Glitter was an epic disaster that nearly destroyed Mariah Carey’s career. That’s a dramatic statement, but it’s true. Up until 2001, Mariah was on top of her game, releasing one multi-platinum album after another and racking up fifteen #1 singles. Then she decided to try her hand at acting. Glitter (originally titled All that Glitters) is A Star is Born-like story about Billie (Carey), an aspiring singer in 1980s New York, who meets Dice (Max Beesley), a DJ who helps to propel her career as his own is flailing. There’s romance, drama, and lots of great music from the era. Good idea in theory, but horribly executed. The movie bombed and shortly before its premiere Mariah suffered a very public breakdown. The press had a field day roasting her downfall. The one good thing to come out of this mess was the soundtrack to Glitter. Unfortunately, it was released on 9/11 and was pretty much ignored. But it’s still a great album that just happened to get overshadowed by a bad movie. Hopefully people can appreciate it all these years later and see how ahead of the curve Mariah was by revisiting the 80s in the early 2000s.
11. Don’t Stop (Funkin for Jamaica)
You know what this song needs more of? Mariah. It’s Mystikal rapping for two verses while Mariah sings the hook. Yes, she comes in strong near the end, but it’s not enough. The original version, “Funkin for Jamaica”, is much better.
10. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
Similar to “Jamaica”. I could have done with less Busta Rhymes. At least Mariah sings more here. Nice bass line too.
She wrote “Twister” about her friend who committed suicide. It’s a beautiful tribute.
8. Want You
You’re enveloped by powerful synthesizers and layered vocals on this r&b jam. Plus, Eric Benet is a good match for her musically.
7. Reflections (Care Enough)
Billie’s song lamenting being abandoned by her mother, as a child. A lovely sad melody
6. Never to Far
A big sweeping ballad with an amazing belting note at the end. Loooooooove! Billie sings this after Dice is killed…sorry for the 20 year old spoiler.
5. If We
Mariah collaborates with Ja Rule and Nate Dogg on this seductive track. A winning trinity. It should have been a single, but there was drama behind the scenes. More on that later.
4. I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On
Mariah is living her pop dance diva fantasy on her cover of Cherelle’s 1984 hit. She’s flirty and coquettish, enticing you to get on the dance floor. But, she’s not to blame if you get turned on.
3. All My Life
Rick James wrote “Life” and you can hear him all over it. You would think it came from his Street Songs album. He brings out a certain spicy sexy side to her that you don’t usually hear. A Mariah Jane girl.
2. Lead the Way
Mariah shows some restraint on the first two verses, but when the bridge comes along she takes off. She scales the high notes with her vocal agility, leading the way for every “female entertainer” that comes after her. Simply gorgeous.
1. Loverboy (Original & Remix)
When Mariah initially recorded “Loverboy” she sampled an obscure song called “Firecracker”. Unfortunately, her ex-husband, Sony Chairman Tommy Mottola, heard the track and stole the sample for Jennifer Lopez’s song “I’m Real”. Mariah had to scramble to remake “Loverboy”, ultimately choosing Cameo’s “Candy” as the basis for the song. Mottola took his douchebaggery up a notch when he hired Irv Gotti to produce a track for JLo and Ja Rule, just like what he’d done on Mariah’s “If We”. That became the “I’m Real (Remix)” which was an enormous hit and thus made it so Mariah couldn’t release her own duet with Ja Rule.
Having heard both versions of “Loverboy”, I’ll say the Cameo sample works better. It takes you back in time and the addition of Ludacris and Da Brat on the remix brings in a modern hip-hop flair. “Loverboy” wouldn’t reach #1 on the charts, but it came in at a strong #2. It was the biggest selling single of 2001, proving you can never count Mariah out. Or as Da Brat raps, “Hate on me much as you want to. You can’t do what the fuck I do. Bitches be emulatin’ me daily.”
Posted at 12:01 pm by Geoff, on September 16, 2021
Thirty years later and I’m still feeling emotions. Mariah Carey followed up her multi-platinum Grammy winning debut album with Emotions. Rather than repeat herself, she tried different sounds and worked with new writers/producers. The result is a strong collection of songs that capture that fantastic early 90s moment.
10. You’re So Cold
Mariah is dealing with a fboy here. He treats her horribly, playing with her mind and, yet, she keeps coming back for more. She can’t resist his fire-like kisses.
9. The Wind
Mariah listened to jazz when she was a child so it’s not surprising that she would incorporate it into her own music. She channels Billie Holiday in this somber song about loss.
8. To Be Around You
I like how “Around” starts off slow before kicking into a house beat. David Cole and Robert Clivilles definitely put their stamp on it. They bring out a fun playful side of Mimi.
