Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm Migrating To Camp Mariah!

Mariah is the first big diva to deliver a consistently entertaining pop album in 2008. "E=MC²" is wildly uneven but it still manages to deliver a killer batch of soulful grooves, pretty ballads and mid-tempo jams. The album took me a couple of listens to get into but now I'm hooked. That's not to say "E=MC²" is perfect by any means. It's often repetitive, overly clinical and stays a little too true to "The Emancipation Of Mimi" blueprint. However, as an enjoyable slice of expertly-produced urban pop, "E=MC²" is hard to beat. Here is my track by track review:

Migrate Ft. T-Pain - 10/10

This insanely catchy party anthem makes me want to get crunk in the club and I don't even know what the hell that means! "Migrate" is a four minute demonstration of why Danja is currently the hottest producer in urban music. Unusual hooks (I love the quirky panpipes) blend with hypnotic beats and layered vocals to create an epic sound palette. Once you add Mariah's formidable voice and T-Pain's rap into the mix, you're left with a most irresistible concoction. That's not mentioning the fabulous lyrics that will no doubt have a lasting impact on pop culture. I've been wowing my friends all week by suggesting we migrate to McDonalds. Just don't make the mistake of declaring that you need to migrate to the toilet because that just drew blank looks...

Touch My Body - 9.5/10

I hated "Touch My Body" the first twenty or so times I heard it but the chorus eventually became lodged in my brain and I now consider it one of Mariah's better singles. The appeal of "Touch My Body" lies in its simplicity. The sexy lyrics and uncluttered, almost sparse production (courtesy of The Dream) make this breezy mid-tempo groove a memorable piece of pop fluff. Make sure you track down the awesome Seamus Haji remixes. Unfortunately, only one of them is available from Australian iTunes.

Cruise Control Ft. Damian Marley - 5.5/10

Mimi takes a brief reggae detour on "Cruise Control" with mixed results. I love the verse where she puts on a faux Jamaican accent only to sound like a crazy white woman who has just demolished a bucket bong but apart from that this effort is distinctly average. Damian Marley injects some life into the proceedings but even he can't revive Jermaine Dupri's sluggish production.

I Stay In Love - 8.5/10

Bryan Michael Cox has co-written some of Mariah's biggest hits over the past couple of years including the brilliant "Don't Forget About Us" and "Shake It Off". "I Stay In Love" isn't quite in the same league as those anthems but it does stand out as one of the few songs on "E=MC²" to showcase Mimi's fabulous voice to any great extent. Mariah has faced a lot of criticism for her vocal acrobatics in the past but I really think the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Restraint is a virtue but I'd like Mariah to drag out her dog whistle and really let loose every now and again. As it stands, "I Stay In Love" is a pleasant mid-tempo ballad. The song is actually quite sweet if you ignore the trashy lyrics about riding shotgun with the roof down!

Side Effects Ft. Young Jeezy - 8.5/10

"E=MC²" really does feature the who's who of urban pop producers. Scott Storch takes over the controls for "Side Effects" and delivers a hook laden anthem complete with electronic bleeps and beats. It's also one of the few songs to contain lyrics that venture outside the club or the bedroom. "Side Effects" is a none too subtle jab at ex-husband Tommy Mottola ("I was a girl you were The Man, I was too young to understand") and offers some interesting insights into their failed marriage. This isn't your usual urban pop by the numbers and it's all the better for it.

I'm That Chick - 9.5/10

This is probably what Madonna wanted "Hard Candy" to sound like before Timbaland turned her into an embarrassing Keri Hilson impersonator. "I'm That Chick" is an utterly infectious dancefloor anthem that can only be described as urban disco. Produced by Stargate, the Norwegian team behind Rihanna's "Don't Stop The Music", "I'm That Chick" is Mariah's most instantly appealing track since "Fantasy". With killer beats, lyrics that subtly reference smoking marijuana and a chorus more addictive than crack, this positively screams out to be a single! A hugely enjoyable dose of classic Mimi.

