Perfume Preview | Lollipop Bling by Mariah Carey

By Ed Shepp
Contributing Writer

Staff Page

Hello Orlando. I am Ed Shepp, your Fragrance Reviewer at Large. Today I’m talking at you about Lollipop Bling, the new launch from Mariah Carey.

Full disclosure: I have smelled none of the three scents that comprise Lollipop Bling. But I don’t feel like it’s necessary, because with these perfumes, we’re not really interested in the smell. We’re interested in the phenomenon, which is the latest public manifestation of Mariah Carey’s mental illness, some grotesque Baby Jane-via-Michael Jackson syndrome.

But since I mentioned the smell, I can confidently assure you that, based on her former offerings and perfumer Laurent Le Guernec’s resumé, it they will be competent and inoffensive. Better than adequate; far from indispensable. While Le Guernec did create Michael for Women, which one could call an intriguing tuberose, the list of scents he’s done since joining International Flavors and Fragrances reads like a bad poem of tepid sequels and celebrity dreck—e.g., Curve Chill for Women, Curve Wave for Women, Curve Soul for Men, 360 white for Women, Realities for Women… The only standout I can find is Sara Jessica Parker’s Lovely, but I conceded a positive bias for it that I accrued from Chandler Burr’s mythmaking book about the fragrance’s creation.
For information’s sake, the launch includes three fragrances: Ribbon, Honey and Mine Again. All are aimed at the tween/teen market, and they come in bottles with butterfly tops, a feature which was piquant and interesting when it Nina Ricci did it better with L’Air du Temps. Significantly, Lollipop Bling is a collaboration between Elizabeth Arden, Def Jam Records and Topps Candy.

Yes, Topps Candy. That should be a punchline for a Tonight Show joke, but it’s real. And isn’t that type of thing why we talk about things like Mariah Carey fragrances in the first place? Because they’re freakshows that devolve further and further. And when you think it can’t get more ridiculous, it does.
Take the website. Pepto Bismol pink and fuchsia hemorrhaging all over your screen, with a constant loop of Mariah Carey phoning in vocals for a song called (oh God) Candy Bling playing over the speakers. In its center is lies picture within a picture of Ms. Carey, hair in pigtails, sitting in a baby blue, digitally-slimmed slumber party shirt, flaunting her rings and bedazzled stripper heels with a “Who ME?”-type look that may be less an expression than an artifact of aggressive retouching. She sits atop pink clouds that float through a pastel sky hailing with assorted confections. The three perfume bottles appear around her on rhinestone-studded circles which I assume are supposed to evoke stick-on cell-phone embellishments. I’m guessing the picture-within-the-picture is a promotional poster, but I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be perched on. A perfume counter? A restaurant chain? A restaurant chain constructed from perfume bottles? Oh, and all this comes with animated sparkles, which, unfortunately do not go “bling!” when they flash. The whole thing looks more like the first draft of Barbie’s website than a pop star’s perfume headquarters. Lastly, it sports a slew of buttons at the bottom of the page, which thankfully won’t work in my browser. I say thankfully because, the site has a very pedo feel, so I would rather spend as little time there as possible. Even if that means missing an opportunity to send a “CandyGram” or have the (oh God) “3D experience.”
But let’s return to perfume and talk about the fragrances and their official olfactory descriptions. The ones I found were brief, and, possibly because of the tween focus, refreshingly absent of concepts like “scent pyramids.” (Clearly Carey is unfamiliar with Cartier’s blather about Roadster, in which their marketing people describe the fragrance “notes” in terms of the Cs that define gem quality—cut, color, clarity…. Utterly insipid. Udderly Mariah.) Apparently the perfumes are all meant to smell candy sweet, with at least two of them containing a floral accord.

 Ribbon supposedly combines that blue raspberry ring-pop smell with floral tones. Now, if I thought it would be a sharp, solar-bright raspberry, I might be interested. But the implication that the scents are “sophisticated” (which I may have read on the spammy deflates any such hope. For candy sweet, I’d advise going with any of Escada’s yearly offerings, which reliably deliver on a never-wavering theme: Bright summer fruit and little else. Try Tropical Punch. It smells like tropical punch. 

Mine Again does the chocolate raspberry thing, allegedly with “a touch of Magnolia.” (Didn’t Arden do the magnolia thing with one of their Britney frags?) Skip this; it’s been done. If chocolate berry is your thing (and hey, if it’s done well, then why not?), take either the high road to Annick Goutal’s Eau de Charlotte, which smells like cocoa, mimosa and raspberry jam, or the fun road to Comptoir sud Pacifique’s Amour de Cacao, which opens with berry and orange but dries down to pure Cocoa Krispies. Lastly,

Honey is the honey-pineapple one with no mention of floral intervention. Could be interesting. Probably won’t. True honey notes can be fun, giving the impression of urine at high concentrations; but with the fun lies the risk: olfactory thresholds for any chemical vary by thousands of degrees between and within individuals. Use the wrong dose, and soon your scent’s got a bad rep among your tweens as “that perfume that smells like pee.” I’m guessing Le Guernec used tame vanillic floral notes for the honey impression. Pineapple isn’t particularly exciting, except that it the note may come from ally amyl glycolate, which some may remember from 80s scents like Giorgio, which used it liberally. Alas, I am recommendationless for a honey scent—you could try Beeswax by Demeter, but their scents have poor tenacity and their Beeswax doesn’t smell very true. Might as well just splash on some nothing. You can’t really go wrong there.
Now back to the culture. One of my first thoughts about this launch was, “What does it portend for the future of perfumery?” My conclusion: probably nothing, but definitely nothing good. A good general rule about celebrity scents is that they’re generally not very good. They don’t pioneer new territory or become classics. But they do make bank. And, for better or worse, Carey’s scents have made a lot. So with Lollipop Bling, she’ll probably pull in a nice haul for her backers and, more importantly, be able to feed her ever-more-deluded self image at the same time.

 But I predict that in a few years the Lollipop trio will be worth more as collector’s items than treasured scents. And I would like to think that the generation of girls who might buy these scents will eventually mature into women who prefer quality to celebrity. I would like to think that, but sadly, given recent perfume history, that may be the biggest delusion of all.