Wednesday, July 14, 2010

1990 Album Review: Mariah Carey - Mariah Carey (4/5)

Mariah Carey launched her career on a high note. Quite literally actually, for it was the soaring pitch of the final notes of her first single "Vision of Love" that set her apart from the pack of female pop singers she so successfully broken into. As the '80s concluded, Madonna, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson were the reigning queens of pop music--a circle that would widen to admit this lady in due time.

This debut isn't perfect, and in fact many of the tracks after the opening salvo feel like filler. After the buoyant fourth track, "Someday," there isn't another real standout until the closing #1 hit "Love Takes Time." But those first few songs--#1 hits like the dramatic "Vision of Love," tear-jerking "I Don't Wanna Cry" and why-wasn't-it-a-hit "There's Got to Be a Way"--are worth the price of admission.

The rest of Mariah Carey, while not bad, is actually kind of interesting. "All in Your Mind" and "You Need Me" are very of the late '80s/early '90s era, reminiscent of the sound Carey would later explore as "retro" on the Glitter album. "Sent from Up Above" compares sex to a religious experience, a trick Madonna did earlier and better with "Like a Prayer."

It's interesting to compare Carey then to Carey now. As a 20 year-old, she chased an older sound that found the sweet intersection between pop, R&B and adult contemporary. These days, at 40, she does the opposite, trying to compete with other pop/R&B singers half her age. I guess the grass is always greener.

Despite being a bit uneven, this album was a major launch for Carey, with all four of its singles hitting #1 on the Hot 100. The album was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy Award and, although it lost, Carey was awarded best female pop singer and best new artist. It was also the best-selling album of 1991 in the US.

Best: Vision of Love, Someday, I Don't Wanna Cry, Love Takes Time, There's Got to Be a Way


Paul said...

i think the UK got it right even though There's Got To Be A Way (surely the spiritual and lyrical predecessor to Make It Happen) only made 54. I absolutely love All In Your Mind though, still get goosebumps listening to it.

ww_adh said...

If "There's Got to Be a Way" had been released in the US, I'm sure it would have been a hit. We got "I Don't Wanna Cry" instead, which hit #1, so I guess it worked well. And with "Emotions" ready to go there wasn't time for a fifth single.