Love Story - 3.5/10

Jermaine Dupri needs to stop ruining albums with his coma inducing slow jams. If Mimi was smart she would have locked him out of the studio after hearing Janet's shiteous "Discipline" album. Instead she was left with this mammoth bore that stands out as one of the few truly rubbish tracks on the album. Skip this shit.

I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time - 9.5/10

Asian prostitutes finally have an anthem of their very own! Given the trashy title, I wasn't expecting much from "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" but it turns out to be one of the album's absolute highlights. A throwback to 70s soul music (someone please remind me which Debarge song it samples!) with a distinctly contemporary edge, this gem shows Mariah in a completely new light. Mimi really needs to explore this sound further in the future instead of simply treading water with mid-tempo grooves featuring rent-a-rappers. DJ Toomp deserves special credit for his fresh and inspired production.

Last Kiss - 5/10

"Last Kiss" immediately loses a point due to the unnecessary introduction by Janet's troll husband. The song itself is inoffensive enough but it could easily be slotted into any Mariah album since "Rainbow". If I want to listen to Mimi on auto-pilot, I'll just drag out my copy of "The Emancipation Of Mimi". "Last Kiss" is more filler than killer and really should be gathering dust on a recording studio shelf.

Thanx 4 Nothin' - 10/10

Yet another Jermaine Dupri production, "Thanx 4 Nothin'" stuns by not being completely shit. I hope Janet dildo whipped that troll after hearing this gem! "Thanx 4 Nothin'" follows Dupri's usual mid-tempo blueprint but it avoids his usual mediocrity with its universal lyrics and Mariah's heartfelt vocals. Everyone can identify with the subject matter and it's nice to hear Mimi finally let loose. The song is also jam packed with catchy vocal hooks and interesting production flourishes. A gem.

O.O.C. - 7.5/10

After a duo of slow jams, Mariah raises the tempo with a typically bouncy Swizz Beatz production. "O.O.C." is an enjoyable mix of samples, unusual hooks and meaningless lyrics that never really goes anywhere. Not that it matters. The whole point of "O.O.C." is to make people move and it more than achieves that goal. Given the number of different producers who worked their magic on "E=MC²", it is a surprisingly cohesive album.

For The Record - 8.5/10

Mariah finally unleashes the dog whistle - better late than never! "For The Record" is another collaboration with Bryan Michael Cox and this is a more worthy successor to "Don't Forget About Us" than "I Stay In Love". In fairness, both songs are very similar but "For The Record" has an almost haunting quality that "I Stay In Love" is missing. I love the strings and Mimi's vocal delivery. I have a feeling this will grow on me more with each listen.

Bye Bye - 0/10

"Bye Bye" is one of the most cynical and shameless marketing exercises I can think of. An obvious attempt to corner the mourners previously exploited by "One Sweet Day", expect to hear this abomination blaring out of a funeral home near you. "Bye Bye" would be completely vomit inducing if it wasn't so fucking catchy thanks to the ingenious Stargate team. I hate the fact that this shit becomes stuck in your head after the second listen. Who really wants to be humming a disturbingly saccharine death anthem on the way to work? "Bye Bye" has already been selected as the second single in America but I hope Australia is spared this appalling exercise in false emotion.

I Wish You Well - 3/10

A boring piano ballad that feels completely out of place on "E=MC²". It's nice to hear a real instrument after 13 songs of bleeps and samples but this is completely underwhelming and sounds more like a demo than anything else.

Heat - 5.5/10

I gave this an extra point for the crazy way pronounces Mariah at the beginning of the song: "It's Maaa-Rye-Aaah"! I'm usually quite a fan of's productions but this song sounds like something Fergie rejected for "The Dutchess". No wonder it ended up as a bonus track.


D'luv said...

Girl, if you didn't see the Mimi drama that happened today, come over and check it -- total diva scandal.

Nice review... I agree on most, but have to see that "Cruise Control" and its funk-reggae bassline have me smitten, and I really like "For the Record," too.

EXCELLENT assessment of "Bye Bye," though... let me rape the memory of dead people once more for a hit!

Jay said...

