I was watching Jeopardy! a few days ago. Jeopardy! and other trivia games have always been huge in my family. I’ve told people that my hours of reading random stuff on Wikipedia, then clicking a link to something else I read that I’m curious about, and repeating that dozens of times, are just studying for being a contestant on Jeopardy! eventually. This argument was justified a few weeks ago when something I had read following a Wikipedia rabbit trail actually showed up a day or two later as a Final Jeopardy! question. (“In 1790 Thursday October Christian became the first child whose birth was recorded on this remote island” — I had read about said remote island on another Wikipedia distraction-fest a few years ago, so I might have still gotten it right had I not read about it again recently. I’ll let you think about it; click here for the correct response. It’s also tradition in my family not to give away the answer in trivia games to non-participants who might be watching and playing along.)
Anyway, that isn’t the point of this post. Another recent Final Jeopardy! category was “Female Singers,” and the clue was “In the 1990s this New York native had 8 of her first 10 Billboard Top 40 hits reach No. 1.” I’m sitting there trying to think of the answer, and the first thing that comes to mind is, Crap! In the 1990s I wasn’t listening to female singers who had No. 1 hits. I was listening to R.E.M. and Pearl Jam and Aerosmith and Toad The Wet Sprocket, and then I had my Pink Floyd phase, and then I became a Christian and listened to DC Talk and Jars of Clay and Third Day. I might not know this one. Who could it be… whoever it is, her music probably sucks.
I was staring at the TV, at the words “1990s” and “No. 1 hits,” and I thought of something else. A meme, of all things, something that I saw months ago. It said to post the song that was No. 1 on your 14th birthday, and that is the song that defines your life. Mine was “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey. That’s pretty much the opposite of what defines my life. I’ve had plenty of visions of love, but unlike the song, they never come true, at least not for long.
But, back to Jeopardy!… my 14th birthday was in the summer of 1990. Vision of Love was a No. 1 song from the 1990s by a female singer. And it was from the start of her career, and she did have a lot of big hits in the next few years after that. Could Mariah Carey be the correct Jeopardy! response? I didn’t know whether or not she was a New York native, and I didn’t know exactly how many No. 1 hits she had or anything like that. But I didn’t have a better answer.
Mariah Carey was correct. I had the answer all along.
Literally. I’ve literally had the answer since I was 14. Somewhere in my parents’ attic is a cassette tape of Mariah Carey’s first album, the one with Vision of Love on it. I haven’t listened to it since I was 15 or 16, but there was a brief time when I didn’t think that Mariah Carey sucked. She had a strong voice with a pretty impressive range, and there were some catchy songs on that album. Mariah lost favor with me a few years later, when she released another album with a song with banal lyrics and lots of parts where she was just shrieking at a pitch that only dogs and dolphins can hear, and by that time I was pretty much ditching pop, R&B, and hip-hop altogether in favor of classic rock.
So when I heard Alex Trebek telling the two contestants who wrote Mariah Carey that they were correct, I felt pretty proud of myself. I thought that this question was going to be completely out of the realm of things I know about, but I knew the answer all along. Maybe this is the case more often than I know.