…Jeffrey gives to you…something he, himself, is totally bamboozled by – Mariah Carey’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Gloria (In Excelsis Deo)”.
It’s a personal opinion, of course (and for years I was in the minority, though not so much anymore), but there hasn’t been a listenable album in the whole of Mariah Carey’s archives – she morphed from Mrs. Tommy Motolla’s conservatively-clad fembot with a piercing, wheezing voice millions mistook for a prodigious range, to a scantily clad hip-hip earwig, selling her breast implants and porn tics to the masses with nary a memorable hook in earshot (I re-christened her curiously heralded “comeback” THE EMANCIPATION OF MIMI as THE ATTACK OF THE SCREAMING MIMI).
It’s actually no real surprise that the only memorable CD in her catalogue is her wonderful MERRY CHRISTMAS anthology, released back in 1994 while still under the influence of her Svengali husband. If nothing else, Motolla kept Carey’s public image thwarted of the overt sexual histrionics (not that sexuality is a negative, of course) that would plague her post-divorce output. MERRY CHRISTMAS is chock full of exhilarating holiday staples and wondrous originals; her composition “All I Want For Christmas Is You” stands tall with the most ineradicable holiday classics and was going to be my (Jeffrey)Christ-mas Day 2 selection.
But the one track I am continually drawn back to – hence its inclusion here – is her interpretation of “Hark!” which is, in a word, magnificent. She doesn’t allow the self-infatuation with her own voice to negate the beauty of the arrangement, instead allowing it to be the vessel for the song’s exquisite simplicity. The song ends when it should, with no typical Careyisms, no vocal acrobatics, no diversion from the melody to belabor her usual solipsism. MERRY CHRISTMAS is a treasure trove, and “Hark…” one of its most shimmering pieces.