Those of you who know me might have picked up on the signs that I tend a little toward the obsessive side. If you have been reading the blog for a while you have probably seen evidence of my obsessions with Kelly Clarkson and Hillary Clinton on your monitor. Even though I don't talk about it a lot, I have been in love with Britney Spears since the sophomore year of my undergraduate degree when she was in that sexy, intense Pepsi commercial. I even bought her new album.
Well, as the first year of my Ph.D. program comes to an end, my 2008 summer obsession is setting in. I am ashamed to admit that Mariah Carey is all I can think about both night and day. My affinity for crazy people draws me to her, and in my warped head I can connect her with two of my best friends (Rhonda and Bil) who are both what I would affectionately call "crazy" and have gone on to become successful.
Mariah Carey has more Billboard #1 songs than Elvis Presley and is quickly encroaching on The Beatles' position at the top. She is now tied with Madonna and Janet Jackson for second most number one albums for a female artist, right behind Barbra Streisand. Her eleventh studio album, E=MC2, may be the best recording of her career so far.
The creative science-inspired title of the album is supposed to invoke notions that it is a sequel to her award-winning comeback recording, The Emancipation of Mimi. The album certainly has some of the hip-hop style, guest influenced tracks that were trademarks of Emancipation, but goes further because the lyrics are stronger and make a space for Mariah to show the strength of her voice. Her guest vocalists on this recording are T-Pain, Damien Marley and Young Jeezy.
A track-by-track discussion of what I consider the most notable tracks:
Track 1 -"Migrate" (featuring T-Pain)
This track is fun and feels the most like it could have come from The Emancipation of Mimi. It is one of my least favorite tracks. Although it kicks off the album by reassuring us that Mariah can still hit the high notes, I think I like T-Pain's contribution more than Mariah's vocals.
Track 2 - "Touch My Body"
This track put Mariah ahead of Elvis in terms of Billboard #1's. I like it more than I should with it being built on such silly lyrics as "If there's a camera up in here/ Then I'd best not catch this flick/ On YouTube."
Track 3 - "Cruise Control" (featuring Damian Marley)
I read a review that critiqued this song heavily for not making better use of Marley's appearance. I like the song, even though it is a bit weird to hear Mariah affect a slight Caribbean accent in parts of the song. The funniest line from the album is in this song.
"I've been told so many sagas
He brings the drama, six baby mamas
But uh oh, I can't resist him
Just want to kiss him I need cruise control"
When this song is realized as a single it will rise to the top of the charts.
Track 4 - "I Stay in Love"
This is one of my favorite three tracks off the album. It feels a little more like Mariah's initial work with a slightly heavier R&B influence than most of her recent offerings. The song showcases her voice in a ballad that avoids the boring Celine Dionesque-style traps that ballads sometimes fall into. This song is definitely preferable to "Bye Bye," which she released as her second single from the album. The song effectively captures the trapped feeling that can come after a relationship ends that one partner doesn't really want to end.
Track 5 - "Side Effects" (featuring Young Jeezy)
This may highlight my gay music taste but I have no idea who Young Jeezy is. I do, however, think that his contribution to this song contributes to the overall sound of the track. This was the first song from the album that got into my head and stuck. Admittedly it falls into my fascination with breakup songs easily, but it is strong and catchy. It highlights one of the cool production techniques used throughout the album: overlaying high-pitched Mariah backgrounds over a lower pitched Mariah lyrically solid foreground.
Track 7 - "Love Story"
This song is sweet, fun and very catchy. It is the only solid happy love song on the album and will probably be a hit if it is released as a single.
Track 9 - "Last Kiss"
This track falls into the same breakup-but-not-over-it song style that most of the solid songs from the album represent. There is definitely a "We Belong Together" and "Don't Forget About Us" vibe throughout the album.
Track 10 - "Thanx 4 Nothin'"
There needed to be at least one solid pissed off breakup song on an otherwise sad breakup based album. This is it. The song begins with a dedication to anyone who has ever been played. It doesn't do away with the sad tone that forms the basis for most of the tracks on the album, but it effectively uses lyrics and style that adds in a layer of anger and makes the track empowering.
Track 12 - "For The Record"
This track is my favorite song right now and has been played an embarrassing number of times since I bought the album. It is just well done and the lyrics are super solid.
I can't stop listening and singing along even though six years of show choir proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am tone deaf. I worry that the album's focus on bad past relationships and profoundly tragic sad lyrics may be causing me to have strange dreams about my ex-boyfriend. But it is deliciously tragic and I can't take it off repeat on my iPhone and iTunes.
If you haven't bought it or heard it yet, you definitely should. I promise this isn't like when I loved My December and no one else did.