Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is the 12th studio album by Mariah Carey released on September 25, 2009
by Island Records. After Carey's previous album, "E=MC²", Carey began to work in a new album, producing with The-Dream and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, and revealed the album's title through Twitter. Carey said that Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel would have "big ballads", and that "each song is its own snapshot of a moment in a story."
Three singles were released to promote the album; the lead single, "Obsessed", became the most successful among the three, reaching number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and reaching the top twenty in Japan, Canada and Australia and the top ten in Italy and France; the song was subject of controversy, because many people thought that Carey was indirectly referring to American rapper Eminem, who claims having a relationship with Carey. The follow-ups, "I Want to Know What Love Is", reached number 60 on Billboard Hot 100, and topped the Brazilian chart by twenty-seven non-consecutive weeks and "H.A.T.E.U." was Mariah's 50th single to enter on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.
Upon its release, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel garnered positive reviews from music critics. They felt that "their team-up with Carey is canny; Stewart and Nash loosen up the diva’s sometimes overblown on-record persona", and also "one of her most sonically consistent."
Commercially, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, selling 168,000 copies in its first week. Internationally, the album peaked within the top 10 in five countries, including Canada and Denmark. To promote the album, Carey made a pre-show in Madison Square Garden in 2009, before embarking on the Angels Advocate Tour (2010), and performed in several programs as "America's Got Talent", "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Today."
Album Background & Production
In early 2009, singer-songwriter The-Dream stated that he and Carey had already begun working on her next studio album: "I think it's about just writing an album that includes the focus of all the hits that she's had. She can't take a loss; she has to do everything to the T. So it's basically like we're trying to make a greatest hits album without using the greatest hits." In February 2009, The-Dream told to MySpace Music that he and Carey had finished seven songs for the album.
In May, Carey revealed that she was calling the album, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" because it was going to be "very personal and dedicated to the fans." She says that she chose to use three images for the cover art because "there are a lot of different emotions and stories revealed on this album."
Carey also stated that she loves "the whole album" and she's "completely immersed in it." On June 16, Carey said on Twitter that there will be "big ballads" on the album. Carey also said that she "tried to make something for all who love Butterfly and even older albums."
For the first time in her career, Carey worked with American Grammy Award-winning hip-hop and R&B record-producer Timbaland. They worked on a number of tracks, and although well-documented, none of them made it onto Memoirs. The reasons for which are unspecified. Another song called "Imperfect" written by Carey, dealing with societal pressure on women to "be perfect and look a certain way", also failed to make the track listing. In an interview with BET, Carey said that she also worked with Jermaine Dupri, however, none of his songs made the final track listing.
Despite the majority of the project being written and produced by Carey, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, the main goal was to avoid having a "redundant or stale" album. In an interview with Elle Carey described the sound of her new album: "Each song is its own snapshot of a moment in a story. But overall, the vibe is R&B hip-hop with a lot of slow jams. [...] Each song has its own mood; some flow seamlessly into each other, and that was the purpose, and others are very different. The album has a sense of humor, [you can hear me laughing out loud at certain points], but it also has deep and introspective moments."
Album Concept & Packaging
During an interview with music retailer Amazon.com, Carey revealed her inspiration and motivation for the album. "Each song tells its own story. Each one is like an intimate conversation or entry in a private diary. A lot of the songs reflect specific, different times in my life, actual events that happened to me, some of which are from way back in the past. Others were inspired by movies or from a friend of mine that may have told me their story. People can listen to it and pick out certain songs that mean something to them - women especially. It's about women's empowerment and overcoming certain things. It's fun too though. It's got a little bit of something for everybody."
Amazon.com revealed that the physical release of the album would come as a 3-panel softpack as opposed to the usual plastic CD casing. This was due to the inclusion of two discs, the first housed the album itself whilst the second housed an enhanced CD featuring the music video for lead single, "Obsessed" as well as the video for "Obsessed" (official remix featuring Gucci Mane) and three other remixes.
The packaging includes a 34-page Elle mini-magazine which takes an exclusive in-depth look at Carey's life and career. The mini-magazine is mixed in with lyrics and other traditional liner-note materials as well as upscale ads to cut the production costs of the booklet. The ad-supported booklets — available in a digital format for downloaders — appeared in the first 1 million U.S. copies of the CD and the first 500,000 overseas.
It was also revealed that a limited edition collectors' version of the album would be released on October 20, 2009. It features the album and its bonus disc on both standard CDs and limited edition white vinyl LPs plus six rare lithographs, the limited edition Elle mini-magazine, a signature butterfly band and exclusively designed collector's box packaging.
