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Mariah Carey - Glitter Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 September 2001

Mariah Carey
format: CD
label: Virgin Records
release year: 2001
performance: 4
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

ImageAll that glitters is not gold, but cheap glitter often counts as pseudo-currency within the shallow waters of the pop music pond. Mariah Carey’s soundtrack album for the movie of the same name is chock-full of the sparkly stuff. It contains little in the way of substance, though, so its aural sheen wears off quickly after repeated plays.
Whether she’s covering older songs, like "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life," which is ruined by the intrusive rapping of Busta Rhymes, Fabulous and DJ Clue, or "Didn’t Mean To Turn You On," which is only salvaged by a Benny Worrell-like synth workout, or singing new songs such as "Twister," which borrows heavily from "Never Can Say Goodbye" for its melody, much of this album feels like little more than leftover party favors.

Presumably the movie "Glitter" is set in the fluffy ‘80s, so it makes historical sense to have Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (two producers who made big names for themselves during that decade) behind the boards for this one.

Jam and Lewis bring an authentic Talking Heads-influenced funk to "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life." In addition to its old school synthesizer swirls, the song also sports Chic-esque rhythm riff guitars and subtle drums to underpin Carey’s Donna Summer-derived vocals.

On "Want You," Jam and Lewis give Carey a gently percolating soul groove to ride. With its additional back-up vocals and added help from singer Eric Benet, it sounds a lot like what Billy Ocean made millions doing, back in the day.

With "Never Too Far," Carey is let loose on the kind of power ballad with which she sounds most comfortable. Through the kind of song that travels a road also well-trodden by the Whitneys and Celines of the world, Carey scales a mountain of strings to associate the brighter moments of a relationship with an equally illuminated memory. "Glittering lights/Incandescent eyes," she sings. "Still preserved/In my mind."

The sound of this album can best be described as lite-funk/dance, accompanied by plenty of guest rapping and gilded with ballads here and there. If there’s a lyrical theme of any kind here, it’s not at all in plain view, and hidden better than a wanted terrorist.

Too often, the mixes are just too stinkin’ busy. Too many cooks can spoil a meal, and inviting all your rapper friends to chime in on your songs can make them sound like noisy party chatterers, rather than creators of a true party atmosphere.

Carey exists in an uncomfortable middle ground between the bad girl funkster she’d like to be, and the soul diva role she’s mastered. "Glitter" doesn’t live up to either of these descriptions, which ultimately leaves the expectations of a diverse range of listeners unsatisfied.

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