I'm one of those pre-"Butterfly" Mariah fans. I totally dug "Daydream" and while I found the albums before it looooaded with filler (seriously, think of the album "Music Box" and tell me a song that was not "Dreamleaver," "Hero," or "Anytime You Need a Friend"), I still want to love her.
When Mariah re-invented herself as more R&B based rather than her pop leanings, she lost me. "Honey" just hasn't stayed sweet for me. I didn't love "Loverboy." I was dry for "Through the Rain." And I really didn't care who Mimi was or about her "Emancipation." Something happened; she stopped singing full-out. Everything is through her nose (actually, and while they vocally are dissimilar, this was Britney's problem throughout "Blackout") and she doesn't belt anymore. Whitney throughout her downfall kept singing out Louise like the rent was due; Mariah sounds like she's laying down and serenading a puppy. Admittedly, not everything's got to be CelineCelineCeline, but some pep would be appreciated.
She found some gimmicks to make up for it; the "Obsessed" video (you know, the one about Eminem even though Mariah does not resemble Eminem at all when 'dressed as' him) made up for a snooze of a song.
When I heard Mariah was doing "I Want to Know What Love Is," it made perfect sense. This was yet another obvious-but-unexpected song choice like Journey's "Open Arms" and I was onboard. Ok, it's going to feature a gospel choir. Ok, I'm with it; we can try that.
It starts off a little like everything else Mariah has done in the last decade but eventually picks up steam, even if there's no big grand finale. The gospel choir is lovely, and Mariah does sound quite sincere. There's some nose-singing, but it's done tastefully and at least she doesn't sound bored; she instead sounds like she's on American Idol.
The mixes will probably bring up the pace a bit, and for the first time in a loooong time, I am left thinking, "Good job, Mariah!" You're through to Hollywood!