Why am I finding this all so DIFFICULT? I thought I quite liked Mariah? Well at least we are making some progress and hitting some of my favourite singles on the way. Daydream isn’t the big breakthrough I perhaps thought it might be, but it’s a slight move away from some of the sludgy balladeering that dominates the first phase of her career. Not that we are totally out of that yet though…
10 Fantasy – OMG what an amazing start. I love this song, I had it on cassette single back in the day and it still fills me with WARM FUZZIES to this day. Upbeat and glorious and most importantly not oversung. It does rely on the backing chorus quite a lot, her singing often is just going on around it, but there’s the solid foundation of a really strong pop song here. The high notes are perfectly balanced, none of the overkill we’ve had before. That video too! AMAZING
08 Underneath the stars – Didn’t really know this one, the name is vaguely familiar. Normally these slowies are time for the shutters to come down in front of my brain, but this is quite engaging, and she STICKS to the MELODY for once. As a result it feels like a song that’s actually got some direction. OK so it’s not something I’m going to be humming in the shower or anything but it’s not a gloopy lump of boredom that I’m now on HIGH ALERT for when I listen to a Mariah album. Quite lovely really, but let’s not get carried away.
09 One sweet day (ft Boyz II Men) – Despite Louis Walsh’s protests (or was it Simon? I forget) this IS one of the ultimate smashes of all time. I did avoid overexposure to this back in the day, and as a result I still really like it. OK it’s not a hugely exciting song but that chorus is really lovely, and her voice is quite SUBTLE for a change. This is one of the top-class Mariah ballads for me, I’m sure many are sick to death of it, but I’m not there (yet).
09 Open arms – Another cassette single for me… I guess at the time I loved “Without You”, and this seemed like a close approximation to it at the time. Lightning didn’t quite strike twice but it’s still a pretty gorgeous one. I love how controlled her voice has been so far, all the glory notes without the excessive acrobatics to swamp it. I still feel very fond of this one, though ultimately it does live in the shadow of Without You in my head. It’s quite a basic melody I guess, but it does it for ME.
10 Always be my baby – Doo-doo-doop… dow… I LOVE THIS. I remember listening to this in the garden during that summer (another cassette single, WTF). Lovely summer camp video, I remember having this on tape from The Chart Show! I’m really feeling old now… Really chilled out and summery, one of my favourite Mariah singles I think. That is despite the acrobatics creeping into most of the notes, but I’ll let it slide. Still mid-tempo but finally something perky.
07 I am free – Slowie time again now, sigh … why does it always have to end this way? We aren’t even halfway through yet. I mean it’s all very nice but as I’ve said before, gospel leaves me a bit cold really, I can appreciate it on a very basic level, but it’s all a bit samey. Her extra-syllables have been saved up for this one apparently, with some ridiculous wobbling around on some of the notes. It’s ALRIGHT, with a decent keychange, but I can guarantee you I won’t be able to remember it 10 minutes from now. I’ll save its mark though for not dragging the whole album off a cliff like some of her gospelly songs have done.
05 When I saw you – Oh GOD the extra syllables have come out in force now, she might as well have called it “WheEEeeEEeN IIiiiIIiIiI Sawww YOoooOOuu” Those four words might escape the worst treatment but YOU GET THE IDEA. It’s a plain Jane of a song too anyway, feels like it could have come off ANY of the preceding albums, and that is NOT a compliment.
07 Long ago – Ooh what’s going on now? Trying to shore up a saggy ballad section with some bass-guitary RnB? After that last song it sounds like the most exciting thing in the world anyway. Well not REALLY, but I like the beat to it, has a smack of Bedtime Stories about it (I can’t believe that’s a POSITIVE in this instance, I thought that album was deathly boring). Not in a rip-off sense, mind, just a nice flavour. The fact that I’ve listening to this album about 8 times and I keep forgetting this even exists is a bit of a warning sign though.
06 Melt away – More slow jamzzzzz … great. If I was into this sort of thing I’m sure I’d be lambing it up with the best of them. I guess I’m not though. This isn’t really an exception, it’s got a niceish chorus but that’s about it. It has a nice layering, but like with Fantasy it feels like a great backing track but in places she’s just going all over the place on top of it. That might be good, but in the worst case I’m trying to TUNE HER OUT so I can listen to the tune. Not a good thing really!
08 Forever – YAK, I don’t even like the possibility of a song turning into Unchained Melody, and this skirts closer than most to that awful possibility. OK the chorus is quite sweet really, but that whole 50s swing thing is a bit grim. She’s done a lot worse but I’m not in a hurry to listen to this one again. Actually it does turn out pretty alright but still, doesn’t really push my buttons. I’ll round up a 7.5 for this one.
08 Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Sweet Dub mix) – What what? Dancey sidebar? Talk about out of place… a few squeals and we are into a standard 90s dance beat. Feels nice to hear one, but yeah … it’s an interlude, I’m not going to judge it as a proper song. Still, quite a nice change!
09 Looking In – And to finish (phew)… a slowie! Quelle Surprise! A quiet piano-led ballad that opens up quite gorgeously. Subtle without being boring, those strings that fade in, lovely! Quite short really, but shows off her voice without all the STUFF around it, as a result I’m actually LISTENING properly to what she’s singing. VERY DEEP. POOR MARIAH. Nice drama at the end, I can imagine her collapsing theatrically at the end, as the spotlight goes out *weeps*
So that’s another one over, and it didn’t turn out all that bad as I thought. Some major SAG towards the end though, but not as hard to get through as some of the dross I’ve covered already. I’m HOPING it will be more my cup of tea later on… *doomed*. But anyway, a really strong opening set, really wonderful. I just hope she can make a whole album as good as that.
Keepers for the iPod: Fantasy, One Sweet day, Open Arms, Always be my baby, Looking in.