Tarnished 'Glitter' a career nadir for Carey


September 11, 2001



Mariah Carey's recent hospitalization for "exhaustion" should not have come as a surprise: It's got to be incredibly hard work being a 31-year-old diva desperately trying to act 13, especially when there's a whole new pack of 17-year-olds nipping at your heels.

Having parted ways with Sony Music (where her former hubby Tommy Mottola ran the company) and signed a multimillion-dollar mega-deal with Virgin Records, "Glitter" was to have been the album that built on the aging Lolita's accomplishments in the '90s and took her career to the next superstar level.

But Carey temporarily derailed the promotional juggernaut when she was hospitalized in late July after a public breakdown that included a bizarre appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" and some disturbing "end-of-my-rope" comments that were posted on (and quickly removed from) her official Web site, www.mariahcarey.com.


Mariah Carey is famous for her own stylized brand of baby talk. The most amusing offering on her Web site (www.mariahcarey.com) is an annotated glossary in which she defines and illustrates the use of some of her favorite terms, including:

* "You Love Me": "All-purpose, any time phrase; a greeting, a goodbye or just something to throw into a pause in the conversation or to interject loudly while someone is speaking."

**"Complete and total mess": "A classic phrase at this point--referring to anything getting on one's nerves or just said as a casual throwaway when the explanation is too long."

* "Yeah, and hey": "Said together as a verbal pause in the following ways: 1) Sometimes while resigning due to the realization that you can't change something or someone (i.e., 'whatever')--not said angrily, though. 2) A random transition, said slowly (i.e., 'yeah... and hey--'). Here 'yeah' is a tone or two higher than 'hey' and it is necessary to pause between the 'yeah' and the 'and.' 3) When a hush falls upon a crowd of two or more people, it is also appropriate to say. We all know why!"

* "Lamb": "A term of endearment, e.g. 'You're my lamb' or 'Hey, lamb!,' when addressing a loved one or close friend. My use of this term originated from a story told to me by the 'Grammy-nominated Trey Lorenz' dating back a few years, which would not be politically correct to repeat!"

* "Chops": "A derivative of 'lamb,' e.g., 'Hi, chops!'--the male variation on the same theme. This does not mean you cannot call a girl 'chops' or a boy 'lamb.' They're unisex."

The postponed album finally arrives in stores today. And instead of looking forward, we find the Long Island-reared singer with the much-touted five-octave range reveling in '80s nostalgia and tired, retread sounds that are unlikely to excite a young pop audience that has been getting its kicks from Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

"Glitter" is intended to cross-promote the movie of the same name, which Carey says was inspired by '80s films such as "Fame," "Flashdance" and "Grease" (though its thinly veiled autobiographical plot actually has more in common with "The Bodyguard"). In it, she portrays a "troubled young artist" named Billie who, despite her talent and success, cannot get over the fact that she was abandoned as a child.

Collectively, now: Awwwwww.

If this sounds uncomfortably close to the always-fatal millionaire pop-star lament ("Sure I'm fabulously wealthy, but nobody really loves me!"), we'll have to wait to see how it plays out on screen when the movie opens on Sept. 21. As a lyrical conceit, though, it's inspired: It allows the fully mature Carey to coo about typically shallow pre-adolescent concerns without appearing ridiculous because she can claim that she's just portraying her character, Billie.

A sample, from the stiffed single "Loverboy": "Ah, my girl/Got a new boyfriend/Yeah, yeah, oh/K-I-S-S-I-N-G."

Use your imagination and you can almost hear Barney singing that tune.

Unfortunately, the music hasn't been given nearly as much thought. Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, DJ Clark Kent, and DJ Clue and Damizza (both veterans of her last outing, "Rainbow") have crafted a bunch of generic hip-hop-flavored dance tracks that serve as uninspired canvases for Carey's celebrated vocal trilling. The best hooks are all borrowed, and they haven't been improved upon.

Nicking a loop of Cameo's 1987 hit "Candy," the single "Loverboy" just leaves you wanting to hear the original, while Carey adds very little to her covers of "Didn't Mean To Turn You On" and "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life."

And co-stars Da Brat and Ludacris don't provide nearly the street cred that Jay-Z brought to "Heartbreaker."

Of course, Carey always sinks or swims on the strength of her ballads, and "Glitter" includes a passel of 'em. "Lead the Way," "Never Too Far" and the rest are as syrupy, melodramatic, and overwrought as ever--which means that her fans (whom she insists on calling "lambs") may well love them, providing that their affections haven't been stolen by other divas who can't pay musical homage to the '80s because they were still in their cribs at the time.

Either way, the music is overshadowed by and not nearly as interesting as the public drama of Carey's attempted comeback.