Mariah Carey’s Decline: Will She Rise Again?

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When you hear the name Mariah Carey, what words come to your mind—one, two, three, go!—diva, legend, glam, five-octave vocal range, summertime anthems, record-breaking hits. Those are just a few that surface the mind. As of recent years the qualities that made Carey such a success in the early 90s, hasn’t been enough to sustain her position on the R&B train. What glittered for the singer early in her career hasn’t proven to be gold in the latter stages of her existence.

The New York native is known for being a diva entitled to her demands at the snap of her fingers and maybe she has the right to be with her many blood, sweat and tears labored in the industry and having such little control early in her career.  But with the star’s recent musical decline, she may just have to sober up that prima donna spirit. There is no doubt that the well-respected singer has influenced a whole generation ahead of her, but it is evident that her career is slowly dwindling like grains of sand in a time hourglass.

Maybe the diva should step back from the music center stage while her image is still tidy and name in relatively good standing. On the other side of the fence, Carey can continue to stretch her musical longevity and possibly tarnish her well-worked-for image. While the final decision lies out of our hands, sometimes a perspective from the outside looking in can be very resourceful. Is it time for Carey to practice the ‘Art of Letting Go’ for her career? By the end of this article you should be able to answer this well debated question.

Let’s press rewind. Taking a look down memory lane, Carey has peaked in stardom twice: at the start of her career and then again in 2005 with the release of “The Emancipation of Mimi.” In between her two musical peaks she incurred musical transitions, a publicity catastrophe and a sudden hiatus. Let’s evaluate where her first rise to stardom went wrong and then we will jump into her most recent decline.

Rise to Stardom No. 1: The beginnings of Mariah Carey.

The young 18-year-old Carey signed to Columbia Records in 1988 by music executive later turned husband of five years (1993 to 1998) Tommy Mottola. The songbird was marketed as the main female vocal act for Columbia Records spawning the expansive growth of Carey’s career. Her label home fed the songbird with seven multi-platinum albums and 15 No.1 hits including her first four singles from her successful self-titled debut album. Released in June 1990, the debut album delivered by the curly-headed singer was at the top of the Billboard 200 chart for eleven consecutive weeks. Carey immediately broke records becoming the first artist since The Jackson 5 to have their first four singles reach the No. 1 spot.

mariah-carey-37-1040pk032411Carey’s label home continued to nurture the songbird’s success hatching six more successful albums—“Emotions” (1991), “Music Box” (1993), “Merry Christmas” (1994), “Daydream” (1995), “Butterfly” (1997) and “Rainbow” (1999). Nearly the first decade of Carey’s career she followed the instructions and creative control of her music executive turned husband. Yearning for independence both personally and independently, Carey made a noticeable change in her music, bringing upon the first shift in her career.

Toward the end of her marriage to Mottola and toward the end of what would be Carey’s departure from Columbia Records, Carey made a musical transition and began exploring a more urban hip-hop sound evident in her last three albums with the label. This is when the  “Heartbreaker” artist captured the hearts of many hardcore R&B lovers with R&B/Hip-Hop hits like “Fantasy,” “Honey,” and “Heartbreaker.” The Long Island native even switched up her company in the studio and surrounded herself with 90s hit-makers like Puff Daddy, Missy Elliott, Stevie J and Jermaine Dupri.

With her shift from commercial mainstream to urban R&B, the “Hero” singer reportedly noticed a lack in promotional efforts from the label. Whether it was backlash from the “Butterfly” spreading her wings and splitting with Mottola or disagreements with her musical direction, Carey decided to part ways with Columbia Records in 2000 and joined forces with Virgin Records. This is where the singer’s career began to down spiral and the end of her first musical peak ceased.

Thinking it was a smart decision to leave a label that granted her such huge success, Carey tried to sweep her past under the rug and leave her baggage behind.  Arguably, this was not the best decision for Carey. Running away from her problems at the label, only brought her more headaches further down the line and this is where she first went wrong in her career.

