mariah carey somebodys ugly daughter grunge

Behind the Glitter | The untold story of Mariah Carey’s grunge alter-ego ‘Chick’

Discover the untold story of how Mariah Carey ventured into alt-rock, exposing how beneath the polished pop persona lies a gritty, untamed side to the iconic diva.

Megastar Mariah Carey is the definitive archetype of the modern Diva. The Glittering Goddess’ diamond-encrusted reputation precedes her; from her transcendental, airbrushed glow to her spellbinding five-octave vocal range, it’s impossible to navigate the pop landscape without hearing word of Carey’s manicured perfection.

On the surface, it seems like Carey’s existence is something from a flawless fairytale—but all that glitters is not always gold. 

While recording Daydream in 1995, Carey’s life behind closed doors was anything but. Speaking in her 2020 memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the singer explains how inside she was “filled with rage.” With her marriage on the rocks, the mask of perfection was suffocating, leaving her “in desperate need of a release.”

The release came in the form of alt-rock passion project Someone’s Ugly Daughter. If Mariah Carey was the ‘daydream’, then Someone’s Ugly Daughter was the nightmare; the record thrives in a bouncy whirl of blazing bitterness, an antagonising slew of grungey riffs and tongue-in-cheek vitriol. 

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“I was playing with the style of the breezy-grunge, punk-light white female singers who were popular at the time,” Carey explains in her memoir. “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.” 

Carey would don her sarcastic alter ego after each Daydream recording session, and according to Carey, the process was incredibly organic. “I’d bring my little alt-rock song to the band and hum a silly guitar riff. They would pick it up and we would record it immediately,” she says. Speaking to Pitchfork, Carey’s engineer Dana Jon Chappelle recalls how Carey and the band would sometimes jam until 6am. “It just sort of happened,” he says. “There was no programming involved. It was all just old school.”


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Someone’s Ugly Daughter is Carey’s answer to Hole, pairing blissed-out grunge with eye-rolling pessimism. “If I were Malibu Barbie and you were Suntan Ken… I’d probably dump your ass for G.I. Joe” the track ‘Malibu’ jests, while ‘Love Is A Scam’ is equally as cynical, disgusted with the visions of love Carey would typically wax lyrical about. 

Carey describes the record as “irreverent, raw, and urgent” – so much so that Sony tried to bury the album altogether. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Carey reveals that she got “in trouble… because, back then, everything was super-controlled by the powers that be.” In Chappelle’s chat with Pitchfork, he parrots the same sentiment, remembering that “Sony just wanted it to go away… It [was] too different from Mariah, the pop star.”

In order for Someone’s Ugly Daughter to see the light of day, Carey’s involvement essentially had to be scrubbed from the record. As Pitchfork note, Carey went by D. Sue on the album credits, and the vocals were totally re-recorded. With Carey constantly ranking among the finest voices of all time, Carey’s eardrum-shattering whistle tones were too recognisable – it would have been too easy for people to connect the dots. Carey’s former roommate Clarissa Dane stepped up and filled in for Carey, and the transformed version of Someone’s Ugly Daughter would go on to be released under the moniker Chick.

Will we ever hear the original recordings? Maybe. In a podcast with Rolling Stone, Carey revealed that she had uncovered them in 2022, but we’ve yet to hear an update on a re-release. 


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But, even if we never do, the record will always feel like a victory for Carey. “I made the sarcastic hardcore head-banging record no one was ever going to allow me to make,” Carey asserts in her memoir. “My assistant and I used to blast it in the car… singing at the top of our lungs, giving me a brief moment to be outwardly angry, irreverent, and free.”  

Ultimately, the existence of Chick is a reminder for us all: while Carey may be the lavish Mother of Pop, she’s also always going to be Someone’s Ugly Daughter. 


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