Am I the only one slightly disheartened by the photos of Mariah Carey back in the studio with Jermaine Dupri? Yes, any new music from the star is a blessing- I’m am literally palpitating at the thought of it- but I feel since the stellar success of We Belong Together, the pair have been stuck chasing past glories with song after song of similar sounding material:
I Stay In Love
In my opinion, Mariah Carey needs a new sound, a new direction, and certainly not another rehash of the mega selling album The Emancipation of Mimi- which I fear is the course we are on . Mariah took a risk with her last secular album, 2009's Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, and though it didn’t pay off commercially, critically it garnered great reviews.
For those who never heard “Memoirs” I urge you do so. The production was cohesive throughout- if a little flat- due to the Dream's 80's inspired electronic “style", but it showed a different side to Mariah Carey and her voice. Toned down was the "diva" voice and instead Mariah gave some of her most unique, relaxed, unpolished- but most importantly- emotive vocals too date.
Opening track Betcha Gon Know (The Prologue) was utterly convincing in its delivery of a woman scorned. As with much of the album, Mariah Carey left the breathy voice on the bench and sang in a direct and fuller tone. It was a revelation for those who said she'd damaged her mid-range.
The attitude of Standing O and It’s a Wrap-which should be noted is one of the few songs Mariah has written entirely on her own of late- is palpable, and displayed an edge often missing in the singers voice.
And for the whistle register lovers, Angels (prelude) had its vocal entirely formulated by the layering of those super high notes to create a magical lullaby.
"Memoires" flopped- compared to Mariah standards- because it was very niche in its sound, but I beleive it is possible for her to retain the critical acclaim and remain commercial without reverting to type.
Even if Mariah decides she wants to stick to RnB music with this album, she should at least mix it up by working with other producers. We've already heard how this approach can get more from her than when paired with Jermiane Dupri. Just listen to Migrate, Joyride, I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time or I'm That Chick to get a flavour of what I mean.
My dream collaboration would be for Mariah to work with Emile Haynie- responsible for most of Lana Del Rey's album- or the team, bar Ryan Tedder, who worked on Adele's 21. I think they could intelligently navigate Mariah's sound to a maturer middle ground. Effectively helping her continue the artistic growth she started, and stopped, with on Butterfly .
There is some good news about the new, as yet untitled, fourteenth album, though. Its been revealed Mariah Carey will once again be teaming up with Marc Shaiman. She said of the broadway producer, who she worked with on Merry Christmas II You, that he had been her favourite collaborator since Walter Afanseiff ( a man many thought got the best out of Mariah Carey). It's an exciting prospect as the pairing produced some beautiful music together:
Christmas Time Is In The Air Again [it feels so wrong to be listening to this in April]
This wasn't supposed to turn into such a rambling post, but this is what happens when I go on a rant. My point is Mariah needs to grow. If she comes back with the same sexy, schtick she's been peddling for the last decade she is going to flop. People want to see growth and change, especially now that she is a mother, and if they don't they'll probably react in the same way they have to Madonna's new music. Not at all.And we don't want that for Queen Carey.