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Once labelled Pop Music's Golden Girl before transitioning into global songstress-come workaholic nutcase, Mariah Carey has tried long and hard to rejuvenate her music career after suffering worldwide ridicule, physical and emotional breakdowns and a popularity slump of Chernobyl-like proportions.
Carey's latest song "It's Like That" is doing the business on radio right now, but comebacks seem to have a way of back-firing for Ms Carey. Could it turn out to be a case of "third time's a charm" for Mimi?
The "Glitter" project - as disastrous as it was - was as much a Carey comeback as any. Riding high from the success of "Rainbow", the 80's-styled disco album was supposed to solidify the comeback of Mariah's leading pop chart capabilities; rather, it showed how awful her music-to-movie transition and self-indulgent vanity project was and as such, was avoided like the Pop Plague. Finding herself dug deeper into her own hole, the singer quickly tried to cover-up her glittery mess with a charming new comeback.
"Through The Rain", a traditionally-Mariah-styled ballad was the first cut from Carey's ninth LP, "Chamrbracelet". Although there was enough interest in the track to be released as a single in the US, it stalled on the Billboard chart, peaking in the No. 80's. It did however, become a huge hit on the Dance/Electronica chart in remixed form, and the song had enough impact to ensure "Charmbracelet" a top 3 entry in Billboard's Top 200 Album chart in its first week of release.
Featuring rappers Cam'ron, Jay-Z, Freeway and Westside Connection, the "Charmbracelet" CD, despite mixed reviews, went on to sell in excess of three million copies globally. It fared much better than "Glitter" had 16 months earlier, but the response to "Charmbracelet" was only lukewarm, and not the huge success Mariah and Def Jam had anticipated. Follow up singles "Boy (I Need You)" and the cover of Def Leppard's "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" performed even poorer than "Through The Rain".
In hopes of reviving the "Charmbracelet" project, the sexy songbird embarked on a world tour to support the album - her first in nearly four years. The "An Intimate Evening with Mariah Carey Charmbracelet Tour" did well - selling out arenas in many parts of it's global trail. On the road, Mariah continued to write songs and even enjoyed massive success the world over as a featured guest artist on Busta Rhymes' hit single "I Know What You Want".
After wrapping up the CB tour, the songstress spent the remainder of 2003 and the most of 2004 working on her tenth album. In November 2004, a new Mariah Carey song hit the Internet. Featuring Snoop Dogg, the song, titled "Say Something" soon spread throughout cyberspace to intense fans' excitement. Shortly after, the Nelly-featured "Tonight" was unveiled online, as did the title of Carey's LP - "The Emanicipation Of Mimi". Mariah felt obligated to explain herself:
"'Mimi' is a very personal nickname only used by those closest to me, just one of those little things that I've kept for myself in an attempt to have some delineation between a public persona and a private life," she explains. By naming the album "The Emancipation Of Mimi" I am letting my guard down and inviting my fans to be that much closer to me.
"Most importantly, I am celebrating the fact that I've grown into a person and artist who no longer feels imprisoned by my insecurities or compelled to try and live up to someone else's vision of 'Mariah Carey'".
Co-produced by Jermaine Dupri and Carey herself, with featured producers and artists including Kanye West, Scram Jones, Snoop Dogg and Twista, the "Emancipation" album, according to Carey, is a full-blown party record, celebrating MC's new-found self-confidence. Up-tempos like "Say Somethin", "It's Like That" and "Shake 'Em Off" see MC head for the dancefloor, while she also gets personal on trademark ballads like the gospel-sounding "Mine Again" - Carey's pick of the "Emancipation" bunch.
"It's Like That", featuring JD and Fatman Scoop was chosen as the lead single. Being leaked prematurely, the beat-heavy track became increasingly popular and found huge rotation numbers on urban and pop radio. In it's fourth official week of radio release, the song shot to No.20 on the Billboard chart - her biggest song since "Thank God I Found You" five and a half years earlier.
This new party anthem, with feel-good lyrics like "it's my night/no stress/no fights, I'm leavin it all behind... just making the most of life" is making waves all over the world, and looks set to continue its ascent up the Billboard charts, solidifying the big comeback Mariah had wanted since tarnishing her image and career in 2001.
Mariah says, "I now feel I can honestly say "this is me, the real me, take it or leave it". For the first time in my life, I feel free and unashamed to be who I really am. And that's what the music of this album and it's title reflect."
The new album hits record stores in April and no doubt Mariah's fans and MC doubters alike will be lining up in anticipation of Mimi's emanicipation.
LINKS: Mariah Carey