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Saturday, May 31, 2014

MARIAH CAREY'S STUNNING RETURN TO FORM ON NEW ALBUM - ME I AM MARIAH...THE ELUSIVE CHANTEUSE


When listening to this gorgeous new album, I cant help but be transported back to a time when Mariah Carey was first starting out and you would hear these powerhouse vocals on the radio or on TV. She took a break from this style of singing in the last decade chasing after fresher beats and muted vocals. I am so glad to report that Mariah focuses on showcasing her lyrical prowess and that vocal magic on this album.
What you get here is a jam packed album of beautiful melodic music from an iconic artist who becomes eligible for the rock n roll hall of fame next year. What you may not be getting is immediately accessible made for radio tracks which I am relieved about. Mariah no longer needs to be recording music for radio to respond to.  This lack of radio friendly music has kept all of her singles from really making waves except for #Beautiful which peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Without a big first single along with Mariah's five year absence from the music scene, she is expected to debut on the Billboard album charts next weeks in the Top 3 with first week sales in the range of 50-60k.  This is her lowest first week sales tally.  Her previous effort, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel which was ultimately a critical and commercial failure opened with a dismal 168k in first week sales due to the slight success of her top 10 first single, Obsessed.  In comparison, E=MC2 sold almost half a million copies in its first week riding on the waves of #1 first single, Touch My Body.

To describe this album, lets start with her tradition of doing a cover or two on her albums. My favorite track on the album happens to be one of these covers, the George Michael track "One More Try." For you 80's kids, if you really want some nostalgia, listen to this one immediately. Mariah also dips into disco dance sounds for two tracks and she just sounds right at home. One of them, You Don't Know What To Do, could be 2014's summer dance jam and features Wale while Meteorite is a magical disco house jam which rockets her into exciting new territory.

The balladry is just near perfection on tracks like Cry. and Camouflage while tracks like Thirsty and Dedicated have super fresh urban beats that could easily find a home on today's radio playlists. There really is something for all of her fans of this project all the while maintaining a full project experience.

Here's my breakdown of the album GEMS:

1 One More Try - stunning emotional balladry / hope to see this released as a single.
2 Cry. - This haunting, emotive ballad feels like it comes from the "butterfly" era. This is going to be on the list of Mariah fan favorites like "Petals" and "Close My Eyes" -
3 Meteorite - Q-tip produces this spacey, disco jam and her voice is just sheer magic on this track.
4 You Don't Know What To Do - This seems like it is going to be a single based on Mariah performing in live during her album promotion. This is bound to be a summer dance jam if promoted properly and picked up by radio. Highly addicting chorus.
5 Camouflage - heartbreaking, emotional and highly dramatic with vocals, piano and some background vocals. Just beautiful.
6 Heavenly - Is a powerful, uplifting anthem with choir and all and a perfect album closer.
7 #Beautiful - Its highly disappointing this track didn't do as well on the charts and I firmly believe it is because the featured artist is so prominent on the track. This should have been a Mariah only track. Nonetheless, it fits perfectly on the album.

The Good Stuff:
1 Dedicated - Think 90's Mariah in the vein of "Always be my baby" or something from the "Daydream" album.
2 Faded - seems to borrow heavily from her monster hit "We Belong Together" in structure but doesn't quite hit the mark for me. This is the whispery Mariah vocals of the 2000's.
3 Thirsty - bound to be a single. Very addictive beat and chorus. Think "Migrate," "Its Like That."
4 You're Mine - This was released as a single and didn't do as well. This is one of the more vocally balanced tracks on the album, where Mariah does her whisper vocals and then also kicks in a little into powerhouse vocals.
5 Supernatural - This reminds me of many tracks from the last decade from Mariah. I wont give this track "gem" status because the baby sounds become too distracting as the song progresses.
6 Art of Letting Go - Another beautiful ballad that should not have been considered as a single but beautiful as an album closer.

The Tracks I can skip (which dont necessarily mean they are bad tracks but just not my cup of tea):
1 Make it Look Good - Not a terrible track but Im not a fan of that jazzy sound and she always seems to include one track that sounds like this on every album since Mimi.
2 Money - This sounds like a Mariah track from the last three albums and doesn't work for me especially because Fabulos' vocals are just too prominent. I don't mind a featured artist here and there but Mariah's vocals should always be front and center.

The Memoirs tracks:
1 Betcha Gon Know - One of my favorites tracks from her last album. It hasn't been changed at all in terms of beat or arrangement. This is the version which features R. Kelly on the second verse. This was released back when Memoirs came out by R Kelly as a male response to Mariah so not sure why it's here. This is a stunning track in general and I think should have always been a single on her last album so excited that it's getting an opportunity to be re-discovered.
2 It's a Wrap - This was one of the weak tracks for me on the last album and doesn't do a thing her either. Not sure why this is here. I would have replaced one of these with her "target" bonus track, "America the Beautiful."
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