Roger Friedman previews Mariah’s new album

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Mariah CareyRodger Friedman got to sample Mariah’s new album. “Yesterday I spent more than an hour up at Island/DefJam Records previewing the new CDs from Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey. Each is highly anticipated, and with good reason. They’re pretty damn good.

Carey’s CD, called E=MC², is probably the more anticipated if only because her prior release, Emancipation of Mimi, was such a phenomenal success. Buoyed by several hits including “We Belong Together,” “Don’t Forget About Us,” Emancipation spent months on the charts and won a number of Grammys. It re-established Mariah as a superstar after her failed Glitter project and subsequent Charmbracelet.

E=MC² (a play on the previous album’s title) should have a pretty big impact when it hits the world on April 15th. Already the single, “Touch My Body,” with its refrain “I will hunt you down” has taken off at radio. It doesn’t hurt that it bears a resemblance to “We Belong Together.” But the new single is catchy in its own right, and has an independent hook designed to be addictive.

I heard eight other tracks yesterday, but since the album isn’t sequenced yet I can’t tell you where they fall in order. In the order I enjoyed them came first “Bye, Bye” a powerful ballad that should be a single and will probably close the album. It’s a natural singalong in concert, too, which could make it not only wildly popular but a possible Grammy contender next year. Look out.

The next most commercial number is “Thanks For Nothing,” a witty and rueful tune with another great melody courtesy of Jermaine Dupri and Carey. As on “Bye Bye,” Carey’s vocals are superb. Her infamous eight octave range has suffered a little wear and tear over the years, but Carey can still flutter from great highs to mellow lows like no one else.

Some other highlights I heard included “Cruise Control,” featuring Damian Marley with a driving reggae subtext; “Migrate” with T-Pain, which should be a single and perhaps the album’s kick off track; “Last Kiss,” with Dupri on vocals; a breathy disco dance hit called “I’m That Chick,” and an out and out pop song, “Loving You a Long Time,” which samples DeBarge’s “Stay with Me” and recalls the melodic riff of the “Hill Street Blues” theme music.

The one thing I kept thinking from track to track is that Carey and her crew have put a lot of work into making E=MC² not just a hit, but a sustainable success. There’s enough in the package that it will last as long as “Emancipation,” spinning off singles, remixes, and videos.”

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