Given that E=MC[squared] + [a lot of other stuff, I presume the album title also alludes to the subtle airbrushing of peepee's "curves" which would be beyond fabulous!

Touch My Body is great - even if only just for the "sexy" video.. I like about two other songs off the album but have no idea which ones they are.

T-Pain seems to be on every album these days - I dread to think why Chris Brown calls him "nappy boy"...

tommie said...

I've started liking her thanks to Hagdogga fans.

But PTA has become so mainstream lately! I miss trashy aluminium divas being covered.

Mike said...

Hey D'Luv, I'm glad I'm not alone in my "Bye Bye" hatred! I checked out the drama and I can say is that shit makes me love Mimi even more!

Jay - The album is a grower. I only liked two or three songs after the first listen but I really like it now.

I agree, Tommie. PTA is a bit mainstream at the moment but I only write about divas I like - regardless if they sell millions or nothing. The likes of Dannii, Kylie and Melissa are my favourites, so obviously I'll write about them when they actually bother to do something. However, it's probably time to throw some Z-grade bitches into the mix. I just wish Bionda and Toy Toy would hurry up and come out of retirement!

Anonymous said...

LOL @ migratin' to the toilet!

It's a hot album. Mimi really brings it!!

Jennifer said...

Thank you Mike for hatin' life outta "Bye Bye", I don't understand why people LOVE that song, and as a long time Mariah fan, it's one of her worst singles ever! I know it's a personal song, yadda yadda but the way its constructed is just "been there, done that, yawn"

Oh, and I agree about "I'm That Chick", best song on the album next to "I Wish You Well" and "Lovin' U Long Time". I wanted more of this kind of retro throwback.

Great review and does it seems to you that Jermaine gave Mariah the "best" songs and didn't share the wealth with Janet? I dunno but that's how I feel! :)

I don't know if you're a BIG Mariah fan, but if you want a truthful Lamb's point of view you can visit my other blog:

I don't sugar coat shit on it, if Mariah trips and calls someone a "Bitch", I'm reporting it, not acting like it didn't happen!

Mimizlamb said...

Mimi iz da baddest bitch eva! PEACE

Paul said...

ah sigh. I am always shamelessly manipulated by songs like Bye Bye and it's kinda like a quick shag - it's nice at the time, but afterwards you just want to get it out of you, dispose of the evidence and run for the hills. I feel like Buffy knobbing Spike for liking this song, but what can i do? I'm just a cheap dirty whore inside. :)

Miss Halliwell said...

as stated in my blog...i hate MC's faux R&B style...i gave up after the genius of Honey. I thought it was a one-off, it's now her music-by-numbers formula...

I'm That Chick (with a dick) is obviously fabulous as are the Touch My Body remixes...But apart from that. SHAME ON YOU! You bitch! How dare you enjoy this drivel!

I banish you to Queensland for a fisting from Chrissie Lathem!

Mike said...

LOL - I'd gladly spread 'em for Chrissie but I would prefer to submit to Joan Ferguson! Mimi isn't usually my cup of tea either but this album is a lot of fun - and it sounds like "ABBA Gold" in comparison to "Discipline" and "Hard Candy"!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review:) E has really grown on me, first I didn't like some songs (I'm that chick, I've been lovin u long time) but now they're the ones I'm mostly dancing to. I think I wish you well is a good closing track for the album. I disagree with you about Last kiss but agree that Love story is the worst song on the album.

norvasha said...

dear mariah

hey wutz up my name is norvasha im 12 years old i luv u soooooooooooooooooooo much i don't care wut anybody says i am truly ur number 1 fan becuz i don't just like you becuz ur famous, pretty, and an amzing singer and song writter it's because i luv ur personality, sense of humor, and confidence i idolize you because u carry your self like a women or young lady should i want to become a famous singer, dancer, actress or model. but dancing and sing are my life and u insprired me because u made me want to fullfill my dreams and become a succes i don't want to be famous for the wrong reazons i mean money would be nice but i really want to do it becuze i want to show everybody how talented i am pleaze write back-luv ya and god bless ur gurl norvasha