Album: Mariah Carey – “Music Box” (1993)

OK so Emotions didn’t really do much for me. That’s a polite way of putting it anyway… but at least I had hope for the next few albums, which I knew contained a few of my all-time favourite Mimi songs. Happily the rest of Music Box is reasonable solid, and while it does wind down as we get through it, it’s certainly an improvement.

10 Dreamlover – I remember my sister playing this for me so she could introduce me to the whistle register when I was a teen. It still boggles my mind a little bit, but seeing how much she used it in the previous albums, I’m quite pleased she doesn’t use it much here. A gorgeous summery track, vocals aren’t overbaked and a lovely simple melody. All comes together really, a wonderful pop package that’s not cloying and still sounds pretty contemporary.

09 Hero – I know THIS is one of the biggies, but somehow I hadn’t really heard it that much until the X-Factor cover, though of course I was reasonably aware of it. It’s grown on me though, and while it’s a pretty straightforward ballad, it’s EMPOWERING and not oversung. could have done with a key change but what are you gonna do?

08 Anytime you need a friend – Another one that passed me completely by, I suppose it wasn’t one of her bigger UK hits, and crucially didn’t make it onto #1s which was the source of most of my Mariah knowledge as a teen. When I properly became familiar with it when “Greatest Hits” was released, it definitely felt like a lost gem. It’s not quite there for me these days but it’s still a solid song. There have been plenty of these downtempo gospelly tracks on the other albums, and especially on the last album they usually left me cold. But this is certainly an improvement on those.

05 Music Box – She has quite long songs doesn’t she? Annoyingly the longest ones seem to be the most boring ones – even if they had been 3 minutes long. This just goes on and on, is there a chorus? It’s just a load of STUFF. I am thoroughly bored by the halfway mark and I don’t recover.

06 Now that I know – Up-tempo thank GOD. It’s not her strongest one but I’m just happy for the change of pace. That’s pretty much all it has going for it though, it’s a pretty generic 90s uptempo pop song. The chorus tries its best but it just blends into the peppy mass of drum machines and sax samples. Doesn’t make much of an impact I’m afraid.

06 Never forget you – I was nearly tricked into thinking this was memorable, I think I’m just remembering something ELSE from the 90s. Doesn’t take a huge stretch to think of SOMETHING this sounds like. she’s lapsed back into the habits of singing about 5 notes for each syllable. This just plods along in a vaguely Boyz II Men waltzy style. The middle 8 is quite nice and she keeps it under 4 minutes but I’m not really interested in hearing this again.

10 Without You – OMG THIS IS THE SHIT RIGHT HERE. Her only solo UK #1 and a cover, but WHAT a cover, at least proves that it’s just the material that she’s singing that’s the issue so far, not the ARTISTE. Tearful school leavers disco memories… Really exercises her range, going from VERY deep to some quite spectacular notes later on. Now THIS is heartbreak *dies* I would kill to be able to ace this at karaoke, people falling to their knees weeping at my talent.

07 Just to hold you once again – Starts off quiet (here we go again) but thankfully builds up in a vaguely subtle fashion. Not TOO oversung, and while it’s not the most exciting song in the world it doesn’t make me want to doze/die either. Filler, but I’ve heard worse filler.

08 I’ve been thinking about you – Oh hello, some interesting synth riff to get things going. Quite sparse to start with, and that kind of works. The chorus is decent too, I love the synthy beeps going on here, like a breath of reasonably fresh air through the GUFF. OK I couldn’t place it as a single but I quite enjoyed this at least and it’s a welcome change from more ballads.

07 All I’ve ever wanted – Ballad again but a gorgeous little intro. Doesn’t really deliver after that though, but it’s a relatively slim 4 minutes long. The chorus is quite sweet, it just needs a bit more oomph from the production I think. Lovely middle 8 too, I feel a little bit CHARMED by that and the bridge into the final chorus. It feels like she’s singing a better more epic song than the production suggests, so it does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity.

06 Everything fades away – Final one now and thank GOD, this is so much more a chore of an album when you are just sitting here listening to it, instead of wailing away in the background. Another sluggish ballad to finish off (why change the habit of a lifetime?). It’s ALRIGHT I’ll grant you. Those deep-voiced men at the halfway point just sounds like slowed-down Mariahs somehow though, not like actual singing voices! Yeah not really doing a lot for me, and at 5 1/2 minutes long I’d rather this faded away a bit sooner (wordplay!)

PHEW! Well we’re GETTING there, certainly better than Emotions was, and there are a handful of KILLER HITS here, but as in previous albums it’s just totally BURIED under gloopy nondescript ballads. Frankly it needs a lot of sprucing up, I know her voice is/was amazing but it’s like she’s having to make up a lot of the space left by minimal production, instead singing the notes all over the place. The ones I’ve highlighted as my favourites seem to be the most straightforward melodies, it’s not that difficult is it? Well, let’s hope it gets better before the fans kill me.

Keepers for the iPod
– Dreamlover, Hero, Anytime you need a friend, Without you.

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