"Most people probably don't understand this, but you always play to what's best for the song," Randy Jackson says.
With latest single "Triumphant (Get 'Em)," Mariah Carey is offering something for everyone.
During a Def Jam conference call with media on Aug. 2, the singer debuted a hip-hop version of the track featuring Rick Ross and Meek Mill, while simultaneously releasing a "vintage throwback remix" and "pulse club mix" on her website, MariahCarey.com.
Previewing the multiple versions of the single -- co-written and co-produced by Carey, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox -- reveals the diversity of musical genres expected on her untitled 14th album, tentatively due in March 2013. According to Carey manager Randy Jackson, releasing the three different versions of "Triumphant" speaks to her ability to cater to multiple audiences and radio formats.
"The vintage throwback mix will remind fans of remixes she did years ago, and she's had a lot of Billboard No. 1 dance hits as well," Jackson says. "She went in and re-sang the vocals, knowing that the two verses on this first version of this single with Meek and Ross were going to be hip-hop verses where people were rapping. We wanted to have something for all of her fans."
The radio attack plan is multipronged as well. The single has already been released on YouTube in streaming format, having racked up almost 500,000 views since it was uploaded earlier this month. Island Def Jam plans to service the hip-hop version to R&B/hip-hop radio on Aug. 13, and is mapping out strategies to deliver other versions across dance formats.
Releasing three versions has played to Carey's benefit. Some fans criticized the fact that Ross and Mill overshadow the singer on her own song and gravitated toward the club-geared mixes.
"Most people probably don't understand this, but you always play to what's best for the song," Jackson says. "You don't go in and say, 'Wait a minute. I know they're rapping on these verses, but I need to be singing on these verses. Me, me, me.' It just turns out that way."
For Carey, enlisting rappers for a single is nothing new. Since the onset of her career, she's collaborated with Jay-Z, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Busta Rhymes, adding hip-hop flavor to pop-leaning tracks. The choice to release three versions of "Triumphant" mirrors a similar strategy used for 2009 single "Obsessed," for which she shot two music videos: a solo edit and a remix featuring Gucci Mane. The original version of the cut peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, while the club remix later topped the Dance Club Songs chart, scoring a hit across formats.
"Her idea with all her music is to get it out to her fans, and hopefully lift everyone's spirits a little bit," says Jackson, who notes that "Triumphant" was inspired by Carey's husband, Nick Cannon, and his struggle with kidney failure earlier this year. "It's really about having it succeed, and people are hearing it."
In anticipation of the single's release, Carey has already shot a video directed by Cannon and set for release in the forthcoming weeks. She has a "big performance planned soon for television," and will appear in director Lee Daniels' upcoming film, "The Butler." Of course, she also recently cut a deal to serve as a judge on "American Idol" that's rumored to be worth $18 million. During the next few months, however, Jackson insists that completing the album is her main focus.
"The album is going to be one of the great Mariah Carey albums," he says, "with a lot of stuff that you've come to love about her over the years."