Icon music review: The Rarities — Mariah Carey

Reviewed by Craig Hoffman
The Rarities is the eighth compilation album by American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey, released in October by Columbia and Legacy Records.

The artist is also a record producer, actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Carey is the definition of megastar and has the talent to more than back that description.

Carey is the first artist in history to have five singles become consecutive number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100. She is perhaps most famous for her ethereal-like five-octave vocal range. The “Songbird Supreme” does not disappoint with her latest effort.

The Rarities consists of a 15-track collection of unreleased songs, b-sides, demos, and live performances. There is also a Japanese edition bonus Blu-ray Disc: “Live at the Tokyo Dome.” It features many of the artist’s greatest hits, including live versions of megahits “Hero” and “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The Rarities debuted at number 24 on Japanese Albums (Oricon) list.

The album’s lead single, “Save the Day,” was released in August. The song charted at number 12 on Billboard’s US Hot R&B Songs. The track features vocals from American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill and contains a sample of “Killing Me Softly” (1996) by the Fugees. It’s a good if not spectacular collaboration between two stars from the 1990s music scene.

The follow up single release, “Out Here on My Own,” is a ballad from the 1980 musical film Fame, performed by Irene Cara. It was written by the sibling songwriting duo Lesley Gore (lyricist) and Michael Gore (composer). The original version garnered a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song (1980). Carey captures the essence of Irene’s sweet spots, and she does it with her own unique blend of soul and style. However, the album is not without its problems.

Carey’s attempts at some of the jazzier tunes are uninspired. The live version of “Lullaby of Birdland” is a particularly weak moment. It is a jazz standard and popular song composed by George Shearing with lyrics by George David Weiss (under the pseudonym “B. Y. Forster”). Carey struggles to warble her way through that tune and to master the genre as a whole, but the rest of the album is superb.

Variety writer Jeremy Helligar gave the album high praise stating, “unlike many of the pop queens that followed her up the charts, Carey can craft a hit without a cast of millions […] and even as she switches up her emphasis from crossover pop to hip hop to adult soul, there’s a common thread of Mariah-ness running through everything.”

Mariah Carey remains a legend. Her career and achievements are unmatched. She inspired a whole generation of singers and artists. Carey is more than just a pretty, little songbird who whistles notes. She creates her music and is arguably one of the best singer-songwriters of all time.

Final Take: The Rarities is a fantastic music history lesson in 1990s love ballads and amazing pop music. The album is can’t miss listening for Mariah Carey fans and even casual lovers of great music. 4.5/5.

Craig Hoffman is a music graduate of Ohio Northern University and The University of Akron School of Music. He also serves as the Icon’s Japan correspondent.

Originally published at http://www.adaicon.com.

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Craig Hoffman

Craig is a #writer, #editor, #betareader & #blogger. 2000+ #blog posts & seven #ebooks including #shortstories “The Tempo of Tempura” and “Carl Crapper.”