‘Touch My Body’ Turns 10: Mariah Carey’s Silliest Music Video Is Still One of Her Best
Released as the lead single off 2008's E=MC², itself the follow-up to 2005's Emancipation of Mimi, Mariah Carey's infectious hip-pop track, "Touch My Body," turns ten years old this month—and so does its delightful music video, which remains one of Mimi's very best.
In the year following its February 12, 2008 release, "Touch My Body," a coy, twinkling mid-tempo jam produced by Tricky Stewart, ascended as the music icon's eighteenth chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100. At the time, the achievement crowned Carey the solo artist with the most number one singles in United States history, surpassing the record previously held by Elvis Presley.
Weeks later, on February 27 a music video was premiered on MTV's TRL and BET's 106 & Park, and it revealed a much different side of Carey who, before then, had presented a very specific image across her work.
Carey's dozens and dozens of music videos over the years have, for the most part, seen the Elusive Chanteuse leaning into the drama, darling: the drama of infidelity ("Shake It Off"), the drama of romance ("Emotions"), the drama of fame ("Obsessed"), and the drama of breaking up ("H.A.T.E.U."). (She does love a moment, after all.) But Carey's also been willing to show her lighter, more playful side.
"Loverboy" was fun and irreverent, though played more for straight sex appeal, while the tongue-in-cheek video for "Heartbreaker" hinted at Carey's affinity for physical comedy thanks to one particularly memorable and un-glamorous bathroom fight scene. Even the wacky video for "Up Out My Face," Carey's collaboration with Nicki Minaj, has a sense of humor. But no clip in her music videography has been quite as earnestly goofy as "Touch My Body."
Directed by filmmaker Brett Ratner in Los Angeles, the video for "Touch My Body" re-imagined the come-hither R&B-pop tune as a sweet, sweet—and entirely silly—fantasy, as well as offered a self-aware wink towards Carey's trademark pop culture sex icon status and diva image.
Featuring 30 Rock actor Jack McBrayer as a dweeby Geek Squad-esque computer repairman, the visual was unlike many of the music videos released by Carey before. Scenes were played for straight comedy, with McBrayer's CompuNerd character lapsing into a dizzy daydream about the singer minutes after arriving to her mansion for a routine computer repair. (To be fair, Carey did answer the door in her lingerie.)
In the video, McBrayer's lovestruck tech dozes off and runs through a list of stereotypical nerd fantasies about the singer: They play Guitar Hero and sci-fi laser tag, race toy cars on a dining room table, and dress up like a medieval king and queen, complete with unicorn. (Basically, everything and anything you wouldn't expect Mariah Carey to do, save for the royal cosplay, maybe.)
Even the track's straightforward, titillating lyrics (the song is, after all, about sex) are paired with surreal imagery. While cooing "Let me wrap my thighs / All around your waste, just a little taste," for instance, Carey and McBrayer, who's wearing a plastic viking helmet, are seen entangled in bed in the midst of a rambunctious pillow fight
Speaking to MTV News after the video's release, McBrayer shared that the pair was given very loose directions on how to interact during production, which lent a carefree, playful energy to filming—except, of course, when the actor accidentally hit Mimi in the nose with a frisbee during the schoolgirl picnic vignette. The atmosphere also provided a perfect ecosystem for Carey to lean into her natural comedic chops, something the singer felt she hadn't been able to do before.
"[Ratner] has a great sense of humor, obviously, and he knows that I have a sense of humor and he feels that people don't recognize that about me," she explained to Reuters in 2008. "I'll do stuff that I'm totally joking and they're like, 'Why is she doing that? Why is she doing the treadmill with her high heels on?' I'm like, 'It's a freakin' joke!'"
The self-professed diva echoed her thoughts to The Sun the same year: "Have you seen the 'Touch My Body' video? C'mon! Clearly you must see the humor in that....If anyone doesn't get the joke by this time then they are an idiot."
Though it didn't win at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards (that honor goes to Britney Spears' equally memorable "Piece of Me"), the clip did get a nomination. But Carey did win at the 2008 BET Awards, taking home the aptly-titled award for "Best Comedic Video." And on January 7, 2018, nearly a decade after its debut, Carey and McBrayer delivered an impromptu, headline-stealing recreation of the video after running into each other at a Golden Globes after-party, proving that "Touch My Body" remains firmly planted within our pop culture memory bank as one of Mimi's very best. (And yes, it still gives us that fever, hundred and two.)