Mariah Carey – Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse (Album Review)
So after a 5 year hiatus from music after the critically acclaimed yet underrated Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel, Mariah finally returns with an album and the most undecided lead singles of all time. The journey towards this album’s release was not an easy one. With a connect 4 flop featuring Triumphant, #Beautiful, Art Of Letting Go and You’re Mine (Eternal). In addition to this, her singing was nowhere up to par with her usual performances she’s known for. She’s been caught lip syncing and when she did sing live she either forgot the lyrics or sung off key. People were ready to count Mariah out after the bad promotion but now the album is here, is it really as bad as expected?
Cry is a great opening for the album; it has an old school Gospel feel which brings nostalgia of the Emancipation of Mimi album. Moreover, within a few seconds I thought to myself “Mariah Carey is definitely back” surprisingly with powerful vocals as she effortlessly powerhouses over the instrumental. This is something we haven’t heard from Mariah in a while since normally she uses her whisper sultry vocals which led to some people believing she’d truly lost her powerful voice. Overall, it’s a really good emotional track that deals with regret over leaving a loved one. If you’re going through a breakup you’ll love this track…or hate how much you can relate.
Faded is produced by Mike Will Made It which is probably why I immediately loved the beat, he’s produced many hit songs in the past two years (Body Party, 21, We Can’t Stop). Faded is somewhat of a part two to cry but it sounds modern in comparison to Cry’s classic feel. It’s also reminiscent of Emancipation of Mimi due to the cow bells within the instrumental. The chorus isn’t as catchy as you’d like it to be and halfway through you realise the beat doesn’t really lead up to an awesome ending. It stays at the same plateau but in retrospect leaves Mariah Carey to croon on the beat like a boat to water and deliver brilliant vocals and somewhat of a random ending.
Dedicated (Feat Nas)
Yet again the production of this track is very good and has a reminiscent old school vibe. Drake could have easily been on this track but I’m pleasantly surprised it’s Nas that made the feature. My only issue is that although his rap is good, it’s too short to have any relevance. I’m not really sure what this song is about either. it feels as if it was made as a personal joke that we’re not a part of? Maybe it’s a song for Nick Cannon? It also sounds similar to Brandy’s Almost Doesn’t Count and Ashanti’s Unfoolish song. Overall, it’s a nice chill track.
I didn’t really care for this track when it first came out, but it’s a nice summer track. It sounds more within Miguel’s comfort zone than Mariah’s but she holds her own in his style. Mariah Carey should have released the album after this single instead of delaying it even further since #Beautiful achieved moderate success. #Beautiful also sounds like a slowed down version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper in terms of its melody. This song could have been more successful if she promoted it more and didn’t waste time on an unneeded #Beautiful remix which stopped promotion due to breaking her arm on the set of the music video.
Thirsty is a club banger which sounds similar to N—s In Paris by Jay-Z and Kanye West. It was unexpected that Mariah would create a song like this but it works. The harmonies are smooth like butter yet the beat is sharp like a knife and they work together brilliantly. It’s also one of Carey’s most catchy tunes she’s done in years, maybe since ‘It’s Like That’ which makes it more enjoyable and fun as she steals one of the most used slang terms of the year. This track is a standout track because it’s different to the rest of the albums sound which is quite laid back and 90’s whereas this is current with a Mariah twist.
Make It Look Good
It’s a nice typical song about being infatuated with someone. However, I do feel like the topics discussed in this album have already been covered in previous albums in a better fashion. The harmonica really works and is an attempt to make the song more memorable. This track sounds like a reject track from Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. That’s not necessarily an insult but nor is it a compliment.
You’re Mine (Eternal)
I wasn’t too sure why this was a single, It’s a good album song and her vocals are great when she goes from her chest to whistle register note towards the end. However, it’s no We Belong Together, the beat falls flat and the song isn’t catchy. It doesn’t connect with the listener as much as it should but overall it’s an OK relaxing song and reminds me of 2005 music.
