Mariah Carey: Mixed Emotions

With a multimillion selling debut album notched up, Mariah Carey goes for broke on album number two which covers a range of moods and emotions showcasing the singer's unique vocal range.

Blues & Soul (UK) November 26, 1991. Text by SB.

Mariah Carey has rapidly become one of the big success stores of the 90s. She's scored five consecutive number one hits in the States. And at the age of 21 she's the youngest act to ever achieve that feat beating the previous record set by Elvis Presley in 1957.

Mariah's debut album sold seven million copies. And she's quietly confident that the newly released follow up 'Emotions' will follow suit.

"I recorded the second album while the first one was still climbing the charts. I was writing for the new album before the first was even really successful. I put the second one out so soon after the first, most people would have waited a couple of years. So there hasn't really been time to think 'can I do this again'."

It's been reported that Mariah can activate the automatic doors on her garage when she hits a B over high C. 'Emotions' is the perfect vehicle for her stunning vocal range, and by keeping the production simple lets her voice speak for itself.

"I felt on the first album there was a lot of grand production on a lot of the songs. Sometimes that can overshadow you, and become more of the producers vision than yours. This time round I wanted to let my personality come through. I wanted people to feel me as a vocalist.

"I feel my new album is a slight departure from what I was doing on my first album. But it's not totally different. I just felt it was me making my next step forward. I think I kept enough of the essence of what I was doing to please people who supported me on the first one."

Four of the tracks including her most recent single 'Emotions' were co-produced with David Cole and Robert Clivilles of C & C Music Factory. Both are signed to Columbia Records, and the powers that be thought it would be a good idea if they joined forces.

"I didn't really see the parallels between what they were doing and what I was doing because their stuff was really hard. But I did like what they were doing, so we got together.

"I heard David on piano. He's a really gifted piano player, and that really drew me towards him as a collaborator. So we just sat down together to see which direction we wanted to go in, and just let it flow. I really did enjoy working with them."

Mariah honed her distinctive vocal style listening to The Winans, The Clarke Sisters, and The Edwin Hawkings Singers. But she considers herself first and foremost and R'n'B singer.

"Some songs were more pop than others on the first album. But I think on this album I've tried to maintain a thread of the roots of what I'm influenced by. The fact that it's crossed over and reached so many ethnic and age groups really means a lot to me."

The songs go through a range of moods and emotions, hence the name of the album. The song 'Make It Happen' is one of Mariah's favourites, and has a very special message for her.

"I wrote it because I wanted to tell my story, and I wanted to let people know it's not so untouchable. If you really believe you can do something and you really work for it and really go for it, it can happen.

"I'm no different from anybody else. I have a gift, and I just try to get that out there. If you want success, you've got to work for it and make it happen."

Mariah hopes to become more intimately involved with the technical aspects of record production and hopes this will put an end to criticisms that she's muscling in on Whitney's market.

"It's very important to me to make sure my personality comes across. Because I've had success with the first album, I've been given the opportunity to be much more intricately involved with all the production, and not just walk in at the last moment and hear someone else's idea of what my song should sound like.

"I want to be there when they're putting everything from the piano to the drums down. I want to make sure that's how I feel the song should go too."

Mariah has taken her fair share of knocks that have come with sometimes unwelcome media attention.

"It's very hard making yourself so vulnerable. You just literally put yourself out there for people to take shots at. One week they love you, and the next week this and this are wrong with you.

I've got myself into this, and that's what I have to del with. But I wouldn't trade what I'm doing now with anything else in the world. So I can't complain about it.

"I think a lot of people resent it when you have too much success, and they feel like they just have to knock you down, or it's not cool to like you suddenly.

"There was more pressure before my first album to succeed. But now I feel I've done that, and if all I could do was have a moderately successful career, but be able to sing and write songs for the rest of my life, I'd feel like I'd achieved success. I've realised my dreams, literally."

Another dream Mariah has been able to realise through her new found success was working with one of her own heroes, Carole King. They collaborated on the song 'If It's Over'.

"She's such a true professional. There's something magical when she sits down at the piano and she plays and sings. She really knows song structure so well. She inspired me to really want to improve my playing, and just continue to do what I'm doing." We await with considerable relish Mariah's debut UK appearances.

However in the meantime, the many Carey fans in the UK must content themselves with her recordings.