Mariah Carey: Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse

Posted May 30, 2014 by in Gospel



2.5/ 5


Genre: , , ,
Producer: , , , , , ,
Genre: Soul, R&B, disco, gospel
Producer: Darhyl "Hey DJ" Camper, Mariah Carey, Bryan-Michael Cox, Brook "D'Leau" Davis, Jermaine Dupri, Happy Perez, Hazebanga, Heatmyzer, Hit-Boy, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, Miguel, Mike Will Made-It, Terius "The-Dream" Nash, Q-Tip, Rey Reel, C. "Tricky" Stewart James, "Big Jim" Wright
Label: Def Jam
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 62:42
Release Date: 23 May 2014
Spin This: "Beautiful," ""Meteorite," "Dedicated"


Miguel's "Beautiful" and "Meteorite" are glimmers of hope of Carey's staying power


Not enough hooks, great power ballads; good ideas aren't ironed out; rap cameos hardly impress

“Elusive Chanteuse” isn’t exactly the return to normal she rightfully deserves

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

“Elusive Chanteuse” isn’t exactly the return to normal she rightfully deserves

Few singers of our generation have risen to the pop luxuriance as Mariah Carey.  Originally scripted on the guidelines as a contemporary pop remedy to Barbra Streisand, the New York-bred Carey rose to stardom singing power ballads fit for a Whitney Houston and made them all her own by showing off a seismic vocal range and that irresistible whistle register. Fast forward to now where Carey has since departed from the tailor-made AC-coated repertoire of Walter Afanasieff and where she’s since struggled to hold her grip on pop star relevance. Her last set of albums have lacked the critical acclaim that decorated her self-titled debut, Music Box and Daydream. More disappointing is how little 2010’s Merry Christmas II You sold when compared with the best-selling holiday album of all time, her 1994 Merry Christmas album. Lately she’s been releasing digital singles from her overdue fourteenth album, hoping that one or two of them will stick on the wall of mainstream radio and will spark some kind of resurgence. With her short stint at American Idol falling to the wayside, those singles did very little to properly normalize the pulse on her career. “Beautiful,” an endearing throwback-styled duet with rising R&B crooner Miguel, peaked at number 15 just when Idol was working in her favor, but it didn’t easily gel with hardcore critics. It was marketed with a hashtag and fell into the guise of being too trendy with social media being the gimmick of choice. The Rodney Jerkins-produced “The Art of Letting Go” immediately followed and was championed as a return to Carey’s assembly line of basics a la “Vision of Love.” The sales and popularity, however, reflected that fans were “letting go” of their devout connections to the super diva. With months of stalling the release of a new album, Carey has finally jumped the gun with Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. It’s a flimsy, self-indulgent album title and one that will go in the books for feeling like a desperate attempt at stroking her bruised ego. Elusive may not be the proper term to define Carey. If anything, her fanbase and the fame that elevated the grandeur of her divadom seem to be the things that are elusive. But this seems to be Carey’s reality as she struggles to balance the awkwardness of living in a Nick Cannon-ized world and one where pop-up miniature divas are now reigning in the afterglow she started.

But all Carey fans should really care about are the songs. The packaging and marketing of a comeback is totally unnecessary in their books. The music on the inside, slightly complimentary to Carey’s past and a progression into the emo-R&B of now, is what will attract them the most. It may not hold their interests, since songs like the opening lukewarm ballad “Cry” feel like long preludes on what’s to come. Unfortunately there’s nothing as big as “Dreamlover” or as hooky as “Always Be My Baby” or “Emotions” here. Instead she pretends to be evolving with the forces of urban music and rubbing elbows with the forces of hip-hop. She works up a trivial conversation with Nas on the Roots-sounding, retro-fitted “Dedicated,” allows Wale to talk all over “You Don’t Know What to Do” and plays around with nostalgia loops culled from Bunny Sigler’s hand (“Let Me Make Love to You”) on “Make It Look Good.” As the album paces forward, the sounds inside Carey’s balladry become more pronounced than the songs themselves. “Thirsty” feels like a slight U-turn from Kanye-Hova’s “N***as in Paris” while her cover of George Michael’s “One More Try” focuses heavily on Carey’s whistle powers rather than attempting to rival the soulfulness of the original. Luckily she has the ease of “You’re Mine (Eternal)” and the transparency of a gospel hymn (James Cleveland’s “I Don’t Feel Noways Tired”) to fall back on. The Q-Tip-produced “Meteorite” may be the album’s high point. It stretches into the euphoria of EDM while playing with a buried Philly soul disco sample, giving Carey something new and exciting to play with. Unfortunately Me. I Am Mariah… deserves more moments like this. The voice is still apparently in good form, but she seems to be playing with well-intentioned ideas without actually perfecting them. Even the idea of teaming up with Mary J. Blige sounds like a good idea, but if Jermaine Dupri and Company thought the bonus track of “It’s a Wrap” on the album’s deluxe edition was the perfect vehicle for the two divas to fit inside, they are sorely wrong in their judgments.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Response