The Latest (5/20): It's here! Listen to the entire standard edition of Me. I Am Mariah ...The Elusive Chanteuse streaming right now on iTunes Radio, a week before the album's official release! Enjoy Lambs!
Mariah Carey's 2009 album Memoirs of an Angel boasted a Top 10 hit "Obsessed" and sold an impressive (but rather low for Mariah) 546,000 copies total. Five years later, she's on the verge of releasing a new album with the usual hype and excitement that follows a Mariah record, and the stakes are higher than ever.
With six years since the 2008 smash "Touch My Body" hit No. 1, this year will mark the longest amount of time Mimi has ever gone without a chart-topping single—the previous stretch was five years between 2000's "Thank God I Found You" and "We Belong Together" in 2005.
After canceling an R&B remix album of Memoirs in 2010 in favor of recording her 13th studio album, Mimi said she's gone through a "journey" and "been through a lot" over the last few years. That's no joke: She dropped her Merry Christmas II You album, gave birth to twins in a "really difficult" pregnancy with hubby Nick Cannon and joined the controversy-bogged American Idol judging panel with "Satan," presumed to be fellow judge Nicki Minaj.
In late summer 2012, Mariah started giving the first hints about the record. "I'm not trying to follow any particular trend," she told Billboard. "I want it to be well received. I want to stay true to myself and the music that I love and make the fans happy. I can't even express this properly but I feel like this is gonna be my favorite album." Lambs, are you ready?
The album boasts a long list of collaborators (both rumored and confirmed) that could hopefully see Mimi taking some risks:
-Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins (CONFIRMED): A previous Mariah collaborator ("So Lonely" featuring Twista) produced single "The Art of Letting Go."
-Hit-Boy (CONFIRMED): A new Mimi collaborator, rumored to have crafted a track titled "Thirsty." He's risen to A-list producer status with tracks like Kanye West & Jay Z's "N****s in Paris," Beyonce's "XO" and Lil Wayne's "Drop the World."
-Mike WiLL Made It (CONFIRMED): R&B-pop's go-to guy, (Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop," Ciara's "Body Party") is a new collaborator for Mimi, confirmed in a Billboard interview.
-Nas (CONFIRMED): The Illmatic MC was confirmed in Mariah's Billboard cover story.
-Wale (CONFIRMED): The D.C. rapper was confirmed in Mariah's Billboard cover story.
-Fabolous (CONFIRMED): While posting on Instagram about a night in the studio, Mariah posted a pic that she was "doing a different record now" and tagged the Brooklyn rapper. The collaborated on the track "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life" off Mimi's Glitter soundtrack. The MC was confirmed when Mariah posted the tracklist on iTunes.
-Larry Gold & The Love Unlimited Orchestra (CONFIRMED): The veteran arranger was confirmed in Mariah's Billboard cover story.
-R. Kelly (CONFIRMED): While Mariah teased a studio snap with Kellz saying "working on a new song!" we're wondering if it's for the Chicago crooner's Trapped in the Closet series. He features on deluxe version bonus track, "Betcha Gon' Know."
-Mary J. Blige (CONFIRMED): The R&B divas will join forces on deluxe version bonus track "It's a Wrap."
-Rich Homie Quan (CONFIRMED): The Atlanta rapper lays down a verse for "Thirsty." No confirmation on where he's featured on just the remix or if he appears on the official album version.
-Q-Tip (Rumored): The Tribe Called Quest frontman told us he was working on the album in August 2012.
-David Morales (Rumored): The dancefloor maestro who's served remixes like the "My All (Morales 'My' Club Remix)," featured on Mimi's official The Remixes album.
-Bryan-Michael Cox (Rumored): A producer with two singles off her comeback album The Emancipation of Mimi ("Shake It Off" and "Don't Forget About Us").
-The-Dream (Rumored): A recent favorite of Mariah who worked on her last No. 1, "Touch My Body," and co-produced almost every track on her Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel LP.
-Loris Holland (Rumored): The singer tweeted she was in the studio with Holland, who worked on her past albums such as 1995's Daydream and 2005's The Emancipation of Mimi.
Mariah also teased "a special guest star that I'm not allowed to reveal" in her Billboard cover story.
