Glitter is Mariah Carey's eighth studio album and soundtrack to the 2001 film of the same name that was released on September 11, 2001 by Virgin Records.
- Loverboy (Remix) (featuring Da Brat, Ludacris, Shawnna and Twenty II) 4:30
- Lead The Way 3:53
- If We (featuring Ja Rule and Nate Dogg) 4:11
- Didn't Mean To Turn You On 4:54
- Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica) (featuring Mystikal) 3:38
- All My Life 5:10
- Reflections (Care Enough) 3:21
- Last Night A DJ Saved My Life (featuring Busta Rhymes, Fabolous and DJ Clue) 6:43
- Want You (featuring Eric Benét) 4:44
- Never Too Far 4:22
- Twister 2:26
- Loverboy (featuring Cameo) 3:50
After the release of her 1997 album, "Butterfly," Mariah Carey began working on a film and soundtrack project then-titled "All That Glitters." However, Columbia Records and Carey were also working on a greatest-hits album to be released in time for the Thanksgiving season in November 1998.
Carey put "All That Glitters" on hold and her greatest hits album, "#1" was released in November of 1998. She put the project on hold again to record her album, "Rainbow."
After the album ran its course, she wanted to complete the film and the soundtrack project; but by this time, Carey and her ex-husband, Tommy Mottola (the head of her record company, Columbia Records) didn't have a good working or personal relationship with her.
Mottola wanted Carey off the label and Carey wanted to leave; however, she still owed Columbia Records one more album to fulfill her contract. Virgin Records stepped in and offered to pay Columbia $20 million to let Carey out of her contract early so that they could sign her to a $100 million deal.
Carey signed with Virgin Records and aimed to complete the film and soundtrack project. As part of her contract on her $100 million five-album record deal with Virgin Records, she was given full creative control.
Carey opted to record an album partly mixed with 1980s influenced disco music and other similar genres in order to go with the film's setting. As the release date grew nearer, the film and album title were changed to "Glitter."
Meanwhile, in early 2001, Carey's relationship with Latin music singer Luis Miguel ended while filming the movie & recording the soundtrack.
Due to the pressure of losing her relationship with Miguel, being on a new record label, filming a movie & recording an album, Carey began to have a nervous breakdown. She began posting a series of disturbing messages on her official website and displayed erratic behavior while out on several promotional outings.
Musically, "Glitter" was notably different from anything that Carey had ever written or recorded, drawing influence from the 1980s. Due to the parent film taking place in 1983, the soundtrack harbored on recreating an older sound, while incorporating the usual ballads for which Carey was known.
While some critics favored the album's retro style, and inclusion of several sampled melodies, many felt that the album lacked originality & its excess of guest artists overpowered Carey's artistry.
In an interview with MTV News, Carey described the album's content, as well as its influences, saying: "There are songs that are definitely going to take people back and make them go, 'Oh, man, this song from the '80s — I loved it growing up'. Or people who never heard the songs before might be like, 'This is cool.' When you see the movie, you're gonna see the uptempo songs and the songs that are remakes in there as they would have sounded in the '80s, but the album is the way that I would make the record now, and the ballads can stand on their own as songs from a Mariah Carey album."
Serving as the project's lead single, "Loverboy" features a sample from "Candy" by Cameo, which interpolates the melody into the chorus and instrumental introduction.
Additionally, aside from sampling "Candy" as the musical bed for the song, Cameo serves as a featured artist on the song.
Sarah Rodman from the Boston Herald compared it to Carey's previous lead singles, and described its production as "another in an increasingly long line of glitzy, candy-coated, creatively stunted Carey songs".
The song's lyrics and vocals were described as "super-sexed" by Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine when put into comparison with Carey's previous work.
The official remix for "Loverboy" also earned a place on the album, adding rap verses from both Ludacris and Da Brat to the original version. Serving as the second single from "Glitter", "Reflections (Care Enough)" was written by Carey and Philippe Pierre. Lyrically, the song'a protagonist "laments the end of a relationship", while confronting her mother regarding her early abandonment.
Additionally, during its bridge, Carey "eerily" refers to abortion, "You could have had the decency / To give me up / Before you gave me life", as an option over abandoning the child.
Cinquemani felt the song was reminiscent of Carey's ballads during the earlier lengths of her career, and described the song as a "simple beauty".
