E=MC² is Mariah Carey's 11th studio album that was released on April 15, 2008 by Island Records.
- Migrate (featuring T-Pain) 4:17
- Touch My Body 3:24
- Cruise Control (featuring Damian Marley) 3:32
- I Stay In Love 3:31
- Side Effects (featuring Young Jeezy) 4:22
- I'm That Chick 3:31
- Love Story 3:56
- I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time 3:01
- Last Kiss 3:36
- Thanx 4 Nothin' 3:05
- O.O.C. 3:26
- For The Record 3:26
- Bye Bye 4:26
- I Wish You Well 4:39
After completing The Adventures of Mimi Tour, Mariah Carey began working on material for her eleventh studio effort, the yet untitled "E=MC²."
The album was hailed as one of the most anticipated albums of 2008, with many critics weighing their opinions on whether Carey would be able to deliver significant success, following her achievements with "The Emancipation of Mimi."
Carey began writing and producing the music she saw fit, and not anything to please record executives. Throughout 2007, she recorded the album in a studio built into her private villa in Anguilla, in the Caribbean.
She describe "E=MC²" as one of her most expressive albums, and one that she felt free on, and able to express herself through her music.
In an interview with The Bryan Times, Carey spoke of her sentiments on the album: "It's hard for me to sit here and talk about it without sounding like if I'm bragging if I'm in love with it, but I am I love with this album. I think that having the success with the last record allowed me to have more freedom...and just make records that I like. Its kind of a really fun record."
The first track from the album, "Migrate" (a song that Carey wrote & co-produced along with Danja) features a rap verse from T-Pain.
Its melody is built on a heavy electronic beat, and incorporates whistle registers and several studio-created synthesizers into its melody.
Additionally, the song features the inclusion of Auto-Tune and several vocal manipulators, which are used heavily on both Carey and T-Pain's vocals.
Lyrically, the song finds Carey during a night out, migrating from several locations: from the car to the club, from the bar to the V.I.P, from the party to the after-party, and finally to the hotel.
According to Brian Hiatt from VH1, she "hops from my car into the club ... from the bar to VIP ... from the party to the after-party ... afterparty to hotel" with T-Pain, who urges her to "bounce, bounce, bounce."
The album's lead single, "Touch My Body", was written and produced by Carey, Tricky Stewart and Terius "The Dream" Nash. The song's hook is built around a piano melody and "circular keyboard line", and features "a stuttering mid-tempo beat that's accented by finger snaps and electronic synthesizers" as its instrumentation.
Lyrically, the song describes the protagonist revealing several bedroom fantasies in which she would like to engage in, asking her lover playfully to "touch her body".
According to Ben Ratliff from The New York Times, it's a "questionably sexy striptease: a goofy-sleazy tryst vignette", with Carey singing "If there's a camera up in here then I best not catch this flick on YouTube."
"Cruise Control", featuring reggae artist Damian Marley, is influenced by R&B and reggae, and finds her adapting to the genre by imitating Jamaican phrases, accents and styles of singing.
"I Stay in Love" was released as the fourth and final single from the album. Written by Carey and Bryan-Michael Cox, is a mid-tempo "beat-driven" and "piano-laced" ballad, that is influenced by pop and R&B music genres.
The song's instrumentation is derived from a piano melody, and is backed by a strong computerized drum-beat; its lyrics find Carey as her most vulnerable; she describes old times she shared with her lover, and that even though "we said let go", and "inside she knows it's over", she still "stays in love with him".
Featuring rapper Young Jeezy, "Side Effects" describes Carey's abusive relationship with Tommy Mottola, her ex-husband. During the first verse, she discusses the couple's background, and how she was young and naive, and believed everything he preached to her.
The lyrics read "Keepin' me there, under your thumb / Cause you were scared that I'd become much / More than you could handle," she confesses, and refers to herself as "Shining like a chandelier / That decorated every room inside / The private hell we built / And I dealt with it / Like a kid I wished / I could fly away."
