Mariah Carey is dropping her 14th album on May 27 and its title contains seven words, a dozen syllables, a period, a dramatic pause and a new alter ego. Ready for this?
“Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse.”
Brava, Mimi. Brava.
We’ve been conditioned to expect this kind of babbling eccentricity from Carey, whom we started calling Mimi shortly after her outstanding 2005 comeback album, “The Emancipation of Mimi,” changed karaoke night forever. “Emancipation” found the pop superstar singing about love and longing with a new zest. It also snapped her penchant for naming albums with a single word. “Emotions,” “Daydream,” “Butterfly,” “Rainbow,” “Glitter,” “Charmbracelet” — they all sounded like names for ponies.
The album titles that came next were more like thoroughbreds racing for the Triple Crown. There was 2008’s “E=MC2,” 2009’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” and now — down the stretch they come! — “Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse.”
Here’s a bigger, non-horse-related question: In era when the album format supposedly no longer matters, do album titles matter? This one might. As social media forces us to communicate in pithy bursts, a gabby title jumps out. Forcing fans to memorize a haiku seems like a more effective marketing strategy than stamping something with a hashtag — which Carey did for “#Beautiful,” the fourth track on “M.I.A.M. … T.E.C.” and the greatest song released last year.
And in addition to drawing attention, an overblown album title can provide valuable context. My favorite release of 2014 thus far is a psychedelic honkytonk songbook whose title aptly and evocatively describes the music therein: Sturgill Simpson‘s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” (Also a great name for a racehorse.)
We still have 26 days before we find out if Carey’s album has as much personality as its title. Until then, let’s all watch a promo video where she oddly garnishes a monologue about her childhood with inexplicable whispers and stereo giggles.