Contemporarily, commercial comebacks don’t come any bigger than Mariah Carey‘s trailblazing return to supremacy with ‘The Emancipation of Mimi.’
A legendary body of work that is now celebrating its 15th anniversary.
Prior to its release on April 12th 2005, the diva’s career was on uncertain terrain.
The tanking of 2001’s ‘Glitter’ effectively KO’d her colossal Virgin Records deal and 2002 follow-up ‘Charmbracelet’ (her first release for Island Def Jam) did not deliver commercially — despite favourable reviews and media omnipresence on the promo trail.
Fortunately for the songbird, the latter LP – her first under the tutelage of LA Reid – would prove to be the calm before the seismic storm.
For, following the one-two punch thrown by ‘Emancipation’s preceding singles ‘It’s Like That’ and ‘We Belong Together,’ Mariah would go on to ignite one of the hottest streaks of her illustrious career. And blaze her way to the top of the Pop cultural landscape.
With ‘Mimi,’ the star earned her 16th and 17th #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, was certified 6x Platinum in the US (pure sales), and sold 12 million copies of the album worldwide. Very much a Tina Turner ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ moment for the 00s. And arguably a story and level of success that has yet to be seen since.
In salute of the set’s landmark anniversary, which notably comes months after Carey’s 19th #1 and weeks after her 50th birthday, That Grape Juice have tallied our top tracks from ‘The Emancipation Of Mimi.’
Check out the list below…
7) Don’t Forget About Us
With this project, Mimi and her creative cohorts – Jermaine Dupri, Bryan-Michael Cox, and Johnta Austin – cemented the “ballad that bops” format and this serves as one of their strongest efforts yet. It’s bested by one other song, but we’ll get to that later.
6) Get Your Number
Versatility has long been one of Mariah’s strong points and she’s renown for turning up the tempo with dazzling results. This funkified club jam remains a TGJ favorite and we wish it was given a more measured push. Internationally, it was rolled out as a double a-side with ‘Shake It Off,’ which of course slayed the charts. But, if you ask us, this was always more deserving.
Beyond the album’s titan-sized vocals, ‘Mimi’ really pushed Mariah’s pen-game. Case in point this engaging ballad about being love-lorn. The conviction in the vocal delivery and engrossing lyrics made for a magical match.
4) Mine Again
Ballads have Mariah’s sonic mainstay, but one of our favorite traits of the album is the diversity – even within its slower jams. With this track especially, the pairing of her potent voice with live instrumentation, such as trumpets, flutes, drums makes for audio bliss.
3) It’s Like That
As an era opener and album opener, this banger deserves all of its flowers. Even in being somewhat of a bait-and-switch (given the LP’s more mid-tempo flow), this set the tone on several levels. Plus, “them chickens is ash and I’m lotion” may be one of our most revered Mariah lyrics ever. Like, ever.
2) Fly Like A Bird
A Gospel explosion that, for us, has alternated as our top pick over the years. It’s remained one of Mariah’s too, per her own words and its residence on many of her setlists in the 15 years since it first took flight.
Lyrically and vocally it builds towards an almighty praise break that would have even the staunchest atheist jumping at the pulpit. A classic.
1) We Belong Together
If ‘Emancipation’ is the car, this iconic ballad is the song that drove it to the mountain top. Mastering the elusive art of being both lyrically and vocally astute while melodically universal too, this deservingly dominated with a stronghold like no other. And took its place as one of her career defining songs, no small feat given the enormity of her smashes prior to that point.