The Mariah Carey song “Fantasy” from her album Daydream was the first song that I can remember feeling dangerous. My parents kept MTV out of reach but VH1 snuck under the radar. I remember standing anxiously as I watched the video in my bedroom. I was afraid of heights but wanted to be on that roller coaster with her. I knew the scene was sexual but my desire wasn’t for her but to be a part of her. I was entranced. The refrain of “Fantasy” animates a plush ecstasy:
Images of rapture
Creep into me slowly
As you’re going to my head
And my heart beats faster
When you take me over
Time and time and time again
“Fantasy” is an intoxication, a being-taken-over again and again. It’s delivered with an innocence that allowed it to cross
every surface of airtime in the mid-90s.
This sweetness defined her early career and
“Fantasy” was a hinge moment away from that
chastity—her desiring croons and black cropped
sweater enabling a body to fully feel itself.
Mariah’s vocal runs are virtuosic and
articulate a place of pure fantasy that the
average person can only mimic. Her voice is a
horizon that pulls us towards a utopia we know
we can never fully touch. In the middle of the
song’s glossy caress, the bridge breaks into a
soft gestus when Mariah pulls in lyrics from
Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”:
I’m in heaven
With my boyfriend, my laughing boyfriend
There’s no beginning and there is no end
Feels like I’m dreaming
but I’m not sleeping
Mariah is living in a sweet sweet fantasy but remains conscious. This split awareness might outline the tools for escape that daydreaming provides, and “Fantasy” becomes a manifesto for interruption laid out in lyric: a refusal of the boundaries between sincerity and distance. Her jump from serenade to introspection flaunts detachment as a display of flippancy and control; a whisper inside a sea of belted waves and whistling peaks. The bridge is a rupture—what Eve Sedgwick might identify as a kind of enjambment or a tactic of pageantry as well as discipline. 1Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. “A Poem is Being Written.” Tendencies (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), 110-142.
Daydreaming is a slippage into possibility. Sitting alone in the subway with my eyes closed, I imagine myself on a jet ski with Mariah in the video for “Honey.” Or, at the gym working with Britney to rehearse pop-and-lock choreographies. The proximity to their likenesses animates my body with ambition, a brief embodiment or possession. Being able to access these images to claim their personas as avatars is a matter of survival.