We’re only a few hours into our infatuation with Mariah Carey‘s “Almost Home,” her new single from the soundtrack for Oz The Great and Powerful, but it’s only continuing to grow on us: Those vocal riffs! That melody! The sheer fact that it’s not a huge disappointment! (Sorry, “Triumphant.”) It may not be a home run, but it doesn’t really need to be — with a big vocal performance and a likably inspirational tone from Mimi, it’s a return to form for the superstar.
Predictably, the critics were split, with some complimenting the tune and others calling it underwhelming — but like the title, it’s almost there, and that’s more than enough for us. Check the reviews after the jump.
:: Entertainment Weekly thought the song satisfied but didn’t impress: “As far as breakout potential, this could go either way: Carey purists are going to go ham for that key change and those runs at the end, but the beat feels a little vanilla and the chorus is not exactly a home run. It’s an uplift anthem that could have been sung by most anybody, at least for the first three minutes.”
:: MTV didn’t seem to mind that the song didn’t push the boundaries: “The up-tempo pop piece plants Carey right in the mythical land from the famed movie. It’s weaved together by a bouncing beat and bright synths, as Carey’s signature vocals soar over Stargate’s sparkling production work. On the inspirational chorus, Carey pays homage to Dorothy, the classic character from the original movie.”
:: The Los Angeles Times thought it was a throwback — a bit of a letdown, but still an appealing throwback. “Carey’s new song, ‘Almost Home’– it’s tied to Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful, scheduled for movie theaters next month — feels like a return to that earlier time. Produced with characteristic electro-pop precision by the Norwegian duo Stargate, it’s not quite a killer — certainly not as great nor as powerful as ‘Emotions’ or ‘Always Be My Baby’. But the midtempo song seems entirely built around Carey’s vocals, which arc upward until they crest in a key change that delivers the thrill we’ve grown to expect from her. It’s an old-fashioned appeal to think of Carey anew.”
:: Hitfix wasn’t impressed by the song, criticizing the vocal production: “The Stargate-produced, mid-tempo track featured a highly-processed Carey vocal with her singing in her middle register over a cheesy synthesized track. She sounds a little like a Munchkin her voice is so compressed. It’s not until the song hits the 3-minute mark that we get any kind of singing that remotely resembles her previous efforts.”
:: PopBytes, like us, noted that the song marked an improvement over her last effort: “The song (produced by team Stargate) is way better than her last single, “Triumphant (Get Em’),” and I can actual see this uptempo and soaring ballad turning into a huge hit for Ms. Carey, it’s definitely one of the best things she has released in the past couple of years.”
:: Slate found it pleasant but ultimately forgettable: “The minimalist beat sounds rather over familiar at this point, echoing various hits going back to the late ’90s. The song is pleasant enough in parts, but almost instantly forgettable. As a Carey fan, I’m holding out hope that her new album will have more memorable tracks, even if her lead single, released last year, was also less than stellar. And while the ballad certainly doesn’t rank among the singer’s best work, it does provide the latest evidence of what we can count on after all these years: She’s still got the voice.”