Album: Mariah Carey – “Butterfly” (1997)

Fortunately we are hitting the late 90s now, when I was an INSATIABLE music consumer, and while I don’t think I owned any Mariah albums until #1s, I was always a fan of her singles. So what about the rest?

10 Honey – OHH. HOHHH. LOVE this, definitely one of the top Mariahs songs for me, still sounds pretty modern 15 years later. Ridiculous wonderful big budget video, great beat, minimal oversinging. Still can’t catch about 75% of the words but still very good. Could do without being reminded that “Mariah” is “On FIYAH” though.

09 Butterfly – A bit of a flop single here, wasn’t it? I can see why it doesn’t jump out as a single, but it’s a shame that’s how it went. Nice understated verses, and the choruses are gorgeous, not too overblown and … well, Boyz II Men. It’s not exactly a quantum leap forward from earlier sounds but a lovely melody and a memorable tune, what more can I ask for?

10 My all – Oh forget what I said about Honey, THIS IS IT. I fucking love this so much. Sitting here typing, it’s not totally clear why this was received so much better than Butterfly in the UK, but the important thing was that it WAS. Sure, she does the usual acrobatics but it’s actually part of the melody instead of a diversion from it, and I love that. The deep-voxed verses are amazing, the choruses are just spot-on. Sorry I can’t be more specific, I could just listen to this over and over (I kinda wish I WAS)

07 The roof – Well the idea that this was about getting some black cock on the roof was explained to me, and a look at the lyrics (I haven’t got a clue from listening) it’s rather PORNY. Doesn’t have the melody really to get me hooked in (sorry guys, that’s just what I WANT), but for what it is, it’s pretty good. Just not my cup of TEA really, but then I’ve never indulged in activites like that on the roof, though I can hear the pigeons doing that.

08 Fourth of July – A bit less EXPLICIT than its predecessor, though no less VERBOSE. A cute song, I think I need to be in the right situation to listen to this album, i.e. not sitting at my desk at work. Maybe lazing around the garden or something (God, how hard am I not getting this album?). Love the middle 8 though, it’s quite a gentle melody but not a snoozer.

07 Breakdown – Now this is the sort of RnB that doesn’t do a lot for me, but lyrically it’s a bit of a sad end to the last three tracks (which in my head are about the same relationship). The tune doesn’t really go anywhere, so I don’t know why I sort of like it. I know that’s probably enough to get someone to criticise me but that’s how I FEEL, I know they are WHITEBREAD OPINIONS but I AM who I AM.

06 Babydoll – Ugh did the producer just get a “Generic RnB sound effects” pack for Christmas? It might as well be ANOTHER LEVEL singing it for the identity it has, I just didn’t get on with this at ALL. Got knows why, isn’t it just about feeling frisky late at night? If NOTHING ELSE I should be able to get this… but no, ZZZZzzzz

08 Close my eyes – A little of the big-hair ballad Mariah raising her head again, and not a moment too soon. I really like this, it’s grown on me after the several listens I had of this album. Melodic and downtempo without being a mess of overbaked vocals that it could easily have turned into a few albums ago. This is still a new song to me but just reminds me of being 16 again, I haven’t quite sussed why. I don’t know, you didn’t need to know that but whatever.

09 Whenever you call – I was surprised to find this here, quite familiar as I remember it from #1s and just assumed it was an earlier track than this. Anyway a bit of classic Mariah, with a wonderful strong chorus, very memorable. Love the climax it reaches towards the end too, it would be too much for every track to be like this, but in a predominantly RnB album this really finds its niche wonderfully.

08 Fly away (Butterfly reprise) – Not really sure why this is in there, an unexpected bit of 90s dance mixed with the title track. It’s obviously a massive change of pace and while it sticks out like a sore thumb, I like it.

04 The beautiful ones – Oh JESUS CHRIST. Dig your grave and prepare to die. You can tell it’s a Prince song from a mile off, which is a bad start for me, I VERY rarely like him. Sisqo is alright I suppose, I could at least recognise his voice. But this drawn-out hell (7 minutes!) is just too much. It’s not a total dead loss but any brief spurts of interest are quickly drowned out by this massive pile of RnB overindulgence.

08 Outside – Why does the Butterfly reprise section off these two songs? Anyway, OMG I can RELATE finally, I can imagine as an angsty teen it would have been even MORE SO. OK the tune isn’t really that interesting until it goes all BIG at the end, but it’s a good effort. I am coming around to the idea of this as a decent closing track, but still seems a bit strange. Indulgent but gets away with it this time.

OK might as well face the firing squad, as you can tell I had a bit of trouble with Butterfly despite really wanting to love it. Front-loaded with some incredible singles, but then the rest is often from a sound that I don’t tend to get on with, and I still haven’t been persuaded. But a good effort, and a purposeful step out of big-hair Mariah territory (even though we find a few surprisingly welcome returns to that place). A little concerned of course that RnB is now the way we are going, but I’ll try to keep as open a mind as I can.

Keepers for the iPod: Honey, Butterfly, My all, Fourth of July, Whenever you call.

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