Musically, "Fantasy" is based on "Genius Of Love
," a 1981 track by the Tom Tom Club. At one point, Carey even recites some of the same lyrics:I'm in heaven
With my boyfriend, my laughing boyfriend
There's no beginning and there is no end
"Genius Of Love" was popular in dance clubs but wasn't a huge hit, peaking at #31 in America. This made it a great song to sample, as most listeners weren't familiar with it and the groove is inescapable. Carey added lyrics about a guy who is so wonderful, being with him feels like a fantasy.
Mariah directed the video, which shows her rollicking at an amusement park. The video was shot at Rye Playland in Rye, New York. It is near Long Island, where Carey grew up. She got the idea to shoot it there while driving by it one day. Some of the Tom Hanks movie Big was shot on the same Rye Playland Boardwalk where this video was made.
This was Carey's 9th #1 hit in the US. It was also only the second single to debut at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The first was "You Are Not Alone
" by Michael Jackson.
Bertrand - Paris, France
The raps at the beginning and end of the song are by Ol' Dirty Bastard (ODB). A member of rap group the Wu-Tang Clan, he had constant problems with the law until his death in November 2004.
Sean Combs (then known as Puff Daddy) produced the "Bad Boy" re-mix, which featured rapping from Ol' Dirty Bastard. This was one of the first times Carey utilized hip-hop elements, previously she was better known for her ballads. She told The Sun April 10, 2008: "It gets so annoying when people make out I have gone all Hip-Hop just to get in on a trend. I sang with Ol Dirty Bastard, may he rest in peace, back in 1996 for the remixed version of 'Fantasy.' I love him and I miss him. Working with him was a highlight for me because it was such a random union. But for younger kids on the street, that's the version of 'Fantasy' they know - the line 'Me and Mariah.'"
This spent 12 weeks at #1 in Canada, which at the time was equal with six other songs for the most weeks at the summit in Canadian chart history. In 1997 their record was overtaken by "I'll Be Missing You
" (13 weeks) and "Candle In The Wind '97
" (14 weeks).
Though Carey's label, Columbia, was uncertain about O.D.B. jumping on the remix, the singer herself was thrilled. "It felt like all the fun I had missed out on in my childhood. It made me feel happy," she recounted in her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. "O.D.B.'s energy was something everyone could relate to - he was your loving, fun-ass uncle who gets drunk at all the festivities, at Christmas dinner, the cookout, Thanksgiving."
Carey had wanted to branch into hip-hop for a long time, but was held back by her then-husband Tommy Mottola. As the head of Sony Music, Columbia's parent company, Mottola had a huge influence over his wife's career and he didn't want her veering outside of the mainstream to experiment with the "passing fad" of rap music. "He couldn't fully grasp its cutting edge," she wrote in her memoir. "He never really believed in the enduring cultural power of hip-hop because he couldn't fully understand it." Once rap proved to be commercially viable, Mottola relented.
The remix is credited with popularizing collaborations between pop singers and rappers. Carey wrote of the song's influence on her career and the industry as a whole in the liner notes to her greatest hits album #1 To Infinity: "This record was a major turning point in my career as a recording artist. The collaboration with both Bad Boy and O.D.B. was so unexpected yet exactly what I really wanted to be doing for myself. This song remains one of my proudest and happiest moments. If I wanted to be cocky, I would say that this song helped pave the way for a specific genre of rap collaborations that followed. And many careers were made on this specific model. Whenever I hear the song, it still makes me smile."
According to Cory Rooney, who was the A&R rep on the song, Combs wasn't interested in working with Mariah until he learned her third album, Music Box
, sold 28 million copies and he could land a huge payday as her producer. With the promise of $60,000, he got down to work. Rooney told Billboard
: "He showed up to the studio and within 15 minutes, he said that the first problem with the record, other than all them corny bells and s--t, was they looped the wrong part of the sample. That ain't the hot part. He said you had to get the break part and the drums, that's the part that's hot. Then he did his parts on there ('What you gonna do when you get out of jail/I'm going to do a remix')."
Rooney also recalled working with ODB, which was a huge challenge. Not only did the rapper show up for the recording session three hours late, but he was also drunk and demanded "some Moet and Newports before we get into this record." After begrudgingly settling for some Heinekens, he finally started to record his parts - in between a series of naps. Rooney remembered: "He said one line - 'me and Mariah, go back like babies with pacifiers' - then paused, said, 'Yo, I need to take a break,' and went to sleep for 45 minutes. He woke up and was like, 'Yo, let me hear what I did so far.' We played his one line back, he sang another line or two, and then slept for another hour. He would come up with a line, punch that in, go to sleep. He went to sleep three different times in the middle of trying to get that one verse done. If you listen to the record now, on his verse, you can hear that it's punched in in pieces. He actually told the engineer, 'Y'all better have your s--t set and record it right, cause I'm not doing it twice.'"
ODB's drunken antics continued the day of the music video shoot a week after the recording session. After insisting he'd be fine "rocking some jeans and Timbs" for the promo, the inebriated rapper told Rooney at the last minute he didn't have any clothes to wear. "I started screaming at him," said Rooney. "Tommy told us take my corporate credit card to the mall. ODB disappeared for a minute, and we found him in a store trying to buy Louis Vuitton luggage. He said, 'I'm going to use it for a scene.' He came back with all these bags of Tommy Hilfiger clothes and Timberlands.
It was finally time for him to do his scene, and I promise you, he put on a pair of jeans and Timbs, and said, 'I'm not going to wear a shirt, I don't need no clothes.' I wanted to shoot him. He was like, 'I have an idea - I want to tie up the clown.' Plus, Mariah turned him on to peach schnapps, which she used to always drink. He drank like two bottles of that. So between the hot sun and him drinking two bottles, what a disastrous day that was. The video was a miracle, a real miracle."
In the 1998 action movie Rush Hour, a young girl sings along to this as it plays on the car radio. It was also used in the 2008 movie You Don't Mess With The Zohan.
Royalties from this song were a windfall for the Tom Tom Club thanks to the "Genius Of Love" sample. That group is comprised of drummer Chris Frantz and bass player Tina Weymouth, a married couple that were in Talking Heads. "Fantasy" gave them bragging rights over head Head David Byrne, earning them writing credits on a #1 hit, something Byrne never achieved. Frantz and Weymouth feel that Byrne downplayed their contributions to the Talking Heads and didn't give them proper songwriting credits.
Another beneficiary was King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, who played guitar on "Genius Of Love
" and earned a songwriting credit on the track. He spoke told The Celebrity Café: "You know, the music business is a funny ol' business. I didn't even know I was on that record until a fan at a Crimson concert asked me to autograph it. As it turns out, my playing was sampled from the song 'Genius of Love,' which I co-wrote with the Tom Tom Club in 1981. In fact, I've never met Mariah Carey; but I love the money she sends."