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Mariah Carey talks memes during Billboard speech, launches more of them
Even Taylor Swift got in on the action.
Mariah Carey was honored with the icon award at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) Wednesday night. While the singer’s performance made a lot of audience members feel all sorts of emotions, it was her acceptance speech that truly stole the show—and won on Twitter.
“One of the most decorated divas in the history of recorded music” performed a medley of her hits, which included “Always Be My Baby,” “Emotions, “We Belong Together,” and “Hero” (all of which were No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100) and “A No No” from her most recent album, Caution. She was the first female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 and went on to have six No. 1 albums. She also has 15 of these awards to her name and scored 18 No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
After wishing her twins in the audience a happy birthday, Carey began her speech saying, “Thank you Billboard for letting me grow up on the charts with you and for this incredible honor.”
Twitter user @jaspyology was quick to call out this moment, saying “Mariah let y’all know she ‘grew up on the charts.’ Did y’all catch that?!”
— IG: JASPYOLOGY (@jaspyology) May 2, 2019
The elusive chanteuse talked about how she “always felt like an outsider,” and how she “dedicated my life to my music, my saving grace.” She also gave a shoutout to her fans, “who lifted me out of the depths of hell and brought me back with their devotion and love.” She concluded her speech saying, “And to anyone who’s ever told me that a song I wrote helped save their life, I thank you because you saved mine.”
The overall endearing and inspiring speech was punctuated with jokes and hilarious self-ribbing delivered in classic diva fashion, complete with side-eyes and fluttering hands and lashes. “Without getting into all the drama, all the ups and downs of my career—we’ve all seen them; we all make mistakes; there’s been a few memes,” she quipped.
Twitter user @msciang reacted, saying “Mariah referencing her own memes is the best kind of meta.”
Here’s Carey’s BBMAs acceptance speech that will leave you laughing, screaming, crying, and feeling empowered like only a true icon could.
New Mariah meme
Unwittingly, the singer just gave Twitter the golden opportunity to meme her again—before she even began her speech. The guffaw-inducing moment happened after she took the award from presenter Jennifer Hudson: She wiped her eyes with the sheet of tissue she was holding, seemingly asked Hudson where she can put it before she began her speech, and not getting a response, nonchalantly threw the used tissue on the BBMA stage.
The icon was quick to acknowledge the meme on Twitter: “Toss the tissue is the new drop the mic.”
Toss the tissue 🗳 is the new drop the mic 🎤 https://t.co/nxg0o8Vyt4
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) May 2, 2019
Twitter user @Murtaza_Murad captioned it best: “Mariah Carey wiping her tears and throwing the tissue on the Billboard Music Awards stage is already iconic.”
Mariah Carey wiping her tears and throwing the tissue on the Billboard Music Awards stage is already iconic pic.twitter.com/XslM05mEU5
— Murtaza Murad Art (@Murtaza_Murad) May 2, 2019
Fans couldn’t get over how the “true legend” gave “zero fucks.”
Imagine making the mistake of not stanning Mariah Carey. A true legend. pic.twitter.com/Oo9bOGRRqa
— Asaf (@asafshb) May 2, 2019
Mariah giving zero f***s pic.twitter.com/QGK3X0IT5A
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) May 2, 2019
The moment was used for more Carey tributes, like this one from @iskinnylegendz, who said “This woman earned her success by writing & singing her own songs for decades. She’s still here singing like no other & deserves nothing but happiness.”
This woman earned her success by writing & singing her own songs for decades. She’s still here singing like no other & deserves nothing but happiness. We love you Mariah Carey💖👑 #BBMAs pic.twitter.com/tvGijUqy5s
— 𝐋𝐀𝐌𝐁 𝐊𝐈𝐍𝐆 (@iskinnylegendz) May 2, 2019
Apart from sharing the iconic moment, fans also reacted with memes of their own. “The way Mariah Carey tossed that Kleenex before her speech. She really is that bitch,” @DanikaAutumn tweets along with an old photo of Carey.
