Mariah Carey – My All

First Hit #1: May 23, 1998

My All flirts with going in an unexpected direction, but doesn’t commit. Carey includes a bit of latin-influenced instrumentation, but not actually that much. The percussion is a little different than what she usually does, same deal with the guitar, but then it just goes right back to the relatively safe R&B well from which Carey was sprung. Of course, Carey herself gives her all, just like she claims in the lyrics, her performance is a bit more than just a demonstration of vocal power – she does convincingly put down a mix of desperation and devotion that the song calls for. And that slightly different guitar is one of those twists that makes it more interesting than it might be otherwise. My All is a fundamentally good Mariah Carey song, and just different enough to be interesting.

Still, as often happens, the charts have been cluttered with a bunch of singles that are all squarely in the same wheelhouse, doing the same tricks at the same tempo, leading to a bit of burnout. That’s happened before, it actually happens a lot in years ending in 8, and it continues to demonstrate a flaw in the pop charts – the cycle of trends often leads to periods where everything sounds the same, and even good examples of the breed can get dragged under. If My All was released in 1994, I suspect I would be much less reserved in my praise, but at this point it’s been done, often by Carey herself.

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One Response to Mariah Carey – My All

  1. RBerman says:

    Mariah works her lower end to good effect once again on this torch song. One keyboard plays a guitary sample while the other plays pad chords, and a TR808 bass drum and nylon string guitar enter on the second verse. I like the way she reserves her vocal blowout for just the first half of the final chorus.

    I’d contend that the late 90s were even more musically stagnant than other decades; 1994 sounds a lot more like 1998 than 1964 does like 1968, and so on for 74/78, 84/88. That’s partly because the same songs stuck for weeks and weeks at the top, partly because the different songs were by the same small group of people (most obviously Carey and Boyz II Men), and partly because that small group tries so few different styles of song. Look at Madonna for a counterexample; compare “Lucky Star” to “Crazy For You” to “Express Yourself” to “Justify My Love” to “Ray of Light.” (Granted, that’s over a longer time period.) Even Janet Jackson was adventurous enough to do “Black Cat.” Where’s Mariah’s big guitar burn-down?

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