Sarah Rodman from The Boston Globe described it as "another look at her fractious marriage to Mottola", and wrote: "Although the union ended in 1998, Carey is still suffering, including dreams of the 'violent times' and 'sleeping with the enemy'. Interestingly, her vocal approach here is almost emo, as she hits her rock-solid middle register and refuses to be held captive by the demons of her past."
MTV News writer Jennifer Vineyard described the song in detail: "[It] finally reveals a side of Mariah we don't see that often — her true self. The Mariah we usually see and hear is a glossy one. Psychologists might say her affect is 'off' — meaning her gestures and facial expressions don't match her mood. There's a reason for that, as she explains on 'Side Effects', which is the emotional abuse she says she suffered during her marriage to music mogul Tommy Mottola. Mariah, who is usually quite guarded, has alluded to the subject in songs like 'Petals', but never has she gone into such detail as she does on 'Side Effects', in which she refers to the marriage as a 'private hell that we built'. Even though it's been 11 years since they split up, she sings in a lower register that she's still 'wakin' up scared some nights ... dreaming about the violent times'. Her emotional scars left her 'a little protective ... a little defensive ... a little depressed', which makes her 'fake a smile' as she 'deal[s] with the side effects'. Even though it features Young Jeezy, it sounds like a rock power ballad."
"I'm That Chick" is a song Carey wrote alongside Norwegian duo, Stargate. It is a fast-paced song, which features a "care-free feel" and is influenced by soul, pop and disco music genres.
The song incorporates a sample from Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall", and features a strong thumping bass-line and hand claps.
Evan Sawdey of PopMatters described it as a "late-night disco-bass groove", and highlighted its production as the album's finest.
"I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time", the album's eventual third single, was written and produced by Carey and DJ Toomp. The song was described as a "mid-tempo," "party jam" that is influenced by pop, R&B and soul genres.
Critics elaborated on the song's "soul" influence, with Melissa Ruggieri from The News & Advance describing it as a "soul-thumper" while Digital Spy's Nick Levine called it a "nod towards classic soul."
The song's title is derived from the popular line, "me love you long time", from the 1987 war film, "Full Metal Jacket." Additionally, its hook and instrumentation is derived from sampling DeBarge's song, "Stay With Me."
Critics also noted how "I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time" "recalls" the melody riff and chord progression of the theme song to "Hill Street Blues."
The song's main source of production comes from its "lush keyboard work" and her usage of the "double voice", which she uses throughout the song's bridge. Carey described the effect as "layering her voice" so that the bridge would sound like a "swooning bank of a hundred Mariahs."
"Bye Bye" served as the album's thirteenth track, and also composed by Carey and Stargate. An "inspirational power ballad," it is influenced by R&B and pop music genres.
The song is built on an understated and simple piano-driven melody, that is decorated with a soft bass-line.
Lyrically, the song was described by critics as a "larger than life anthem" and an "inspirational lighter-in-the-air ballad" and finds Carey remembering both her father, as well as any lost loved ones.
While the verses are dedicated to him, the chorus was written in a third-person point of view, for her fans: "This is for my peoples who just lost somebody / Your best friend, your baby, your man or your lady / Put your hand way up high / We will never say bye / Mamas, daddies, sisters, brothers, friends and cousins / This is for my peoples who lost their grandmothers / Lift your hands to the sky / Because we won't ever say bye bye".
While listing several forms of loss, Carey encourages to never let go, and always live with their memory, and put their hands up if they ever lost someone, 'cause we won't ever say bye bye'.
Serving as the album's closing number, "I Wish You Well" was compared to the closing number on Mimi, "Fly Like a Bird".
Similarly, "I Wish You Well" incorporates gospel influence into its melody of "rousing piano waltz", that "extends forgiveness to those who have wronged her in the past and is pretty much interchangeable with its predecessors."
Extensively making use of the whistle register, she references Mottola in another light than "Side Effects."
The message of "I Wish You Well" to Mottola is similarly striking. Accompanied by a piano and some multi-tracked backing vocals, Carey sings: "Still bruised, still walk on eggshells / Same frightened child, hide to protect myself / But you can't manipulate me like before." She then prescribes Bible study and says, "I wish you well."
