Looking back on Mariah Carey’s 2009 album…
I have an interesting relationship with the Mariah Carey Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel album. During this era, for the first and only time in what is now 18 years, I jumped ship as a Mariah Carey fan. To make a long story short, I was exasperated. For starters, the continued use of auto-tune felt like Mariah was lowering herself to compete with the less-vocally-talented artists of the moment. It also appeared that she was pigeonholing herself by shutting out all other producers and just working with what I perceived as the flavors of the month, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart. It felt like a losing combination. As the rollout progressed the single selections, poorly photo-shopped album artwork, live performances, and promised-and-then cancelled remix albums further disenchanted me.
With all that said, there was no way I was actually going to avoid the album. The day it hit the net, I had it, and I listened to the hell out of it. I swore to everyone that I despised it when it was released, but it was Mariah, and that’s just not possible for me. As time passed I grew to openly appreciate and enjoy it (I even have the vinyl box set), and I listen to it regularly as I do her other albums. It still holds a strange place in my heart, both due to the album’s strange cohesiveness and my initial perception of it as a whole. I realized just how far I’ve come in my relationship with this album when I started putting this list together, and I struggled quite a bit narrowing down to just 5.
When I listen to Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, these are my top 5 songs:
- “More Than Just Friends” My absolute favorite on this album. This paints a fun, exciting picture of a blossoming relationship. Mariah delivers the song in a playful, whispery, half-rapping/half-singing voice over staccato piano chords while a cleverly placed melodic sample of Biggie’s “One More Chance (Remix)” makes this a true earworm.
Standout lyric: “Boy you got me all mixed up like Cerrato, you got me spinnin’ round for ya like a little model, steady feignin’ for you like them fries at McDonalds, I wanna be all on your lips like gelato- ice cream”
- “It’s A Wrap” The prolonged introduction (and accompanying whistle run that recalls Cissy Houston’s soprano showcase on Aretha Franklins’s “Ain’t No Way”) and the impeccable and powerful vocals have always made this a standout. This break up ballad is a serious Mariah gem, especially when she goes off during the bridge.
Standout lyric: “Put all your shit in the elevator, it’s going down like a denominator”
- “Languishing” One of the only songs on the album not crafted by The Dream & Tricky Stewart. This is a classic Mariah-Big Jim Wright collaboration. It recalls their earlier interlude collaboration “Rainbow” with a free-form and shortened structure, and understated vocal take. Once again though, Mariah’s brutally honest pen game drives this song to impact and resonate.
Standout lyric: “I was wondering, would you reach for me, if you saw that I was languishing?”
- “Ribbon” Another upbeat love song that, at first glance refers to the early moments in a relationship, but upon further examination, describes a relationship that shows no signs of wavering and still maintains the sparks of inception. The best part? It’s set to an instrumental that could easily double as a dirty south hip hop beat (which may be why Ludacris sounded so good on the remix).
Standout lyric: “It’s only been 20 good minutes since I kissed you, come back boo, I miss you”
- “Betcha Gon Know (the prologue)” A stellar example of Mariah Carey’s unwavering ability to tell a story with her lyrics. This is one of those songs that you can close your eyes and see scenes playing out as she sings. It also serves it’s purpose well as the album’s opening track, setting the tone well for an album full separate songs that are individual stories and scenes but come together under the cohesive production of The-Dream & Tricky Stewart.
Standout lyric: “I’m goin’ ‘bout 100, mascara runnin’, laughing out of anger, but it don’t strike me as funny”
Bonus: “Skydiving” This is a demo produced by Timbaland that did not make the album, or even get finished. It’s very rough around the edges, but something about it is whimsical and leaves you craving more. Plus, hearing Mariah curse without it being censored? Yes please.
Standout lyric: “So they say you got some chick, that keeps you warm at night along for the ride but, if you ask me that’s bullshit, because obviously heaven sent you for me”
Stream the Mariah Carey Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel album below, and jump into the comments to share your top 5 with us!