Monday, February 18, 2013

Almost Home ~ Mariah Carey (Review)

It is becoming rare these days that Hollywood big-budget movie theme songs are performed by big-voiced crooners. Back in the day, especially in the 90’s, it was a norm to have popular names such as Bette Midler (“Beaches”) Whitney Houston (“The Bodyguard”), Celine Dion (“Beauty and The Beast”, “Titanic”), Elton John (“The Lion King”) and even Faith Hill (“Pearl Harbour”) attached to film projects. A diva in glittery gown singing big notes while the movie’s clips roll nostalgically in slow motion would usually appear in the promotional music video which would be played in heavy rotation on channels like MTV. Well, that was also when MTV was playing music, not Snooki or teen moms.

Thank heaven! Disney is staying true to its tradition of movie torch songs by choosing Mariah Carey, a legitimate diva, arguably the last one standing, to sing “Almost Home”, the theme song of their latest franchise, “Oz the Great and Powerful”. Co-written by Mariah Carey, hence the Hero-styled lyrics and produced by Stargate, the Norwegian production team, responsible for many of today’s big hits (Rihanna, Beyoncé, Neyo etc). Slightly auto-tuned vocals, not because it’s necessary, we are talking about one of the best singing voices of our human race here, but to fit the chirpy inspirational mood of the song and also to match Stargate’s signature electronic beats which decorate the song with pop effects while effectively making it radio-friendly.

In the singing department, Mariah keeps it pretty simple, singing along a catchy chorus comfortably in her still-very strong and gorgeous mid-range till the bridge part where a key change suddenly appears and she becomes the Mariah that we all fell in love with (or that some folks can’t simply stand) – throwing in vocal embellishments and a long belted money note right before the song ends.

Like you won’t compare the film to 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”, it would be utterly unfair to say “Almost Home” is nowhere near the greatness of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. This mid-tempo tune, surprisingly, not a ballad that everyone expected, is a perfect fit for what appears to be yet another CGI-heavy fantasy flick, though no one has seen it. With “Oh-oh-oh” in the chorus, the most abused and used element in today’s popular music, it sounds très current. Besides, the song’s lyrics could very well serve as a touching “farewell” to the eliminated contestants of American Idol where Mariah is currently a judge.

When you're almost there and you're almost home
Just open up your eyes and go, go 
When you're almost there, almost home
Know you're not alone, you're almost home, home
(You're almost home)

Mariah may not dominate the music charts like she used to in the last two decades with this song, she still has millions of die-hard fans who can’t get enough of her. Therefore efforts should be made to delight them by giving them what they want which is “her golden voice” and not further alienate them by trying to stay current or compete with trend-chasing young pop tarts.

Unlike her last year’s lackluster single, “Triumphant (Get’em)”- “Almost Home” is more than enough to get her fans excited about her eleventh studio which will be dropped this year. 

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