In 2001, it seemed like Mariah Carey’s career was over. Though originally intended to be a victory lap for one of the best-selling musicians of all time, the musical rom-com Glitter turned into a public mess. Bizarre promotional appearances and a brief hospitalization (both of which she has since linked back to a bipolar disorder diagnosis from that same year) pushed the soundtrack from its original date of August 21st to September 11th — one of the darkest days in American history. At that point, it was her lowest-selling album, and, of course, the film’s universally negative critical reception only made matters worse.
Now, 17 years later and just one day before she releases her 15th studio album Caution, the soundtrack for Glitter is Number One on the iTunes charts.
When moments like this happen, it’s usually a bigger part of the zeitgeist that pushes it forward. But, the anniversary was nearly two months ago. There’s no re-release in sight. None of the songs have been repurposed for, say, a show, film or song sample. It’s not even available to stream on major sites like Spotify or Apple Music. This time, it was an organic — and entirely accidental — fan initiative building off nearly two decades of fervent Carey listeners hoping to reclaim the album’s legacy.
“People often think it’s a bad album because they associate it [with] its movie, but it’s actually really good and underrated,” says Kenny, a French Carey fan who helped create groundswell support for the album revival. It’s an album he revisits often, and when a new Carey project is set to debut, he creates a private calendar where he spends each day leading up to its release listening to her discography in chronological order. This time, he decided to share the calendar publicly on his Twitter.
“It’s just some sort of tradition,” he explains, declining to give his last name. The calendar began on November 2nd with her self-titled debut and ends Thursday with the midnight release of Caution. Glitter was celebrated on November 9th, one week before the new album’s release date.
7 days to go until @MariahCarey’s #CAUTION ⚠️! But today we get #JusticeforGlitter – the fan favorite underrated soundtrack. The album is sadly still unavailable for streaming, but you can get it here for only $4.99. What are your favorites on this gem? https://t.co/fg0WynYKND pic.twitter.com/JJgdhVVj7t
— Mariah Trends (@MariahTrends) November 9, 2018
“We thought it was a cool idea so we jumped onboard,” the organizers behind fan account @MariahTrends tells RS. (They declined to reveal their names for this article.) Each day, Mariah Trends would tweet about the corresponding album on Kenny’s calendar to their nearly 10,000 followers and ask them about their favorite songs and lyrics. They would also encourage the Lambily (the name for Carey’s fandom) to stream said album. Since Glitter is missing from those services, the Lambs were encouraged to purchase it. Thankfully, the album had been marked down to $4.99 a few months prior, according to both Kenny and Mariah Trends. “We carried on per usual, then we noticed that Glitter was getting a small bump,” the people behind Mariah Trends add.
The album first appeared in iTunes’ soundtracks chart, but the sudden crawl encouraged fans to repurpose the old hashtag #JusticeForGlitter, which goes back years on Twitter thanks to the Lambily’s continued support for the album. That small push suddenly became a big push once the fandom-at-large took notice to its rise.
Boosted by this activity, Glitter broke the all-genre iTunes Top 100 on Monday, according to itunescharts.net, a site that monitors and archives activity on the iTunes store. The soundtrack continued to climb, vaulting more than 40 spots the next day. Carey herself noticed the album’s surprising commercial resurgence and tweeted the hashtag after the album broke into the Top 10 on iTunes on Tuesday. Glitter finally hit Number One on Wednesday night, jumping over Imagine Dragons’ Origins and A Star Is Born. At press time, it’s still there.
While the soundtrack moved just 40 copies last week, it has already sold 852 copies in the first five tracking days of this week — a 2,030% increase — according to data provided by BuzzAngle Music, which tracks music consumption on a daily basis. Impressively, the sales of Glitter in the last five days account for more than a third of the album’s total sales all year.
A rep for Carey did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but the singer herself has been ambivalent about the project, telling Watch What Happens host Andy Cohen that while “it was a horrible couple of years,” she “felt like the soundtrack was a good soundtrack. I was trying to bring the Eighties back a little too early. It was 2001 and people were like, ‘The Eighties? We just left the Eighties!’ And I’m like, ‘No no no, people are ready.’ Nowadays, it’s all about the Eighties!”
“Mariah has been acknowledging [Glitter] a lot lately,” Mariah Trends says of further groundwork leading up to the soundtrack’s current chart momentum. The singer hasn’t completely abandoned the album, performing album track “Loverboy” live for the first time on her 2016 Sweet Fantasy Tour.
Still, the love for Glitter has long been there for the fans, who have never gone dormant in showing their appreciation. Mariah Trends refers to the #JusticeForGlitter hashtag as a form of “resistance” to the lack of credit it’s been given. They also note that there have been smaller fan initiatives like “Glitter Sundays” for an album that even the artist who wrote and performed it found hard to love for a long time after it came out.
“Glitter is a very special release with a whole context,” says Kenny, who has seen an outpouring of love from the Lambily for the deliciously fun slice of retribution he accidentally launched. “It wasn’t necessarily a happy moment in Mariah’s life. But it’s definitely iconic.”
Additional reporting by Elias Leight