Some divas age amazingly
well (witness Madonna or Cher), and some age very poorly indeed (hello,
Whitney Houston). The jury is still out on Mariah Carey.
The pop/R&B butterfly today
delivers a long-awaited gift to her faithful "lambs" by releasing her
much-hyped comeback album, her first since the 2002 stiff "Charmbracelet."
It comes complete with an oh-so-pretentious title: "Mimi" of the CD's title,
"The Emancipation of Mimi," is the star's nickname for her indomitable
"spirit," while the "emancipation" presumably refers not only to her split
from Virgin Records (or Columbia and former husband Tommy Mottola before
that) but from the troubles of recent years, including an embarrassing
"THE EMANCIPATION OF MIMI"
Carey always has had a
one-in-a-million voice -- one she's never been shy about showing off with
frequently annoying octave-spanning trills -- and her instrument seems to be
intact; witness the display of bravado on "Fly Like a Bird." But she would
have been well-advised at age 35 to stop acting like a coquettish party
girl. She tries so hard to turn us on with repetitive slow jams such as "We
Belong Together" and "Stay the Night" that she seems to parody a late-night
TV commercial for a phone sex line.
from "It's Like That": I came to have a party / Open up that Bacardi /
Feeling so hot tamale. Somebody get that girl some water, fast.
The diva has long
attempted to find a middle ground between the streets and the easy-listening
world of "Lite-FM," and the force behind this comeback, L.A. Reid, pairs her
with an impressive list of producers, including the Neptunes, the Legendary
Traxster, Jermaine Dupri and Chicago's Kanye West, as well as the obligatory
roster of hip-hop guests, among them Nelly, Snoop Dogg and Chicago's Twista.
But none of these talents delivers anything close to their best work.
Carey hopes to compete
with new-generation divas Beyonce and Alicia Keys, but that's an uphill
battle. Her influence is indeed ubiquitous -- nine out of 10 female
contestants (and some of the men, too) seem to imitate her on "American
Idol" -- but she was never convincingly "street" or cutting-edge, and she
certainly isn't now. She'd have been better off recording a collection of
Broadway standards -- they love trilling in that genre.
THE LIFE OF MARIAH
March, 27, 1970:
Mariah is born in Huntington, N.Y. She was named after the Kingston Trio
hit, "They Call the Wind Mariah"
1990: Releases her first
record, the self-titled "Mariah Carey." It sells 18 million copies
"Vision of Love" reaches No. 1.
1993: Her biggest
record to date, "Music Box" sells 28 million copies worldwide.
1993: She marries
Sony Music head Tommy Mottola.
obligatory Christmas record, "Merry Christmas." Single, "All I Want for
Christmas Is You" goes to No. 2.
releases "Daydream" and becomes the first female solo artist ever to have an
album debut at No. 1.
releases "Butterfly." It's her last album to go to No. 1.
1998: Appears on
the infamous "Divas Live" concert on VH1 with fellow screamers Celine Dion,
Aretha Franklin and Gloria Estefan. She was accused of holding the show up
and acting like, well, a diva.
"Greatest Hits" record fails to make a splash. It peaks at No. 52 and sells
a paltry 4 million copies
2001: She leaves
Columbia Records and inks a deal with EMI's Virgin Records for a reported
2001: She appears
on MTV's "TRL" scantily clad and acting all crazy -- and not in a good way.
She's hospitalized for exhaustion and begins receiving psychiatric
2001: She begins
dating Eminem. He dumps her, saying she's high-maintenance. She responds by
including a song called "Clown" on the "Charmbracelet" CD. (See 2003 for the
2001: Takes on
Jennifer Lopez in an interview. After finding out J. Lo sleeps eight hours a
night, Mariah says, "If I had the luxury of not actually having to sing my
own songs, I'd do that, too."
semi-autobiographical movie "Glitter" is released. Critics pan it.
threatens to sample some of Mariah's voicemails that she left on his
machine. He calls them "slushy."
Comparing Mariah Carey
to J. Lo has been done -- and honestly, unless it's a catfight does anyone
really care. So in honor of the start of baseball season, we've decided to
see how diva Mariah matches up against our famous Caray -- Harry, that is.
||Sometimes as many different styles as Elton John.
||Are you kidding? Clown glasses are smaller than
those thick lenses, Harry’s trademark. EDGE: Harry
||Critics hated “Glitter,” and so did moviegoers — it
was a box-office bomb.
||Better suited for radio. But his voice is part of
one of Chicago’s greatest movies, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” When
Ferris and pals hit Wrigley for a Cubs game, it’s Harry’s voice we
hear. EDGE: Harry
||It’s all about the butterfly for Mariah — from her
tattoo to jewelry to CD name.
||Any impression of Harry includes the line, “Holy
Cow!” EDGE: Tie
||She’s the best-selling female recording artist of
all time and the only female to have a No. 1 single in every year of
||When he could remember the words, he’d sing out
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Crowd favorite? You bet. On key?
Never. EDGE: Mariah