From here on, is what I call the domino effect. After Carey knocked down her first domino block leaving her label home, the rest came tumbling down voluntarily with a vengeance. This change in her career created a chain of bad events for the singer in a short span of just under a year.

Here’s a quick run through:

Left Columbia Records in 2001. Signed a reported $100 million multi-record contract with Virgin Records. A free and liberated Carey was finally granted the creative control she yearned for, which had its pros and cons. The then clutter-minded Carey wasn’t in a stable mind-set to have this type of control at the time.

Decided to do a musical drama film, “Glitter.” Getting a bit ‘Carey’ed away, the “Fantasy” singer decided to make another shift in her career. Her decision to make her film debut in a lead role was not wise because too much was expected of her. If the movie did poorly, the negative weight would be all on her shoulders. Therefore, Carey should have made her major film debut in a smaller, less-attentive role. Secondly, the decision to make the soundtrack her album was a poor choice because her music was catered to the film’s 80s disco theme, drifting her away from the musical shift she already established in the urban R&B sector.

Hospitalized in July 2001 for extreme exhaustionThe pressure of a debut lead film role, demanding schedule and unresolved baggage at previous label left the scatter-brained singer in a state of mental destruct. Suffering a public emotional breakdown, both her movie and album were delayed.

Released “Glitter” album on September 11, 2001 (9/11 terrorist attack). Coincidently if things weren’t already going wrong enough, “Glitter” (the album) was released on what would be one of the worst days in American history, 9/11. This evidently affected sales for the album. The movie was released ten days later and underperformed as well. Carey was named Golden Raspberry’s 2001 Worst Actress. After such failed success, Virgin Records decided to buy Carey out of her contract and her misery for several million dollars.

Experienced negative media publicity and hiatus. After a humiliating series of events including public pitty fits and missed performances, the overwhelmed Carey experienced a harsh media frenzy. These hardships brought the blonde singer’s career to a screeching halt and hiatus.

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11 Comments

  1. You all should delete this article with the quickness because it sounds foolish. To even question whether or not her legacy could be erased by a few songs is ridiculous. If this was Whitney this question would have never been asked. (No disrespect) Whitney had a lot going on before she passed and her legacy has only only grew. You can not erase history, and as soon as you all figure that out you will stop questioning Mariah’s legacy.

  2. Is it fair to expect someone to give up their life’s work and passion because they no longer achieve the same level of commercial success that they once enjoyed? I think not. That fact that this article goes on to state that Mariah Carey (arguably one of the most successful female artists of our generation) should end her career simply because a few of her singles have not achieved the same success as her music did in the past is completely ludicrous.

  3. For anyone to say Mariah needs to retire simply because one album has been delayed is just mind boggling to say the least. Mariah has 35 Top 10s on the Hot 100 and has sold nearly 250 million records worldwide. 4 of her albums are regarded as some of the greatest albums ever recorded (Mariah Carey, Daydream, Butterfly, The Emancipation of MiMi). Merry Christmas is the highest selling Christmas album ever with over 15 million copies sold worldwide. Vision of Love, Love Takes Time, Emotions, Hero, Fantasy, One Sweet Day, Honey, My All, We Belong Together and When You Believe are some of the criticially acclaimed songs of ALL TIME… so ask yourselves, what else is there for Mariah left to prove. Glitter and Charmbracelet both sold 3 million copies worldwide, E=MC2 sold 4 mil… Those are considered commercial disappointments for Mariah, however, they’re considered huge successes for other artists.

    1. i agree 100 Percent with u Antonio What else is it for Mariah to prove she has the right to make w/e type music she wants nowadays rather it be successful as her previous works or not Mariah still shits on alot of these microwave females in R&b today!!

  4. Before Whitney passed, she publicly suffered from a horrible drug addiction and turbulent marriage. Her 2-3 albums underperformed on the charts. Just Whitney and I Look to You both only sold around 3 mil WW and One Wish sold just 1.5 mil WW… However, Whitney’s legacy was questioned. People never said Whitney should retire, in fact, people said Whitney should continue to release music.

