LOS ANGELES Mariah Carey launches fashion trends like other people change socks.
Indeed, as she waited for a TV crew to get its lighting right during a recent interview, Mariah laid back on a chaise longue, kicked off one sparkly high-heeled shoe and had another inspiration.
"Maybe I'll do the interview with one shoe off, just to be crazy," she said to her manager, who looked over and laughed. "Wouldn't that be great, if it caught on and people started wearing one shoe?"
Don't laugh. It could happen, and Mariah would be OK with it.
A different kind of biting recently did get under her skin, however.
It had to do with a song she was recording for the soundtrack to her upcoming big-screen debut, "Glitter" (out August 31) (see "Mariah Gets 'Glitter' In Her Eyes".)
Although she wasn't willing to discuss specifics, Mariah had a word or two for the beat jacker who decided to use the same sample she was considering for a song on the "Glitter" soundtrack (August 21).
"Let's just say they did me a favor," she said, her voice rising in mock anger as she wagged a finger at no one in particular. "And they know who they are. And thank you, sweetie. And your friend who did it with you!"
While she conceded that anyone could have used the loop she was considering for the song, which she declined to name, Mariah said the lift exemplified why she took pains to shroud the "Glitter" recording sessions in secrecy.
With the real songs laid into the film, Mariah said she could finally rest easy after months of trying to throw potential song scammers off her trail (see "Mariah Mixes 'Glitter' With Streetwise Grit").
"The whole thing was me saying, 'OK, how can this not get ripped off?' Let me come up with a fake title and not put my voice on this yet," she said, lamenting that it's still easy for in-process music to escape into a Napster-ized world.
You're more likely to hear this complaint from rappers, who often anxiously guard their unreleased tracks for fear other artists will hijack their song titles, sample ideas or catch phrases.
"Sometimes you really have to be concerned," said pal and producer DJ Clue, who produced two songs on the "Glitter" soundtrack. "Your ideas gets out there for a second ... people snatch one-liners from me and my crew all the time."
Clue said he knew Mariah was concerned that word would get out about what samples they were using, especially on a track he produced that loops Indeep's early-'80s club classic "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life." The dreamy disco cover, laced with rock guitar, features guest vocals from Busta Rhymes and underground rapper Fabolous, whose album will be released on Clue's Desert Storm label this summer.
The loop Mariah is most proud of definitely won't be lifted before the "Glitter" soundtrack comes out. Once bitten, twice shy, Mariah said she bought exclusive use of Cameo's 1986 hit "Candy" for the album's first single, "Loverboy."
"That's the result of the thievery. But it's OK," she said. "Because you know what? This is way better than the other thing was. I firmly believe everything happens for a reason."
When it comes to sartorial samples, though, Carey said she possesses a larger sense of humor.
Someone ran up to Carey in New York recently and asked her for an autograph. No big deal. Happens all the time, right?
What they asked her to sign, however, was a pair of jeans with the waistband cut off her signature look from the "Heartbreaker" video. To add insult to injury, the custom pants were called "Mariah" jeans.
"Was I surprised and wish I had a patent on it?" joked Mariah. "Yeah! But I don't think you can copyright something like ripping off the top of your jeans. And if you can, I didn't do it."