Mariah Carey released her new album, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," today to overall good notices. Had the disc dropped as scheduled Aug. 25, Carey may have found herself facing off against Whitney Houston at this year's Grammy Awards. Instead Carey could be competing next year against the ultimate diva, Barbra Streisand. That veteran pop songbird switched to jazz for album #63 -- "Love Is the Answer" -- and was rewarded with some of her best reviews in decades.
So it sounds like Whitney Houston did the smart thing by releasing "I Look to You" on Aug. 31 -- the absolute last day of eligibility for the 2009 Grammys. While Houston has won six Grammys, her most recent win was a decade ago. La Streisand has eight competitive Grammy Awards on her crowded mantle, though her last win was way back in 1986 for "The Broadway Album," another return to her musical roots. Though Mariah Carey has racked up 34 Grammy nominations (among female artists, second only to Aretha Franklin), she has managed only five wins. And none of those victories came in the top categories of album, record and song of the year.
Carey made headlines this year when her first single off the album -- "Obsessed" – took on Eminem, among others. Now she is earning praise for the entire package. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said, "She plays it low-key and ends up with her best album since the '90s heyday." For James Reed of the Boston Globe, this disc "presents her as more of an emotive vocalist and not just a singer with an impressive range. Make that Mariah Carey, song stylist." And said Mesfin Fekadu of the AP, "this is an exceptional album that is about love -- being in it, out of it, over it and trying to reach it. While the subjects are tried and true, they are never tired, thanks to Carey's approach, which mixes a good dose of humor and wit with her multi-octave voice."
Mariah Carey was named best new artist at the Grammy Awards in 1990 for her self-titled debut album. And she won best pop vocal, female, that year. Then, though her follow-up albums all went platinum, there was a Grammy Awards drought until her smash hit "The Emancipation of Mimi."
Mariah went into the 2005 Grammys with eight nominations but left with three wins, in the R&B genre – contemporary album, song ("We Belong Together") and female vocal. The singer-songwriter lost the big prizes of album, record and song of the year to U2 and Green Day.
And her 2008 follow-up – the critically acclaimed, chart-topping "E=MC2" – did not have the right formula to win over Grammy voters. She was snubbed for that album as a whole and her historic No. 1 single, "Touch My Body," was shockingly shut out as well. She picked up just a nod for her gospel collaboration on "I Understand."