TBogg

Ten vs. one

So. I’m reading the umpteenth article telling me, insisting to me, that Mariah Carey is back and bigger than ever, baby, when I read this:

On “Mimi” a singer once known for melisma adopts a lighter, more agile style, upping the words-per-note ratio considerably; instead of moving a single syllable up and down the scale, she often uses just a few notes to deliver a nimble burst of words.

This style is part of the reason why she has been able to turn a ballad into a summer smash. “We Belong Together” doesn’t have a guest rapper (except on the excellent remix, featuring Jadakiss and Styles P.), or a hard-hitting beat, but Ms. Carey’s tricky vocal lines give the song more propulsion than you’d expect, with tightly coiled counter-rhythms that tug against the beat. This song seems simpler than it is, and while it doesn’t sound like a mishmash, the liner notes credit no fewer than 3 producers and 10 songwriters. The second verse cleverly incorporates two predecessors: Ms. Carey imagines turning on the radio and singing along to Bobby Womack (“If You Think You’re Lonely Now”) and Babyface (“Two Occasions”). (my emphasis)

Ten songwriters…and here is what you get:

(Ooh,ooh,ooh, sweet love, yeah)

I didn’t mean it
When I said I didn’t love you, so
I should have held on tight
I never should’ve let you go
I didn’t know nothing
I was stupid, I was foolish
I was lying to myself
I could not fathom that I would ever
Be without your love
Never imagined I’d be
Sitting here beside myself
Cause I didn’t know you
Cause I didn’t know me
But I thought I knew everything
I never felt

The feeling that I’m feeling
Now that I don’t hear your voice
Or have your touch and kiss your lips
Cause I don’t have a choice
Oh, what I wouldn’t give
To have you lying by my side
Right here, cause baby
(We belong together)

When you left I lost a part of me
It’s still so hard to believe
Come back baby, please
Cause we belong together

Who else am I gon’ lean on
When times get rough
Who’s gonna talk to me on the phone
Till the sun comes up
Who’s gonna take your place
There ain’t nobody better
Oh, baby baby, we belong together

I can’t sleep at night
When you are on my mind
Bobby Womack’s on the radio
saying to me
“If you think you’re lonely now”
Wait a minute
This is too deep (too deep)
I gotta change the station
So I turn the dial
Trying to catch a break
And then I hear Babyface
I only think of you
And it’s breaking my heart
I’m trying to keep it together
But I’m falling apart

I’m feeling all out of my element
throwing things, crying
Trying to figure out
Where the hell I went wrong
The pain reflected in this song
ain’t even half of what
I’m feeling inside
I need you
Need you back in my life, baby

When you left I lost a part of me
It’s still so hard to believe
Come back baby, please
Cause we belong together

Who else am I gon’ lean on
When times get rough
Who’s gonna talk to me on the phone
Till the sun comes up
Who’s gonna take your place
There ain’t nobody better
Oh, baby baby, we belong together, baby

When you left I lost a part of me
It’s still so hard to believe
Come back baby, please
Cause we belong together

Who am I gonna lean on
When times get rough
Who’s gonna talk to me
Till the sun comes up
Who’s gonna take your place
There ain’t nobody better
Oh baby, baby
We belong together

If you added the phrase “hit you doggy-style” you’d have a decent Smoove B column. And can we smack the shit out of the one (or two or three..who knows) songwriter(s) who came up with “I’m feeling all out of my element“?

Now let’s try another We Belong Together:

I say this was no game of chicken
You were aiming your best friend
That you wear like a switchblade on a chain around your neck
I think you picked this up in Mexico from your dad
Now its daddy on the booze
And Brando on the ice
Now it’s Dean in the doorway
With one more way he can’t play this scene twice
So you drug her down every drag of this forbidden fit of love
And you told her to stand tall whet you kissed her
But that’s not where you were thinking…
How could a Natalie Wood not get sucked into a scene so custom tucked?
Now look who shows up
In the same place
In this case
I think it’s better
To face it —
We belong together
We belong together

Once Johnny the King made a spit ring
And all the skid kids saw a very, very proud man
And he entwine her in his finger
And she lay there like a baby in his hand
And climb upon the rooftop docks lookin’ out on the crosstown seas
And he wraps his jacket across her shoulders
And he falls and hugs and holds her on his knees
But a sailor just takes a broad down to the dark end of the fair
To turn her into a tattoo
That will whisper
Into the back of Johnny’s black hair
And now Johnny the King walks these streets without her in the rain
Lookin’ for a leather jacket
And a girl who wrote her name forever
A promise that —
We belong together
We belong together

Shall we weigh along these streets
Young lions on the lam?
Are the signs you hid deep in your heart
All left on neon for them?
Who are foolish
Who are victim
Of the sailors and the ducky boys who would
Move into your eyes and lips and
Every tear
That falls down on the neighborhood now
I said “Bird, we just gotta tell them”
And they turn and ignore us
And the only heroes we got left
Are written right before us
And the only angel who sees us now
Watches through each other’s eyes
And I can hear him
In every footstep’s passing sigh
He goes crazy these nights
Watching heartbeats go by…
And they whisper —
We belong together
We belong together

It’s a mystery how Rickie Lee Jones managed to write that all by herself, but then we live in an era of lowered expectations.

For the record, Carey’s We Belong Together is only #32 on iTunes downloads, and until I checked and clicked on it, I had never ever heard a note of it. But then I don’t listen to urban/teen pop/secretary* stations. What am I hearing to death? Gorrilaz Feel Good Inc. Also, for the record, I consider Jones’ Pirates and Flying Comboys to be, at least, in the top fifty CD’s I have ever heard.

* In our household a ‘secretary’ station is a radio station that people play quietly at their desks that is as inoffensive as possible. The Celine Dion Zone.

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TBogg

TBogg

Yeah. Like I would tell you....