You Don’t Know What To Do (Feat Wale)
This is a standout track from the album, the beginning sounds reminiscent to Somebody Else’s Guy by Jocelyn Brown but once you listen to it, you can imagine yourself relaxing on a boat in Barcelona with a full glass of lemonade. Wale talks over the song a bit too much to the point where you can’t hear Mariah in some parts. In certain songs where a rapper is featured you begin to think Mariah should ditch rappers, she doesn’t need them and they don’t add much to the songs. I don’t understand her obsession with them. This track should have definitely been a lead single choice. Yet again, this track makes you want to get up and dance which not many Mariah songs in the past have done (aside from It’s Like That). This song has the most energy on the album.
What is the fascination with putting babies in the studio? But it’s a nice song which I’m sure a lot of people especially mums will be able to relate to. The key change isn’t smooth and I’m unsure why it was needed. It also has hints towards Emancipation of Mimi and sends you back to 2005. Overall, it’s a nice track but doesn’t make you feel any strong feelings towards it.
This track has a 70’s vibe and is rather uptempo and danceable which is really unexpected. Lyrically, this is one of the worst tracks on the album but it can be forgiven due to its uniqueness. This song gives hints to a new style by Carey but she doesn’t own it as much as she should. Maybe she should have done a whole album with a 70’s throwback disco sound. That could have been iconic and trendsetting.
It’s similar to Cry but it’s beautiful. I love her gospel tracks and when she sings powerfully. The synopsis of the song is basically trying to move on from a broken relationship even though it’s tough so you hide your true feelings. This brings me back to the 90’s again. The lyrics are really descriptive in this song and the production is laid back to let her harmonies take the spotlight. I don’t understand why she isn’t performing like this. This is one of the highlights of the album vocally and emotionally.
Money (Feat. Fabolous)
I like the meaning of this song as it describes how money is of no importance if I can’t see the person I love. It’s somewhat catchy and is overall a feel good track. It’s also the first rap feature which is relevant. The only criticism is the questionable title.
One More Try
Originally by George Michael, it sounds similar to Sinead O Connor’s Nothing Compares To You but it’s a good cover. Ironically, the best lyrics on the album belong to a song from which she covered. Mariah is definitely more comfortable with ballads than her dance tracks but that’s of no surprise since they’re the reason she’s a legend. The song is about asking the person they love ‘if you want to be my first love then promise you won’t leave because that’s not what I want to learn from love’ which is a poignant topic for a song.
Sounds like it could be a soundtrack song for Freedom Writers or The Help. It’s nice, but next to the other gospel tracks on the album this one could be scrapped from the album. But it’s still a nice inspirational track.
It’s A Wrap (Feat. Mary J Blige)
I loved this song on Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel. However, Mary J Blige sounds like she’s singing the lyrics from a prompter. In addition to this, some of the transitions are awkward since Mariah couldn’t be bothered to re-record the track.
Betcha Gon Know (Feat. R Kelly)
This track was one of the best opening songs I had ever heard originally from Memoirs. However, I don’t think R Kelly needed to be on this song and yet again the transition wasn’t that smooth. The original was perfect and didn’t need to be redone.
The Art Of Letting Go
How this was almost a single I do not know. I think it makes sense to be a bonus track. Her vocals are good and the lyrics are quite smart. The ending definitely is a good climatic vocal performance and makes me think this song should have been the outro for the album.
It’s a good album but it’s not on Emancipation Of Mimi’s status which was a fantastic album with great single selections. But if you’re a Mariah fan it’s a definite buy. If you have Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, don’t bother getting the deluxe version since the remixes aren’t worth it. If you’re a fan of R&B/Soul I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m not sure the songs are strong enough to become classics, but it’s a good album to listen and chill to. She almost comes at us with a new sound with the 70’s throwbacks but then delves back in to what she knows. It’s also as if she feels as if she needs to keep collaborating with rappers for some reason when she doesn’t. Ditch them! Unfortunately I think the bad single choices may have tarnished the album as a whole and will be the reason this album goes undiscovered. It does have hints of old Mariah and even songs that could have been recorded for Emancipation of Mimi but something is missing and it leaves you feeling as if this was almost there but not quite. Whatever it is, I hope Mariah finds it with her next album and gives us stellar live performances like she used to.
Rating: It’s worth purchasing on iTunes (But just get the standard version)
Cry, Camouflage, Thirsty, You Don’t Know What To Do
Buying the deluxe version! The extra tracks aren’t worth it. The features didn’t add anything to the originals. Heavenly should have been swapped with Art Of Letting Go.