7. And You Don’t Remember
You know you’re in for a sad love song when the first line is “shattered dreams”. Depressing yet beautiful.
6. So Blessed
This sounds like it could be a cover of a standard from the 60s, which is a testament to Mariah’s voice and writing.
5. Til the End of Time
I love the synths here and the ethereal melody. She sings about praying for a love that will come and save her life. The outro with all the harmonies goes on for a while, which is a good thing.
4. If It’s Over
Mariah worked with her idol Carole King on “Over”. If anyone knows how to craft a song about the end of a relationship, it’s her. This has a Tapestry for the 90s feel.
3. Make It Happen
If you need some inspiration, look no further. Mariah tells us that if we believe in ourselves we can make it happen. It’s her story too. She had a dream and kept powering through until she achieved it. The gospel choir puts an exclamation point on the message.
2. Can’t Let Go
The best ballad on the album. Her vocals, mixed with the background singers, are so lush. My favorite part is the bridge where she really goes off.
The title track bursts through the doors with an exuberant disco sound. She’s in love, she’s alive! Her whistle notes are earth shattering and plenty, but it’s not a gimmick like some thought. How else do you express how high on love you are? Fittingly, “Emotions” ascended to the top of the charts, becoming Mariah’s fifth #1.
So tell me what you want, what you really really want! I’ll tell you what I want…to celebrate the anniversary of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. Twenty-five years ago the girl group burst onto the pop music scene with their first single. Released in their native UK, the song quickly rose to the top of the charts there before doing the same in the US. The infectious track explained everything you need to know about the quintet (Ginger, Scary, Baby, Posh, and Sporty). They were all about fun, friendship, and, most importantly, Girl Power! What’s better than that? Although the Spice Girls may not be together anymore, “Wannabe” continues to live on. Zig-a-zig ah!
Diana Ross debuted her single “Thank You” today. This is the first time in 15 years that she has put out original music. Interestingly, the song sounds fresh and modern while also retaining the vibe of her 70s tracks. The melody and production contribute to this feeling. Lyrically, she sings about how grateful she is to have been given so much love and support over the years. It’s a beautifully positive message. “Thank You” comes from the album of the same name that is set to be released this fall. I’m looking forward to hearing more new music from Ms. Ross.
“The Lady in Red” danced (cheek to cheek) onto the soft rock scene 35 years ago this month. Chris de Burgh was inspired by seeing his wife across a crowded room looking gorgeous in a red dress. But it’s not just an ode to a pretty woman. It’s about cherishing an important person in your life and not taking them for granted. His voice and the synths come together to make a beautiful song, so it’s not surprising that this was a huge hit. You’ll never forget the lady in red.
Paula Abdul’s 1988 debut album, Forever Your Girl, was a huge success. It topped the Billboard charts, sold seven million copies, and launched four #1 singles (a record for a debut album). There must have been a great deal of pressure to match these achievements with her next project. Luckily, she met critics’ and fans’ expectations with Spellbound in 1991. Paula proved she wasn’t a one-album wonder with this new multi-platinum collection of songs.
11. To You
Too cutesy. It sounds like it was written for a teen act. Could have been left off the album.
10. Rock House
There are a lot of issues packed into this message song. Poverty, greed, war, and hunger. Paula couldn’t just choose one. Her solution is to “shut up and dance”. Sure, ok.
The album’s title track is just alright. Not as spellbinding as the others.
8. Alright Tonight
Paula takes us to Carnival with this upbeat dance track. It’s fun and unexpected.
Prince wrote the sexy “U” for Paula and you can hear his purple influence all over it.
6. Promise of a New Day
I always thought “Promise” was about preserving the environment. Probably because of the nature-filled video and the lyrics about eagles and such. In any case, it’s catchy.
5. My Foolish Heart
Paula’s foolish heart won’t allow her to let go of a guy who’s treating her badly. This is a really good song that could have been a single.
4. Will You Marry Me?
If you’re going to propose to someone this is what you need to play in the background.
3. Blowing Kisses in the Wind
Paula is trying to hold onto a relationship that is falling apart. She’s giving all her love to her man, but he’s cold in return. It’s a very pretty, sad ballad. I love the music box melody.
I’m in a funky way. “Vibeology” is a wild dance track. A mix of 90s club and big brass band. She sings about a man that has her “pumped in the groove” and “horny hard”. Ok then. Go Paula, Go Paula!
1. Rush Rush
Before focusing on singing, Paula was known primarily as a dancer/choreographer, so most of her early music was upbeat. When it came time to put out the first single from Spellbound, she threw a curveball with the ballad “Rush Rush”. Totally unexpected and the perfect choice. It’s a gorgeous love song: her voice, the melody, and those violins. Everything comes together beautifully. The Rebel Without a Cause rip-off music video co-starring Keanu Reeves was the icing on top. Paula cemented her place in the pop music world.
