Mariah Carey is getting ready to drop her long delayed and highly anticipated 14th studio album. She announced her latest project Friday in a preview of a Billboard cover story that's running next week.
And it seems that she's taking a cue from Beyoncé's playbook in the album's method of delivery.
Mariah says she'll "be taking a surprise approach to the project by revealing her new album's title, track listing, artwork and music all at once via to-be-announced digital partners."
For Mariah, the question will be how much of an impact the "surprise" will have, now that she just announced it to the entire world. Queen Bey's album hit when no one was expecting. Big difference.
The former "American Idol" judge also opens up to Billboard about everything in her career ranging from music (the new album, her recent "failed" singles, and working with new manager Jermaine Dupri since leaving Randy Jackson) to her television projects (the "Idol" fiasco and an upcoming new secret series).
There's pretty much a 50-50 possibility of either success or failure with Mariah's latest endeavor. The singer is mostly well-liked, but she's never recaptured her '90s level of success. She came close in 2005 with the magnificent "The Emancipation of Mimi," which spawned the Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers "It's Like That," "We Belong Together," and "Don't Forget About Us," as well as "Shake It Off," which reached #2 (while "We Belong" was at #1, it should be added).
Still, that was almost a decade ago.
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There's not much that Mariah fans would welcome more than a hugely successful album that places her back on top of the pop-culture zeitgeist. So, here are five things that we hope she does right this time around:
1) She heads more pop and mainstream with the lead singles
Mariah says in the Billboard interview that she's well aware that some of her singles of the past year or so (including "Almost Home" from the "Oz, Great and Powerful" soundtrack, "Eternal (You're Mine)," "The Art of Letting Go," and "Triumphant"… "#Beautiful" was a bit more of a success) underperformed. The songs weren't bad, but they weren't big, catchy hits. Rather, they were all downtempo or ballads, and didn't really play well on radio.
Under Dupri's guidance, Mimi says that she's working with a "Dream-Team" now that includes Dupri as well as hitmaker Rodney Jerkins, and also Hit-Boy and Mike Will Made It. Her album also will feature guest appearances from Wale, Nas, and Trey Songz. This is a very promising start.
2) She doesn't try to jump on the latest trend
The last thing we'd want is a Mariah Carey EDM track. Let's hope she sticks to what she does best — again, making great mainstream pop and R&B music that works for Top 40 radio. Mariah shouldn't all of a sudden start working with Calvin Harris or Zedd. (And apparently, she's not!)
3) She markets herself to the right audience
Mariah's fanbase has grown up along with her. Those who love her the most nowadays aren't in their '20s. They're in their '30s and '40s.
There's certainly nothing wrong in hoping that her music appeals to new twentysomething fans, but playing to the Generation X & Y demographic — rather than millennials — is where she's most likely to find success.
Mariah is now a 45-year-old mother of two. She's still got a lot of career ahead of her. But she's not going to command a huge fanbase from kids that are now pining for Iggy Azalea and Icona Pop.
4) She makes up for "Idol" with a new successful TV project
If at first you don't succeed …
OK, so "Idol" really wasn't Mariah's fault. As we all know by now, the Nicki Minaj drama was orchestrated by producers in a last-minute bait-and-switch once she had already signed on.
Mariah tells Billboard, "I have another [reality-competition television] project that I'm so very excited about that's finally coming to fruition."
This is definitely a step in the right direction. It's worked for everyone on "The Voice" and it could work for Mimi. She needs to make herself highly visible (and therefore relevant) again, and a successful reality TV show could do just that.
5) She keeps sharing more of her amazing personality -
One of the reasons Mariah's fans love her so much (beyond that voice) is that underneath the diva exterior, she's quirky, fun-loving, and doesn't give a you-know-what what anyone else thinks.
Mariah is best when she's being herself and letting that personality shine through. She's funny in interviews, and knows how to properly throw a little shade when it matters most. Being married to a comedian certainly has its perks in continuing to shape a person's core identity.
We want more of nutty Mariah. The Mariah that went bonkers on HSN for two hours in 2011 while hawking products.
This was Mariah at her best. In fact, let's just get her booked on HSN again right now.
That being said, we're rooting for you, Mimi! Here's hoping that album #14 is a smashing comeback for you. There's no doubt that 2014 could be your year.