Forget about the bout with exhaustion. Mariah Carey, newly signed to Island Records, says her next album will be filled with "celebratory, fun songs." As first reported here yesterday, Carey has signe

Forget about the bout with exhaustion. Mariah Carey, newly signed to Island Records, says her next album will be filled with "celebratory, fun songs." As first reported here yesterday, Carey has signed a new deal with Universal Music Group that includes her own record label via a partnership with Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJMG). While the terms of the agreement were not disclosed, sources say it's a $20 million deal for three albums with an option for a fourth.

Carey is in the studio recording the first release. Island Def Jam Music Group president/CEO Lyor Cohen says the set is due by year's end or early next year. "There are a lot of songs I've done in the past that are very introspective and personal," Carey says in an exclusive interview. "This album has a lot of those type of songs. But it also has celebratory, fun songs; I'm not going to sit there and dwell. People are always asking, 'Is everything OK?' Look, I was not depressed; I was freaking exhausted."

Carey is referring to her much publicized breakdown last summer, which some say contributed to disastrous box-office numbers for her feature film debut, "Glitter," and the Virgin soundtrack of the same name. As previously reported, "Glitter" was the only album Carey issued on Virgin after leaving her long-time home of Columbia Records. In January, she parted ways with Virgin for a buyout of close to $30 million.

"My gut has always been to go with Universal, even before I did the [Virgin] deal," Carey admits. "I learned a big lesson: You've got to go with the people that really know what they are doing."

Asked why "Glitter" was such a sales disappointment, Carey says "I feel like it was a domino effect, where the ignorance gets passed along. 'Glitter' was a soundtrack record that was a concept album. It was not a studio record. And even still, I feel there were a lot of good songs on there that no one ever heard because they didn't get a chance to. I just exhausted myself trying to work my record the way I knew my record was supposed to be worked. We only had seven weeks to set the album up. And it came out on Sept. 11. There couldn't have been worse odds."

As for the new album, Carey says she's "going to wherever the creative energy takes me. I'm not trying to sound New Age-y, but it's true. I'm doing a lot of stuff with live musicians, and I'm doing a lot of ballads."

Carey stars in the independent film "Wisegirls," which will air on Cinemax later this year. "It's a character part, and it's so different from what people would expect from me," she says. "It's really in the direction that I want to go, and it has gotten me a lot of offers to do other character roles. You live and you learn. It's OK to wait to do something. You don't have to do the 'predictable' thing with the whole studio system. Doing something independent was really freeing and great for me."

For the full Q&A with Mariah Carey, visit The Hollywood Reporter.

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