Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mariah's albums: Looking back

Mariah Carey's new album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is just over 2 months away (finding its release August 25). Here is my analysis of her previous 10 releases:

Mariah Carey (1990). (4.5/5) Conjuring up everything that was perfect adult contemporary pop in the 1990s was Mariah Carey's eponymous debut. Carey's then fresh eight octave vocal managed to churn out the classic dramatic ballad "Vision of Love" which started a string of 4 #1s from this album, this has to be my favorite Mariah songs of all time. The more conventional ballads on the album "Love Takes Time" and "Vanishing" also capitalized on Carey's magnificent vocals. Whilst Mariah Carey was pretty big on its ballads, it did produce a couple of pretty good uptempos too like "Prisoner" and "There's Got to Be a Way" clearly showing the variety. Essential: Vision of Love

Emotion (1991). (4/5) Carey's second album didn't venture too far away from the blueprint of her first, essentially it incorporated a more distinctive dance pop production, noticeable on the upbeat title track "Emotions" which also became her 5th #1 and the hidden gem "You're So Cold." Despite the lack of differentiation, I've never thought Emotions was as good as, Mariah Carey. Where it falls short is that its ballads are pretty much second rate carbon copies of the ones on the first ("And You Don't Remember" and "Til the End of Time" are the most creditable) but apart from that it's a pretty good album. Essential: Emotions

Music Box (1993). (4.5/5) Selling nearly 30 million copies worldwide, Carey's third album was indeed a smash, making up for the light sales reception of her last album. Apart from being just a tad overrated, this among Carey's best work. Not switching up the forumla much; keeping and modernizing the balladry, spawning her signature song "Hero" and including more watered down urban dance pop--her 7th #1 "Dreamlover." I believe this is the first time Carey worked with Babyface, my favorite producers of all time--producing the more R&B sounding ballad "Never Forget You." Essential: Hero

Daydream (1995). (5/5) This was the first Mariah albums I ever bought, Daydream has to be among the best pop albums ever made, if not the best adult contemporary. This album was a transitional stage for Carey--as previously she had limited control over how her albums turned out--this time it was all about her vision, and what a vision it turned out to be. Venturing away from her traditional conventional ballad and dance pop formula, emerging in a slightly more hip-hop territory. Just a few of the albums highlights are, the monster hit ballad, duet with R&B quartet, Boyz II Men on "One Sweet Day" which topped the US chart for an unprecedented 16 weeks. The upbeat and breezy lead single "Fantasy" using the Tom Tom Club "Genius of Love" sample, is among Carey's strongest lead singles ever. The single also became the first by a female artist to debut at #1. Fantasy marked the first time Carey would work with hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri, who would became a recurrent staple in her career, the product was the melodic, guitar strung, "Always Be My Baby." Essential: One Sweet Day

Butterfly (1997). (4.5/5) (see original review). I won't say too much on this as I've already reviewed this, but this was a great follow up to, Daydream marking Carey's transition from adult contemporary to 90s R&B. Essential: Breakdown

Rainbow (1999). (3.5/5) No longer acquiring her early '90s vocals, Carey's seventh album took quite a hit to the quality as Carey tried to take a tentative step into more young territory, emerging as more R&B than she's ever been, Carey discovered singing through her nose. Whilst for the most part being quite bland and lackluster, Rainbow wasn't a complete disaster "Crybaby" Featuring Snoop Dogg is brilliant mid-tempo hip-hop number. The introspective but dreary ballad "Petals" isn't bad too. Essential: Crybaby

Glitter (2001). (3/5) This is where it all went wrong. Carey made her movie debut in 2001, quickly following was the accompanying soundtrack--both resulting in box office and chart slump--leading to her eventual breakdown. Despite the indescribable backlash against both the film and the album; the album wasn't as disgusting as many made out to be. Glitter was suppose to be a blend of modern and '80s pop--although the combination itself didn't work, it spawn some pretty songs, the ballads "Reflections (Care Enough)," "Never Too Far" and "Lead the Way" are actually pretty good and the more upbeat "Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica)" is pretty good too. Essential: Reflections (Care Enough)

Charmbracelet (2002). (2.5/5) Carey's ninth album was the first step into her eventual comeback. I think this actually sucked way more than the people said Glitter did. Apart from my favorites "The One" the cabaret styled "Subtle Invitation" and the guitar strung, Eminem attack, "Clown" I don't really like anything else on here. It's pretty much a singing through nose vs. screaming on top of your lungs. Essential: The One

The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). (4.5/5) 3 years away from the spotlight and the songstress was back and better than ever, after 2 back to back flops, The Emancipation of Mimi marked the return of Mariah Carey. The album became the best selling album of 2005, moving 10 million copies worldwide and 5 million in the US also spawning Carey the biggest hit of career "We Belong Together" which spent 14 weeks atop the US chart. As far as quality goes this is among my favorite Mariah albums (strongly rivalling Butterfly, Daydream and Music Box). Essential: We Belong Together


Mel said...

Well said. I adore Music Box and Butterfly, personally. No love for E=MC2? I don't blame you. I'm hoping the new one verges more on the "Emancipation" side than its sequel...

J.Mensah said...

Butterfly and Music Box are just brilliant. Lol, no disrespect to E=MC2, it wasn't bad--I was just too tired to add it in as i already reviewed last year.

I'm hoping it's like on the Emancipation side too. I'm really looking forward to do it, I might have a nervous breakdown if it's something sub-par.

ww_adh said...

What a great post! I love the covers montage. Isn't it cool that Mariah Carey has used the same font for her name since the beginning? Most artists give up on such branding strategies after a couple of albums.

I was really into "Vision of Love" in the summer of 1990. It's a wonderful song. I agree that Emotions wasn't as good. In fact, I never bothered to buy it until years later. I like dance pop, but it never suited MC. Music Box is my favorite album from her--love "Dreamlover" and "Without You" in particular, as well as the last track ("All I Ever Wanted"). Daydream is good, but that's the one I'd say was a tad overhyped. I like Butterfly alot, particularly "Honey" and the title track. Rainbows, Glitter and Charmbracelet are the three albums I don't own. Charmbracelet in particular just does not interest me, although I could see eventually getting Glitter.

J.Mensah said...

why thank you! :)

I agree, Rainbow, I really use to think was good--but then compare to it her masterpieces (Butterfly, DD and MB) it's pretty lackluster. My opinion is vise versa to yours on MB and DD

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