If you haven't heard, Mariah aka, MC, aka Mimi, aka, The Elusive Chanteuse, has announced the title of her upcoming new album (pictured above) Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse, slated to drop May 27.
Okay, first of all let me start this off by saying I have been a Mariah fan--a lamb if you will--since forevah. We're talking since the "Hero," "Fantasy" and "Always Be My Baby" days. But ever since, say, The Emancipation of Mimi, (though I'd argue the Glitter soundtrack and Charmbracelet had their bright spots) the woman appears to have completely lost the plot musically and aesthetically.
In the Nineties and early Aughts, it was all about the music; the wailing runs, the idiosyncratic 'shoo be doo"-style harmonies or intricate counterpart vocals (see "Breakdown" for an example), accompanied by lyrics that could, admittedly, sometimes veer toward schmaltz, but could also be intensely personal and inspirational (think "Vanishing," "Looking In," "Butterfly," "Outside," "Close My Eyes," "Sunflowers for Alfred Roy"). In other words, Mariah was interested chiefly in being an artist, quirks and all, and her singles and albums reflected this.
Now it feels like she's so focused on being trendy and current that she's sacrificed lyrical quality. I remember the first time I heard "Touch My Body," and cringed at the many of the lyrics--"I want you to caress me like a tropical breeze," and "all up in my business like a Wendy interview" come to mind--but it was hella catchy, and I figured Mariah was just in a throwaway kinda mood and would find her way back to pop/R&B glory. Sadly, I was mistaken. Yes, she's released some fun tracks in the last five or six years, but can you say with a straight face that "Obsessed," "HateU" "Up Out My Face" or her latest, "Mine," can stack up to any of her 90's classics?
And speaking of "Mine," I'm sorry, but a shirtless Trey Songz aside, I was not here for a video full of Mariah giving come-hither glances to the camera while throwing her hair back a la this:
I get it: you were young, and Tommy had you on lock down personally and professionally, so once the divorce papers were filed, you had the freedom to do and be whatever you wanted. But what started as a sexier change in image has become almost an obsession. A prime example: her appearance at BET Honors, where her uber tight gown got all the press instead of her vocal performance (which came under its own scrutiny, though I'll give her the benefit of the doubt).
Every appearance, every video, every photoshoot, Mimi is preening, posing and screaming "Look at me, look at me! I'm a sexy Hello Kitty!" to the point where it's a distraction from her work. Take the cover of her new album for instance; it's not particularly striking or dramatic or even that glamorous. She might as well be posing for some random calendar. The right move would be to swap it out for the back cover, a self-portrait she drew when she was three years old. It's quirky, personal and tells a story. But since sexy trumps artistry, that ain't hapennin'.
Then there's the business of this new nickname/album title. Mimi and MC were cute plays on her name and initials and all, but The Elusive Chanteuse? Girl who are you supposed to be, Kate Bush? Sade? When have you ever been elusive? It'd be like Madonna or Janet naming their next album The Nun. Simply naming the album Me. I Am Mariah... and including the self-portrait would do a much better job of making us feel as if we're going to learn more about you, and experience a different side of your personality. Who knows, maybe it'll drop in a few weeks and blow my mind. But right now, I'm not holding out much hope.
Anyway, listen to Mariah explain a bit about the album below.