Me. I Am Mariah … the Elusive Chanteuse (to be released May 27, 2014)
Another Mariah album, another bizarrely immature album title. Mariah has gone from Daydreams and Butterflies to Rainbows and Charmbracelets.
For her 14th work, we get the grammar-slaughtering Me. I Am Mariah … the Elusive Chanteuse. Yep.
I’ll give her a break this time, though. The first part of the title borrows from a self-portrait Mariah drew at 3 1/2 years old. It also serves as the album’s theme, reflecting her growth as a musician, mother and woman.
The second part of the title, the “Elusive Chanteuse,” is a little misleading. Mimi isn’t elusive here at all. In fact, Mariah is right at home in familiar territory. Everything that made her a superstar is very visible, as clear as day.
The album opens with “Cry,” a ballad that sounds like it was plucked right of Mariah’s Music Box. Her voice still soars with the angels. The gentle “Camouflage” is pretty much just keys and her trademark octaves, showing that her voice is still once of the best to grace our ears.
Mariah’s at her best when she doesn’t try to get overly fancy. The soulful “Make It Look Good” features a harmonica that goes hand-in-hand with Mariah’s vocals. Even her twins get a little studio time on the heartwarming “Supernatural.” And, as always, Mariah embraces hip-hop with “Dedicated,” a tribute to ’80s and ’90s trailblazers.
Mimi’s longevity can be attributed to her willingness to embrace musical trends but on this album, the results are very mixed. “#Beautiful,” her months-old collabo with Miguel, might be the best song here but she’s totally overshadowed by her own guest.
I’m sure the young’n’s will love “Thirsty,” but I’m not here for Ratchet Mariah, nor am I in the mood to hear Rich Homie Quan yelling in the background. Wale’s contribution to “You Don’t Know What To Do” is also slightly grating – maybe it’s because he borrows ODB’s classic line comparing Mariah to pacifiers. Who gave you clearance to use that, playa? The requisite gospel number “Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can’t Give Up Now)” also is slightly marred by the overuse of “yessir” tacked onto the end of every line. Mariah, we know you’re cool, you don’t have to remind us how hip you are every 10 seconds.
Me. I Am Mariah … the Elusive Chanteuse certainly is a reflection of Mimi’s career, showcasing both her strengths (that voice) and weaknesses (pandering to the younger crowd).
Mariah already told us she’s an Imperfect Angel, a description that fits this album impeccably.
But of all her weird nicknames, “chanteuse” will always be the most fitting. And the most accurate.
Best tracks: “#Beautiful,” “Make It Look Good,” “Camouflage”
3.5 stars out of 5