Oct 12

MARIAH CAREY – “Without You”

FT + Popular51 comments • 5,741 views

#702, 19th February 1994

The problem with the phrase “vocal gymnastics” – if used as a pan – is that plainly gymnastics are awesome. Their poise, control, grace, swiftness and fluidity – why wouldn’t these be things you’d aspire to in pop, why wouldn’t you expect applause? But these are manifestations of technique*, and pop thought ran aground on technique years ago, setting up a series of straw oppositions to deny it. Technique versus emotion. Technique versus passion. Technique versus excitement. Why not have them all? Mariah could, and sometimes did – if you could do the giddy things she does with her voice on “Emotions”, say, why wouldn’t you?

You need the songs for it, though. The part of Mariah’s success that British critics really couldn’t deal with wasn’t so much the range as the material; a higher concentration of ballads than the average star, and ones which seemed particularly placid, at that. A listen to her ’98 Greatest Hits record persuaded me that (disappointingly perhaps) I still wasn’t down with many Carey slowies. Once the bpm rises she’s enchanting, but at ballad pace most of her singles still sound torpid.

“Without You” may be a slow number, but sticking to the Nilsson blueprint provides enough material for any performer. In fact, Carey is controlled and respectful here, even at the crisis point – her voice bending and fluxing but always reforming before it deliquesces entirely. If – as a wise commenter on the Nilsson thread pointed out in response to my underrating “Without You” – Harry’s melodrama on his take carries double weight because it’s a breadown of an urbane, soft spoken persona, the same thing works for Carey in reverse: we all know how much she could freak out on this record, but she just about doesn’t. She stays devastated but strong, bolstered by her multi-tracked, gospel-tinted backing selves: the record’s best touch.

A good track, then? The truth is, I can’t love it, or even move much beyond admiration. It’s not the song, and it’s certainly not the singing, but I run into the same wall I did when I was writing about the operatic ballads of the 50s – there’s no side to it. “Without You” is monolithically straightforward: it comes from a place of noble and complete seriousness I can’t totally relate to.

*the other thing about gymnastics, of course, is that they are a sport with judges. It’s not fair to blame Whitney or Mariah for the hijacking of their singing style by Reality TV performers – you don’t choose your imitators – but the unrestrained, often glorious showiness of their performances maybe lends itself to benchmarking. But such worries are for later.



  1. 1
    weej on 12 Oct 2012 #

    Of course we can have vocal gymnastics with feeling, it’s when they’re ramped up to disguise a *lack* of feeling that the ‘fake’ bell rings. Here the trills start too early, they sound out of place – I suspect that she knows it’s supposed to be sad, but beyond that doesn’t really get it. Too young, maybe. Anyway, for whatever reason, it leaves me utterly cold too, and it shouldn’t.

  2. 2
    thefatgit on 12 Oct 2012 #

    Before listening to “Without You” by Mariah, I gave Badfinger’s original a listen. What I was hoping to glean from it, I’m not sure. What struck me was the difference between the “I can’t live//” of Badfinger (clipped, stemming the flow of tears) and “I can’t LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVEEEE” of the Nilsson/Mariah model which suggests they’ve both figuratively thrown themselves off the bridge, and succumbed to the emotion. To be fair, I’m not sure which version is more devastating, but today I’m choosing Mariah. It’s a 10.

  3. 3
    Mark G on 12 Oct 2012 #

    The video (a live performance) begins with a “I’d like to sing for you now, a song I love” type spoken intro.

    Which basically means, it’s a performance, and nothing more. Ten? no. Barely four for me.

  4. 4
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 12 Oct 2012 #

    She evidently loves singing the song, that’s not fake at all — but the person she can’t live without is forgotten the moment she rolls off into her first warm-up twirl, and the reason she can’t give any more is she’s entirely absorbed in the feel of her own voice and what it can do. I love Mariah, so I don’t mind when she’s just vamping for her own amusement and because she can, but I think I prefer her when the sheer bubbling physical vim of her gift actually parallels the content of the song.

  5. 5
    Brendan on 12 Oct 2012 #

    Whereas I always thought Nilsson’s version maintained dignity in the face of the rather overblown sentiment of the lyrics, with Mariah I hear none of that and she sounds like a spoilt child throwing a tantrum. I guess it’s the diva in her that makes it impossible for her to sing it any other way.

