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April 15, 2008

Shortcuts: Mariah Carey—E=MC^2

[img id="80485" align="alignleft"] After an emotional breakdown, two pitiful recordings (Glitter and Charmbracelet), and a brief stint as an actress, Mariah Carey was once again recognized as a functional human being for The Emancipation of Mimi, which included such hits as “We Belong Together,” a repackaged version Lil’ Jon’s “Lovers and Friends,” and “Don’t Forget About Us,” the Reloaded version of “We Belong Together.” The latter was so good, it made the Ultra Platinum Edition of Mimi’s Emancipation worth buying for those who missed her album the first time around. Carey continues this formula for success on her newest attempt at stealing your money, E=MC². But as simple as it is, this equation for Billboard hits seems to have some fundamental flaws.

“Accentuate my [insert (un)sexy breathing here]” Carey begins on the only club-banger on the album, “Migrate,” produced by the hit-machine Danja. It would have been a great way to start the album if Carey weren’t airily straining for high notes at the beginning of the song and drunkenly adding the word “hey” every five seconds. That aside, she still makes the word “migrate” acceptable in social circles.

The current single “Touch My Body” only works because it has Carey’s name written all over it. The song dissuades any type of sexual activity—if not because of Carey’s unconvincing lyrical delivery, then because of the lackluster beat that sounds as if the Cookie Monster is going to bust out a verse of “C is for Cookie.”

Though its lyrics may be direct from a Hallmark card in the Care and Concern section, the forthcoming single “Bye Bye” is that catchy goodbye-to-a-loved-one ballad that will be her 19th number-one hit. Jermaine Dupri seems to only make decent hits for Carey, and he comes through on “Last Kiss” and “Thanx 4 Nothin’.” The former is a ballad showing off Carey’s voice, something E=MC² does little of, while the latter is the only real flashback to Emancipation.

“Cruise Control” features Damien Marley adding his Jamaican flavor—and Carey spelling out the word “cruise”—while the Swizz Beatz’s “O.O.C.” makes you wonder how much of the song is actually produced by Swizzy, since nothing about the track is Out Of Control. The ’80s are done and gone, and since Timbaland gave them that final revival and burial with “SexyBack” and “Promiscuous,” there was no need for Mariah to try to relive her predecessors’ glory days with “I’m That Chick” and “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time.”

In fact, almost every track on E=MC² falls short of the leaked b-side “Heat,” a will.i.am production which features Carey spewing lines with more attitude than any one of UPN’s Girlfriends. At one point she taunts, “You think I won’t snatch off this here—bitch, I ain’t the one.” As a sequel to Mimi’s Emancipation, E=MC² plays worse than a private screening of Batman & Robin. Sometimes, the formula for a good sequel is to not make one at all.