Mimi announced her long-awaited album and its Nov. 16 release date earlier this month on social media. “I’ve been working on my new album for a while. This is a labor of love and I’m really excited,” Carey told People earlier in August. “This is me at this moment in my life being able to express myself as a writer and a singer. I’m just really in a good place.”
With incredible staying power and a vocal range that most singers can only dream of, it’ll be exciting to see what the next phase of the legendary diva’s illustrious career will look and sound like when Caution finally drops. Here are five things we hope to hear from Mariah Carey’s 15th studio LP.
More candid storytelling
From day one, Mariah’s flair for penning her own lyrics and conceiving her own melodies set her apart from other successful divas. Between 1990 and 1999, the “eternally 12” songstress amassed 19 Hot 100 top 10 hits, from “Vision of Love” to “Heartbreaker” -- and all but four tracks were self-penned. Well-known hits, including “Hero” and “One Sweet Day,” remain crowd-pleasers to this day in large part due to their universal messages, but the lambs appreciate and tend to gravitate toward the lesser-known cuts (like “Outside,” from 1997’s Butterfly) because they chronicle some of Mariah’s personal struggles.
What’s promising for Caution is the fact that Carey confirmed recently on Twitter that the album features a track akin to E=MC²’s “I Wish You Well” and Rainbow’s “Petals.” The latter is especially significant because the ballad contains, as Mariah puts it, “some of the most honest lyrics I’ve ever written,” in which she addresses her complicated relationship with older sister Alison, as well as ex-husband Tommy Mottola (“I gravitated towards a patriarch so young, predictably.”)
Much like Butterfly, which cemented her independence as an artist and young woman, this forthcoming studio LP signals yet another turning point in Carey’s life and decades-long career. So we hope to hear more vulnerable moments on this album that give us a glimpse into what the past couple years have been like for the music icon -- perhaps something about her battle with bipolar II disorder after years of suffering in silence, which she opened up to People about in April.
Another encouraging sign: Ahead of Carey’s iHeart Music Festival performance in September, the pop veteran stated, “There’s certainly at least one song that people will be like, ‘OK, this is her being very real with us.’”
The obligatory cover song
The lambs are accustomed to hearing the gifted chanteuse’s take on classic tunes, including the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” and Brenda K. Starr’s “I Still Believe” -- all of which were released as singles, and some of which remain signature numbers for Mariah.
Fourteen albums deep, a remake of Minnie Riperton’s 1975 hit, “Lovin’ You” feels long overdue, especially since Carey has cited the late singer as an early influence -- especially as it relates to singing in the whistle register. Just imagine how angelic the superstar would sound cooing, “Stay with me while we grow old/ And we will live each day in springtime.” At the very least, we’d settle for a live rendition, but a studio version is obviously preferred, dahling.
A reunion with Walter Afanasieff
Mariah Carey and former longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff were magic together in the studio. “Love Takes Time”? “Can’t Let Go”? “Dreamlover”? “Hero”? “All I Want for Christmas Is You”? “One Sweet Day”? “My All”? While all the lyrics to these gems were solely penned by Carey herself, the veteran songwriter called on Afanasieff to help produce and compose the music for those stunning numbers.
Unbeknownst to many, the R&B/pop goddess received piano lessons at the age of six, but prefers to work with a trained pianist since she’s unable to read sheet music. “Walter and I have developed this thing where he really knows what I’m talking about,” Carey explained during an interview that was featured in 1993’s Here Is Mariah Carey special. “I sing him the harmonies and things that I’m hearing and he just plays.”
The talented duo parted ways following the release of 1997’s Butterfly due to their creative differences, as well as the singer’s strained relationship with Sony. Although the chance for a reunion is a long shot, these two had a chemistry like no other. Carey went on to create some memorable tunes with other collaborators, including DJ Clue (“Heartbreaker”), Jermaine Dupri (“Shake It Off”) and Tricky Stewart (“Touch My Body”), but many of the megastar’s timeless hits stemmed from those writing sessions with Afanasieff. Fingers crossed that they’ll join forces together again for old time’s sake.
A song with Drake
Setting the standard for every pop/rap collaboration to follow with 1995’s “Fantasy” remix, featuring Wu-Tang Clan MC Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ms. Carey has since worked with the likes of JAY-Z, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliot and other rap titans. She recently enlisted Ty Dolla $ign for the Skrillex-produced track “The Distance,” the fifth track off Caution -- but Mimi’s appreciation for hip-hop and Drake’s grasp of melody is another dream collab we’re all waiting for.
After all, “Emotionless,” the fourth track off Drizzy’s Scorpion, is built around an unlikely sample of the 12-inch club remix of Carey’s chart-topping 1991 hit, “Emotions.” “I wasn’t hidin’ the kid from the world, I was hidin’ the world from my kid,” he raps on the second verse, whilst Mariah’s staggering vocals soar in the background.
A collab with the Toronto rapper could reintroduce the Queen to younger millennials, who might not be as familiar with her discography. The duo also have a recent collaborator in common: Mariah’s “GTFO” was produced by Nineteen85, who worked the boards for a handful of Drake’s biggest hits, including “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance.”
Reteaming with dance producers
Mariah’s known for transforming some of her signature songs into a club goer’s dream, often teaming up with David Morales and re-recording her vocals for the sake of a good remix -- “Honey” (Classic Club Mix) and “Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme)” (Morales Revival Triumphant Mix) being two of the many memorable examples.
But MC’s history of teaming up with dance producers can be traced all the way back to her 1991 sophomore effort, Emotions. Nearly half of the Motown-inspired LP’s tracklist featured production credits from Robert Clivillés and the late David Cole, of diva house act C+C Music Factory. Together, the trio penned the uptempo hits “Emotions” and “Make It Happen,” which served as a nice departure from Carey’s mostly balladic previous singles.
Hopefully this time around, we’ll get more festive, celebratory anthems. Mariah has been devoted to the R&B genre since Butterfly, but finding subtle ways to incorporate elements of EDM into her sound (e.g. the Porter Robinson-sampling “GTFO”) might be what it takes to reclaim her throne and dominate Top 40 radio again. One thing we’ve learned over the years is to never count this living legend out. Ever.