Obsessed with Mariah Carey
Emily Dore | Monday, October 12, 2009
Winner of Billboard’s “Artist of the Decade Award,” Mariah Carey was on top of the world in the 1990s. With the most number-one singles for an artist in the United States (only behind The Beatles worldwide), Mariah has claimed the title of third best-selling female artist in music history, iconic for a generation listening to her soulful tunes like “We Belong Together” and “One Sweet Day.”
But in 2001, this golden singer turned into superficial glitter, releasing albums of pure teeny-bop rock and squeals. She had a physical and mental breakdown and faced heavy criticism for her “vanity project” film, “Glitter.” Producing and starring in the flick, Mariah fought the reviews even before the movie was released, and today it is regarded as one of the “worst movies of all time.” To both critics and fans alike, it seemed that this pop princess had been dethroned, replaced by up and coming singers like Beyonce. Now at the close of the decade, Mariah is trying to regain lost prominence, with hit albums like the “Emancipation of Mimi” and “E=MC2.” Her newest release, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” promises to be her most self-revealing and personal album yet.
So how is this “Angel?” The album contains hit single “Obsessed,” currently topping the Billboard charts at No. 7. It debuted at No. 11, the highest for Mariah since 1998. Other notable songs include a cover of Foreigner’s ’80s anthem, “I Want to Know What Love Is” and third single, “H.A.T.E. U.”
Mariah’s songs have taken a pleasant turn towards hip-hop in the 2000s. “Obsessed” clearly demonstrates this, and the heavy beat and high-range vocals of Mariah have made it a surefire dance hit. Her cover of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” is an interesting take on a song so iconic for the ’80s. Replacing British voices with her own soulful croon, Mariah presents a gospel take on the song, with an accompanying gospel choir actually singing the refrain. Though entertaining, it does not, however, have the powerful emotion and heartache that Foreigner evokes so well.
Though claiming to be her most personal album, the lyrics in many songs question this statement. Songs like, “Up Out of My Face” and “It’s a Wrap,” seem like a step back to the old Mariah of high-pitched squeals and sugary girl sweetness.
And how personal could Mariah be getting with inane lyrics like, “If we were two Lego blocks, even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010, couldn’t put us back together again?” With an album cover that suggests a posing 16-year-old Miley in pink mini-dress and flowing hair, many had hoped Mariah would turn to more mature themes as such a weathered and successful 39-year-old vocalist.
Despite its faults, Mariah brings us tunes perfect for heartache and love lost, tunes we remember listening to in the ’90s. And her climb back into the charts reveals that she is back and ready to reclaim her role as top performing female artist of the decade.