The 2020 Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. Mariah Carey, who’s never written a song by herself and was accused of plagiarism many times– and settled many lawsuits– is in. None of her collaborators are in– not Walter Afanasieff, who wrote “All I Want for Christmas” or Ben Margulies, who penned “Vision of Love.” None of ’em.
Mariah has made it into the SHOF before Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.
Other inductees this year include Motown great Mickey Stevenson, Steve Miller, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, The Isley Brothers, and Pharrell William and Chad Hugo. I’m looking forward to the interview in which Mariah explains her process of songwriting alongside these others.
Mariah’s fans will inundate me today with Tweets and messages. They’re already writing in. But the facts are the facts. Many of her songs were sampled from other hits, including “Fantasy,” and “Emotions.” You can read all about it here. There were settlements for $1 million. And read about it here.
This doesn’t take away from Mariah’s voice, or her personality. But really, the Songwriters Hall of Fame has done itself a disservice. The fans who write to me and say Margulies or Afanasieff “only wrote” some songs are discounting the fact that those were the hits, and they don’t come anymore.
Mariah has no songs that she’s “written” by herself. Some of the songs– like “We Belong Together” — has a roll call of writers longer than a grocery list, including the late Bobby Womack who was sampled: Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal, Johntá Austin, Kenneth Edmonds, Darnell Bristol, Bobby Womack, Patrick Moten, Sandra Sully. Except for Bobby, will they all take the stage?
Mariah’s not the only problem for the SHOF. Pharrell, good as he is, has the spectre of “Blurred Lines” hanging over him. Marvin Gaye’s family may have a few things to say about his induction.