The Emancipation of Mimi by Mariah Carey was hailed by critics and fans alike as a brilliant album in itself and an amazing comeback after a few years which saw her mental health and career take a hit. 16 years ago today (12th April), “The Songbird Supreme” came back fighting with this iconic Grammy-winning, multi-million selling R&B record that was the second best-selling album of 2005 behind Coldplay’s X&Y (the average success of The Emancipation of Mimi in some countries such as the U.K. where it only peaked at No.7 and missed out on the top 30 year-end charts perhaps hindered it from taking the top spot). Aside from its aforementioned status it started a new, legendary tradition for Carey to give all her subsequent albums ridiculous and superfluous but undeniably Mariah-esque names.
Here I’ve listed my top 10 favourite tracks from the album, which was hard to do because they are all pretty damn good, even some of the bonus tracks from the reissues. Have a look and take a listen to them:
10) Joy Ride
Reminiscent of some of her older, dreamy, ballads such as Dreamlover and Always Be My Baby, the lyrical content of Joy Ride is nothing new from Carey (or anyone, really) but her fluttery vocals on this are very soothing and her whistle and falsetto notes towards the end are heavenly.
9) I Wish You Knew
A retro, almost 70s sounding disco slow jam, I Wish You Knew harks back to the crooning sound of some of her older material. The spoken hook before the song’s climax is a bit cheesy but the rest – even the “fake live” production element – sweeps the fake stage beautifully.
8) Your Girl
The belted chorus really gets me in this song, which sounds like it could have been performed by a girl group. The only drawback is it’s sadly a very short song. There could definitely have been more to this.
7) Makin’ It Last All Night (What It Do)
Regular guest rapper and co-producer of a number of her songs, Jermaine Dupri, returns with Mimi for this Ultra Platinum edition bonus track. It’s a sexy song with a throbbing, catchy beat.
6) Don’t Forget About Us
It may be lyrically derivative of We Belong Together but there’s no denying the catchiness of Don’t Forget About Us as it rivals the former for its repeatability when listening to the album. And there’s no denying its own impact as it helped Mariah tie with Elvis Presley for the most Hot 100 Number Ones – 17! Such a shame she’s never done a mashup of the two songs, because that would be pretty epic.
5) Get Your Number
A good little club banger, Mimi and Jermaine continue to prove to be a winning combination. It’s Mariah in classic diva mode as she confidently boasts about her material possessions and is well aware of her sex appeal in the song.
4) Mine Again
A gorgeous, soaring, conquering ballad that although is lyrically very similar to We Belong Together and Don’t Forget About Us, her vocals on this are top notch. The clarity of her sustained notes are beautiful, especially near the end of it, including the super high whistle note. Unfortunately, while it rightfully deserved a nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance at the Grammys despite not even being released as a single, it appears she has never performed it live so that is an overdue gem we are still awaiting for, Mimi!
3) It’s Like That
It’s Like That really set the precedent of Carey’s musical comeback before We Belong Together propelled her right back to the top. The song was a perfect choice for the lead single as the ultimate diva that is Mariah celebrates herself and nobody else. And it sparked everybody’s love of the cheesy and still baffling lyric “them chickens is ash and I’m lotion.”
2) Fly Like a Bird
Mariah Carey’s gospel-influenced songs are truly some of her best (Make It Happen and Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child being notable examples) and what this one has that set it apart from more traditional gospel tracks is her sweeter, more subtle yet still heartfelt delivery – until the song’s climax where she lets loose after the key change.
1) We Belong Together
You can read my full thoughts on this iconic song here.
So, there you have it in this short but sweet post! Happy Anniversary to The Emancipation of Mimi, Mariah Carey dahling! What are your favourite songs from this masterpiece of an album (it didn’t win Best Contemporary R&B Album at the Grammys for no reason)? Leave your comments below!