"E=MC²" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, making it the biggest opening week sales of Carey's career and also the third biggest opening album in 2008 for a female artist (before being matched by Britney Spears' album, "Circus" and Taylor Swift's album "Fearless").
The album was certified platinum by the RIAA in July of 2008, denoting shipments of 1 million units. It spent 27 weeks within the Billboard 200 and finished at #22 on Billboard's Year-End chart.
"E=MC²" received a 64/100 (indicating "generally positive reviews") on the website Metacritic, which averages professional reviews into a numerical score.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, senior editor of Allmusic, rated the album three out of five stars, and wrote "it's misleading to judge Mariah based on her new record of possessing the most number one singles, as she's not about longevity, she's about being permanently transient, a characteristic 'E=MC²' captures all too well."
Billboard's Gary Trust felt that on the album, Carey was in "pristine form", stating, "She's proclaimed emancipation before, but Mariah Carey's never sounded as free as she does on her 10th album. Carey's made a pop album with equal parts levity and gravity."
Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Margeaux Watson graded E=MC² an 'A-', and described how the album's goal was to prove "her comeback was no fluke."
She continued complimenting the album's several collaborations, and wrote "the result is a largely enjoyable mix of flirtatious club jams, midtempo love songs, and emotional ballads anchored by hip-hop beats that handsomely showcase the singer's powerful vocal chops."
Though Carey's voice had been criticized since her 2002 release "Charmbracelet" for not being able to deliver the "gravity defying vocals" from the 1990s, Roger Friedman from Fox News wrote: "Her infamous eight-octave range his suffered a little wear and tear over the years, but Carey still can flutter from great highs to mellow lows like no one else."
Alex Macpherson from The Guardian gave the album four out of five stars, heavily describing the singer's vocal state throughout the album, writing: "Carey's voice has been mocked, bizarrely, as being a triumph of technique over soul - an argument that fails to comprehend that technique and soul are intertwined, that technique primarily exists as a means to convey emotion - but she is on fine vocal form throughout 'E=MC²', whether belting out massive ballads, or layering her voice into a swooning bank of a hundred Mariahs."
Macpherson concluded his review with, "When she sings elsewhere, "Them other regularities, they can't compare with MC," "it is hard not to agree", referencing a lyric on "For the Record".
The Houston Chronicle's Joey Guerra felt all of the album's tracks were strong, and wrote "Every track plays like a potential hit single, and that's exactly what fans will love about 'E=MC²'. Expect it to soundtrack much of the summer and beyond."
Los Angeles Times staff writer, Richard Cromelin, gave the album two out of four stars, noting its "alternatives to the glass-shattering flamboyance of her early '90s youth."
He concluded in his mixed review of the album, "Of course, consistency isn't so important when an album is assembled as a series of singles rather than a cohesive work. Fortunately for Carey, the tabloid-tailored real-life back story on one side and the producer's craft on the other matter more than the art of singing in this particular fairy tale."
Ben Ratliff of The New York Times felt the album didn't level up to par with Carey's previous release, writing: "Much of the record sounds like urban-radio imitations, without the peculiarities and effective hooks of 'Mimi'. Maybe emancipation isn't a continuing procedure; maybe it only comes once."
Writing for PopMatters, Evan Sawdey rated the album four out of ten discs, describing it as a "shallow imitation of its predecessor".
Sawdey concluded his review on a mixed note, stating " the second act of Mariah's comeback doesn't wisely expand her sound: it instead succumbs to the blueprint so carefully laid out by its predecessor, a pointless remake that exists only because it has to. If you ever had a doubt as to its formulaic nature, you need to look no further than its title. Long live the Diva."
Caryn Ganz from Rolling Stone questioned why she limited her vocal abilities throughout the record, "nearly every song confines Carey to four-note verses, offering little room for her glorious range."
Eric Henderson, writing for Slant Magazine, graded the album three out of five stars, and concluding with: "Such are the rewards of an album like 'E=MC²', in which one does reach a solution, but not before Mariah bends over backward to show her work."
The album finished in the top-ten of several "best of 2008" lists, ending at number four on an official poll held by Billboard, eight by The Detroit News and number ten by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Robert Christgau picked out one song from the album, "Touch My Body", as a "choice cut."