Mariah Carey, Bliss
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Slow Jam Saturday: Mariah Carey, Bliss

Mariah Carey was already one of the biggest stars in music when her seventh studio album, Rainbow, hit stores on November 2nd, 1999. At the time, I was a senior in high school living in El Paso, Texas. Before that, I had spent the last six years outside Washington D.C. Naturally, living so close to Chocolate City with numerous urban radio stations, album cuts weren’t that hard to come by. Particularly during the quiet storm.

Unfortunately, El Paso only had one mainstream radio station, so it was sporadic that an album cut would get radio play. However, I’ve always considered myself a music head, so I would spread the word around my high school whenever I discovered a slow jam bop from an artist. 

So naturally, back in 1999, when I heard “Bliss” this week’s pick for Slow Jam Saturday, I had to get my A&R on. As with her previous two albums, Daydream and Butterfly, Rainbow found Mariah Carey going in a more urban direction. One of the most surprising things about Rainbow was that Carey eighty-sixed longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff in favor of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis for the ballads. 

“Bliss” is the third track on the album and one of the first slow jams that Carey worked on with Jam & Lewis. The song starts with an angelic sound before Mariah comes in at the nineteen-second mark, seductively crooning,

“Touch me baby

It feels so amazing (yeah)

And you stimulate me

And you make me want you more and more”.

When we hit the chorus, Mariah has the listener in a romantic frenzy as she effortlessly shows off her whistle register. Even in the simplicity of production, Mariah shows why she’s one of the best in the game. Furthermore, as far as I know, no singer has ever attempted to cover the song on a reality TV singing competition due to the vocal complexity. 

“Thank God I Found You” and the far superior (Make It Last Remix feat. Joe & Nas) may have been the big ballad single from Rainbow. However, with “Bliss,” Jam & Lewis produced a sensual slow jam for Carey that was never crass but tasteful and personally stood the test of time.

 

Final Grade: A

“Bliss” from Rainbow is available on all streaming platforms. 

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