I’ll never forget the first time Mariah Carey burst into my life in the early 90’s. Hearing that glass-shattering voice was closeted gay love at first sight. Right from her debut single “Vision Of Love“, I became completely and totally obsessed. I fell in love with her even more during her coo-coo bananas phase when she showed up on TRL with some popsicles and a bizarre striptease (All I can say is, Thank god for You-Tube). And, of course, there is her fabulous comeback album, The Emancipation Of Mimi: be still our gay hearts.
In her post “I’m not crazy anymore” years, Mariah has struggled to deliver another Emancipation-like smash. 2008’s E=Mc2 was quite lackluster and its’ follow up, Memoirs Of A Perfect Angel, turned out to be a complete snoozefest; it was her worst selling album ever. Now, Mariah has returned with Me: I Am Mariah, her much delayed and stalled fourteenth studio set. In the past five years leading up to her latest effort, MC has become a doting mother of twins, Moroccan and Monroe, feuded with Nicki Minaj at the American Idol judges’ table, and has continued to grace us with her bizarre media presence. I listened to Mariah’s latest opus from start to finish, and yet again, much like Memoirs, Mariah delivers another set of dull and lifeless tracks. Only this time, we had to wait five years for it.
Since Mariah Carey albums come with two styles (window-shattering ballads and up-in-the club diva jams), it’s better to get the boring baby makers out of the way first. The opening ballad “Cry,” along with “Camouflage” and “You’re Mine,” sound like any other Mariah songs, only this time they seem to have a lot less life and effort in them. Mariah jumps on the remake train for yet again, this time taking on George Michael’s classic “One More Try.” It’s not a complete mess, but falls closer to sounding like her remake of “I Want To Know What Love Is” rather than her amazing rework of “Against All Odds.” There is also the absurdly titled “Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can’t Give Up Now)” which sounds like a reductive version of her “Can’t Take That Away”(Mariah’s theme). “Make It Look Good” is a sexy slinky groove that has a “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” vibe to it.
We know that Mariah goes from boudoir to decadent diva on her albums, but the up-tempo tracks don’t bring any true life to the snoozy set. Beginning numbers “Faded” and “Dedicated” try to bring Mariah back to her “Butterfly” days, but end up failing miserably. Ratchet romp “Thirsty” never becomes the “Obsessed” that it so desperately wants to be. Later, there is “Meteorite” which is a “blah” version of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” and “Money” which is a “blah” version of any other song that she’s done with a hip-hop artist. The upbeat numbers are nothing that hasn’t been done before by the elusive glitter bomb.
However, it’s not all bad: there are two tracks on the album that stand miles above the rest. “You Don’t Know What To Do” is a swinging disco-kissed number, featuring a spicy cameo by the fiery Wale. This sexy number is by far one of the most fun tracks Mariah has done in a long time. Lead single “#Beautiful” is another standout jam. They are what this album should have been: fun.