Music Box – Mariah Carey – 1993
Claimed Sales: 25m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music
There’s one artist that I knew would be eligible for this series that I have been dreading. I guess you could say that I’m ‘not a fan’ of Mariah Carey. It’s a bit of a surprise to people who expect I’ll fall into that same bracket that loves all of the ‘Divas’, but for me I would never ever choose to listen to Mariah. Listening to an entire album of hers for the very first time it was difficult to try and push those feelings aside and see whether the music spoke for itself. I was remaining positive, but cautious that I might actually enjoy it and be forced to apologise for years of complaining. Opener Dreamlover sums up exactly what my problem is perfectly. It takes approximately 10 seconds into Music Box for that damn whistle register to appear, ruining the opening to one of the better songs here, even if the closing ad-libs return to this feeling once more. The obvious admirable thing about Mariah is that she’s genuinely one of the few artists of her level that is in full control of her music. Everything here save for the ridiculous Without You is written, produced, arranged and performed by Mariah. Her sound is her own and that’s extremely impressive and there’s no doubt that she can sing. It’s just a shame that I find most of the tracks here insufferably over the top. There’s glimmers of hope, I’ve Been Thinking About You is one of the catchiest hooks here, full of early 90s RnB sass, while Now That I Know is a peppy pop track that stands out next to the ballads here. Both of these suffer from the biggest problem here, on the uptempo tracks there’s never any space for the song to breathe – or Mariah for that matter – there’s this constant set of ad libs on everything. Why go to the trouble writing a decent pop song and then not even letting the listener hear the melody? The ballads are as overwrought as I expected, Mariah’s signature ballad Hero is at least less ridiculous than the likes of the title track and gospel anthem Anytime You Need a Friend. Music Box was never going to be a favourite of mine, but honestly there’s some decent stuff in here lodged deep beneath the ad libs. Perhaps in the end it is true that less is more.
Will I listen again?: Absolutely not.
Best Track: I’ve Been Thinking About You was probably my favourite song here, even if that final chorus could have done with some space to breathe.