I'm at a loss for words. Truly. This being my sixth Mariah Carey review, I was just about to let give up on my goal getting through each record the woman has recorded, but I should have payed attention to the beautiful irony that the second I gave up having expectation, she'd come back and impress me. At this point, I'm sure that resident MC-fan glvrican is flabbergasted! Especially since he's also a big Madonna fan. But yeah, after so much unbelievable crap, I found a Mariah Carey album with the most important thing of them all: replay value. 1995's Daydream was like a punch in the nuts; I loved one of the singles so much to the point where I was absolutely heartbroken by how terrible the rest of that formulaic monstrosity was. While 1997's Butterfly is free of blemishes (trust me), it's certainly a hell of a lot more mature and thought-out than anything the woman had done up to this point.
Recommend this product?
Mariah's been redeemed! I can write the good sections first again! So, there's a lot of things I love about this album, the least of which is the improvement on overall quality and sound. Her previous albums all had that lame, childish mellow-drama going on that made her sound absolutely insincere and boring. Just about every song on Emotions and Music Box made me want to take a nap, due to their lack of presence. On Butterfly, though I was immediately impressed. As I've been happy with the opening track of her last few albums, I didn't think much of the hip-hop mellow dance jam that is Honey. In other words, I just didn't trust it. I've been tricked by this woman before. Luckily, though, I was shocked when the title-track began to play and I found myself immersed in the mood. The introspective sound is something I've never gotten from this woman. She always sounded more like a voice than the character-- she can sing all she wants, but is she connecting to the song? On Butterfly, she definitely is. There's a sad atmosphere that comes along with the beautiful vocal mixing and arranging. It's special. It's delicate. And it's big.
So, two songs in a row, I'm impressed. This continued throughout all of Side A. My All starts with an ominous, sad acoustic guitar before her typical Mariah-moans start. What I love about this song is the dark feel that the Latin-inspiration brings to the table. Spanish guitars always add a great atmosphere, but when the soft drums come in, it proves that this song is the complete package. As with Butterfly, Mariah proves that she can sing a song from her own point of view, rather than sounding like a guest. The Roof has one of the most interesting arrangings of Mariah's whole career, starting with a slow piano and breaking into a dark hip hop beat with distorted vocals coming in the background. This is what I want from Mariah. If she's going to do ballads or slowjams, they have to be good, and these are good.
There's bad. It's Mariah Carey, and it's unavoidable. On Butterfly, Mariah shows true growth as an artist, but she can't resist falling into her old tricks, most of which are evident on what would constitute as a Side B. This album is, again, loaded to the brim with those cheezy and non-melodic ballads from her last few albums, but they don't annoy me as bad within the context of this record. Her voice is the same it's ever been, but her delivery of these tracks makes them worth at least a full listen. Babydolls really kind of irks me with its lame Toni-Braxton-knockoff sound, and Whenever You Call is just as generic as anything the woman has ever recorded. But I find myself at peace with these songs. To be honest, writing this review right now, I'm a little taken aback at the passion all throughout.
It's about time. Bravo, Mariah. Let's see if you can keep up the quality with Rainbow.
Honey (5 Stars)
Butterfly (5 Stars)
My All (4 Stars)
The Roof (5 Stars)
Fourth of July (3 Stars)
Breakdown (1 Star)
Babydolls (1 Star)
Close My Eyes (2.5 Stars)
Whenever You Call (1.5 Stars)
Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise) (3.5 Stars)
The Beautiful Ones (3 Stars)
Outside (1.5 Stars)
Honey (So So Def Mix) (3 Stars)
Honey (Def Club Mix) (1 Star)
OVERALL SCORE: 3 STARS (2.9+)