In a review for the album in The Free Lance–Star, a writer outed the song's first verse "A displeased little girl / Wept years in silence / And whispers wishes you'd materialize / She pressed on night and day / To keep on living / And tried so many ways / To keep her soul alive" as his favorite lyric from Glitter, and described it as an "emotional and heart-wrenching ballad".
The album's third release, "Never Too Far", was written and produced by Carey and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Described as an "adult-contemporary, slow-jam love song", the song's lyrics read "Too painful to talk about it, so I hold it in / So my heart can mend and be brave enough to love again", speaking of emotions felt by the protagonist in the film.
"Never Too Far" features "a bed of synthesized strings, gentle drums and Spanish-style guitar" as its primary instrumentation, and incorporates violin and keyboard notes prior to the first verse.
"Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica)", was composed by Carey and DJ Clue, and interpolates "Funkin' for Jamaica (N.Y.)" by Tom Browne.
The song featured guest verses from Mystikal, with the former declaring "Ain't nothin' you could do with the man / Except for shake your ass and clap your hands", while Carey responds "Don't stop bay-beee, its ex-ta-see / Turn me up a little."
Conceptualized in 1997, "Lead the Way" was an unused track from her "Butterfly" album, written and produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff.
The ballad was the last song composed by the pair, as they halted work with one another shortly after its completion, due to their growing creative differences.
Though written, the song was recorded during 2000, as Carey began producing "Glitter."
Beginning with a classic and simple piano introduction, Carey starts the song with soft and breathy vocals, eventually leading to a vocal climax, in which she belts an 18-second note, the longest from any of her recordings. She described it as one of her "best vocal performances", as well as one of her "favorite songs."
In an interview with MTV News, Carey addressed Glitter as well as "Lead the Way": "To me, Glitter is one of my best albums. A lot of people got confused, not knowing whether it was a soundtrack or an album or what. There's a song called 'Lead the Way' which I did on Ally McBeal, and it's coming out in January. I sang the song on [the show]. It's one of those ballads that basically everybody that's been following my career says reminds them of a 'Vision of Love'-type record, and that's one of my favorite songs from the record. The cool thing for me is to be able to tie in 'Never Too Far' and 'Hero'. Having the Greatest Hits coming out, to be able to tie in both those records is almost like a circle."
Carey's cover of the 1982 Indeep song "Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life" was one of the album's more club-themed songs; it features rappers Fabolous and Busta Rhymes, and was composed and produced by Carey and DJ Clue.
Michael Paoletta from Billboard called it a "painful low" on the album and commented how Carey seemed detached and over-powered on the song, due to the inclusion of several male guests.
"Twister", another one of the album's ballads, drew strong comparisons to Carey's older work, in light of the very different remainder of the album.
Paoletta called it "quietly heartbreaking", in reference to the song's lyrics, which relate to the suicide of Carey's friend and hairstylist, Tonjua Twist. According to Carey, Twist took her own life in the spring of 2000, and was known for her joy of life and her ability to put people at ease. She was "child like and effervescent", but behind her mask of happiness was "a well" of lifelong and deep-rooted pain.
In "Twister", Carey described the hidden inner-struggle of her friend, and tried to find "closure"; her "way of saying goodbye". Chris Chuck from Daily News described its lyrics as "an airy requiem for a friend lost to suicide" and felt it was "the only memorable song on the album."
With lyrics reading "Feelin' kinda fragile and I've got a lot to handle / But I guess this is my way of saying goodbye", David Browne from Entertainment Weekly felt that Carey was possibly referring to her own suicide rather than her friends, especially in light of the events that were taking place during the album's release.
"Didn't Mean to Turn You On" is a cover of the 1984 Cherelle song of the same title. Aside from the heavy sampling of the hook and lyrics, Carey, who produced the song alongside Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, added keyboard notes and synthesizers to enhance the songs club appeal.
In the song, Carey sings: "I was only trying to be nice / Only trying to be nice / Sooooooo, I didn't mean to turn you on", indicating a woman who is weakly apologetic over fooling a man over intimacy.
On the track "Want You", American singer Eric Benét duets with Carey, while lyrically implying and suggesting the "exploration of bedroom fantasies."
