You can’t blame Mariah Carey for giving fans what she thinks they want, routinely performing her legendary collection of hits during the debut 2015-17 run of her Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, aptly titled #1 to Infinity. It’s easy to forget that tucked away in Carey’s trove of chart-toppers are deeply personal cuts, rare B-sides, a legacy of (resung!) remixes and tracks from her 1997 Butterfly album that aren’t “Honey” or “My All.”
Titled The Butterfly Returns, Carey’s newly revamped second Vegas show, which began this month and returns August 31 for dates through September, intends to dust off the gems buried in her expansive 28-year-old discography, allowing her loyal Lambs to bask in lesser-performed songs like “I Still Believe,” “Make It Happen,” “Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme)” or “Can’t Let Go.”
But if the butterfly has returned, shouldn’t she return with a new clutch of Butterfly numbers? Here are 10 very special MC songs we’d give our all to see peppered into future set lists:
“One More Try”
The diva’s sublime house-of-mirrors cover of George Michael’s tearjerker found its way onto her 2014 release Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Carey’s Michael-approved take simultaneously honors the original and obviously Mariahifies it to baptismal effect, working in an ad-libbed bridge where she layers her many octaves to sound like a blessed flock of singing angels.
Why isn’t Mariah belting the full ballad version of her best album’s emotionally liberating title track? Who doesn’t want to hear the complete story of how the butterfly got her wings?
Wouldn’t it be the sweetest of fantasies to hear “Slipping Away” live? This dreamy slice of bop heaven from, naturally, the Daydream era didn’t make the 1995 album, but this melodic B-side treasure deserves to be unleashed from the Mimi vault.
Carey’s R&B evolution came into full bloom on Butterfly, particularly with her underrated masterpiece “Breakdown,” a spectacular piece of slinky, woeful heartbreak featuring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It would be the perfect opportunity for another feathery headdress moment à la the video, dahling.
“Anytime You Need a Friend (C&C Club Version)”
Imagine Carey performing even just a generous cut of Robert Clivillés and David Cole’s 11-minute exultant house mix of her spirit-lifting ballad “Anytime You Need a Friend” from 1994’s Music Box — arguably her finest remix — and what that would mean to a room full of gays who paid a lot of money to be taken to church.
“Vanishing,” from her 1990 debut, seems like a major miss if not performed as the curtain closes on her: She gave you the classics, whipped her expressive hands around like human fly swatters, had tea. Now, Carey can take her final diva bow, but not until the lights dim and she sits at a piano, powering through one of her best-ever recordings, a stunning display of vocal highs and lows that isn’t “Vision of Love.”
Keep dem babies off the stage for this one! Playfully giddy and deliciously flirty, the Glitter soundtrack’s “Loverboy” features Carey dispensing sex-laced candy references and cooing, “Oh, my sugar daddy takes me for a ride.” Its retro brand of cotton-candy camp is so very Vegas.
“There’s Got to Be a Way”
Even though her call-for-coexistence anthem “There’s Got to Be a Way” appeared on Carey’s debut nearly 30 years ago, the world’s divisiveness still so desperately needs some divine diva intervention.
“Close My Eyes”
Butterfly‘s self-reflective meditation on Carey’s own loss of innocence is one of the singer-songwriter’s most poetically nuanced songs, a lullaby-like refrain comforting fans who’ve long leaned on its hopeful end-imagery for support and inspiration.
Carey has never before performed her hymn for those on society’s fringes, the Butterfly coda that muses on the inferiority she felt growing up a biracial child. She knows, like its sister ballad “Close My Eyes,” its significance to superfans like myself who found in her a kindred spirit as they faced their own adversity. If performed to thousands of diverse Mariah-adoring outsiders under one roof, it could lead to one of the night’s most powerfully unifying celebrations of finding love and acceptance even in, as Carey contends, a “world divided.”