Album Marketing & Promotion
Carey first made a promotional appearance on August 2, 2009 on America's Got Talent, where she taped her performance of "Obsessed". The episode aired on August 5, 2009. The album was initially pushed back from August 25th to September 15th so that more recording in the studio could take place but it was then revealed that the album was to be pushed back once more to September 29, 2009, with all promotion being delayed so that Carey could put finishing touches to the album.
As with most releases, the album was released several days earlier in international territories/markets. Since then the UK release was pushed back from August 24th to September 14th, to October 5th and finally to November 16th. British newspaper The Daily Mirror got a preview of six tracks on the album, these being "Obsessed", "Standing O", "Candy Bling", "H.A.T.E.U." (which stands for "Having A Typical Emotional Upset"), "The Impossible" and a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." Media playbacks of these six tracks were held in Tokyo, Hong Kong, London and Berlin in August 2009.
Then in September, Carey began performing at her Live At the Pearl concerts in Las Vegas on September 10th and September 11th, where she sang several of her famous hits, the first two singles from Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, "Obsessed" and "I Want to Know What Love Is" and premiering two other songs from the album, "Angels Cry" and "Up Out My Face." These were followed by appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show on September 18th, where Carey gave an interview with husband Nick Cannon and sang "I Want to Know What Love Is."
On October 5, Carey performed a concert for select contest winners at the P.C. Richard Theater in TriBeCa, New York, where she sang "Obsessed", "H.A.T.E.U.", and "I Want to Know What Love Is" from the album. Also, she sang "Always Be My Baby" and "We Belong Together." Carey resumed her Las Vegas shows at Live At the Pearl concerts on October 9th and October 10th, this time changing the setlist and performing songs which she has either not sung live this millennium or debuting live performances of songs from previous albums. Carey also sang "H.A.T.E.U.", in order to promote it as her third single, in addition to "Obsessed" and "I Want To Know What Love Is."
Carey performed "I Want To Know What Love Is" on the Italian X Factor on November 11, 2009. and then her third single "H.A.T.E.U." on the Late Show with David Letterman on November 13, 2009. In the UK, she appeared on the Mariah Carey: T4 Special where she was interviewed, followed by a performance on November 14, 2009 and then taped a performance of "I Want to Know What Love Is" which aired on November 22nd on The X Factor.
On November 19, 2009, she was interviewed and performed on the first show of the second series of Alan Carr's Chatty Man as well as switching on the Christmas lights at the Westfield shopping center in London. She then appeared on GMTV with Lorraine Kelly for an encore interview and performance of her album's UK lead single, "I Want to Know What Love Is" and later in the week on daily entertainment show, "This Morning."
- Betcha Gon' Know (The Prologue) (4:00)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, and James Wright; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, and Big Jim)
- Obsessed (4:02)-(written and produced by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart)
- H.A.T.E.U. (4:28)-(written and by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart)
- Candy Bling (4:03)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, Carlos McKinney, Ahmad Lewis, Stefan Gordy, and John Klemmer; produced by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Los da Mystro)-[samples “Back in the Day” by Ahmad]
- Ribbon (4:21)-(written and produced by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart)
- Inseparable (3:34)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Robert Hyman, and Cyndi Lauper; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, and The-Dream)-[Interpolates “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper]
- Standing O (4:00)-(written and produced by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart)
- It’s a Wrap (3:59)-(written by Mariah Carey and Barry White; produced by Mariah Carey, Heatmyzer, Tricky Stewart, and Big Jim)-[recreates elements of “I Belong to You” by The Love Unlimited Orchestra]
- Up Out My Face (3:41)-(written and produced by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart)
- Up Out My Face (The Reprise)-(0:51)-(written and produced by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and Tricky Stewart)
- More Than Just Friends (3:37)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Sean Combs, Chris Wallace, Rashad Smith, Mark DeBarge, and Etterlene Jordan; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, and The-Dream)-[samples “One More Chance\Stay With Me” by the Notorious B.I.G.]
- The Impossible (4:00)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Albert Brown, and Donald DeGrate; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, and The-Dream)-[contains interpolations of “Forever My Lady” by Jodeci]
- The Impossible (The Reprise)-(2:26)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Albert Brown, and Donald DeGrate; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, and The-Dream)-[contains interpolations of “Forever My Lady” by Jodeci]
- Angel (The Interlude)-(1:04)-(written by Mariah Carey, The-Dream, and James Wright; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, and Big Jim)
- Angels Cry (4:02)-(written by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, Crystal Johnson, and James Wright; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, and Big Jim)
- Languishing (The Interlude)-(2:34)-(written by Mariah Carey & James Wright; produced by Mariah Carey & Big Jim)
- I Want to Know What Love Is (3:27)-(written by Mick Jones; produced by Mariah Carey, Tricky Stewart, Big Jim, and Randy Jackson)