I was reminded today how far out of touch I was with “Top 40” pop music by the year 2005. The #1 selling album of 2005 was “The Emancipation of Mimi”, considered to be a comeback album by hit machine Mariah Carey. There are several singles that charted high, and obviously this record was a huge hit, and I did not recognize a single song I heard. Like most Mariah Carey, this record isn’t really my cup of tea. Overwrought riffing and the vocal gymnastics we have come to expect from Mariah aren’t quite as omnipresent on this record, and her intent was to produce a more stripped down sound, but for the most part, I probably won’t spend too much time coming back to this one in the future.
Of the five singles on the record, “We Belong Together” is probably the easiest listen for me. It is a pretty good groove, and it is growing on me a bit as I play it again. Like most of the album, this song is co-produced by Carey and Jermaine Dupri. The record starts with the biggest hit single, which I’m sure most people will recognize more than I do, “It’s Like That”, featuring Dupri and Fatman Scoop. I’m sure this was all over the clubs, unlike me. The third single, “Shake It Off”, is a good example of Carey trying to move her sound closer to the hip-hop vibe that permeates this album. Even Snoop makes an appearance on this album, on “Say Somethin’”, but either intentionally or unintentionally, his contribution is extremely subdued and lingers under the surface, and the song doesn’t have much of a hook.
Of the non-singles on the album, I would point to “Circles” and “To The Floor” as my favorites, and even though I’m not a huge fan of the record, I greatly respect Carey continuing to take ownership and control over her musical direction, and she obviously hit a home run with this album. Her career has gone through many ups and downs over the years, but this major success will always be a well-deserved highlight.