Music artists are infamous for sprinkling in hidden messages about sex in their lyrics and Mariah Carey is no different. Carey is known equally for singing and songwriting and her music is an autobiography of sorts to her life. Her 1997 single “Honey” was the birth of a sexier side of Carey and showcased a more revealing image and naughtier lyrics. But the song is more than just about going to bed with a dream guy.
The song details her affair with Derek Jeter
“Honey” was co-written with Carey and Sean “Diddy” Combs. It details her infatuation with a special guy, who Carey later revealed to be New York Yankee player Derek Jeter. At the time of their affair, Carey was still married to Tommy Mottola
The song’s “Hey DJ” reference was a nod to Jeter. “Little did they know it was a secret shout-out to Derek Jeter,” she wrote in her 2020 memoir, The Meaning Of Mariah Carey. “‘Honey’ was a song about jonesin’ for that DJ feeling.”
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According to Song Facts, Carey told VH1 that she came up with the music video concept while she wrote the song. “I wrote the lyrics to ‘Honey’ in Puerto Rico on this boat,” she said. It turns out the trip one was she snuck off to with Jeter. “I kept rewinding the track and watching people jet-ski, thinking, ‘That would be cool for the video.’ I never think about the video when I’m writing the song, usually, but the whole atmosphere seemed right.”
Mottola was pissed. After hearing “Honey,” he told Carey, “Well, I’m glad you were so inspired.” She wrote in her book that all of her previous love songs, such as “Dreamlover,” were mere fantasies of a love she never experienced.
Many also believe the song references semen
In addition to Carey singing about another man other than her husband, the song is infused with sexual innuendos. But per an opinion piece from BuzzFeed, Carey was talking more about Jeter’s kisses and potential lovemaking.
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The report says the song and music video gives away that Carey is also singing about semen. “It’s just like honey when your love comes over me,” Carey sings in the song while donning all-white throughout the video. She continues: “It’s like honey when it washes over me.”
Carey herself has never spoken about the semen speculation. But she does say that she has a knack for coming up with creative ways to write about things like sex.
It showed off a more sensual side of the singer in the accompanying music video
The music video was the first to showcase a sexier side of Carey. She’d previously donned turtle necks and gowns. But in “Honey,” she stripped down to a bikini and miniskirt.
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“People felt like my image changed because suddenly I could do what I wanted to,” she told VH1. Her image was previously managed by Mottola.
“But ‘Honey’ is quite tame compared to some of the videos that are out now by quote/unquote Pop artists,” she added. “Yes, I do strip down and all that stuff, but I’m not like stripping. There’s a bikini. To me, it’s all very playful and done in fun. It was totally up my alley because who else is going to swim with Gucci stilettos on? That’s very me. For the first time, I got the chance to have fun making a video and be myself. Like the running on the beach with the dog? That’s me. When you don’t see me on TV, that’s what I’m doing.”
The song also became her 12th No. 1 hit on Billboard. The risk was all worth it for Carey.
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