Posts Tagged ‘singing’

What Mariah taught me

Ooo, ohhh, yehhh. Ah ah heeey hey. Shoodah doo doo doo, yeyyyy yeh.

I couldn’t get enough of it! When she broke into the “shoodahdoo oh” intro, I was on fire. The finger clicking would start, my eyes would close slightly, I’d get my warbly voice on and find a wall to stand close to or lean on, a la the video for We Belong Together.

I loved Mariah. I was convinced I had a vocal range extremely similar to hers. Play me the first few notes of any Mariah song, I can probably tell you which song it is and sing quite a lot of it for you.

I had a Mariah moment on the way to work yesterday. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was listening to all of her greatest hits. And the lines were all there in my head.

“Many nights, we’ve prayed…. I’m thinking of you, in my sleepless solitude tonight…. There’s a hero, if you look inside your heart…. Sorry, I never told you, all I wanted to say…”

And do you know what I thought? I thought Damn you Mariah. I needed that brain space last year in my exams. No wonder I couldn’t remember everything. 80% of my brain was filled with your song lyrics.

But she has taught me a lot of good life lessons. She’s taught me about how every situation can be made beautiful with a good song and a video full of close ups. Yes, you might be pining for a boy you go to school with or you may have fallen out with your best friend but this is perfect material for songs and music videos.

I was quite dramatic when I was younger. I wrote songs (three or four) about dramatic things that had happened to me and imagined myself being filmed for music videos. Given that I had a vocal range similar to Mariah’s, it was likely that I would be discovered soon and I wanted to be ready.

Her songs taught me a lot about how to handle real life situations actually. From Always Be My Baby, I learned that if you love someone enough, that fact alone will win the day, despite them dumping you and running off. From the video, I learned that it is possible to get to and lounge about on a tyre swing in the middle of a lake whilst remaining dry.

From Heartbreaker, I learned that even if someone keeps breaking your heart and you keep going back to them, it’s ok as long as you write a song about it and then go to the cinema with a pink crochet bikini top on and beat up a girl with a dog in a bag.

From Fantasy, I learned that if you’re going to have a secret crush on someone who ‘walks by every night’ (is he some sort of male prostitute?), at least go to the fairground and sing about it whilst skating. I did not roller skate around the fairground singing about my crush. I think that’s probably why I didn’t win him.

My All perfectly articulated (planted?) all the feelings I thought I had about this one boy in drama group who I was obsessed with. I’d listen to it in the evenings and stare out of my bedroom window all wistfully, thinking of earlier-mentioned boy and convincing myself that he could somehow tell I was thinking about him.

You see? Mariah helped me with loads of life situations.

As soon as I hear the beginning of any of her songs, I’m back. I’m 14 years old, I’m in my lilac bedroom with the wall mirrors, I’m doing a little bit of choreography, I’m warbling, I’m staring pensively into space.

And I’m genuinely wondering why I haven’t been discovered yet.
image

(Me on the left as a 16 year old, to help you picture the scene)

Odd things that have happened when abroad

When my friend and I were living in Namibia, we did various different things – mainly running a local newspaper and teaching in some of the local schools.

Lucy is an amazing artist. I was always finding the loveliest little doodles on bits of paper around the house. Even her writing was beautiful, like looking at a picture. At the creche where we spent a lot of our time, the teachers asked us to brighten up the playground area. The walls were painted white and the paint was peeling so we decided to paint some lovely colourful pictures on the walls.

Lucy drew these beautiful pictures, a different one on each section of wall. I obediently painted where she told me to, not being the best at drawing myself. One evening, we headed over to work on the walls and there was an adult evening class on. They were mostly parents who had brought their children along and left them in the playground area while they went into the class.

So Lucy and I are painting away, an underwater scene this time, the kids are mesmerised by our painting. They were perched on a climbing frame in silence, when suddenly, out of nowhere, we heard this….

“If you see me walking down the street, staring at the sky, dragging my two feet, you just pass me by, it still makes me cry, you can make me whole again…”

What?! They were singing Whole Again by Atomic Kitten!

It was probably the oddest moment of the whole year. Here I was, 18 years old, I had travelled from Liverpool, across the world and made a new life for myself in Africa… And then randomly, whilst painting a wall, ten Namibian children were singing a song by some girls from Liverpool.

They knew all the words as well. Five year old children, who mostly lived in townships and didn’t have an awful lot, still knew the words to Whole Again by Atomic Kitten! Even to the talking bit in the middle. We just carried on painting and laughing to ourselves.

Another time I was in Cambodia with friends. We were in Phnom Penh and had decided to visit the ‘killing fields’, which gave rise to the film of the same name. It was an extremely profound place, made more so by the fact that one of the friends and I had had a mini falling out. One of those things where there’s actually not anything wrong, you’ve just all been spending a long time in close quarters.

So when we got in, we all separated off and went round alone. I found a little bench on the edge of the fields, next to a tree with low branches, and hid from sun, thinking about everything I was seeing and about how silly the argument had been and how I’d tell my friend I was sorry and forget about it.

A noise from the tree interrupted my moment of profundity. There was a little boy sitting on one of the low branches of the tree. He smiled. I smiled back but my face said that I was having a moment and not to interrupt.

But interrupt he did.

“Where are you from?”

“England,” I said, but not in a way that invited further conversation. I turned back to the fields and tried to regain my moment of thoughtfulness. I saw my two friends in the distance, each looking around separately. I thought about how silly the argument had been, especially when faced with the enormous seriousness of a genocide.

That’s when it happened. There was I, lost in my thoughts, wondering about the meaning of life etc. And there was he, a little Cambodian boy, with far more important things on his mind. He had established that I was from England so the first question which entered his mind was this…¬†

“Do you know David Beckham?”

Do I know David Beckham?! Hilarious. I ended up getting into a big chat with him about the merits of different English football teams. So there we were, at the killing fields, the raw evidence of a recent  genocide plain for all to see, having a chat about David Beckham. He decided Manchester United were the best and we left it at that. Odd.