Another day, another Mariah anniversary. On November 2, 1999 she released her seventh studio album, Rainbow. It followed in the footsteps of the Butterfly album in terms of leaning towards a more r&b and hip hop sound. But she still retained the pop and the ballads. Rainbow would be her last recording with Columbia Records. It produced two #1 hits, her 14th and 15th. A nice way to exit a record label. Here are its twelve songs ranked.
12. Did I Do That?
The question should be why did you do that. As in, why did you make this horribly janky song? She sings about the lousy guy she once dated and how she regrets the relationship. She should regret the lame lyrics, bad sample, and adding Mystikal and Master P to the production. Much like that ex-boyfriend, this song is not worth your time.
11. How Much
In theory, a Mariah/Usher collaboration sounds like a good idea. In reality, it’s lackluster. Their voices don’t mix well together and the song never goes anywhere. Not even the Tupac “Me and My Girlfriend” sample can help it.
10. Against All Odds
A fairly lazy remake. Not much has changed from the original Phil Collins song except for some unnecessary over-singing. The word “now” doesn’t need multiple syllables.
9. Thank God I Found You
TGIFY was Mariah’s 15th number one. However, this syrupy love ballad is one of her weakest. I don’t know why boy band 98 Degrees was featured. They’re nothing more than backup singers here. The remix with Joe and Nas is much better.
One of Mariah’s vocal strengths is her whistle note. It’s best, though, when it’s used sparingly. So, singing the entire chorus of “on and on” via whistle is a bit much. She could have used a lower register and still achieved the sexy mood she was going for.
7. After Tonight
This is a little too similar to “My All” from Butterfly. Both are ballads that rely on a Spanish guitar. We’ve been down this road before. But it’s a pretty song with great layered vocals that make it seem like she’s duetting with herself.
Mariah laments that she’s searched for security with the wrong people. A marriage to a patriarchal figure that was never going to work or friends who ended up selling her out. It’s a beautifully sad record. But there’s hope because she tells us that she’ll recover at the end.
A stalker ex-girlfriend won’t leave Mariah and her man alone. She keeps calling and hanging up and has even been pestering the dude’s mom. Mariah dismisses her with some signature shade, “Hey x-girlfriend, it’s too bad when you had him ya’ll thing didn’t work. But he’s all mine now so stop pursuing him before you get your feelings hurt”. She co-wrote this track with She’kspere and Kandi Burruss, the team behind TLC’s “No Scrubs”. X has a similar sound, but manages to stand on its own.
Mariah is crying over a breakup and unable to sleep, even though she has a new guy in bed next to her. Diva problems. This is a cool mix of r&b, hip hop, and a tiny bit of a jazz on top. Snoop Dogg pops up to deliver a smooth verse, tying it all together.
3. Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme)
Every true steadfast Mariah fan, including myself, has a story about how her music got them through a difficult time. She often writes songs about persevering, overcoming an obstacle, and believing in yourself. CTTA is one of those. She sings about people telling her she doesn’t matter at all, trying to break her down. But she won’t let them snuff out the light that she has inside her. It’s a message that resonated with me at the time and continues to inspire today.
Heartbreaker is a fun pop song with a dash of hip hop courtesy of Jay-Z. I especially like his “Want a piece of paper, scribble down I hate ya” line. Mariah easily built a bridge between the pop and rap worlds in the 90s. These days it’s commonplace for pop stars to feature a rapper on their songs. But she was one of the pioneers.
1. Heartbreaker (Remix)
As much as I love the original, the remix of Heartbreaker took the song to the next level. Mariah recruited Da Brat and Missy Elliott to add a new flavor. Brat kicks things off with her line, “Guess who’s back in the motherfucking house, with two big tig ol’ bitties for your mouth”. And Missy raps/sings about how she has “that good thang”. All this is done over a sample of Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun”. Once again Mariah takes elements of hip hop and makes it her own. That’s why she’s often imitated, but never duplicated.