  6. 6
    lonepilgrim on 12 Oct 2012 #

    i was expecting to dislike this, but didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. Partly it’s because I found Mariah’s glossy rendition oddly appealing. She communicates an enjoyment of the song without going off on one just for the sake of it. The sense of unhinged emotion that bursts out from the Nilsson version is only present as a faint perfume in this one but I suspect I would hate this version more were she to try to project some fake sense of loss. Nevertheless, I still think a 5 is about right. I wouldn’t turn it off if it came on the radio but I wouldn’t pick it on a juke box.

  7. 7
    speedwell54 on 12 Oct 2012 #

    The song I like. I’ve nothing against the song. Unfortunately to me, the vocals sound like a spitting image version.

    I was working in a very unhip record store at the time, and for a few weeks it seemed parent album “Music Box” was the only thing anyone was buying. Most of the customers weren’t regular buyers, and most of them, weren’t buying for themselves. Valentine’s Day was just around the corner, and I think had Family Fortunes been surveying that week, it would have been right up there.

    Up until this single I didn’t find her annoying, and I sort of liked her previous release, “Hero”, which- aside from making “truth” a two syllable word- is okay.

    I think she could have sung this far better than she did. 5

  8. 8
    Mark G on 12 Oct 2012 #

    See, there are a few MCarey songs/singles I like, whereas not many Whitney ones…

  9. 9
    Lazarus on 12 Oct 2012 #

    I try to avoid looking ahead, so I’d completely forgotten about this one. Yet I was one of those who bought the ‘Music Box’ album (I liked Hero as well, it’s been a bit spoiled for me since). I really like early Mariah; ‘Vision of Love’ was a glorious debut, and should have been Top Five at least, and was the first of many chart-toppers for her in the US. This, I believe, is the only time we’ll be seeing her on Popular. I don’t mind this and could stretch to a 6, but I always felt that, whether she liked the song or not, it was something she had to do, or was told she had to do, to get a UK Number One. Interestingly, among all her US chart-toppers, this only got to no. 3 there.

    At this stage, how many songs had been Number One for two different acts? I know it happened a few times in the Fifties (‘Singing the Blues’ for one) but it doesn’t seem to have been a feature of the 70s and 80s. Of course, there would be many more ahead – and, with the benefit of TV exposure, at least two titles which would gain a third lease of life.

  10. 10
    Tom on 12 Oct 2012 #

    I would have to check, but I THINK we’ll be seeing her again, though not alone. And if I’m right it’s nothing remotely to look forward to.

  11. 11
    swanstep on 12 Oct 2012 #

    @1, weej. I think your ‘Too young’ point is very well taken. Mariah seems to have adored the song since she was a child, and, honestly, this record feel to me like a technique-heavy extension from that original place of non-understanding rather than a proper interpretation of the song (so for me Mariah here is like the anti-Sinead). Looking ahead, I’m saddened that ‘We Belong Together’ just missed getting to #1 and so won’t trouble Popular: that’s a Mariah slowie I can get behind (the interpretive weight there seemed to be carried by MC’s desperately needing-a-comeback in-the-real-world; whatever, it worked gangbusters).

  12. 12
    flahr on 12 Oct 2012 #

    10: We will, and it isn’t.

  13. 13
    MikeMCSG on 12 Oct 2012 #

    Unbearable – prior to this I thought she was a more acceptable Whitney but this proved they were as bad as each other.

  14. 14
    tonya on 12 Oct 2012 #

    X Factor had a Mariah night a few years ago and I thought it was odd that all the songs they chose were the big cover ballads. Is that Syco lowest common denominator shenanigans or is that really all she’s known for in Britain? Seems to me that if you don’t listen to Fantasy and Dream Lover and Always be my Baby and Heartbreaker and We Belong Together and on and on you’re kind of missing the point.

  15. 15
    flahr on 13 Oct 2012 #

    Well, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” isn’t a big slow ballad!

  16. 16
    hardtogethits on 13 Oct 2012 #

    This was the first NEW number one of the Millward Brown chart era.

    The day after chart was announced, with Mariah at number one, I had an interview for a job at the charts department of Millward Brown. I was a little surprised at the lack of interest they showed in the things I was doing at the time – my attempts to understand any relationship between pre-release airplay and first week chart position, for example. On the whole though, I thought the interview was going VERY well.

