presenting Mimi

June 27, 2005

As we all know, I have been a secret Mariah fan for years now. So when The Emancipation of Mimi hit the stores, I was faced with an existentialist crisis. Should I support her despite her Glitter days in the gutter, or just not bother since, well, after that low point there wasn’t any point anymore. (Okay, fine. I lie. I don’t exactly think it was a low point, since Glitter had Through the Rain, which wasn’t all that bad, and Lead the Way, which was quite nice I think.)

So, I decided to be very clever-clever and download the album first to see if I liked it! Very perfect-information and all. Hail the internet.

Okay. It’s a great album. So I bought it in the end.

Now it’s great in the Mariah sense, i.e. it has nary a hint of irony and Mariah’s diva-madness shines through and through (and through the rain). A sample of lyrics include, from the first single released, It’s Like That: “I came to have a party/open up the Bacardi/feeling so hot tamale” and “it’s a special occasion/Mimi’s emancipation/a cause for celebration” and (this is the most indecipherable) “them chickens is ash and I’m lotion”. Very helpfully, she has included a dictionary definition of ’emancipation’ on the CD sleeve, which should be helpful to all those (such as, perhaps, herself) who did not originally know the meaning of the word. One up for Mariah spreading the joys of the vocabulary of the English language. By the way, Mimi isn’t, as one would expect, her kabbala name (e.g., Esther-Madonna), but her childhood name most intimate to her. So in effect, she’s making her comeback by showing us her most private side. Somewhat tautological.

Yet she is a reassuring presence on the album, whether judiciously unleashing her trademark airy scream, in typical vibrato, on Fly Like a Bird (yes, the track is unironically titled Fly Like a Bird. As opposed to flying like, say, an aeroplane, or a bat), or lending her vocals to the chill-esque Stay the Night featuring Jermaine Dupri. Mariah’s lungs-of-adamantium are at work once again, but this time she’s got back into the flow by realising that while balladesque un-un-unironic pieces lauding one’s own strength, beauty and courage may have done well in the past, they ain’t going to work now. Consequently she has given us an album full of cool collaborations, slick as it is polished. She hasn’t lost her skills though: as mentioned, her trademark airy scream is still there, as is her quite amazing range (the transposition on We Belong Together is considered conservative), and her neverending lung capacity: thank god for Mariah! Who beats those other teenyboppers hands down. Kelly “Gasp-at-every-opportunity-to-take-a-breath” Clarkson, Diana “Hurricane” DeGarmo, etc etc etc, eat your hearts out.

So yes. Emancipation has received rave reviews all the world over, and for good reason: Glitter was a gutter that no-one, save Mariah, could get herself out of.


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