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Glitter is the soundtrack to the 2001 film of the same title and the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey. It was released on August 18, 2001, in Japan by Sony Music and in the United States on September 11, 2001, by Virgin Records. Mixing dance-pop, funk, hip hop and R&B, the album was a complete musical departure from any of Carey's previous releases, focusing heavily on recreating a 1980s post-disco era to accompany the film, set in 1983. By covering or heavily sampling several older tunes and songs, Carey created Glitter as an album that would help viewers connect with the film, as well as incorporating newly written ballads. The singer collaborated with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and DJ Clue, who co-produced the album. Musically, Glitter was structured to be a retro-influenced album and have more of a dance-oriented element. On several songs, critics noted Carey to be more sexually suggestive lyrically than before. Glitter featured several musical acts such as Eric Benét, Ludacris, Da Brat, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, and Ja Rule.
Carey signed with Virgin and aimed to complete the film and soundtrack project. As part of her contract on her $100 million five-album record deal with Virgin Records, Carey was given full creative control. She opted to record an album partly mixed with 1980s influenced disco and other similar genres, in order to go with the film's setting. As the release date grew nearer, the film and album title were changed from All That Glitters to Glitter. In early 2001, Carey's relationship with Latin singer Luis Miguel ended, while she was busy filming Glitter and recording the soundtrack. Due to the pressure of losing her relationship, being on a new record label, filming a movie, and recording an album, Carey began to have a nervous breakdown. She began posting a series of disturbing messages on her official website, and displayed erratic behavior while on several promotional outings.
Carey's cover of the 1982 Indeep song "Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life" was one of the album's more club-themed songs. It features rappers Fabolous and Busta Rhymes, and was composed and produced by Carey and DJ Clue. Michael Paoletta from Billboard called it a "painful low" on Glitter, and commented how Carey seemed detached and over-powered on the song, due to the inclusion of several male guests. "Twister", another one of the album's ballads, drew strong comparisons to Carey's older work, in light of the very different remainder of the album. Paoletta called it "quietly heartbreaking", in reference to the song's lyrics, which relate to the suicide of Carey's friend and hairstylist, Tonjua Twist. According to Carey, Twist took her own life in the spring of 2000, and was known for her joy of life and her ability to put people at ease. She was "child like and effervescent", but behind her mask of happiness was "a well" of lifelong and deep-rooted pain. In "Twister", Carey described the hidden inner-struggle of her friend, and tried to find "closure"; her "way of saying goodbye". Chris Chuck from Daily News described its lyrics as "an airy requiem for a friend lost to suicide" and felt it was "the only memorable song on the album." With lyrics reading "Feelin' kinda fragile and I've got a lot to handle / But I guess this is my way of saying goodbye", David Browne from Entertainment Weekly felt that Carey was possibly referring to her own suicide rather than her friends, especially in light of the events that were taking place during the album's release. "Didn't Mean to Turn You On" is a cover of the 1984 Cherelle song of the same title. Aside from the heavy sampling of the hook and lyrics, Carey, who produced the song alongside Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, added keyboard notes and synthesizers to enhance the songs club appeal. In the song, Carey sings "I was only trying to be nice / Only trying to be nice / Sooooooo, I didn't mean to turn you on", indicating a woman who is weakly apologetic over fooling a man over intimacy. On the track "Want You", American singer Eric Benét duets with Carey, while lyrically implying and suggesting the "exploration of bedroom fantasies."
The album's third single, "Don't Stop (Funkin' 4 Jamaica)", released on September 11, 2001, mirrored the same weak charting as "Never Too Far", although receiving more rotation on MTV due to its video. Directed by Sanaa Hamri, it features the theme of southern bayous and lifestyles, and presents Carey and Mystikal in "southern style" clothing and hairstyles. Some shots feature three versions of Carey singing into a microphone on the screen at one time.
The website Metacritic, which averages professional reviews into a numerical score, assigned the album a score of 59/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews". AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album one and a half out of five stars, calling it an "utter meltdown -- the pop equivalent of Chernobyl" and wrote "It's an embarrassment, one that might have been easier to gawk at if its creator wasn't so close to emotional destruction at the time of release." Michael Paoletta from Billboard was less critical, citing it as a "minor misstep in a stellar career that has earned the singer a few free passes. Editor Sarah Rodman from The Boston Herald gave Glitter a mixed review, praising Carey's song-writing and voice, although panning the excess of secondary musical guests. While criticizing the album's roster of appearances, Rodman wrote "the artists contribute mostly distracting, self-promoting jibber jabber all over what could have been Carey's best, most emotionally mature record to date." Daily News editor Chuck Campley rated the album two and a half out of five stars, writing "Maybe this was the best Mariah Carey could muster under the circumstances, but 'Glitter' needed more work." David Browne from Entertainment Weekly gave Glitter a mixed review, criticizing the abundance of rappers and describing Carey's vocals as "barely there" on several tracks. Concluding his review on a poor note, Browne wrote "'Glitter' is a mess, but its shameless genre hopping (and Carey's crash) makes it an unintentional concept album about the toll of relentless careerism."
Glitter became Carey's least commercially successful album to that point. It debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 116,000 copies, but far from the first-week sales of 323,000 with her previous release, Rainbow in 1999. Glitter became Carey's lowest peaking album in the United States, with her second album Emotions (1991), coming in at number four. It remained in the album's chart for only eight weeks, and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of 500,000 units; and as it fell from the charts, received platinum certification, denoting shipments of 1 million in the US. As of November 2018, Nielsen SoundScan estimates sales of the Glitter album at 666,000 copies in the United States. In Canada, the album peaked at number four on the Canadian Albums Chart. Glitter entered the Australian Albums Chart at its peak position of number thirteen, during the week dated September 9, 2001. Remaining in the chart for only three weeks, the album made its exit at number forty on September 23. Similarly in Austria, Glitter peaked at number fourteen, remaining on the albums chart for only four weeks.
When discussing the project's weak commercial reaction, Carey blamed the terrorist attacks of September 11. Carey made specific remarks regarding the album's commercial failure stating, "I released it on September 11, 2001. The talk shows needed something to distract from 9/11. I became a punching bag. I was so successful that they tore me down because my album was at number 2 instead of number 1. The media was laughing at me and attacked me." Vulture writer Matthew Jacobs noted that, "two dynamics were working against [the film] at once: post-9/11, Americans simply weren't going to the movies, and certainly not to see what had been framed as a slice of celebrity fluff". 2b1af7f3a8