    Then, the very senior manager on the interview panel threw in the rather conversational double-question “So, did you hear yesterday’s chart? What did you think?” I responded along the lines of “There were a few real surprises, weren’t there? I really didn’t anticipate Mariah Carey at number one!”

    I can only assume that this remark was mistaken as a challenge to the integrity and/or the accuracy of the chart. The chap genuinely seemed to go into a sulk, any rapport we had was lost and the interview faded away into nothingness. I left the building knowing I hadn’t got the job.

    So, the record reminds me of an unusual day. Had this not gone straight in at number one – or, alternatively, if I had foreseen its status as an instant chart topper – then I might have got the job. I might have been working on the charts, which would have fulfilled a childhood dream, it being all I wanted to do between the ages of 9 and 24. I might have moved to a different part of the country; might never have met my partner; might never have started a family. Maybe I should be thankful to the record for all the things that have happened to me since it went to number one.

    And yet, and yet, and yet. The surprise I expressed was not suspicion of the chart, but surprise that a record with these characteristics could go STRAIGHT IN AT NUMBER ONE. Characteristics being of course a dreary soulless cover of a well known song, available on an album so the fans would already have it. Obviously, I should have known better. Firstly, Jason Donovan had done it five years before. Secondly, I overlooked that this had been pitched at the Valentine’s Day market. Even now though, looking back, I am surprised it held on at no 1 as long as it did.

    So I won’t apply the new catchphrase “this is where is I lost interest in the charts.” I still haven’t lost interest. But, truly, this is where I stopped loving the charts.

  17. 17
    Billy Hicks on 13 Oct 2012 #

    There are much, much, worse examples of ‘Take a good song, mess with the notes and scream/warble til you’ve killed it’ coming up over the next two decades at least, for me anyway. No, it’s not as good as Nillson’s. But is it still ‘good’? Yes it is. The up-and-down pitching is a bit annoying at first (“can’t live any mooorrwooorrrrorrrrore”) etc, but again, there’s worse. Once she hits the big bit then all is right again. A decent, pleasant cover that I’ve only been aware of in recent years.

    #16 – That is a brilliant ‘Sliding Doors’ kind of story :D I’ve got one similar, but we need to wait until a long-lasting #1 that flooded the chart in the summer of 2007 for it…

  18. 18
    thefatgit on 13 Oct 2012 #

    I guess I’m swimming against the tide on this one, but I was genuinely glad to see this got to the top. It’s one of my favourite songs anyway, and award the Nilsson a 10 also. I’m surprised that there’s an air of “meh” about it on here. Early Mariah was a delight, quite simply because she didn’t fit the mould back then. She happened to come around at a time when I was getting close to the love of my life, so a lot of early Mariah has been bound up in personal feelings I was experiencing at that particular time. The songs off “Vision Of Love” and “Music Box” were our soundtrack. I loved the fact that she could comfortably enter into Minnie Riperton territory, without being overtly show-offy about it. The 5 octave register just came naturally to her. I dunno, I guess I’m being subjective.

    I did another comparison study with Chris De Burgh, who did a straight copy of Nilsson’s reading, with maybe a few De Burghisms thrown in and found myself liking his version as well (not a 10, but maybe a 7). This coming from someone who would normally go to any length to avoid CDB. I’m not sure I have managed to find a truly bad version of “Without You” (yet).

    Compare this to “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen, soon to be covered by C****e D**n (no danger of waking the Bunny, it made top 10) in a few Popular years time. That’s also a song I adore but, thanks to Frank Sinatra of all people, isn’t as bulletproof as “Without You” appears to be.

  19. 19
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 13 Oct 2012 #

    Other songs I have on itunes with the words “without you” in them:

    Within you without you (Cheap Trick Beatles’ cover): vg tick
    Christmas Ain’t Christmas New Years Ain’t New Years Without the One You Love (OJays): vg tick
    No Leaving Without You (Paris Hilton): vg tick
    Reunification Rainbow (from the No Motherland Without You album by North Korea’s top supergroup Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble): vg tick

  20. 20
    swanstep on 13 Oct 2012 #

    Heh, for me:
    Love will never do (without you), Janet Jackson
    With or without you [U2 cover], Scala And Kolacny Brothers
    Without You [2 versions], Talk Talk
    Without You Near (reprise), Markus Schulz and Departure with Gabriel and Dresden
    And, stretching it, as itunes search is wont to do:
    Your Thing Ain’t No Good Without My Thing, Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons.

