Mariah. Try saying her name and see what kinds of reactions you get. The common reaction is that of disapproval.

People are quick to point out what they don?t like about her.

?Oh, she turned into a slut? or ?She is so fake.? The remarks vary from her fashion sense to her personal life. But the last thing people talk about is her talent.

Mariah did evolve from the girl-next-door into a blonde bombshell. Yes, she also happened to be married to music Svengali Tommy Mottola and then went on to date New York Yankee Derek Jeter and then Latin heartthrob Luis Miguel. And she has been scantily clad in most of her recent videos. But does that determine the credibility of the music or the artist?

Regardless of how people try to describe her, one thing is undeniable. She is has satisfied millions with her work ? and that is all that matters.

We all know the Cinderella-like story. Little mixed-race New Yorker with a huge voice attends a party as Brenda K. Starr?s back-up singer and meets Sony CEO Tommy Mottola and hands him a demo tape. Mottola then looks all over for her and offers her an album deal with Columbia Records.

From there Mariah grew into an icon of our times, breaking all imaginable sales records by Elvis, The Beatles and Michael Jackson. Furthermore, Mariah has 16 No. 1 songs and it is clear that she is not stopping.

Becoming the best selling female artist of the ?90s was not easy.

During the mid ?90s when pop was not as hip as today, Mariah was one of the only beacons to keep the pop flame alive, along with the likes of Janet Jackson and Toni Braxton.

Her album ?Music Box? was bashed by critics but went on to become one of the best selling albums of all time with hits such as ?Dreamlover,? ?Hero? and ?Anytime You Need A Friend.? The girl must be doing something right.

Her ?Merry Christmas? album broke records and her compilation of No. 1 hits titled ?#1?s? ? she got the idea before The Beatles? collection came out ? proved that fans keep asking for more.

Both ?Butterfly? and ?Rainbow? are landmarks in Mariah?s history. They were portrayals of Mariah?s unrestricted talent, however, her former record label was less then happy with her artistic endeavors.

Fast forward to 2001. Mariah is now under Virgin records and is working on two movies: her feature ?Glitter? and ?Wise Girls? with Mira Sorvino. She is also releasing an all-Mariah soundtrack for ?Glitter? and having to deal with heartache because of the end of her long-term relationship with Miguel.

The combination of stress and emotional anguish catapulted Mariah into mental exhaustion ? twice. Moreover, the media is poking fun at her hospitalization. Whoever said being a diva is easy?

The good news is her latest collection of songs is, as always, remarkable.

The summer hit ?Loverboy? serves as a poppy opener and also closes with a version guesting Cameo, whose hit ?Candy? is sampled in the track.

?Glitter? emanates a heavy ?80s sound to comply to the era that the movie takes place in. The ?80s theme is captured in its rawest and most honest with post-disco beats and low production that will remind you of Olivia Newton-John?s ?Physical? days.

Mariah covers two ?80s dancefloor fillers: ?Last Night A DJ Saved My Life? featuring Busta Rhymes, Fabolous and DJ Clue, and the sultry ?Didn?t Mean To Turn You On.?

However, the covers are not the only tracks that remain loyal to the sound of the ?80s. ?Don?t Stop (Funkin? 4 Jamaica)? features the loud Mystikal screaming for no apparent reason, but Mariah?s octave range remedies his useless ramblings.

Another tune, ?All My Life,? is authentically crafted to sound like something you?d hear in the days of the Rubik?s cube, which then dissolves into the warm ?Reflections (Care Enough).?

?Glitter? is reminiscent of a lighter version of Prince?s ?Purple Rain.?

Although the album consists of many stompy numbers, Mariah satisfies her fans by providing some of her signature ballads. ?Lead The Way? and her latest release, ?Never Too Far,? are both high-drama multi-octave contemporary glossy ballads, while ?Twister? continues the Mariah tradition of confessionally beautiful slow numbers at the lower end of the tracklisting.

The only downfall to ?Glitter? is its overwhelming entourage of rappers who have nothing to say yet keep caterwauling. However, in a Mariah fashion, this album is a definite grower. Moreover, it has enough made-for-radio songs to keep you humming until the next summer.

Leave it to Mariah to release an album that attracts attention, starts the party and then sets the mood for after hours.

Al-Qatami can be reached at

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