Charmbracelet is Mariah Carey's ninth studio album that was released on December 3, 2002 through MonarC Entertainment and Island Records.
- Through The Rain 4:48
- Boy (I Need You) (featuring Cam'ron) 5:14
- The One 4:08
- Yours 5:06
- You Got Me (featuring Jay-Z and Freeway) 4:22
- I Only Wanted 3:38
- Clown 3:17
- My Saving Grace 4:09
- You Had Your Chance 4:22
- Lullaby 4:56
- Irresistible (Westside Connection) (featuring Westside Connection) 5:04
- Subtle Invitation 4:27
- Bringin' On The Heartbreak 4:34
- Sunflowers For Alfred Roy 2:59
- Through The Rain (Remix) (featuring Joe and Kelly Price) 3:32
Mariah Carey began writing songs for the album in early 2002 before she signed the record deal. She decided to rest, traveled to Capri and moved into a recording studio where she could focus on writing and recording without distractions.
Most of the album was recorded in Capri, although she traveled to Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to record some tracks.
That same year, Carey claimed Charmbracelet to be the "most personal album" she had ever made. She worked with longtime collaborators Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Randy Jackson and other songwriters and producers 7 Aurelius, Just Blaze, Damizza and Dre & Vidal.
The opening track and the first track to be written for the album, "Through the Rain" (which was written by Carey and Lionel Cole) was inspired Carey's recent experiences and was co-produced by Jam and Lewis. It was released as the lead single from the album.
Jam, Lewis and Carey also worked on the track, "Yours" (which Jam said contains "probably one of the best hooks [ever]") and likened it to one of the trio's previous collaborations, "Thank God I Found You."
Initially, the song was recorded as a duet with Justin Timberlake; however, due to contractual complications, the duet was never released and a solo version was featured on the album instead.
Jam & Lewis produced two more songs: "Wedding Song" and "Satisfy" (the latter featuring background vocals from Michael Jackson), which were not released on the album.
Carey decided to work with Just Blaze after hearing Cam'ron's song, "Oh Boy." Just Blaze and Carey produced the tracks, "Boy (I Need You)" and "You Got Me."
Carey said "Boy (I Need You)" was one of her favorites on the album. "You Got Me" features rap verses from Jay-Z and Freeway, was noted by Carey as a "signature Just Blaze track".
Jay-Z was in Capri on vacation, and went to the studio to hear the song and said that he wanted to contribute to it and added rap verses of his own.
Dupri produced "The One" and "You Had Your Chance". He said that they wanted to stick to the "same familiar sound" from his previous collaborations with Carey.
Carey said "The One" was a personal song, which was about being hurt in past relationships and the uncertainty about forming new ones.
She decided to experiment with a live band for the album. In April 2002, she met 7 Aurelius and asked him to produce songs for the album. They flew to Nassau, Bahamas and recorded a mixture of mid-tempo and up-tempo tracks and ballads with a live band.
7 Aurelius said that Carey was "an amazing writer" and described the process of recording, saying: "We did three or four songs in three or four days. The way we was doing it, I had [a horn section] down there along with me. We had the whole room set up with candles, some nice wine—[it was] a very good vibe. It was completely stripped down, like 'Mariah Carey Unplugged'. She stripped herself down to her talent. She was really trusting of me and my vision, and I was trusting of who she was."
"Charmbracelet" debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 chart, and sold 241,000 copies in its first week.
The album peaked within the top 40 in seven countries, including top ten positions in Japan and Switzerland, and sold an estimated three million copies worldwide.
"Charmbracelet" was released to mixed critical reception.
Aggregator website Metacritic, which averages professional reviews into a numerical score, gave the album a score of 43/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic rated the album two out of five stars, and criticized its production and the condition of Carey's voice, writing: "Whenever she sings, there's a raspy whistle behind her thin voice and she strains to make notes throughout the record ... Her voice is damaged, and there's not a moment where it sounds strong or inviting."
Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly said she was "in fine voice". He wrote that "Through the Rain" sinks in its own sodden sentimentality, as do by-the-numbers efforts like 'Yours' and 'I Only Wanted' ", and added that "'Clown' is a moody number graced with mournful acoustic guitar and a gorgeously nuanced vocal, while 'Sunflowers for Alfred Roy' is a short, sweet song sung to a lovely piano accompaniment". He finished by saying that "too much of Charmbracelet is mired in middle-of-the-road muck."
Billboard editor Michael Paoletta praised Carey's return to her core audience.
He said that although Carey might have alienated her hip hop followers from her previous three albums, her older fans from the 1990s would be more receptive to the material and her new image.
Kelefa Sanneh from The New York Times wrote that the album "is generally pleasant, although it's not always exciting, and a few of the collaborations go awry".
He called Carey's voice "invariably astonishing", and said that "she can hit high notes that barely sound human", praised her versatility, and wrote that she "also knows how to make a hip-hop hit by holding back and letting the beat shine."
Ethan Browne of New York slated the album's whimsical chimes and tinkling keyboards, and wrote: "Was Charmbracelet recorded in a Casio shop? This instrument needs to be stopped."
Rating the album two out of five stars, Barry Walters from Rolling Stone wrote that none of the songs were bold, that the lack of hooks made the album weak, and said, "Carey needs bold songs that help her use the power and range for which she is famous. Charmbracelet is like a stream of watercolors that bleed into a puddle of brown."
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine complimented Carey's mixture of pop and hip hop melodies, and wrote: "Though there's nothing as immediate as 'Fantasy' or 'My All' here, Charmbracelet is significantly less contrived than 1999's Rainbow and almost as creatively liberating as Butterfly."
British columnist Angus Batey, writing for Yahoo! Music UK called the songs on Charmbracelet forgettable, and wrote: "She used to take risks, but Charmbracelet is conservative, unadventurous and uninspiring; and, while it's understandable that simply to make another record marks a triumph of sorts, it's impossible to admire Mariah to the degree that her talent ought to merit."
John Mulvey from NME criticized its content, writing, "Nominally, Charmbracelet is R&B, much like Tony Blair is nominally a socialist ... Tragedies, all told, have been worse."