My brother Dan is a tough guy. He is a straight talker (that means he will give an honest opinion) and is very clear with what he likes and dislikes. He loves sports, women in bikinis and food. Probably in that order. Because he is such a man's man, it always cracks me up to hear him singing Mariah Carey tunes while listening to her on his iPod. That boy is such a contradiction!
He has had a major love for Mariah ever since I can remember so it'll be interesting to me to see his reaction when he reads Brian's review of Mariah Carey (I'm predicting he'll threaten to kick him in the nuts):
I had, of course, heard of this week's featured artist, Mariah Carey, though I'm pretty sure I'd never listened to her music. I knew about her silicon-enhanced charms, about the inadvisability of being on the same flight as her, and I would recognise her in a line-up. Sometimes I've seen pictures of her and thought she looked good, and other times thought "yuck". You hear about people having "good sides", and Mariah doesn't look so great when seen from certain angles (the front, for instance).
None of that was good preparation for this review, since it's all completely irrelevant when it comes to considering her songs. I was given "Whenever You Call" to listen to.
This is soul music, something I'm not very familiar with. It consists of fairly simple melodies that are embellished with extra notes around the main ones, a bit like Baroque, and a lot of emphasis is put on feeling, which really does come through in the singing. When you watch someone perform it, though, they have really pained expressions on their faces, like they're shitting broken glass, right before they go "mmmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmm yeah!".
The first time I listened to "Whenever You Call", I was pretty much ready to stop there and write about how much I hated Mariah Carey, but after spending some more time on it, I'm not feeling quite so negative. Her voice in the quiet passages sounds thin and really breathy. Sometimes she overdoes it a bit so that you could almost believe that she's unable to sing a steady note, though that's clearly not the case. And the "mmmmm wowowo" stuff can get a little OTT. I really did think at one point that she might have been having a crap or giving birth or something. On the other hand she manages to get a lot of colour and feeling in there that sounds convincing - a lot more so than singers in other pop genres who just sound false.
At work I have some ear defenders that I have to wear in certain areas, and I wish I'd brought them home for Mariah's loud sections. She belts out the notes, hitting the resonant frequency of my poor eardrums and prompting me to move all glass items away from the speakers, but I suppose that the emotion of the song requires that.
"Whenever You Call" was also released as a duet with Brian McKnight. I preferred it because you get a break from her voice. Not that I particularly liked Brian McKnight's singing.
I haven't really talked about the music itself. I don't think that you're really supposed to notice it, and I certainly didn't. The focus is really all on the vocals, and in that respect the song works.
I don't think that I could ever get to like Mariah Carey's music, or soul in general, but I'm glad now that I know more about her than what her breasts are made of, and to find out that she sounds a bit better than she looks. Not good enough to tempt me to become one of the millions who buy her records, though.
Me? I'm a fan of her older stuff. The new songs not so much.