It has been almost five years since Mariah Carey’s last studio album (2009’s underrated Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and 2010’s Merry Christmas II You). Since then the singer has given birth to twins, affectionately known by her fans as “dem baies” and released several hit or miss (mostly miss) singles. But after three years of recording and rerecording, the highly anticipated final product is FINALLY available. Here is a track-by-track review of Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse.
1. “Cry” – To open the new album, Mariah gives us the type of Power ballad that made us fall in love with her 24 years ago. In the song, Mariah laments about lost love. Lyrically, the song in simple but powerful. Vocally, Mariah proves that she is still one of the best. If you love “Love Takes Time” and ” Never Too Far”, you will love “Cry.”
2. “Faded” – Next, Mariah hits us with a mid-tempo pop/soul ballad. Lyrically, the song focuses on more of the same, lost love. But vocally it’s a masterpiece. Mariah shows her phenomenal range and exhibits the short staccatto sassiness, the background whistle register, and that thing she does when it seems like she’s singing three notes at once. If you love “Yours,” you will love “Faded”
3. “Dedicated” (featuring Nas) – To quote Mariah, this song is definitely “for the nostalgia.” Featuring rapper Nas, the song is an ode to old school hip-hop and old-school Mariah circa the Butterfly album. Lyrically Mariah and Nas pay homage to some to hip hop’s greatest, like Heavy D, Slick Rick, and Wu-Tang. Mariah hits us with smooth vocals over a smooth beat. But she also brings the background whistle range back. And Nas’ verse is sick. This may be the summer jam of 2014. If you you love “All in Your Mind” and “Breakdown,” you will love “Dedicated.”
4. “Beautiful” (featuring Miguel) – This song has an old school vibe, but it very contemporary at the same time. Accompanied by R&B crooner Miguel, Mariah provides a strong vocal performance. Lyrically, the two singers profess their love my outlining what makes their lover beautiful. This is definitely a fun listen and a fan favorite. If you love “Dreamlover,” you will love “Beautiful.”
5. “Thirsty” – This song literally starts with the popping of a bottle. I love it. Lyrically, Mariah (or maybe this is Mimi) reads a lover who is trying to ride on the coattails of her success by “stuntin’ on Instagram.” Mariah’s falsetto over the hip-hop beat makes you want to dance immediately. This is a certified club banger. If you love “Clown” and “Migrate,” you will love “Thirsty.”
6. “Make It Look Good” – Another one “for the nostalgia.” The song even features a harmonica solo by the incomparable Stevie Wonder. Lyrically, Mariah sings about playing with player, just for the fun of it. Vocally, her interaction with the harmonica and vocal acrobatics from her lower to upper register is sun to listen too. The song highlights the playful side of Mariah. If you love “Touch My Body,” you will love “Make It Look Good.”
7. “You’re Mine (Eternal)” – Lyrically, the song is a throwback to The Emancipation of Mimi when she sings with a deep sense o longing and passion. The beat is simple. A soft piano and some punctuating drum beats is all it really needs. And Mariah’s soft vocals in the verses is a perfect pairing. If you love “We Belong Together,” you will love “You’re Mine (Eternal).”
8. “You Don’t Know What To Do” (featuring Wale) – This is another dance track. But less hip-hop club and more disco rave. The song starts will Mariah belting out an emotional intro before rapper Wale raps the first verse. The disco infused music is so catchy. This has serious Summer jam potential. If you love “Make It Happen,” you will love “You Don’t Know What to Do.”
9. “Supernatural” (special guest stars “Dembabies” aka Ms. Monroe and Moroccan Scott Cannon aka Roc ‘n Roe) – How cute are Roc ‘n Roe on this song? The two young Cannons laugh and sing and show off their extensive vocabulary on the song in which their mother declares her love for them. This is unlike anything Mariah has ever recorded. The cute factor is off the charts. But if you love “Always Be My Baby,” you will love “Supernatural”
10. “Meteorite” – This is another disco inspired track that is reminiscent of Mariah during the Clivelles and Cole years. Lyrically, Mariah provides commentary on the price of fame: “Meteorite, in front of every eye; A shooting star, Your fame is the flame; They watch you burn up, turn up, turnt up all the way.” If you love “Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise),” you will love “Meteorite.”
11. “Camouflage” – Mariah slows it down and shows us her more vulnerable side in “Camouflage.” In the choir backed balled, the singer laments her inability to be herself around an uncertain lover. Vocally, Mariah sings in her breathy lower register, which adds an emotional punch to the song. If you love “I It’s Over,” you will love “Camouflage.
12. “Money” (featuring Fabulous) – This mid-tempo R&B jam is an homage the the adage that money isn’t everything. The song which features rapper Fabolous, some cool sounding horse in he intro, and such lyrical gems such as “Money, this, that, the other’ Don’t mean nothing other than, Jets on holidays and chefs with Hollandaise.” If you love “It’s Like That,” you will love “Money.”
13. “One More Try” – This is a remake of the 1988 George Michael classic. The music is a bit more flashy than the original but vocally, Mariah gives a spotless performance that rivals the original. But the singer does add her own Mariahisms such as her classic high note, the riffs and runs, and the dramatic heartbeat at the conclusion of the song. If you love “Open Arms” you will love “One More Try.”
14. “Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can’t Give Up Now)” – Mariah closes the album by taking us to church. The song, which is dedicated to the late great James Cleveland, packs an emotional pack. With a full chair backing her, Mariah literally sings EVERY note on the scale during this vocal performance. She ends the song with an old school, hand clapping, acapella rendition of Cleveland’s “No Ways Tired” before belting out one of her whistle notes. (Yes, she ends on a LITERAL high note). If you love “My Saving Grace,” you will love “Heavenly.”
*Note: The Deluxe Edition of the album features re-recordings of “It’s A Wrap” and “Betcha Gon’ Know” from Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel, featuring Mary J. Blige and R. Kelly respectively. It also features the previously released track, “The Art Of Letting Go.”