The most iconic transformations in pop culture and pop music are the responsibility of two forces, the LGBTQI+ community and Mariah Carey. Mariah’s album Butterfly is an example of the ultimate transformation of independence and is beloved by the gay community for the album’s power in conveying sexuality, happiness and loneliness.
A track representative of the album is “Honey”, a silky and cheeky innuendo laden track about delight in intimacy and a new relationship. In the video, Mariah emerging from the water is like a modern day Venus emerging from her shell, except this Venus is not painted by a man, it’s her representing herself as a happy and fun loving person who takes control of and enjoys her sexuality. And it is this theme of the album which strikes me as being so ahead of its time.
Butterfly was written and released around the time of Mariah’s separation from record executive Tommy Mottola, a marriage Mariah described as emotionally abusive. Some of the best tracks of ‘Butterfly’ describe this pain by combining gospel, hip hop and R&B with Mariah’s vocal ability, masterfully using her musical influences in order to express her sensuality and heartbreak.
In many ways, the songs of Butterfly hold themes of freedom, for artistic expression, for loving others, resisting abuse and rejection, for enjoying intimacy. It’s these themes which are timeless and especially dear to anyone who has ever wanted to be free of the Tommy Mottola of their lives. Butterfly’s ultimate message is to embrace the journey of being independent, to find your wings and to dance while you do so.