Following commencement for "Glitter" and the release of the soundtrack's lead single "Loverboy", Carey embarked on a short promotional campaign for the song and its parent album.
On July 19, 2001, Carey made a surprise appearance on the MTV program, "Total Request Live." As the show's host Carson Daly began taping following a commercial break, she began singing "Loverboy" a cappella from behind a curtain.
As he questioned the audience, Carey came out onto the filming stage, pushing an ice cream cart while wearing a large men's shirt. Seemingly anxious and exhilarated, she began giving out individual bars of ice cream to fans and guests on the program while waving to the crowd down below on Times Square, and diverging into a rambling monologue regarding therapy.
Carey then walked to Daly's platform and began a (what the general public refer to it as) striptease, in which she shed her shirt to reveal a tight yellow and green ensemble, leading him to exclaim, "Mariah Carey has lost her mind!"
While she later revealed that Daly was aware of her presence in the building prior to her appearance, she admitted that he was meant to act surprised in order to provide a more dramatic effect for the program.
Carey's appearance on "TRL" garnered strong media attention, with many critics and newspapers citing her behavior as "troubled" and "erratic."
Her appearance on "TRL" led many fans to believe that there was something going quite wrong with Carey behind the scenes.
In the days following her appearance on TRL, Carey began displaying what was described as "erratic behavior".
On July 20, 2001, she held a record signing for the "Loverboy" single at Roosevelt Field shopping mall in Long Island before fans and the media.
As a camera crew covered the event, Carey began rambling on several subjects before finally discussing radio-host Howard Stern and how his jokes about herself on his program bothered her greatly and how everything in life should be positive.
At that point, Carey's publicist Cindi Berger grabbed the microphone from her hand, and asked the news crew to stop filming. Berger said later, "She was not speaking clearly and not talking about what she had come to talk about: her record."
Only days later, Carey began posting irregular voice notes and messages on her official website: "I'm trying to understand things in life right now and so I really don't feel that I should be doing music right now. What I'd like to do is just a take a little break or at least get one night of sleep without someone popping up about a video. All I really want is [to] just be me and that's what I should have done in the first place ... I don't say this much but guess what, I don't take care of myself."
Following the quick removal of the messages, Berger commented that Carey had been "obviously exhausted and not thinking clearly" when she posted the letters.
Two days later on July 26, 2001, Carey was hospitalized, citing "extreme exhaustion" and a "physical and emotional breakdown".
News websites and programs began reporting how Carey threatened to commit suicide by slitting her wrists the night before, and how Patricia, Carey's mother, hastily called for help.
When questioned regarding Carey's suicidal rumor, Berger claimed that Carey had broken dishes out of desperation, and as a result, accidentally cut her hands and feet.
Following her induction at an un-disclosed hospital in Connecticut, Carey remained hospitalized and under doctor's care for two weeks, followed by an extended absence from the public.
Following the heavy media coverage surrounding Carey's publicized breakdown and hospitalization, Virgin Records and 20th Century Fox delayed the release of both "Glitter" as well as its soundtrack of the same name.
The announcement was made on August 9, 2001, that both the soundtrack and the film would be postponed three weeks, respectively from August 21 to September 11, 2001 and from August 31, 2001 to September 21, 2001.
When asked regarding the motives behind the delay, Nancy Berry (the vice chairman of Virgin Music Group Worldwide) addressed Carey's personal and physical condition, stating:
"Mariah is looking forward to being able to participate in both her album and movie projects and we are hopeful that this new soundtrack release date will allow her to do so. She has been making great recovery progress, and continues to grow stronger every day. Virgin Music Worldwide continues to give its absolute commitment and support to Mariah on every level."
When discussing the project's weak commercial reaction, Carey blamed the terrorist attacks of September 11.
She made specific remarks regarding the album's commercial failure stating: "I released it on September 11, 2001. The talk shows needed something to distract from 9/11. I became a punching bag. I was so successful that they tore me down because my album was at number 2 instead of number 1. The media was laughing at me and attacked me."
Departure from Virgin
"Glitter" performed poorly at the box office. Following the poor sales of the album as well, Virgin invoked a clause in its contract with Carey that allowed Virgin Records to get out of the $100 million deal for approximately $28 million.
