Wrapped in plastic, it’s OK-ish…
Ian Mathers: If she had this one sitting around, why on earth did she ever release “Obsessed”? “Up Out My Face” is like that song except with better production, a better chorus, a sense of humour and a great guest turn from Minaj (which, okay, was added after “Obsessed” came out, but even without her this one is much better). Even the video is funny!
Al Shipley: My respective least favorite and favorite moments on Memoirs were the insipid original version of this song, and the lively marching band reprise that followed it. Unfortunately, this is just the former all over again, with Left Eye 2010 stretching out her voice and trying to make it as unappealing as humanly possible.
Alex Ostroff: Mariah imperiously and hilariously tells off an ex who just can’t take a hint over a languidly strutting piano line. In doing so, she gives us the bridge, which gradually grows from mildly strange to completely bonkers, and is hands down the best moment of Memoirs: “Not even a welder and a builder can rebuild this shit… Not even a nail technician with a whole lotta gel and acrylic can fix this shit… If we were two Lego blocks, even the Harvard University Graduating Class of 2010 couldn’t put us back together again.” And that would have been enough, but the remix completes the ascension of the delightfully insane Nicki Minaj to the major leagues, and includes the marching-band reprise in the video. “AttennnnnnSHUN. About Face!”
Matt Cibula: Months later, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel continues to be a fascinating messy beast. This track wasn’t great until now, though, so let’s just go ahead and give the assist to Nicki M., who has a lot of haters in this world but not me. I was confused about the Harvard Class of 2010 thing until I realized it was a blatant beg for a Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award. Maybe next year!
Martin Skidmore: In the old days, we didn’t get acts making a few singles every week, as the The-Dream/Tricky combo seem to be doing. This is a completely anonymous and rather droney track, with no opportunities for Mariah’s vocal pyrotechnics, but it is enlivened significantly by the superb Minaj’s sharp rapping.
Michaelangelo Matos: Kind of a lurching beat for Mariah, and while the song isn’t offensive it doesn’t have much stick either. The guest plays right along, putting the ho in ho-hum.
Chuck Eddy: Nicki’s passably fun at the beginning (“all up in the church he was sneakin’ with the deacon,” then a few seconds of that fake grime accent schtick she does, then “attention… about face”), and she gets to “vroom vroom” once later. And the marching band section free lunch tacked on at the end is a surprise. But otherwise this lacks the burlesque humor and adorability quotient of its video. Mariah sounds joyless as usual, give or take racing through that ditzy class of 2010 not putting things back together again like Humpty Dumpty part (if that’s even her). Still, this song does have some stuff in it, I admit.
Alfred Soto: A reconstituted vehicle, with parts manufactured in 1998-1999: Missy’s “Sock It 2 Me,” Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody,” and a band interlude from Jordan Knight’s “Give It To You” (Nicki Minaj even echoes Lil Kim’s bit from “Hit’Em wit da Hee”). Carey acts as indifferently as the girl who lets her mechanic worry about dirty things like changing the oil. He checked under the hood alright, and poured sugar in the gas tank.
Hillary Brown: I’m not not feeling this song, but I’m also not really feeling it, which is frustrating. Perhaps it’s that it feels like there’s not enough Mariah on her own track or that Nicki Minaj isn’t nearly as convincing as Trey Songz when she says “LOL smiley face.” It’s a nice, slow groove, and I like it when Mariah gets to do some of that delicate, high-pitched work — it’s like a vacation for her — but it’s maybe a bit too relaxed without ever getting into spa-riffic mud-bath territory. Lukewarm, I guess.
Iain Mew: A new Mariah single is definitely not the first place I would expect the see the device of the very long run-on line, careering out of the confines of structure. There it is, though, and seems a natural thing to build on all the enjoyably playful touches that come before. Also, I know I’m late here, but what the hell is with Nicki Minaj’s accent? Not complaining as such, because it mostly lends an off-kilter charm that fits, just wondering.