“Carnival” is a 1995 song written and produced by singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant and was the lead single from her debut solo album Tigerlily. In the lyrics, the protagonist compares the many colorful sights and sounds of day-to-day life in New York Cityto a carnival. Merchant was inspired to write the song after visiting the city for the first time when she was 16, claiming she was fascinated with the residents’ unusual lifestyles, as she has grown up in the country.
The single was released to US radio in summer 1995 and reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Merchant’s highest-charting solo single in the US. It is also her most successful hit in Australia, peaking at number 24 on the ARIA Singles Chart, and her third-most successful song in Canada (after “Wonder” and “Jealousy”), where it reached number 17. The single received a radio edit cutting the song down from the six-minute LP version. The video for the song, directed by Melodie McDaniel, shows scenes of Merchant walking the streets of New York City taking street photographs with a Leica M3.