In the spirit of Justice, the #Lambily got Mimi’s E=MC² to the top of the iTunes Albums chart this week and now it’s time for another underrated piece of Mariah’s iconic catalog to get the same treatment: Charmbracelet.
Charmbracelet, Mariah’s 9th studio album, was released in December 2002 under her then-new label Island Def Jam, after the turmoil of the 2001Glitter era. It was an album that Mariah needed to write and, to this day, one of her personal favorites.
While it was somewhat of a commercial disappointment, Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet is often praised by fans for containing some of her finest work as a songwriter. It is a deeply personal album that Mariah used to relieve the struggles she was going through, and the pressure she felt as a person.
This is the album that set the stage for the comeback of comebacks, The Emancipation of Mimi. Think of the pastor’s intro on “Fly Like a Bird”: “Weeping may endure for a night / but joy comes in the morning.” With Charmbracelet Mariah was still weeping: over the break-up with Luis Miguel and feeling abandoned; over being ridiculed and written off by the media; over being pestered by M&M’s; over the loss of her dear father. She needed this album like a therapy session to recollect, to re-evaluate her life and her faith and get closure on a dark chapter in her life.
If she hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have been in the right mindset for The Emancipation of Mimi. And she knew joy was going to come in the morning. She was ready to take it all in and get her vindication.
Today, we celebrate the lambs getting justice for this important tile in the mosaics of the MC catalog, by ranking its tracks from least to most favorite.
Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet, ranked:
17. “Through the Rain [Remix]”
The original version was so much better, but we are thankful to Mariah for continuing the tradition of re-sung remixes. We basically got an entirely different song, while still maintaining the uplifting and empowering vibe of it.
16. “Boy (I Need You)”
Mimi took the “Oh Boy” beat by Cam’ron and put her spin on it, assisted by Just Blaze. “Boy” was released as the album’s second single and was accompanied of her most interesting music videos, shot in Japan, with the use of CGI technology and a futuristic vibe. The music video also saw the return of Bianca, Mariah’s alter ego from the Rainbow era, who is vanquished again in a car race.
15. “Sunflowers For Alfred Roy”
This poignant piano ballad was dedicated to her father, who passed away from cancer prior to the album release. It’s an ode to their reconciliation after being estranged ever since her parents’ divorce. Mariah has said that this moment was very important for her, because she got to know him better as a person and feel the father-daughter connection she had missed her whole life. The sunflowers also became a symbol of this period and Mariah decided to include them in the music video for “Through the Rain” as a dedication.
14. “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”
We love a Rockriah moment and this cover of Def Leppard has a great arrangement that even got praise from the band. Mariah really gave the song a sense of intimacy with her subtle vocals and approach, which is totally different from the power ballad of the original version. Dave Navarro appears in the music video and he played guitar on the single mix.
13. “Through the Rain”
Queen loves an inspirational moment and so do we. “Through the Rain” was Mariah setting the record straight about all the rumors and the drama and teaching us that perseverance is the key to survival. After all she had to go through just a year before, it’s a miracle Mariah didn’t give up her artistry and instead became a role model for everyone who goes through struggles and still manages to reinvent themselves and be stronger than before. Because of how personal Charmbracelet is, there couldn’t have been another lead single to introduce us to this new chapter in her life.
12. “My Saving Grace”
Mariah’s always been religious and she has deep faith in God, but most of all she’s always been extremely thankful for the gift of music, her saving grace. If you know her, you know this is a constant in her life and this song is a testimony.
Even if Mariah will never explicitly tell us who this song is about, we all know who it’s about. All she needed was a slick guitar beat and her pen and she didn’t even need to raise her voice to READ. She is addressing everything: from rumors of a non-existent relationship, to allegations of said relationship being sexual and even belittling an ego that has no reason to exist. “Nobody cares when the tears of a clown falls down.” Get into it!
The lambs have always considered this song as the sequel to “The Roof.” Mariah references that song herself and it really feels like a sequel of that “warm November night.” The ability she has to paint a picture with her lyrics really comes to life with this song, Mariah is truly a genius storyteller. The only question is.. who’s the guy?
9. “You Had Your Chance”
“Where were you when I needed you most?” Mariah went off! And that she did so over a classic West Coast Rap sample is even more badass. This side of Mimi is why we always need to pay attention to her lyrics. There’s always a little shade to be caught between her lines.
A bop. The Ice Cube sample is a total groove and Mariah rides the beat effortlessly with her iconic coo’s. Mariah should give us an updated version of this song with better mastering, because it could’ve been a nostalgic banger.
This sweet track produced with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is very akin to their work with Janet Jackson. With a few minor twists to the lyrics, it could’ve become the official dedication to DemBabies as well! (Thank God the Justin Timberlake duet never came to fruition!)
6. “You Got Me”
Charmbracelet was the only time Mariah and Just Blaze collaborated, from which also came this track that is sort of the epitome of early 2000s R&B with the chipmunk-y vocals and the slick syncopated beat. The pre-chorus and the bridge are the best parts in terms of melody and lyrics. Guest verses from Jay-Z and Freeway seal the nostalgia.
5. “The One”
This song was originally intended to be the second single, but was changed last minute. Mariah and JD produced a hot beat with an electric guitar solo and she wrote some of the most relatable lyrics about finding yourself in a new relationship and being “scared and nervous” to jump in.
4. “I Only Wanted”
A Latin guitar for another song about feeling abandoned. The AC ballad of the album, reminiscent of “My All” and a sequel to “After Tonight,” with one of her most heartbreaking lyrics to date: “farewell fairweather friend, abandonment returns to taunt me again…” Love!
3. “Miss You”
This was a bonus track on the 2003 rerelease of Charmbracelet and the compilation album, The Remixes. Featuring Jadakiss, produced with Jermaine Dupri and built on a sample of “It’s All About the Benjamins” by Puff Daddy, this is a total VIBE! Mariah knows how to flip a hip-hop beat and she has the swag to make it her own.
2. “There Goes My Heart”
“There Goes My Heart” was never included on the album, if not for the Tour Edition released in selected markets in 2003. It’s a beautiful song that explores a more organic sound with live instruments and it’s always been very peculiar in Mariah’s catalog. It’s sad that many people don’t know about it, because it’s really a lost gem.
1. “Subtle Invitation”
Picture this: you’re in a smokey lounge and Mariah’s up there on stage performing a jazzy number she just “casually” wrote, possibly on a chaise longue. The bassline kicks in, the horns section pervades your soul and she is sensually inviting you to “call” her if you ever need her. It’s not hard to grasp why this is absolutely a career highlight and the best song on Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet. It’s something only a true DIVA could craft.
Stream Mariah Carey’s Charmbracelet