A new entry for All Known Eminem Beefs…
Alex Macpherson: Eminem may be a soft target these days, but it’s still good to hear Mimi murk him with such panache. Like “Touch My Body”, “Obsessed” is an hors d’œuvre of a lead single: immediately catchy, a talking point, wearing Autotune casually enough that it serves Mariah rather than the other way round. The kind of song which you contentedly play on loop for three weeks, revelling in its summery horn stabs and quintessential Mariahisms – who else would cram a line like “Got you all fired up with your Napoleon complex/See right through you like you’re bathin’ in Windex” into a chorus, or belt out “He’s all up in my GEOOORRRGE FOOOREMAAAN!” like she’s taking a BBQ to church? When Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel drops, “Obsessed” may well fade; but like the best appetisers, its delicious lightness is wonderfully satisfying for now.
Michaelangelo Matos: I imagine this will sound better with prolonged exposure, and I enjoy it now in a mild way: she embraces Autotune a damn sight more cannily than Jay-Z rejects it. I am also a big fan of the full-on robo-meme she throws in at 3:12. But I’ve never found her drama at all intriguing, and the slightly pallid feel of this indicates why.
Martin Kavka: The martial atmosphere created by those eighth-note chords does nothing but give rise to obscene ideas for video treatments, e.g. Mimi as goosestepping Nazi about to throw an Eminem lookalike into a gas chamber. This is even more boring and inessential than typical for a woman who’s released only two mildly interesting songs since separating from Tommy Mottola; it deserves one point, for some occasionally mildly cool AutoTune flutter.
Anthony Easton: Lots of things to love about this, and maybe this love comes from Carey no longer being satisfied with just being a virtuoso singer (though, frankly, as Carl Wilson tells us, being suspect of virtuosity suggests a educated privilege that should be noted).
Alfred Soto: Since Mariah Carey signifies to my ears as an affectless buoyancy, I take it as progress that she’s learned affected buoyancy. Of course she’s tickled pink by her stalker; to show even a hint of nervousness is beyond her. So thank The-Dream for their streamlined production, which makes Love v. Money sound like Imperial Bedroom by comparison, and Mariah herself. I love this kind of slightly creepy professionalism.
Jordan Sargent: “Obsessed” takes a bit too long to get to its pay-off, but that pay-off is worth it. In the song’s final 25 seconds, Tricky Stewart races Mariah’s voice up the scale with a series of increasingly pinging piano chords. It’s a climax that is understated and gutsy in the way it dares the pop listener to pay acute attention. If only the rest of the song had as hard a punch.
Al Shipley: I still think Mariah’s an odd muse for a songwriter like The-Dream, whose gift lies largely in crafting melodies for the pipes of mere mortals with just a couple lousy octaves at their disposal. But it doesn’t really matter who’s singing or who they’re taking thinly veiled shots at here, the massive hooks just keep coming, steamrolling over even dud lines like “lyin’ that you’re sexin’ me.”
Martin Skidmore: Mariah sings it with restraint, and despite the light use of autotune, it’s one of my favourite vocal performances by her. It’s also funny and sharp.
Anthony Miccio: Carey tries to give this put-down a streetwise, queenly smirk, but the track, from the beat to her choice of vocal effect, is so rote that the song would be better served by someone who could give it some angry, adolescent energy, like Jojo or Lindsay Lohan. Yes, Mariah Carey is now less commanding a vocal presence than Jojo.
Chuck Eddy: I prefer Mom-and-Pops to corporations, I prefer conversations to press conferences, my Napoleon Complex got me where I am today, Mariah jumped the shark ages before Eminem did, I have no interest in whatever relationship they may have had, and I wish she’d finally ditch the hip-hop attitude horseshit and get back to what she used to be good at. Given all that, I have to admit this is a halfway decent song — she even delivers the line “you’re losing your mind” with feeling. I’ll make a note of that, and move on.