Back in 1986, “That’s What Friends Are For” was named the #1 single of the year by Billboard. But the history of the track actually goes back a little further. Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager wrote “Friends” in 1982. At the time, Rod Stewart recorded it for the movie Night Shift. He did an ok job with it, but something was missing. That something being Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Gladys Knight.
The quartet got together to record their own version in 1985 as a charity single to benefit AIDS research. Adding their energy and retooling the arrangement made the song infinitely better. Dionne starts it off with her distinctive vocals, Stevie brings in the harmonica, Elton’s on the piano, and Gladys wraps it up strongly. Their voices and styles mesh really well together. It’s not surprising that this was a huge hit, winning the Grammy for Song of the Year. And even better, it raised much needed funds for a worthwhile cause. Keep smiling, keep shining.
Twenty years ago, “Lady Marmalade” gitchie gitchie gitchie ya-ya’d onto the scene. This was actually a cover of the song that dynamic girl group Labelle made famous in 1974. Flash forward to 2001, where superstar Missy Elliott produced a remake for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. It was an appropriate choice considering both the song and the movie featured prostitutes. And a little bit of French. Missy assembled an impressive lineup of singers for the project and gave each woman a chance to shine. Mya kicked it off with her light silky vocals. Pink followed with her rocker style. Lil’ Kim broke it down with a rap, “We independent women, some mistake us for whores/ I’m sayin’, why spend mine when I can spend yours?” Then Christina Aguilera brought it home with roaring vocals that were bigger than her hair in the music video. When you added in Missy’s bombastic production you had a remake that equaled the greatness of the original. A rarity. Just like in 1974, the track went to #1. It also earned the quartet a Grammy. Hey sistas!
A love song that doesn’t care about “I love you”? It’s not such a crazy concept actually. Extreme’s “More Than Words” is an ode to a show me, don’t tell me kind of love. It’s easy to give someone a verbal confirmation, but to prove how deeply you feel with your actions is more powerful. “More than words/Is all you have to do to make it real/Then you wouldn’t have to say/That you love me/Cause I’d already know.”
Those lyrics matched with a smooth acoustic guitar came together to form a beautiful song. It also marked a departure for Extreme. Up until then they were known as a hard rock group, but going the ballad route really put them on the map. The single went to #1 in the US and several other countries in 1991. At that time, I remember it being played at every middle school dance. I didn’t care much about slow dancing, but I loved hearing that song. Still do.
In 1971, Carole King released her landmark album, Tapestry. It’s the perfect name for the mix of rich beautiful songs she crafted. Up until then Carole was known primarily for being a songwriter, creating memorable hits for other artists. Tapestry allowed her to step fully into the spotlight as a singer. The album stayed on top of the charts for 15 weeks, launched two #1 singles, and won 4 Grammys. Lets wrap ourselves up in Tapestry and take a look back.
Like a fairy tale set to music. You’re not quite sure what she’s trying to say or how you should interpret it. Not a bad thing. The melody is quite pretty.
11. Smackwater Jack
SJ sounds like an old folktale you’d hear growing up about outlaws and lawmen. It’s fun.
An inspiring ode to self-confidence and loving yourself. If you believe you’re beautiful and put that out into the world, the same energy will come back to you.
9. Where You Lead
Carole is so devoted to her man she’ll follow him anywhere. The right person is worth trekking across the world for.
8. Home Again
“Snow is cold, rain is wet”. It’s a simple lyric but you feel the pain and longing in her voice. Wanting so badly to be home and comforted.
7. Way Over Yonder
This sounds like a traditional gospel song you’d hear in church. Carole and the amazing Merry Clayton bring so much soul to it. I want to get to over yonder too.
6. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Carole originally wrote this for The Shirelles in the 60s, one of their biggest hits. This version is stripped down and raw.
5. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Of course, this song is always going to be associated with the Queen of Soul, but Carole wrote it. She pours all of herself into it.
4. So Far Away
We can all relate to pining for loved ones that are miles away. It’s gorgeous and timeless.
3. It’s Too Late
A sad song lamenting the end of a romance. They’ve outgrown each other and the relationship can’t be salvaged. I particularly like the line, “Somethin’ inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it”.
2. I Feel the Earth Move
Love feels like an earthquake for Carole. Everytime her man comes around her world starts shaking. It’s an apt description for a passionate new love.
1. You’ve Got a Friend
A heartfelt song about the power of friendship. I love her vocals and the beautiful piano arrangement. “Winter, spring, summer, or fall/All you have to do is call…”