  5. She is the greatest female vocalist of ALL TIME. She will go down in history as a pioneer. PERIOD. Enough said. This was a horrible article.

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5 UK R&B Artists to Watch in 2018

Here at Rated R&B, our mission is to deliver interesting and engaging content on the R&B genre of music. R&B talent comes in many different shapes and sizes and sometimes comes from different countries as well. You’ve heard of Jessie J, Marsha Ambrosius, and Daley, but in this piece, we’re going to put you on the game to the most exciting up-and-coming R&B artists in the United Kingdom. With voices that liken to Ariana Grande and Eric Bellinger, there’s surely an artist on this shortlist that’ll pique your interest. Check out our list of the 5 R&B UK Artists to Watch in 2018 below:

Mabel McVey UK R&B Artist 2018

Mabel McVey

Polydor Records-signee Mabel came in with a bang in 2017 when her hit single “Finder’s Keepers” reached the Top 10 on the UK Singles chart. The song, which features rapper Kojo Funds, also peaked at No. 2 on the UK R&B Singles Chart. Her breezy vocals, pop radio appeal, and charming style are on trend, and she already has found Top 40 success in her latest collaboration with UK artist Not3s entitled “My Lover (Remix).” If you like what you hear in the video below, check out Mabel’s 2017 EP Bedroom, which is available on all digital platforms.

Angel UK R&B Artist 2018

Angel

Angel’s career blasted off with a string of hits in 2012, including UK Singles Top 10 earner and UK R&B Songs chart-topper “Wonderful.” Now signed to Motown Records, the London-born singer dropped consistently catchy tunes in 2017, including the SWV-interpolated and Eugene Wilde-sampled “Take You Home.” If he can continue this upward trajectory and his formula of mainstream sounds with a 90s R&B twist, Angel could very well land a solid radio hit by year’s end.

Jorja Smith UK R&B Artist 2018

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith was one of the buzziest artists of 2017 thanks to her features on Canadian rapper Drake’s multi-platinum album More Life. In addition to her criminally underrated summer collaboration with Kali Uchis called “Tyrant,” Smith also made some noise this past year with her 90s underground-esque banger “On My Mind.” Her knack for showing vulnerability whilst keeping her alluring mystique has set her up for riding off into the sunset of success in 2018!

Jacob Banks UK R&B Artist 2018

Jacob Banks

Banks broke big in 2014 for his assist of Chase and Status’ “Alive,” which peaked at No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart. Banks’ gruff and smoky vocals have been used in promotions across the globe, including popular sports game “FIFA 15” and popular TV shows like STARZ’s Power and USA’s Suits. After the release of his 2017 EP The Boy Who Cried Freedom, Banks is more confident than ever and ready to make a splash in 2018.

Ella Mai UK R&B Artist 2018

Ella Mai

Ella Mai might be the most recognizable name on this list, and that’s because this woman has been working! After a stint on the 11th series of X Factor UK in 2014, the singer signed with DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers label. She’s released not one, not two, but three EPs in a year’s time, and was recently one of the featured acts on Kehlani’s 2017 “SweetSexySavage World Tour,” which ended its run in November. Now working on her debut album and kicking off 2018 with a fresh single, Ella Mai is just one hit away from her big break, and if her current sound and relatable lyrics have anything to do with it, then she is well on her way.

Who’s your favorite artist on this shortlist? Let us know in the comment section below!

From 2008: R&B Albums That Turn 10 This Year

Another ten years has caught up with us in the realm of R&B music.

Let’s jog your memory for a minute. For starters, 2008 saw Mariah Carey touch the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the 18th time with “Touch My Body.” Usher showed his strength by “Moving Mountains,” while Beyoncé led ladies to the club, singing, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.”

We heard the debut projects from Day26, Jennifer Hudson, Tiffany Evans and Jazmine Sullivan. Also, 2008 ended listeners music drought from veterans Deborah Cox, Ashanti, Keith Sweat and Brandy.

Rated R&B has compiled a list of 31 R&B/soul albums that celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2018.

