Don’t hate… but
This stripped-back piano-led ballad is probably one of the purest ballads of all time. It perfectly showcases Mariah’s vocal quality – and one epic vocal run (that sounds like the prettiest car alarm in the world) towards the end.
“Can’t Let Go”
After a string of number 1s in the US, “Can’t Let You” didn’t manage to reach the coveted top spot – which we think is a travesty. Plus the accompanying music video is one classy affair.
“If It’s Over”
Originally from the album Emotions, it marries MC’s songwriting with Carole King’s. Strong. Strong. Strong.
“Anytime You Need A Friend”
This song is pure power and quite different from anything Mariah had released up to that point. Its dark chord structure in the verse opens up to one glorious chorus, filled with a gospel vibe that truly inspires – and don’t get us started on that whistle note at the end of the song. The whole Musicbox album is the ultimate MC balladfest, it has so many good options.
“Miss You Most (At Christmas Time)”
When Mariah stips it all back we get to hear the jewel that is early Mariah’s bell-like soprano range. This song is the perfect opposite to the campery fun that is Mariah’s all-time greatest (or best-selling anyway) hit, “All I Want For Christmas (Is You)”.
I love songs like these from MC. We really get to understand her story as an artist. “Looking In” feels deeply personal and from a songwriter’s perspective can feel very exposing but ultimately freeing.
This is pretty much a standard Mariah ballad, but the lyrics are just so powerful and on the first album of Mariah’s to be pretty thin of ballads this is the obvious choice, following by “My All”.
There are a couple of great ballads on this album – and you may be surprised that I didn’t choose “Can’t Take That Away” but the vocals in “After Tonight” are actually next level when you listen to them. Unfortunately the album’s other ballads like “Against All Odds” and “Thank God I Found You” (don’t hate) sounded just dialled in, I’m not a fan. Don’t get me started on the duet version of “Against All Odds”.
“Lead The Way”
Back in the very early 2000s, when most of the world had seemingly written Mariah off, there’s the gem of an album the Glitter soundtrack. “Lead The Way” is just beautiful. The album showcased a newer style of singing for the diva – as she started to use her breathier lower register to great effect – allowing her to let rip towards the end of songs – giving a greater contrast to her performances.
“I Only Wanted”
Maybe an “After Tonight” part 2, but MC’s vocals are on point in this song and she does the Spanish guitar sound so well. This gets the top spot on from this album, because the chorus is so strong. I would have gone with “Through The Rain” but the use of Mariah’s softer, breathier vocal style gets tiresome. It’s not until the last chorus that she really opens up and lets fly – which is a shame.
“We Belong Together”
This album is very thin on the typical Mariah ballad, so the only choice is either “We Belong Together” or “Mine Again” luckily WBT is an epic song – particularly when she goes up the octave towards the end of the song.
“I Wish You Well”
Back to the piano-driven ballad, Mariah lets her stunning vocals shine.
“I Want To Know What Love Is”
Mariah isn’t really known for her covers (why would she, as she’s probably the most accomplished song-writer in the world) but when she does one it gets noticed (remember “Without You”). “I Want To Know What Love Is” is, dare I say better than the original. And totally uplifting, you just don’t want it to end – and well in Brazil, it nearly didn’t! It was number 1 for an incredible 27 weeks.
Merry Christmas II You
“O Come All Ye Faithful”
I have to say, I’m not a fan of this album, when compared to her 1994 release, it feels a little underwhelming, but getting a duet with her Mumma is pure excellence!
Me. I Am Mariah The Elusive Chanteuse
Unfortunately, the traditional MC ballad has all but disappeared for this album, aside from the cover of George Michael’s “One More Try”, which I never thought was a great song from GM. To note, this is one of Mariah’s worst-selling album so far. The album peaked at number 14 on the UK Albums Chart, selling just 6,547 copies in its first week.
This song feels like a late-90s end-of-album Mariah ballad and that’s a lovely thing. On the whole, the album Caution album is underrated and under-selling. It really deserved to do better.
So how did we do? What are your favourite MC ballads? Use the comments below to let us know.
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.