  21. 21
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 13 Oct 2012 #

    Just checked out the Badfinger original: I suppose it may grow on me, but for the moment Mariah > Nilsson >>>>> Badfinger

    Caveat: I don’t really like the song itself, taken as a serious proposition, so obviously I’m going to prefer the version wandering blithely past the extreme pass-agg self-regard of earlier versions in favour of an idly and yes cheerfully virtuosic self-absorption (where it’s obvious she CAN live without him quite easily, she has her voice to play with, and it’s much more fun than he was!) … the latter attitude suits my temperament much better!

  22. 22
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2012 #

    “it’s obvious she CAN live without him quite easily, she has her voice to play with, and it’s much more fun than he was!”

    That’s why this version leaves me cold! If the lyrics mean so little to her, it isn’t ever going to work for me.

    I was trying to think of previous comparable Popular entries. I think Tom made a similar comment on Cliff’s We Don’t Talk Anymore – that he’s so pleased to be singing a song that sounds like a number one, it detracts from the song itself.

  23. 23
    Billy Hicks on 14 Oct 2012 #

    My ‘without you’ iTunes list is perhaps the most regrettable and bizarre.

    [2009 bunny] – Kelly Clarkson
    Without You – David Guetta feat. Usher
    [2010 bunny] – Alexandra Burke
    and ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ by Barry Manilow.

    If that doesn’t sum up my eceletic music tastes, I don’t know what does.

  24. 24
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Oct 2012 #

    I think this may actually be the penultimate no 1 single I ever bought….(the final one being in the following year).

    I can’t argue with the general consensus that she sings it well, but too happily and with possibly too much disregard for the lyrics.

    I’d still rate it as a decent cover version, all things considered, and supremely listenable. I’d think I’d even go so far as to say I’dalso be hard pressed to name another single by Mariah that is clearly superior to this. And I’d kind of appreciated some of underperforming, underrated earlier singles – “Love Takes Time” is an absolute gem, and as for “Make It Happen” – – well, I’d love to hear the Sounds Of Blackness do a take on that, I think it could work fully gospelled-up….

    But a couple of more obvious very memorable and pretty decent singles aside…too much of the rest of her output was was just too….lightweight.

    Not sure if it had become apparent by this time that Whitney was clearly still superior (if perhaps more irritating).

    #23 re eclectic musical tastes. About the time this was no 1 I had just moved to the east coast of Scotland. The local radio station, Radio Tay used to play a jingle, boasting, in all sincerity, that it played “every kind of music, from Roxette through to East 17”. Your list is at least a little broader than that foul promise….

  25. 25
    JLucas on 15 Oct 2012 #

    I’m not sure this song hasn’t become a bit of an Albatross for Mariah in terms of how she’s perceived in the UK. While in America she’s a bona-fide legend (18 #1 hit singles!) over here her own material never really took off in the same way. She’s a bit of a Janet Jackson – many, many hits, few that people would really remember. Unlike Janet, she did get that elusive #1, but with a cover version of an already well-known song.

    Combined with her later #1 and the fact that her original hit with the longest non-seasonal shelf-life has been the mawkish ‘Hero’, you get a singer who looks for all the world like an all-voice no-substance karaoke/talent show staple and little else. Which does some injustice to her, as she’s actually a very gifted songwriter with moments of surprising depth in her catalogue.

    That said, I do struggle with a lot of her hits, especially the early stuff. Most of it is very forgettable and of its time. Emotions and Fantasy are great pop songs, as are Always Be My Baby and Dreamlover. But the rest of those #18 US chart toppers you’d be hard pushed to distinguish, or indeed hum. She only ever made one truly great album -1997’s Butterfly, which only spawned one serious hit (Honey) and was mostly overlooked. In recent years she’s tried a little bit too hard to remain current, largely without success, although We Belong Together was masterful.

  26. 26
    flahr on 15 Oct 2012 #

    To add to the list:

    “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”, The Police
    “Better Off Without You”, Summer Camp
    “I Don’t Want To Live Without You”, Foreigner
    “I Can Do It Without You”, Kaiser Chiefs

    Best of those four clearly the Summer Camp one which is utterly terrific in much the same way as “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (which was apparently performed on X Factor today so you never know it could be bunnied when we return next week). I also for some reason have a Menswear cover of the above-mentioned Barry Manilow song. It’s quite good, although it does not sound particularly Menswearish (AND NO THIS IS NOT A TAUTOLOGY).

