Wow, time is moving on when Mariah Carey's music is officially classic. This is back when she still had her last name, before the breast implants, before the 12 year-old meets eighties hooker outfits, and before she went hip-hop. What's strange is early Mariah was chopped up for being too plastic and pop. Now that she is the exact opposite, we all want the plastic and pop back!
While I think Butterfly (1997) is her best album, that was her first journey into hip-hop. Everything from there has been a too short miniskirt, washed-out blonde, Nick Cannon marriage, epic downward spiral. Mariah said Tommy Mottola was oppressing her and wouldn't allow her to do the music she truly "wanted" to do -- well, maybe Tom had the right vision, dearest Mariah.
If Mimi was coming to Tommy saying, "I have this great idea for a song about rolling around the floor and telling all these boys to touch my body -- then I will be in the video with socks up to my knees!" And, his response was, "No! Sing this song called 'Vision of Love' instead!" Well, thank God for that!
Mariah is an amazing songwriter, something she never gets credit for. Now, she seems to have lost nearly all songwriting creativity. Looking at the linear notes from Musicbox (1993), Daydream (1995), or Emotions (1991) -- she wrote or co-wrote practically every song. Something Whitney Houston or Celine Dion could never do. I wish Mariah the songwriter would return. I don't mean a vapid song like "Bye Bye", which she sang on Oprah and acted as if it was some lyrical masterpiece, but something introspective. She did it when she was twenty, why couldn't she do it at nearly forty?
No need to list her chart positions or album sales, her first four albums sold over twelve million each, two of which went Diamond (Daydream, Musicbox). Here are some of my favorite classic Mariah Carey songs...
"If It's Over" wasn't a single, but it was from the Emotions album, written by Carey and the legendary Carole King. This song is absolutely riveting: lyrics, melody, and her vocal. Compared to the 2008 Mariah, I don't even recognize this 1992 Mariah Carey. If this was oppression from her 'ole man then someone oppress her again! Check out this performance from the Grammy Awards -- straight soul music!
"Looking In" is a song you may have never heard, the last song on the Daydream album. It wasn't a single, but it's Mariah at her lyrical best with a subtle but strong vocal. The song is haunting with the lines, "She waits in insecurity and hides herself inside of me." She is giving me some Sade moments there. Check out the song below and ignore the trashy photo montage.
Even if you have never been a Mariah Carey fan, it's worth it to sit down and listen to this video clip in full of a 1990 Mariah singing "Vanishing". Hands down, this is Mariah's best song and probably one of the best ballads of all time. It's right up there with Barbara Streisand's "The Way We Were", Whitney's "The Greatest Love of All", and Aretha Franklin 's version of "Natural Woman". The difference from those artists is that Mariah actually wrote this song -- nearly twenty years later, "Vanishing" still sounds modern today.