Subsequently, Virgin dropped Carey from the label roster; these decisions were brought on due to the low sales of the album, as well as the negative publicity surrounding her breakdown.
While the two sides were laying out the terms for Carey's exit from Virgin, her team requested that the two parties just use the word "canceled" when asked by the media regarding the failed venture.
Less than 24 hours after the settlement was made, Virgin released a statement that they had "terminated" the contract with Carey, and paid her $28 million to do so.
Carey's lawyers threatened to sue, with her attorney Marshall Grossman calling their behavior in the matter "deplorable".
Virgin replied that in terms of her payout, they only listed the money they gave her for departing, not including the $23.5 million they already had paid while under contract for the first and only album they released by her.
Additionally, Virgin stated they would counter-sue Carey for "defamation" following Carey's press release. The matter was resolved outside of court, with Carey and Virgin opting not to take the matter to the judicial system.
Soon after, Carey flew to Italy for a period of five months. After several months, she signed a new $20 million deal with Island Records, which also included her own vanity label, MonarC Entertainment.
"Glitter" debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 116,000 copies, making it Carey's least commercially successful album to that point.
The album remained on the chart for 8 weeks and was certified gold by the RIAA, denoting shipments of 500,000 units. As of 2018, it has sold 666,000 copies in the United States.
On the website, Metacritic (which averages professional reviews into a numerical score), "Glitter" received a 59/100 indicating "generally mixed or average reviews."
AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album one and a half out of five stars, calling it an "utter meltdown -- the pop equivalent of Chernobyl" and wrote: "It's an embarrassment, one that might have been easier to gawk at if its creator wasn't so close to emotional destruction at the time of release."
Michael Paoletta from Billboard was less critical, citing it as a "minor misstep in a stellar career that has earned the singer a few free passes.
Sarah Rodman from The Boston Herald gave "Glitter" a mixed review, praising Carey's song-writing and voice, although panning the excess of secondary musical guests.
While criticizing the album's roster of appearances, Rodman wrote: "The artists contribute mostly distracting, self-promoting jibber jabber all over what could have been Carey's best, most emotionally mature record to date."
Daily News editor Chuck Campley rated the album two and a half out of five stars, writing: "Maybe this was the best Mariah Carey could muster under the circumstances, but 'Glitter' needed more work."
David Browne from Entertainment Weekly gave Glitter a mixed review, criticizing the abundance of rappers and describing Carey's vocals as "barely there" on several tracks.
Concluding his review on a poor note, Browne wrote "'Glitter' is a mess, but its shameless genre hopping (and Carey's crash) makes it an unintentional concept album about the toll of relentless careerism."
Heather Vaughn from The Free-Lance Star gave the album a positive review, complimenting both the dance-oriented tracks, as well as the ballads.
In reference to their weight on the album as a whole, Vaughn wrote "Sounds like Mariah's other albums, but with more of an 80s twist. The ballads really let you hear how stunning her voice actually is."
Los Angeles Times critic and writer Natalie Nichols gave "Glitter" two out of a possible four stars, writing how Carey let the album "reflect the synth-driven robo-funk of that wretched decade.
Nichols called the album's covers "tepid and pointless" while agreeing that Carey was overwhelmed by the many guest rappers, calling her voice "semi-disguised".
Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone gave the album three out of five stars, criticizing the ballads as "big and goopy, with zero melodic or emotional punch."
Aside from the ballads, Sheffield felt that the album failed to deliver the success or quality that Carey needed on her debut film and soundtrack.
He concluded his review of the album with a comparison to Whitney Houston's film, "The Bodyguard", saying: "Mariah still hasn't found her theme song, the one people will remember her voice by. Glitter is good enough to make you hope she finds it."
Slant Magazine editor Sal Cinquemani awarded "Glitter" three out of five stars, writing: "Carey's edgier tracks are inundated with so many guest artists that her sound ultimately becomes muddled; her pop tunes are so formulaic that it's difficult to distinguish one from the next."
USA Today's Edna Gunderson rated the album one and a half out of four stars, criticizing Carey's overall image for the project, as well as the many guest artists on the record.
She described Carey as "cheapening her image" and wrote "The whiff of desperation grows more pungent on 'Glitter' in Carey's gratuitous coloratura and transparent enlistment of street-cred boosters such as rappers Ja Rule and Mystikal.