— 𝚒𝚐:𝚍𝚊𝚗𝚒𝚔𝚊𝚊𝚞𝚝𝚞𝚖𝚗 (@DanikaAutumn) May 2, 2019
MARIAH CAREY THROWING AWAY THAT TISSUE AND STARTING HER SPEECH IS LITERALLY THIS GIF I'M SCREAAAAAMING pic.twitter.com/iKmwx7JMz9
— kuh-leed (@kormanidei) May 2, 2019
@iskinnylegendz thinks “Mariah threw that tissue like it was JLo.”
— Mariah Carey’s Spotify (@iskinnylegendz) May 2, 2019
Carey’s tissue-throwing move became a mood, basically.
mariah carey tissue IS A BIG MOOD EVERYONE pic.twitter.com/nAZXyvYxXG
— U ω U (@yumangskie) May 2, 2019
Carey’s fandom, the Lambs, are well-represented in Twitter memes, too.
— 𝓡𝔪 (@notdulapeep) May 2, 2019
Taylor Swift stanning Mariah becomes a mood
Members of the BBMAs audience, which included a lot of big music acts, were spotted by the camera singing and dancing to Carey’s performance. However, no one was more engaged than Taylor Swift was, and fans were quick to notice. “Taylor Swift applauding Mariah Carey? My rights were truly given to me today,” tweeted @panicatIove.
taylor swift applauding mariah carey? my rights were truly given to me today pic.twitter.com/RAoM5ujYCf
— kyle (@panicatIove) May 2, 2019
Taylor’s reaction to Mariah Carey though bless pic.twitter.com/eZKYWdjyHL
— Vicky 🌻 (@lifeasaswiftie_) May 2, 2019
Swift’s wide array of emotions—from happily dancing to tearfully singing along and later screaming “We love you” during Carey’s speech—became everyone’s mood on Twitter.
— Brian Elmer (@brayenXeyen) May 2, 2019
taylor aggressively screaming “we love you” to mariah carey is a big ass mood and honestly it’s me
— its ME! sue (@hostage2myfeels) May 2, 2019
Fans were quick to use Taylor stanning Carey as a meme, too.
When you realized Mariah Carey singing in front of you tonight:
Feeling the harmonize. pic.twitter.com/MIHtkZp9Yd
— TAYLOR. (@SWIEFTAY) May 2, 2019
— Fernando Gamboa (@luisblackout_) May 2, 2019
— Jacklyn Krol (@JacklynKrol) May 2, 2019
Taylor listens to Mariah Carey the way I listen to her pic.twitter.com/hhCz6p84c7
— Maranda (@drUnkONTaYtAy) May 2, 2019
Apart from Swift, members of K-pop boy band BTS were also seen on cam “jamming” to Carey.
— 태 ♡ 국 (@veautaefulkook) May 2, 2019
Members of the BTS ARMY even made fun of themselves with a BTS GIF after Carey’s performance. “Armys after getting emotional to mariah’s performance but then gotta get ready to hype BTS,” quips @starryjimini. (Incidentally, BTS became the first Korean act to bring home the top duo/group award at the BBMAs. The septet also won top social artist for the third time in a row.)
Armys after getting emotional to mariah's performance but then gotta get ready to hype btspic.twitter.com/gZMyKFzU9S
— Ann || BTS TOP GROUP ✨ (@starryjimini) May 2, 2019
Here’s the full list of BBMA winners.
Trixie Reyna-Benedicto is a lifestyle editor and writer based in the Philippines. Previously, she helmed Cosmopolitan Philippines’ website, Cosmo.ph, as its founding editor. She later served as editor-in-chief of lifestyle and entertainment portals for Manila-based media company TV5. Her work has appeared in several print and online publications in her country, and she contributes to Speed Magazine, DG Traveler, and Connected Women, among others. Visit her website, trixiereyna.com.