  27. 27
    Ed on 15 Oct 2012 #

    For me it’s:

    Bunnied Kelly Clarkson
    ‘Without You’ by David Bowie. It’s from ‘Let’s Dance’, which I thought I knew pretty well, but I had no memory of this whatsoever. It was even released as a single in some places, apparently. Quite pretty while it lasts, in fact, but I have already forgotten it again.
    Stretching: ‘Watching You Without Me’ by Kate Bush, an utterly lovely song from the ‘Ninth Wave’ section of ‘The Hounds of Love’.
    And the cover of ‘Within You Without You’ by Sonic Youth. A clumsy rumble, really redeemed only by the fact that it was done for charity. It’s on ‘Sgt Pepper Knew My Father, the NME covers album that also includes the no longer bunnied Wet Wet Wet version of ‘With a Little Help…’ that was a number one in 1988.
    The choice of charity looks more controversial now than it did at the time; it was done in aid of Childline.

  28. 28
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Oct 2012 #

    “My First Night Without You” by Cyndi Lauper: top drawer stuff, with the opposite problem that Mariah has here: almost, but not quite, overperformed.

    Still, three better songs of loss and desolation, at least, come from the Go-Betweens (who it is fair to say will not be troubling us here), even if they don’t use the exact words: “Dusty In Here”, “Second Hand Furniture” or, most glorious and poignant of all “Just A King In Mirrors”. Listening to any of those, and then to this, just play up how very much she isn’t feeling it, and indeed almost certainly wouldn’t have had such a big hit had she been feeling it.

  29. 29
    swanstep on 15 Oct 2012 #

    I’m on a bit of a Howard Goodall jag right now…and Without You shows up about 30 mins into his ep. on Harmony, e.g., here.

  30. 30
    Izzy on 16 Oct 2012 #

    I accidentally deleted my entire iTunes library last week so can’t play this game; but back in my indie days I do remember my drummer once pleading his eclecticism thusly – “I mean, I listen to the Senseless Things and The Levellers”

  31. 31
    wichita lineman on 16 Oct 2012 #

    The Byrds – Here Without You (Gregorian folk rock from Gene Clark)

    The Birds – No Good Without You (Motown – originally an Isley Brothers song – given some needling white noise guitar bursts and super-maudlin backing vocals by Ronnie Wood’s beat group)

    Roger Nichols & the Small Circle Of Friends – Kinda Wasted Without You (exquisite very-in-love A&M harmony pop)

    Paul Williams – I Won’t Last A Day Without You (Nichols’ writing partner on a bunch of Carpenters hits. His voice sometimes reminds me of Gene Clark, or Michael Stipe)

    Billy Fury – I’m Lost Without You (a Teddy Randazzo song that literally sounds like the end of the world)

    The Supremes – My World Is Empty Without You (their fastest single and their darkest single)

    The Searchers – I Don’t Want To Go On Without You (“here in the gloom of my lonely room” – baroque, ornate Merseybeat, also recorded with aplomb by the Escorts)

  32. 32
    lonepilgrim on 16 Oct 2012 #

    Billie Holliday – I Get Along Without You Very Well
    sweeping strings; tinkling piano and Billie’s trembling tones

    The Delmore Brothers – I’m Lonesome Without You
    high, lonesome harmonies and some twangin’ guitar

    Viola Wills – Gonna Get Along Without You Now
    uh-huh, a-ha – it’s a sprightly disco classic

  33. 33
    Mutley on 17 Oct 2012 #

    Re 32: “Gonna Get Along Without You Now” may be a disco classic but some of us have got along with it for a lot longer than that. It was first recorded by Teresa Brewer in 1952, and was a hit for Patience and Prudence in 1956.

  34. 34
    Cumbrian on 17 Oct 2012 #

    Playing along, I’ve only got one that hasn’t already been mentioned:

    Without You, I’m Nothing – Placebo

    Re: Mariah. Chalk me up in the anti-camp, I’m afraid. Mariah has done better than this. Nilsson did better than his version (notably “you’re breaking my heart, you’re tearing it apart, so fuck you” – which sounds like a more likely emotion to me than the sentiments of “Without You” – I mean would anyone (apart from those with more serious psychological problems than their relationship), when faced with a break up, exclaim that they couldn’t go on living without their soon to be ex?). Badfinger did better than theirs. I know it’s a classic but I’m just not on board with the song itself.