Randomness: On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama won presidency, becoming the first African-American to be elected as President of the United States.

Raheem DeVaughn — Love Behind the Melody
Release Date: January 15
Record Label: Jive Records
Singles: “Woman,” “Customer” and “Text Messages”

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Top 10 R&B Albums of 2017

2017 started off kind of slow with R&B releases but quickly picked up as the year progressed. There were a good amount of newcomers like SZA and Daniel Caesar who made an impact on their debut projects. We also saw comebacks from R&B vets like Bell Biv DeVoe and Xscape. The Rated R&B editorial team has compiled a list of the top 10 albums of 2017.

Check it out below (please note: these are in no particular order).

Chante Moore – The Rise of the Phoenix

Chante Moore has taken “50 and Fabulous” to another level with her seventh solo studio album The Rise of the Phoenix. Her artistry has aged well over the course of her 25-year career, as she sounds “Moore” confident than ever. While the LP covers the entire spectrum of love, the album’s upbeat, feel-good tracks stand out the most for their radio appeal and contemporary sound. The album’s current sound doesn’t come at the cost of Ms. Moore’s vocals, as she showcases her range (including whistle tones!) on her most tender ballads of regret and vulnerability. Even the interludes deserve a playback! Chante Moore simply delivered, and if you just can’t get enough of this album, then her latest Christmas album should carry you through every holiday season to come. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Something to Remember,” “Offa-U,” “Saving Grace,” “Pray,” “I’d Be a Fool”

Daley – The Spectrum

Daley is probably one of the most underrated R&B acts out now. Known for his spacey R&B sound, the British singer adds a little color to his sophomore effort, The Spectrum. Feel-good songs like “Sympathy” and “Slow Burn” will have you dancing to the rhythmic production. But don’t let that fool you, though. There are vulnerable moments of heartbreak (“Until the Pain is Gone”) and self-reflection (“True”). — Keithan

Standout selections: “Until the Pain is Gone” feat. Jill Scott, “On Fire,” “Sympathy” and “Second to None”

SZA – Ctrl

Insecurities, fear, and doubt may permeate the lyrical content of this body of work, but SZA is more artistically reassured than ever on her breakout record Ctrl. Sonically gorgeous, the album not only sounds better with each listens, but it feels better with each listen as well. Over time, you’ll find yourself liking songs you didn’t like before and loving the ones you initially did even more. It’s evident that SZA is still adjusting to the overwhelming response of praise for her debut effort, but as the only female R&B artist to find major urban mainstream success this year, it’s simply par for the course of success. If she continues to ride in her own lane, there’s no telling what destinations she will reach by the end of her musical journey. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Broken Clocks,” “Garden (Say it Like Dat),” “Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy)” and “Go Gina”

Daniel Caesar – Freudian 

A product of the black church, the Toronto-born R&B singer’s debut album, Freudian, is very much rooted in gospel influences — from the piano-driven sound to solid backing vocals from a full choir. While there is much celebration of love on this album, there are also songs of regret and sorrow, as if Caesar is grappling with his own personal struggles with religion and theology as it relates to a past love. Perhaps, this is why he chose to name his album Freudian. — Nathan 

Standout selections: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “Blessed” and “Hold Me Down”

K. Michelle – Kimberly: The People I Used to Know

K. Michelle has never been one to hold anything back, but on Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, she unveils every inch of herself in an unprecedented unapologetic fashion. The album kicks off with her rapping obscenities and concludes with one of her most soulful records to date – and in between lies an ode to James Brown, a timely Debarge sample-led criticism of mainstream media’s treatment of black women, a jazzy dose of shade to Kirk Frost (and his three or four earrings), and back-to-back country ballads. While this may sound musically sporadic, the flow of the album is quite natural and effortless. Her heart may lie in country music, but she knows how to make a solid R&B record; This is certainly her first album with multiple viable radio singles.The People I Used to Know is less about switching musical lanes and more about shifting artistic gears as the album progresses — leading the Memphis-bred songstress down the road to one of the most complete R&B works of the year. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Takes Two” feat. Jeremih, “Crazy Like You,” “Giving Up on Love,” “God, Love, Sex, and Drugs”

Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

Capitalizing on her divorce news and cringe-worthy moments that logged the past five years of her personal and professional existence, Mary J. Blige wore her troubled emotions heavily on sleeves of Strength of a Woman. Beginning with a powerful opening track that revisits Blige’s hip-hop soul roots and yields her first-ever music union with Yeezy, Strength scales between claiming back the power she regretfully hid behind the love for her estranged husband-manager to now recognizing how resilient she is well beyond her celebrity status. Blige even found time to be the right amount of petty and unleash a high dose of saltiness topped with sweet revenge over trapsoul instrumentations ushered in by a new school of hungry music tasters like Camper and Prince Charlez who wanted to see her win again. — Antwane

Standout selections: “U + Me (Love Lesson),”  “Set Me Free” “Survivor” and “Telling the Truth” featuring Kaytranada

Ledisi – Let Love Rule

Shining a fully charged flashlight of hope, Ledisi tunnels her way through all love’s madness on Let Love Rule. Even though the New Orléans native has the voice of an angel, Rule doesn’t digest well on the first or second listen. I say this not bash or discredit Ledisi’s musical abilities but to say, if you’re a frequent radio listener, this album won’t impress you. This record isn’t chasing the minute, ready to serve sounds of R&B. It’s an album that increasingly ages after each playback. With Let Love Rule, Ledisi uses this collection of ballads and melodic compositions to educate hearers about social injustices, how to present in your relationship and the power of waiting for the stars to align in your favor. She doesn’t do half bad either. — Antwane

Standout selections: “Here,” “All the Way,” “High” and “Us 4 Ever” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid

Tamar Braxton – Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness may universally signify prosperity, joy, and delight but Tamar Braxton’s album version has a far deeper meaning. Absorbed by samples from the yesteryears of R&B, the youngest Braxton sister uses her definition of Bluebird to share the private wounds from her dissolving marriage from Vincent Herbert. Balancing the dark and light colors of musical tones, this solid recording not only hears Braxton harping on the foulness of love but finding moments to celebrate its presence and all its other glorious wonders. While being fully against Braxton calling it quits as a solo artist, Bluebird of Happiness definitely leaves a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of her loyal Tamartian fans – for now. — Antwane

Standout selections: “The Makings of You,” “My Forever,” “My Man,” and “Wanna Love Me Boy”

Tank – Savage

Serving as the follow-up to 2016’s Sex Pain & Love II, Tank takes an aggressive approach on Savage. He instantly hooks listeners with the title track before taking them on a musical journey through the bedroom with songs like “When We” and “F It Up.” The album isn’t just about sex, though. There are moments when he’s just singing about love, whether it’s the good times or trying to rekindle an old flame. — Keithan

Standout selections: “When We,” “Good Thing,” “Do For Me” and “Nothing On”

Jhene Aiko – Trip

After making a false start with her 2016 single “Maniac,” Jhene Aiko made a strong recovery with her second studio album, Trip. Released with no prior announcement, the 22-track LP is Aiko’s open diary that uncovers some of her most vulnerable moments. From dealing with the death of her brother to breakups, Aiko takes her listeners on an emotional rollercoaster through love, pain, depression, and happiness. Trip may be her most raw and honest project to date. — Keithan

Standout selections: “Sativa” featuring Swae Lee, “While We’re Young,” “New Balance” and “OLLA” featuring Big Sean

Sabrina Claudio – About Time
**honorary mention**

OK, About Time may technically be a mixtape but Sabrina Claudio certainly made it feel like an album. Laced with angelic harmonies and mesmerizing lyrics, About Time finds Claudio singing about…time (literally). “During the process of writing these songs, I was worried about time for some reason,” she said. “And it didn’t have to do with a relationship — maybe just career-wise I was worried about time and it translated through my music.” — Keithan

Standout selections: “Belong to You,” “Frozen,” “Natural” and “Stand Still”

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