ARTIST OF THE MONTH: MARIAH CAREY
Mariah Carey's twelfth studio album "Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel" was released on September 29, 2009, by Island Records. She has sold a wallet-popping 160 million albums worldwide, making her the best-selling female artist. Given such success, Mariah hasn’t changed the formula much from her previous work. In a short article in the liner notes, Mariah describes her 12th album’s vibe as “R&B hip-hop with a lot of slow jams,” an accurate summary of what listeners can expect to find.
The lead single of the album was the Eminem-diss "Obsessed," the singer’s fortieth hit on the Billboard Hot 100; Carey sounds laid-back and cool here, rather than her usual overpowering self. The song was co-written by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart and Terius “The-Dream” Nash, also responsible for Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” among other hits. "Memoirs" is Carey’s least extravagant album, as the flow is as important as its tunes, and while Carey is still given to acrobatic vocal display is alive and well on the climax of “H.A.T.E.U..” Midway through “Inseparable," her more subtle vocal overdubs soften and strengthen those flights.
Even the more aggressive songs on this album than "Obsessed" is the fourth single, "Up Out My Face," in which she recovers via her now-ex-husband Nick Cannon's specialty, the drumline -- proceed with a laid-back nod instead of a disco spin. By the time the album closes with a run-through of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is " produced by Big Jim Wright and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart. The nostalgia for the cheesetastic ’80s is a powerful thing. Other early '80s tracks Carey has covered include Journey's "Open Arms," Def Leppard's "Bringin' On the Heartbreak," and Phil Collins's "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)."
"Memoirs" will stand out in Carey's catalogue as an experiment that illuminates her legendary status without either boosting it or damaging it. In a singles-driven era propelled by playlists, it is refreshing to sit back and play an album from start to finish. And even more, go on a journey with an artist as they share a snapshot of their life. I wouldn't be surprised if, a decade from now, Carey cites this effort as a personal favourite. "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel,” though helmed by The-Dream and Tricky, still maintains a classic Mariah sound.