Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 1991 second album – Emotions – by Mariah Carey, but can you ‘let it go’ or is it something to cry about? Let’s find out…
For about a decade, I’ve found Mariah Carey irritating. I often wonder whether she’s forgotten who she is, as she seems to spend too much time looking and sounding like she’s living someone else’s life, whilst scrimping on the talent.
Back in 1991, she was a sensation. This second album saw her younger self continue to scale incredible vocal heights. It’s something that she continued to do into her third album Music Box which I have previously owned.
She also has a lyrics and music writer’s credit on every single track.
The album opens with lead single and title track, Emotions. And it’s laden with finger-clicks, bouncy piano, and a feint gospel choir. It includes her then-trademark high note. This is a perfect way to start an album. Oddly, the music was co-written with David Cole and Robert Clivillés, who were also performing as C&C Music Factory (whose album clearly suffered because of their attentions here).
Track two sees a trademark 90’s Mariah ballad And You Don’t Remember. It’s plodding, and totally paint-by-numbers, but this is what I think she does well. She just does them rather a lot.
Second single, Can’t Let It Go adds in more of a gospel feel. It is a little uninspiring, and only reached #20 in the UK when it was released. It lacks the energy of Emotions.
Third single, Make It Happen arrives, and injects another dose of energy, with it’s wandering bass line, and whispery backing vocals. However, as I type these reviews whilst listening to the albums, I’m now fearful that I’m set for six consecutive ballads before the album is done.
If It’s Over feels like a grand, gospel number. And another heart-wrenching ballad.
Thankfully You’re So Cold comes along, with it’s bouncy house pianos. Despite it’s title, it’s a little pocket of warmth amongst the saccharine. This could easily have been a more interesting single, but instead it acts for what would have likely have been the opening of side two of the vinyl and cassette versions of the album.
Up next is So Blessed, sounding somewhat like a mix between a keyboard demo and a 1950s love song. It’s classic Carey, but tedious.
To Be Around You opens with some more great piano, before adding some gospel and finger-snaps and claps to the recipe. This gives another catchy song, and probably the closest (musically) to Emotions.
Till The End Of Time is another ballad, and another one that doesn’t really go anywhere.
Final track The Wind is a lovely piano-lead jazzy ballad, and featured as the b-side on the Emotions single. The track is delicate, and shows how her voice can work alongside the simplicity of a piano without drowning it out. Think 1950s, think Madonna‘s Dick Tracey soundtrack, or something from George Michael‘s Listen Without Prejudice, or a movie theme. It is a great track, and was thoroughly wasted as a b-side.
And with that, it’s over. Nestled amongst those ballads were some gems, but sometimes the paint-by-numbers ballad just becomes a chore.
There’s no denying Mariah’s vocal skills, and when there’s a hit it’s done properly, but thank goodness we’re done!
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1991 UK CHART POSTITION: #4
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 (from a British Heart Foundation store)