  35. 35
    Mark G on 17 Oct 2012 #

    Sometimes it’s about everyman’s response, and sometimes it’s about one persons.

    Sometimes it’s about how you feel over a long period, sometimes it’s purely about the right now.

    Doubtless, whoeveritwas woke up the next morning and sang the ‘You’re tearing me apart’ song with impunity in a pragmatic sense.

    and maybe not.

  36. 36
    Tommy Mack on 17 Oct 2012 #

    This has probably been mentioned before, but it always seems odd to me that, for such an accomplished and acclaimed songwriter, Harry Nilsson’s two biggest hits are the two he didn’t write.

  37. 37
    Tommy Mack on 17 Oct 2012 #

    I suppose it’s not that odd really: he always mixed covers in with his own stuff and I guess if you can write your own good stuff, the covers you pick are going to be songs that do something other than your own stuff. Still, shame Mariah didn’t plump for Mr Richland’s Favourite Song or My Old Desk or One…

  38. 38
    Martin F. on 18 Oct 2012 #

    The aforementioned, plus:

    Van Eijk – Living My Life Without You
    Late-90s Eurovision takes an early, tentative shuffle towards “urban” with this passable number delivered by a chap in warpaint and a basketball vest. He spent three minutes on stage with painful feedback in his ears and was last seen in a Bergen supermarket, telling off his infant son for touching all the fruit and veg.

    Re-Union – Without You
    The last time the Netherlands featured in a Saturday night Eurovision final – back in 2004! – having faltered at the semi-final stage ever since, even with the occasional involvement of Father Abraham. They’ve just hired Anouk (she of Some Hits You’ve Half-Heard Of, in Other Countries, in Them Days) to defend their colours in Malmö in 2013. Good luck to them.

  39. 39
    Mark G on 18 Oct 2012 #

    Oh,get you lot with yr fancy itunes libraries! My mp3 collection is scattered over lots of DVD backups..

    anyway, I’ll add “I’d be far better off without you” Sandie Shaw, one of those “the b-side was better’ singles.

  40. 40
    will on 18 Oct 2012 #

    I’m with Cumbrian on this one. I’ve always hated the song and regarded it as a load of self-pitying bilge.

    Upthread it was mentioned that Valentine’s Day may have been a factor in this going straight in at Number One, which if true is a bit scary. Who on earth would buy what basically amounts to aural emotional blackmail for their significant other?

  41. 41
    Lazarus on 20 Oct 2012 #

    OK well I’ve found her future Number One (and no, it’s nothing to look forward to) – in fact, she contributed to another, but as one of many vocalists. She’s nailed her colours firmly to the r’n’b mast in recent years, duetting with a bewildering array of partners – some of them extremely well-known (Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z), others … well, Jermaine Dupri, Krazy Bone & Wish Bone and Mystikal mean nothing to me I’m afraid. While I’m sure she’s enjoyed that more than she would have belting out an endless succession of ballads, it’s had a catastrophic effect on her chart placings, here as well as in the US. The first singles from albums have performed respectably, but others have stalled well outside the Top 50. Now a judge on ‘American Idol’ I gather, where she’s had some sort of diva bust-up with another former duet partner, Nicki Minaj.

  42. 42
    Mark M on 22 Oct 2012 #

    Re 41: Mystikal is a frequently incarcerated Desert Storm veteran best known for this excellent Neptunes-masterminded bit of James Browniness (video for the radio-friendly, retitled version).

  43. 43
    hardtogethits on 5 Nov 2012 #

    Tom – it must be a struggle sometimes.

    Don’t Opt Out Please.

  44. 44
    punctum on 5 Nov 2012 #

    I dunno that Tom’s “giving up” as such; after all, one of his favourites is up next! Am sure he will post about it as and when he’s ready to do so. In the meantime there will be plenty of TPL updates to keep you going, and MSBWT will also be back soon (as Lena is currently working on a MAJOR post here).

  45. 45

    Also you can read about Adam and the Ants while you’re waiting!

