Mariah Carey: Comeback Queen?

Multi-Grammy winner Mariah Carey unveiled last week her newest song: Triumphant, from her yet-to-come fourteenth record. And damn, that sounds good.

Mariah Carey on the cover of new single, Triumphant.

July 2001. I’m thirteen years old and I don’t quite understand where Mariah Carey wants to go with the Loverboy song. Not to mention the video. We all know what was going to happen later. Glitter stopped glittering, and the best selling female artist found herself without a record company. Isn’t it ironic?

2002. Charmbracelet is good. Really good. But maybe the resemblance between Through the rain and Hero (you know, message of courage and strength, all of that, blah blah…) didn’t take. Too bad, I liked the atmosphere of the disc. I liked the MTV show Shining through the rain. And I liked the Busta Rhymes featuring.

We all remember the 2005 comeback of “The Voice”. Coming back as: the diva. That was Mariah’s strategy. And it paid well. The Emancipation of Mimi went to become 6x-Platinum in the US and multi-gold-certified in most European countries. You know how American like happy endings. Poor Mariah sacked from Virgin after the Glitter fiasco came back to the top. But the problem was: as happy as it turned out to be, it was hardly an ending. After winning a few more Grammys, Mariah came back (again) in 2008. With e=mc². Understand The Emancipation of Mimi, Volume 2.

Carey on the set of the video for Triumphant (July 2012)
Director : Nick Cannon

And even though things started quite well (even Touch my Body got to be #1…), the album never reached the scores of Mimi. Can’t make it happen twice, can you? The MC (got it?) square record was not a bad one even though most of the ballads were tasteless clones of We Belong Together. But when the Mimi album was promoted as the return of the voice, the square one was promoted as the return of the body. Again. Touch my body, remember? I won’t give all the details about Carey’s personal life but that must have been a reason as well.

Then it was time for a new comeback. After the return of the voice, then the body, 2009 would see the rise of the vintage Mariah. Curly hair was back on, and so was the black dress she wore in the 1990 Vision of Love video. The Obsessed song struggled to reach the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 and her cover of Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is failed to become a hit. At the end of the album’s promotion, even the album Glitter was a huge success in comparison. Ouch.

We’ll just pass through the 2010 Christmas album. Now, we’re in 2012. Mariah hasn’t had a top 10 song in almost three years and let’s be honest: she can’t really afford another flop and she knows it.

The first time I heard Triumphant (on my birthday, nice present!), I was like: “Huh?”. The Mariah Carey feat. Rick Ross and Meek Mill was more of a Rick Ross and Meek Mill feat. Mariah Carey song. You have to admit: it’s a weird strategy for a lead single of a not-so-expected album. But the song turned out to be good – a little humility (and two good remixes) can’t hurt.

“I’ve worked with everyone from Pavarotti to Jay-Z and not many people can say that”

Mariah Carey on the BET stage to pay tribute to late singer Whitney Houston (July 2012)

And that’s what we like about MC. The Triumphant track offers a lot of different feelings from courage in the lyrics to melancholy in the melody. Purists can remember their diva with the remixes available on mariahcarey.com. This is exactly where Mariah should go today, aged 42. No more Touch my Body or Obsessed please, we want her in mature R&B songs, just as Butterfly’s The Roof (1997), my all-time favorite Rainbow’s Crybaby (1999) or the amazing Charmbracelet’s The One (2002). And according to what she said to the press when she unveiled the song, this is exactly where she seems to be heading to. Defending the real R&B sound against the invasion of electro and pop we experienced the last few years.

The only concern I have about the Triumphant track is about its capacity to become a hit – whether on the radios or on the download charts. Carey hasn’t chosen the facility with such a song but we all know that before the album comes out, we will get a powerful ballad made to reach the tops of all radio formats. We belong together style I say. Care to make it happen again? Let’s stay triumphant and let’s hope for a comeback, with a happy non-ending.

Listen to Triumphant by Mariah Carey feat. Rick Ross and Meek Mill

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