If the music thing goes down the drain or up in flames (again), Mariah Carey can always launch a third coming as a comedienne. For the past month, her current album, Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, which over time has grown on me enough to become one of my favorite albums of 2009, has been entertaining me in ways that have nothing to do with melody. Mariah spends a good part of the album cutting up, cracking up, laughing through tears, jeers and all that jazz.
It pays to listen with the lyric sheet in hand (I know, how early ’00s!) or while looking at the words on a lyrics website. Otherwise, during “More Than Friends,” you might miss the part when she sings “Love me down till I hit the top of my soprano,” followed by her doing her whistle-register bit. “Up Out My Face” (my favorite song), in particular, is pretty much a four-minute comedy routine with a marching band coda to drive the joke home.
When I interviewed Mariah in 2002, one of the things about her that I found most surprising was how funny she can be. She’s in on the joke — all of them. Most of my friends are shocked when I reveal this, but it’s true. Up until Memoirs, her frequently over-earnest lyrics rarely betrayed even a dollop of a sense of humor. It’s nice to see Mariah finally lightening up, if not exactly opening up, on record.
Here are my favorite moments of laugh-out-loud lyrical levity on Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel:
- “This is for real, for real, for real/ Oprah Winfrey, whole segment, for real, for real/ 20/20, Barbara Walters, for real, for real/ 60 Minutes, for real” — “Betcha Gon Know
- “You a mom and pop, I’m a corporation/ I’m the press conference, you a conversation” — “Obsessed”
- “So cheers, toast, bravo to you/ Cuz you’re the man of the hour/ I’ma have to send you some flowers” — “Standing O”
- “Pretend you on the sofa/ And I’m on the TV/ Might see me on a poster/ See me at a show/ But you won’t see me for free/ Boy, this ain’t no promo” — “Up Out My Face”
- “You ain’t never gonna feel this thing again/ You gon’ get a lot of calls ‘cause I CC’ed all your friends” — “Up Out My Face” (Editor’s note: Some lyrics websites print “‘… cause I see seen all your friends,” which, if accurate, isn’t nearly as funny.)
- “Secretly, I know you want to hit it like the lotto/ And after that, we can ketchup like tomato/ We can make love in Italy in the grotto/ Fresh off the jet, got the men they screaming bravo” — “More Than Just Friends”
- And now I love you like summertime/ Love you like cherry wine/ Love you like free money/ Like a preacher loves Sunday” — “The Impossible”
- “I was wondering/ Would you reach for me/ If you saw that I was languishing/ I was wondering would you cry for me/ If I told you that I couldn’t breathe/ If I was drowning, suffocating/ If I told you that I couldn’t breathe” — “Languishing”
Alright, alright, that last one is dead-serious stuff, but what would a Mariah Carey album — or memoirs of any imperfect angel, for that matter — be without a little florid emoting and lyrical gravitas?