It is common for actors to explore their musical talents, as they complement each other like movies and popcorn. Growing up in the eighties, I recall Eddie Murphy, Don Johnson, and Philip Michal Thomas releasing projects. This week’s Second Listen Sunday pick is Gregory Hines, the late thespian and tap-dancing icon who released a self-titled album
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.
More reviews to explorer
It’s been six years since audiences experienced the rating-breaking three-part mini-series, The New Edition Story. I still remember my excitement walking into an advance screening of Part 1 on a cold January night. One of my favorite scenes occurs in this part when a young Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins are supporting a pre-teen Bobby Brown in a talent show. The local Boston-based group, The Untouchables, is performing a cover of Philly soul group Blue Magic’s “Spell” before Bobby takes the stage. After hearing another cover version of the song in Michael Bivin’s documentary, The Hustle of 617 Biv, I decided to feature it for Slow Jam Saturday.
R&B fans were elated this past summer when R&B legend Raphael Saadiq announced he had reunited with Tony! Toni! Toné! for a fall tour. The tour kicked off this past Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama, with twenty-five planned stops. I plan on attending the Oxon Hill, MD, stop this coming Monday.