Deep Album Cuts Vol. 20: Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey is one of the most successful singles artists of all time, with various chart records for her 18 songs that have hit #1 on the Hot 100. But unlike some of the other big-voiced divas she's often compared to like Whitney Houston, Mariah wrote nearly all her songs, and had a big hand in the artistic direction of her increasingly idiosyncratic catalog. Rich Juzwiak of Gawker, who's kind of the internet's poet laureate of Mariah, has done great posts including a glossary of her vocabulary word-packed lyrics, and a compilation of her having to remind people over and over that she's a songwriter as well as a singer. I mean, let's be real, if there was one co-writer on all of her hits, we'd be calling that person a genius. She deserves to be in the songwriter hall of fame for "All I Want For Christmas Is You" alone.

So on the occasion of the release of her latest and most strangely titled album, Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse, I thought I'd look at her best deep cuts while lists of her best singles are floating out there.

Mariah Carey Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Vulnerability (Interlude)
2. Long Ago
3. To Be Around You
4. Music Box
5. I'm That Chick
6. Circles
7. Lullaby
8. How Much (featuring Usher)
9. One And Only (featuring Twista)
10. Ribbon
11. Migrate (featuring T-Pain)
12. Clown
13. Looking In
14. And You Don't Remember
15. Babydoll
16. Petals
17. I Am Free
18. Close My Eyes
19. Vanishing
20. Last Kiss

Track 19 from Mariah Carey (1990)
Tracks 3 and 14 from Emotions (1991)
Track 4 from Music Box (1993)
Tracks 2, 13 and 17 from Daydream (1995)
Tracks 15 and 18 from Butterfly (1997)
Tracks 1, 8 and 16 from Rainbow (1999)
Tracks 7 and 12 from Charmbracelet (2002)
Tracks 6 and 9 from The Emancipation Of Mimi (2005)
Tracks 5, 11 and 20 from E=MC² (2008)
Track 10 from Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel (2009)

It's funny how you can almost trace her evolution, from a bland balladeer to one of pop's great goofballs, just through her album titles. Going through her discography, though, I'm impressed by what a gradual, fairly organic progression it traces. Butterfly is often seen as the big departure point, but while it marks a break in her personal life and her public image, she was already leaning toward hip hop production on great Daydream tracks like "Long Ago."

I decided to leave off anything from the new album, which is good but I'm still digesting it, as well as anything from her two Christmas albums. The lack of anything from the Glitter soundtrack is simply because the album isn't on Spotify -- it was released on Virgin Records, unlike all her other albums, but the absence of her most embarrassing failure certainly feels like it could be deliberate. I'd like to hear it sometime -- it certainly seems like the albums that are most lacking in hits, like Charmbracelet and E=MC², also tend to be among the richest in deep cuts. And of course, Charmbracelet has "Clown," the very amusing first subliminal shot at Eminem that became the more public feud with "Obsessed."

Often when promoting albums, Mariah has been prone to pointing out her favorite song on the album, and it's frequently not one of the big #1 hits, or even a single at all -- some of her eagle-eyed fans have kept track of these and listed the songs on this YouTube video and elsewhere. So the last 8 tracks on this mix, from "Looking In" onward, are all songs Mariah has expressed particular fondness for, put in a row to maybe give some sense of what her taste is. I would've picked quite a few of those songs myself, too -- the Missy Elliott co-write "Babydoll," the stripped down piano ballad "Vanishing," and some of her most personal songs including "Close My Eyes" and "Petals," which was written about Mariah's estranged sister.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
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