  46. 46
    hardtogethits on 5 Nov 2012 #

    Wrt the next number one, my INITIAL thoughts were:

    Let’s move on from Mariah: Dispose Of Old Product

    The next number one is not profound: Don’t Overanalyse Or Ponder

    Why are we waiting?: Don’t Overestimate Our Patience

    It must be tough sometimes for Tom, does he know how much we hang on his words?: Don’t Opt Out Please

    I realise I’m being repetitive, but I’m lost for (meaningful) words when I think about what’s coming up.

    TPL is great Marcello. Tried to post something there but was foiled. Will look again.

  47. 47
    punctum on 5 Nov 2012 #

    If you mean your Voulez-Vous comment, I got it and posted it (and even responded to it!).

    tbh I’m sort of lost for words with Popular now. Not in a literal sense but the need for me to say anything about each entry dissipated after (and probably before) Mr Blobby. I look at what’s coming up and I think either (a) it’s part of a number one album so I’ll say what I have to say about it on TPL, or (b) I can’t be bothered to say anything about it. I mean, I could do a long comment about e.g. the next entry but really I don’t see the point; seems a better use of my energies is to concentrate on the albums and just nod here every now and again, or else shut up if I really have nothing to say about…well, 1994 was a great year for music but not a great year for number one singles, and I’ll leave it at that.

  48. 48
    Caledonianne on 9 Dec 2012 #

    Think Tom’s about right. The pyrotechnics are skilful, but run counter to the lyric.

    On the Itunes game.

    There’s also a Janis Ian song called ‘Without You’ (quite up-tempo for JI!). Like Lonepilgrim I have the Viola Wills, and ‘I get along without you very well’ – versions by Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon. There’s also The Carpenters ‘I won’t last a day without you’, namechecked above under its author Paul Williams. And, of course, Randy Newman’s ‘Livin’ without you’

  49. 49
    Erithian on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Coming late to this (inevitable now I’m fighting the kids for computer time!) I can only echo some of the points made above, in particular weej and sukrat early on – the trills start too early and she’s enjoying the song too much to feel the emotions evoked. Even with Whitney on IWALY, there’s a control in the early stages and a buildup that you don’t get here. In fact, taking the “vocal gymnastics” theme, listen to the way the audience applauds a couple of times during the song after a particularly impressive multiple-note – as if Beth Tweddle has just pulled off a good leap on the asymmetric bars.

    In the end, though, she’s not looking to impress the likes of us, she’s got the audience lapping it up and who cares what we say? And at the end there’s the sweet, gorgeous, modest smile and you defy anybody not to go “aahhh” just for a moment. A performance, yes, but not an interpretation.

  50. 50
    Patrick Mexico on 5 Apr 2013 #


    I should apologise for this rating, but my decision is final – and like a band who in a perfect world should be troubling Popular 10 times over, guilt has nothing, nothing to do with it. An eight-year-old with a Bart Simpson complex won’t find anything in this like he can do with Cappella – Move on Baby or Blur – Girls and Boys (a song which lied to me that Faliraki and Magaluf were some kinds of adult Disneylands), but I find it as much of a chore to get through now as I did then. It doesn’t really fit Mariah’s image then or now – and her take on Bringing on the Heartbreak also made Def Leppard sound even more like bad nasty men who poo on their sisters.

    However, I have to act with some dignity in this post, given the tragic circumstances surrounding the song’s different incarnations. I remember my parents saying “Nay, it’ll never be as good as Nilsson” as a subconscious obituary. But, though that version’s got more vim and vigour than any lame eighties “power ballad” even though it’s a natural tearjerker, and the Badfinger version displayed pleasant Beatles 2.0 craftsmanship, I’ve always found both the chart-toppers just about “okay”, a kind of baroque manic depression. Maybe, once again, it’s an age thing, and at least it’s not that future bunny with terrible make-up who take the mickey out of cancer or something (I know, I know.) I think the “2” is solely for Mariah Carey’s “Glitter.” (I haven’t seen it. It’s just the idea.)

    In a chemical world, talk is very, very cheap..

  51. 51
    Stephen Emmett on 15 Apr 2020 #

    I want to bring up something here. Another factor in this song going to Number One (the Mariah Carey cover, at least) was the fact that it was ironically released four weeks after Harry Nilsson’s death from a heart attack the previous month, and like previously mentioned before, it was the Valentine’s Day effect.

    There are several other bunnies like this where I want to shake my head in inexplicable anger and just bash the radio in two…

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