Our first taste of new Mariah music came in August 2012 via the hip hop/R&B collabo "Triumphant (Get Em)" featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill. Curiously, the rappers handled the verses while Mimi only sang on the chorus and bridge. The result was lackluster and failed to chart on the Hot 100, demoting the track to a "buzz single" that will presumably not make the final album.
Nine months later, "#Beautiful" featuring Miguel was billed as the album's lead single. The silky-smooth R&B jam became a summer anthem and peaked at No. 15 on the Hot 100. It was the diva's biggest chart hit since 2009.
The single was originally set to be the title track off the record. But Mariah told MTV that when the album cover leaked and she started adding new songs, she decided the title was no longer representative of the album.
As a Valentine's Day present, Mariah announced she'd release her new love ballad "You're Mine (Eternal)." The track came as a solo version with the following steamy music video...
...along with a remix version featuring Trey Songz that came with its own sensual visual. The track garnered acclaim for its similarities to Mariah's megahit "We Belong Together" and peaked at No. 88 on the Hot 100 so far.
Mariah also told MTV the new album "is all for the nostalgia" of her past classic albums and doesn't dabble in today's EDM-obsessed culture. "While I was writing, there were conversations where I asked, 'So, I have to jump on the techno bandwagon? Because I'd rather stay off the bandwagon if that's the case.' Not everybody has to be on that type of beat to get on the radio."
Mariah's faced a few hurdles with this project. In early July, the diva was rushed to a hospital after dislocating her shoulder while shooting a video for the remix of "#Beautiful."
The album's original release date of July 23, 2013 was also pushed back indefinitely after Mariah "got so immersed in the creative process." She told fans on Twitter, "I just don't feel I would be doing it justice to release it on 7/23. I'd rather not exclude meaningful songs. I want to give you this album as it's meant to be heard."
Producer Bryan-Michael Cox cited Mariah's difficult pregnancy and Idol as other roadblocks, but he likens the record's evolution to cooking "a honey-baked ham." He told Billboard, "Over the past couple of years we've added songs, scratched songs, slow-baking this record like a honey-baked ham—when you take a bite of that ham, people will be extremely and pleasantly surprised."
This February, Mariah announced the album will drop May 6 via a two-minute video reminding the world of everything the singer has accomplished—including a scan of every Billboard Hot 100 chart for each of her 18 No. 1 songs.
Despite such a grandiose release date announcement, evidence hints the May 6 date may be changing yet again. Mariah's label, Island Def Jam, does not list the LP in its "Coming Soon" section—though Afrojack's Forget the World, also out on May 6, is listed. As well, music industry site HitsDailyDouble.com doesn't include the record in its "Upcoming Releases" section either. Though, it should be noted that every title on the sites has a confirmed title while Mariah's does not. Her official YouTube page still has the video boasting the May 6 release date.
Surprise! Or Not?
Just when we thought the album had hit another road block, Mariah announced a Beyonce-esque surprise album in a new Billboard cover story. Mimi will reveal the title, tracklisting, artwork and music all together through digital partners. And not to worry hardcore Lambs, a physical release is expected the following week.
"I have to be the one that announces this, especially the title," she says in the interview.
Mariah's label countered the story and said that Mariah's new album "will be preceded by a traditional strategy leading up to a 'late May' simultaneous digital/physical street date"—aka the way all albums are released today.
3. Dedicate ft. Nas
4. #Beautiful ft. Miguel
6. Make It Look Good
7. You're Mine (Eternal)
8. You Don't Know What to Do
9. Supernatural with special guest stars "Dembabies" a.k.a. Ms. Monroe & Mr. Moroccan Scott Cannon a.k.a. Roc N' Roe
12. Money ($ * / ...) ft. Fabolous
13. One More Try
14. Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can't Give Up Now)
15. It's a Wrap ft. Mary J. Blige (Deluxe Version Bonus Track)
16. Betcha Gon' Know ft. R. Kelly (Deluxe Version Bonus Track)
17. The Art of Letting Go (Deluxe Version Bonus Track)
18. Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse
The new album Me. I Am Mariah...The Elusive Chanteuse is expected to drop May 27.
Stay tuned to Fuse for up-to-date info on Mariah's upcoming release.