miserable on that show. The highest-selling female artist of all time shouldn’t be in the same room as twerk-enthusiast Nicki Minaj – let alone seated at the same table, listening to bad cover versions of songs she perfected 20 years ago. It was a bleak experience but Mimi’s venture into reality TV was a necessary evil to remind people that she was, in fact, still alive. Happily, it worked and gave MC the momentum she needed for a comeback. There was just one element missing. A drop-kicking maverick called Miguel.
If Twitter had sound capability it probably would have emitted a loud groan when the “Almost Home” songstress announced that her new single was called “#Beautiful” (the hashtag is still annoying) and featured a rising R&B star. No disrespect to Miguel but Lambs are uneasy about collaborators. The actually-rather-great “Triumphant” was stillborn largely due to the fact that Mariah was little more than a guest star on her own record. Also, the hip hop-infused slow jams belong to a past era. I have often thought the powerhouse vocalist was somehow shackled by the success of The Emancipation Of Mimi and spent years trying to recreate the sound. To everyone’s relief, Miguel saved music by taking our heroine down a completely different path – a move for which we are forever grateful.
So what does all this have to do with sunburn, sweat and stone fruit? Well, as the glorious video attests, “#Beautiful” is the perfect anthem to play when you’re sitting on the back of a motorbike, flicking your hair like the star of a shampoo commercial. And that strikes me as a great summertime activity. Also, the song celebrates passion and love. Who doesn’t want to down a few margaritas and mouth the lyrics “with an ass like that and a smile so bright, oh you’re killing me” to their summer crush? Trust me, you’ll probably get lucky. And that’s what warm weather is all about.
Do you agree that Mariah and Miguel have crafted a timeless pop classic, best enjoyed in dappled sunlight? If so, show your support for my Song Of The Summer choice in the comments below.