Mariah Carey’s Impressive Yet Unnoticed Punk Rock Album
Some albums and songs in the music world often remain hidden gems, only to surface years later and surprise fans with their existence. One such example is Mariah Carey‘s unreleased rock album, which came to light after the release of her memoir, ‘The Meaning of Mariah Carey,’ in 2020.
In her memoir, Mariah Carey revealed that she had secretly released an alt-rock album in 1995, the same year as her successful fifth album, ‘Daydream.’ Although she did not mention the band name or project title, she included the hashtag ‘Chick,’ which led her fanbase to discover that a band named Chick had released an album called ‘Someone’s Ugly Daughter‘ in 1995. This revelation sparked curiosity among fans, and soon, copies of the album were being sold for up to $800 on Amazon and eBay.
The recording process of ‘Someone’s Ugly Daughter’ was described as an antithesis to Carey’s meticulous pop star image. While working on ‘Daydream’ in the summer of 1995, Carey and her longtime producer, Walter Afanasieff, decided to experiment with punk music for fun. Mariah saw the project as an outlet for her anger and frustration in her personal life, drawing inspiration from bands like Hole, Garbage, and Sleater-Kinney.
She found it difficult to accept and express this anger, and during the creation of ‘Daydream,’ her personal life felt stifling. She sought relief by exploring the musical styles of popular female singers of the time. These singers were able to display anger, angst, and untidiness, while Carey felt confined by her own carefully crafted persona. She desired to liberate herself, openly express her distress, and find humor in the situation.
Here is what Mariah Carey said about the album in her memoir:
“I was exploring my musical range, but I was also filled with rage. It’s always been a challenge for me to acknowledge and express anger. My personal life was suffocating during ‘Daydream,’ and I was in desperate need of release. I was playing with the style of the breezy-grunge, punk-light white female singers who were popular at the time.
You know, the ones who seemed to be so carefree with their feelings and their image. They could be angry, angsty, and messy, with old shoes, wrinkled slips, and unruly eyebrows, while every move I made was so calculated and manicured. I wanted to break free, let loose, and express my misery – but I also wanted to laugh.”
The album was recorded during nighttime sessions at Studio One in New York City’s Hit Factory, following the daytime work on ‘Daydream.’ Carey initially titled the project Eel Tree and agreed with her team that no one would use their real names in the project’s credits. The songwriting process was quick and unlike anything Carey had done before, with arrangements evolving organically and involving studio staff and interns for background vocals and ad-libs.
However, when Sony Music discovered the album, they refused to release it with Mariah Carey’s vocals as the lead. The band’s name was changed from Eel Tree to Chick, and Carey’s friend Clarissa Dane was brought in to become the face of the band, with her vocals layered over Carey’s to mask her voice. The album was then released under Epic’s 550 Records instead of Columbia.
Despite the album’s release in September 1995, it received little attention, and its two singles, ‘Demented‘ and ‘Malibu,’ presented a brooding and pop-punk sound. Fans have since wondered if Carey will ever re-release the project with complete transparency. In a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, Carey revealed that she now owned the original mix of the album and planned to release it in its original form.
Mariah Carey’s rock album made her fans rethink what the artist could have achieved without the interference of music executives. Her subsequent career moves, such as the release of ‘Butterfly,’ allowed her to explore collaborations in the hip-hop and R&B realm, eventually leading to her return with ‘The Emancipation of Mimi’ in 2005. Whether or not the stars align for Carey to release her alt-rock album as she intended, it remains an intriguing part of her musical legacy.