Album: Mariah Carey – “Glitter” (2001)

So… Glitter. If Mumu’s career was looking shaky before, this must be the point where one of the wheels has fallen off and there’s sparks all coming out of the side. Aptly released on 9/11, this has achieved some level of infamy (whereas Charmbracelet just sort of got forgotten). Obviously, despite its several award nominations, it was the end of Mariah at Sony. But what did I make of the album? For a soundtrack based in the 80s, it does have a unique feel to it. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes (usually accompanied by rent-a-rapper) it’s bloody awful. Let us appreciate the astonishing artwork for a moment though.

08 Loverboy (remix) – God, we really don’t need this twice. The remix isn’t too bad really, and as much as this single exposed the desperation for Sony to get another Billboard #1, this isn’t TOO bad. It’s a fucking mess though, the first minute is just a cacophony of rappers going “uh-huh yeah”, electro-spazzes, Mariah doing a rather catchy “I love it, I love it” hook, and a random assortment of “WHOOOOAAAAAA!!!!!”. I can’t really tell what the verses are, everything is falling over itself and overlapping. Despite ALL THIS, I quite like it … call it a guilty pleasure. Don’t expect the same for the regular version though.

07 Lead the way – Turn the ballad genericity dial up to 11, it’s time for a jarring change of pace. Or just turn the clock back about 10 years, alternatively. It’s quite nice, but that’s as good as it gets. It does get going after a boring two minutes of diet-vox, and she wheels (and squeals) out some glory notes. I hate her whistle register when it’s just plonked into the middle of a song like it is here. WHEEIIEEEE!!! An average ballad with a template climax.

05 If we – The 80s evidently being reimagined, with the assistance of dirge-of-the-hour Ja Rule. Is this in the film? Sounds like an 80s soundtrack album crashed into a 00s Mariah RnB mini-album, with this coming from the latter. The tinkly music box melody is as much of a melody we’ll get, where’s the TUNE? I’m not enjoying this at all.

08 Didn’t mean to turn you on – Oh my! Sounds like Prince’s 1999 mixed with … actually no, just that. Despite this, I rather like this. Shades of Madonna’s first album, maybe a bit of Sonic the Hedgehog too. Here’s a tune at least, dripping in 80s tack. Poor Mariah is trying to cut someone loose with this rather blunt retort. Not a huge amount to, it, but it at least fits the spec of the soundtrack album, and the production is just wonderful! Really didn’t need to be 5 minutes long though.

08 Don’t Stop (Funkin 4 Jamaica) – Now, a first big flop for this project on the singles chart considering all her No.1s up to this point. Mystikal is such a one-trick-pony isn’t he? I actually quite like how this all fits together, sounds contemporary enough (or at least more than “If we”) and has a nice rhythm to it. This is sort of how I like her rent-a-rapper tracks, they are doing their jumping around and yelling, and she just pops up all smooth and measured for the chorus. Sounds more like a “featuring Mariah” track for the most part, but I quite like it and NO, I don’t know why. Another #1 debut fo’ sho’ though? Whoops.

07 All my life – This is sort of what Don’t Stop should have been like, while I liked Mariah’s bits on that, she didn’t have enough to do. On here she’s got more (maybe even too much) to do, and it does sound a bit wishywashy. Was this supposed to be a Janet track? I like the little flutey bits, but ultimately this doesn’t really go anywhere.

07 Reflections (care enough) – 3:21 is practically an interlude on this album. A pretty straightforward slowie, sung nicely. Is this about her, or is this from the film? Anyway, nice enough but… that’s about all I have to say about it.

07 Last night a DJ saved my life – Christ alive… this sounds like it should be a centrepiece to the album, but it comes out more like Ground Zero, the day the rent-a-rappers jumped the shark. If this was half the length, and was just Mariah and Busta, this could have been amazing I think. But instead it seems to be a well-sung cover version with the rappers spreading audio graffiti all over it. Busta isn’t too bad, but the others are just shouting their names, or going WOOOOOO-WEEEE!!!! or making explosion noises (WTF). The framework is there, that bassline is amazing. But talk about a FUCKUP. I can only give an mediocre mark, it’s a terrible song mixed with a great song.

06 Want you – I had to listen to this twice while writing this when it became clear that it just wasn’t sinking in. I mean it’s alright, just quite ordinary. The squelchy bassline is good, sounds quite different to a lot of the stuff I’ve heard from her so far. The vox only get a few moments to shine though, the song doesn’t really get off the ground. The guest vocalist (Eric Benet? Who?) is good though. It’s alright, just that.

09 Never too far – Oh I’m all sentimental now, I remember watching this on MTV Hits as a rubbish just-about-teen-gai. Definitely a distance ahead of the other sludgy ballads. I like how the rhythm creeps in after the first few lines, it all just flows nicely. A few nice glory notes in each chorus too … in fact this sounds like a Whitney song, doesn’t it? KEY CHAAANGE … yes it’s quite basic stuff but I really enjoy this. Then that last note! Now THAT is where I like to hear the whistle register, when there’s nowhere else higher to go. That last long note is pretty epic too. LOVE THIS.

08 Twister – Love that sort of drifting-back-to-Earth intro, with some rather strange lyrics (or at least, strange to anyone other than Mariah). It’s a short track, nearly a third of the length of “Last Night…”, and that works well in this context. Quite sparse but the arrangement works well. OK the whistle note is shoe-horned in (“look, I can still do it, SCREEEE!!!!!!!”), but it’s decent. Please just finish the album NOW.

07 Loverboy – Oh… so close…WHOOOAAA!!!!!. Actually I don’t know what I was talking about earlier, this is a good version in its Mariah content. I just wish for the best of both worlds between this and the remix (i.e. this plus some electro spazzes). The chorus halfway is still a mess though. Who thought this would be good for a lead single? Did they really think this would have the same impact as Heartbreaker?

So that’s out of the way. Not quite the ordeal I had prepared for, but certainly not short on moments I’d rather forget. In fact I think I was doing alright just knowing the singles, with the exception of “Didn’t mean to turn you on”. The rappers really did drag this one down, a bit sad considering how she’d just about got it right up until now. Particularly “Last night a DJ saved my life” is a nightmarish extreme example of this, a good song completely trampled by rappers shouting their names for nearly 7 minutes.

Despite all this, I wouldn’t call this album unlistenable, just inadvisable as an entry-level Mariah album. At least it gets better … doesn’t it? PLEASE TELL ME IT DOES.

Keepers for the iPod: Loverboy (remix), Didn’t mean to turn you on, Don’t stop (Funkin 4 Jamaica), Never too far.

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