Mariah Carey, Neptunes, Lennox in Songwriters Hall of Fame

By Mark Kennedy
AP Entertainment Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — After a stellar career filled with No. 1 hits — not to mention a two-year pandemic delay — Mariah Carey was finally inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on Thursday, but not before challenging her fellow new members to be done better by women.

“I read that of the 439 people inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, only 32 have been women, so far,” she said Thursday at the end of a four-hour celebration at the Marriott Marquis in New York. The line received thunderous applause.

Carey was the headliner, following inductions from weirdly cool producers the Neptunes, British electro-pop band Eurythmics, psychedelic bluesman Steve Miller and the iconic Isley Brothers. Special guests included Smokey Robinson, Leslie Odom Jr. Questlove, Jon Batiste and Usher.

Songwriters are eligible for induction after writing hit songs for at least 20 years and the room includes iconic songwriters such as Burt Bacharach, Missy Elliott, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Carly Simon. The new annual lists are voted on by the members.

St. Vincent kicked off the night with a searing cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. She later took to the catwalk to recount the time she first spotted on MTV when a “beautiful androgynous creature with orange hair appeared wearing a suit and tie.”

It was Annie Lennox, who along with Dave Stewart led the charge for the New Wave in the 1980s. “They were scary, they were sexy, they were smart, and they were incredibly cool,” St. Vincent said. The Eurythmics then reunited for a rendition of “Here Comes the Rain Again”. Lennox, looking at the audience, said everyone had been through so much over the past few years. “I feel like it’s a miracle that we’re here tonight,” she said.

Bryan Cranston introduced his friend Miller, who honed a psychedelic blues sound with hits like “Take the Money and Run,” “Abracadabra,” “The Joker,” “Jet Airliner,” and “Jungle Love.” Miller took the stage for a spacey, effects-heavy version of his hit “Fly Like an Eagle.” Cranston jokingly called Miller “the space cowboy himself”.

Lil Nas X received the Hal David Starlight Award, which recognizes “talented young songwriters who have a significant impact on the music industry through their original songs.” He won the award dressed in a white tuxedo and a host of frizzy blonde hair, polishing the usual acceptance speech: “Thank you to my imaginary husband and my children,” he said.

Representing the Isley Brothers were Elaine Isley Goodstone, Ernie Isley and Ronald Isley. Ernie Isley reminded guests that their first hit “Shout” was recorded 63 years ago and their music would last for decades, prompting the Beatles to cover them. The pair then joined for a medley of hits that included “That Lady”, “It’s Your Thing” and “Between the Sheets”. Lil Nas X was one of the audience members on his feet.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis introduced another songwriting duo – Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo who, as the Neptunes, shaped pop and urban radio from the 90s into the 2000s through the creation of hits for Britney Spears, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Usher and Beyoncé. .

Williams tried to give advice to up-and-coming songwriters, warning them that the music industry was an often dangerous place. “Life is like Legos. Songs, like life, are put together piece by piece,” he said. “If you build a really solid base, you won’t fall.”

Questlove featured Carey and lamented that too often his songwriting chops were often overlooked. With 19 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, she’s second only to the Beatles, and Questlove reminded the crowd that she did it as a black woman. “Success at this level, especially for black artists, is a real obstacle course,” he said.

Carey said a dysfunctional background sparked a bleak view of the world when she was 6, so music, melodies and lyrics were her escape. She said she always had to remind people that she was a songwriter first, but the diva label seems to stick more. She left the crowd excited for a performance, but other artists took to the stage to sing a medley of her songs, including “Fantasy,” “Hero,” “Make It Happen” and “We Belong Together.”

The non-performing solo nominees this year were William “Mickey” Stevenson, a producer from Motown’s Golden Age, who was serenaded by Robinson, calling Stevenson “my brother brother”, and Rick Nowels, who co -wrote over 60 Top 20 singles worldwide, including Belinda Carlisle’s worldwide hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth”.

Master songwriter Paul Williams received the Johnny Mercer Award and Universal executive Jody Gerson received the Abe Olman Publisher Award.




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