LOS ANGELES Mariah Carey appears to have come up with her own solution to California's energy crisis.
OK, maybe she won't single-handedly rid the state of rolling blackouts, but one has to marvel at the inexhaustible energy of someone who can make Beyoncé look like a couch potato.
"Glitter" is actually the name of Mariah's big-screen debut (shortened from the working title "All That Glitters") and her accompanying soundtrack. Over the course of one whirlwind 48-hour period last week, Mariah displayed almost superhuman stamina, working on the video for her upcoming "Loverboy" single until six in the morning, sleeping a few hours and spending most of the day meeting and greeting the troops at her new label, Virgin Records. She then sat for interviews for six hours, during which she changed outfits four times.
Around midnight, as her crew began to get the hollowed-eye look of the living dead, Carey decided she wanted to go to a recording studio to finish a song that funk superstar Rick James had just written for her. She started laying down tracks at two in the morning, just a few hours before she had to drive out to a racetrack to finish shooting the "Loverboy" video. Did we mention she was about to begin work on her second film only a few days later?
"What month is this?" Mariah wondered aloud earlier that evening as she lounged in barely-there Daisy Duke jean shorts and a bedazzled bandana-style bikini top near a personal pool at the ritzy Beverly Hills Hotel. A stylist primped her hair while Mariah tried to answer the 297 messages backed up on her constantly chiming two-way pager. "Yesterday I saw these people dressed up, and I thought it was Halloween. I got so excited."
Even after 10 years in the spotlight and more than 120 million albums and singles sold, you'd think Mariah would slow down. But later that night, as she slipped through the quiet Los Angeles night in a stretch limo on her way to the studio, Mariah explained that working on the movie has given her a boost of energy she's never felt before.
"It's not scary at all," she said, flicking a wrist heavy with gold chains and an oversized "Loverboy" charm. "I've been dying to do [a movie] for three and a half years, but fools wouldn't let me. I don't have issues with being in front of the camera. I've been a freakin' ham since I was 3 years old!"
Although she wouldn't specify who prevented her from working on the movie, Mariah said she's well aware of "haters" who might suggest the "Glitter" role is not much of a stretch for the 31-year-old singer.
In the film, scheduled to open August 31, Mariah plays a struggling singer named Billie who is trying to get discovered in the early '80s. The story is not dissimilar to Carey's tales of "running around in the street like a vagrant with my little demo tape" in the late '80s.
"It's really not autobiographical," she insisted, however, taking a last swig from her flute of Cristal champagne. "The girl is a singer, but it's completely not my life. It kinda couldn't be farther from my life. Even the guy that she's with (DJ Dice) is so not like anybody that I've ever been with."
The guest-packed soundtrack album, which Mariah continues to tweak and reshape, will drop on August 21 and is slated to feature at least a half-dozen songs produced by legendary R&B team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The songs some of which feature vintage keyboards and drum machines, according to Jam bear the unmistakable grooves of the duo's classic R&B hits of the skinny-tie decade. Although she was unwilling to divulge who all the guests are just yet, one song Mariah did talk about is the first single, the uptempo party number "Loverboy."
The song, which alternates a bouncing funky bass with rock guitars, features cameos from rappers Da Brat (who also stars in the film), Ludacris, 22 and Shawna. Funk legends Cameo, who also appear on the track, went into the studio to re-sing the chorus of their 1986 hit "Candy," a song Mariah said has always been one of her favorites.
"I felt like a little kid again, like, 'Please just sing this how you did it on the remix,'" Mariah said she told them. "And then I felt bad because I didn't want to be overstepping my boundaries. It's like reliving a childhood moment."
One of the other "crazy party jams" on the album is a cover of Indeep's early-'80s club classic "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," which also has a touch of rock guitar. The dreamy disco anthem was produced by New York's DJ Clue and has guest vocals from underground rapper Fabolous and another major rap star Mariah is not ready to reveal just yet. But don't think the whole album is a period piece, she warned.
"The uptempo [songs] are aggressive and hot and represent that spirit of the '80s. But I also have a lot of guest artists that really make it hot [and contemporary]," she said. "The ballads are also these deep, emotional, intense songs that would stand on their own as a regular album from me."
As the limo sped by the legendary Hollywood rock club Whisky a Go Go, Mariah said her next film, the independent feature "Wisegirls," will prove that she's more Mark Wahlberg than Vanilla Ice.
"A lot of people will say, 'Oh she's playing a singer for the first time,'" she said. "Which is why I wanted to do 'Wisegirls,' because I'm really playing a character; she's not a singer. It's totally out there and, as you may have noticed, there's some [part] of my personality that needs to express anger."