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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Glitter fails to shine
Mariah Carey
Carey image has always been bright and sweet
By the BBC's Michael Osborn

The latest musical offering from pop diva Mariah Carey has been seriously overshadowed by tumultuous events in the singer's private life.

Carey, whose image over the past decade has been bright, sugary and glamorous, has suffered the darkness of a psychiatric breakdown.

Her personal battle led to her new album Glitter being put back several weeks, not to mention her launch as a movie star.

While we wait to see the film Glitter, Carey's soundtrack album doesn't yet possess a hook to be hung upon. But it carries the typical hallmarks of a Carey production.

Mariah Carey in a provocative pose
Carey flirting with the seamier side of life
For this venture, the singer stepped in as executive producer, and recruited a bunch of collaborators.

Maybe with one of the meatiest recording deals in history, she was feeling the pressure to produce the goods on her first outing for new bosses Virgin.

Hip-hop big names Natte Dogg and Ja Rule lend much-needed weight to If We, while Mariah trills away in the background.

Mystikal (of Shake Your Ass fame) does the business on Don't Stop Funkin'. His gung-ho style contrasts nicely with Mariah's candy-sweet vocals - while she seems to be taking it pretty easy once again.

Hot-pants

Carey, who has never been best-known as a disco queen, has a stab at dance classic Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, which frankly fails to touch the original.

It has been made a little downbeat, while Busta Rhymes and DJ Clue rap all over it for no apparent reason.

Mariah Carey riding high
Carey may be running out of steam

The recent single Lover Boy - which failed to dent the top 10 in the UK - showed Carey flirting with the seamier side of life.

On the other hand, retro-tinged All My Life brings memories of mirrorballs and hot-pants hurtling back.

Glitter has a clutch of tracks that are Carey all over. She has built her reputation on syrupy ballads, and that uncanny ability to hit the highest vocal register and shatter a few glasses about the place.

Lead The Way and Never Too Far are typical of this, while the very understated Twister winds up with one of her shrill peaks - best avoided if you are feeling a bit fragile the morning after the night before.

Flagging

As albums go, this is slickly produced and has a shimmering polish. But this does little to improve the quality and innovation of the content.

Carey may be a huge star and a big seller, but the appeal of this material is thin, and her vocal contortions at times grate rather than soothe.

Her unexpected illness has proved a marketing migraine, leaving the album floating and largely diverting attention from the music itself.

Some savage critics would suggest that Carey's recuperation may give her space to reflect upon where her career should next go.

But Glitter is evidence enough to suggest that she is in danger of running out of steam.

Glitter is released on 10 September by Virgin

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