Running in Place | 04/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Music Box is Mariah Carey's best-selling album, and it's easy to see why. It includes some of her best-loved hits, then and now. "Dreamlover" is a breezy, mid-tempo track that ranks among Mariah's greatest material, thanks in part to its breathy harmonies and an enthusiastic Hammond B-3 organ performance from Walter Afanasieff. "Anytime You Need a Friend" is an excellent gospel-tinged number with a powerful back-up choir. The title track is a slow-burn, R&B-inspired song with a beautifully subdued vocal. Perhaps the most famous track, "Hero" doesn't quite measure up to the other songs. A heavily-produced big ballad with encouraging lyrics, it has become Mariah's signature song. While it's undeniably schmaltzy and a bit contrived, she sings with conviction. On Music Box, Mariah Carey showed considerable growth as a songwriter and as a producer. The vocal arrangements on every track are impeccable; after listening to this record for years, I'm still finding new harmony parts I didn't recognize before. By toning down the histrionics, Mariah comes across as a better singer who is more invested in the material. Music Box is the epitome of polished pop, and it fits her voice perfectly. 4 Stars."