"The average person doesn't know about that. But that's OK. I just have to take the shots, and have a thicker skin. It's just tough, getting ready to put the album out, and getting ready for that whole thing again. But at least I'm very proud of this album. I mean, I've been proud of other things that I've done, but as a whole, I really enjoy this album."
A dream of an album
As well she should. "Daydream" is a remarkable piece of work, managing to seem cutting-edge while conveying the strengths that made her previous efforts so appealing. Some tracks, like the bittersweet ballad "Forever" or her version of the Journey hit "Open Arms," are very much in keeping with the sound of earlier albums like "Music Box" or "Emotions." But other tunes, like "Fantasy," with its sprightly chorus and ear-catching quote from the Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love," and the dark, funky "Long Ago," are cut from different cloth entirely.
"There's a very fine line for me between changing and maintaining what people have latched onto about me," she says. "I enjoy working with different producers, some of the more street-influenced producers, because it does add a different element to my sound. And I don't think that I've gotten lost in those tracks; I think we really came together and created something that was just my sound with more of an edge -- you know, an updated version of where I kind of went with 'Dream Lover.'
Defining the difference
"But on that album ['Music Box'], that was the only song like that; the difference on this album is that there are more songs in that vein. And that's really the music that I like to listen to. I'm a radio addict. All I do is listen to the radio." She points to the massive boombox resting on a nearby table. "See? I can't go anywhere without it.
"I listen to hip-hop a lot, and have grown up with it, in a sense, as a listener," she continues. That's why "Daydream" finds her working with producers like Dave Hall, Jermaine Dupri, David Morales and Manuel Seal (as well as longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff), and featuring rapper O.D.B. from the Wu-Tang Clan on the remix version of "Fantasy."
Carey admits this may surprise some fans. "The reason I first decided to work with Jermaine was when he did the Kris Kross record 'Jump' a few years ago," she says. "And people would not exactly listen to that and go, 'Oh -- Mariah Carey should work with this guy.'
"But when I listen to it, I'm listening to it as, 'This track is something that I could put a song over, and put my voice on top of, and make it into my own thing.'
What she likes
"That's probably the main difference between this album and the first album. Because that was more working with producers who had done their thing, and had the proven pop hits with female artists. But this is more representative of who is it that I like.
"I had fun with this whole album," she concludes. "Especially the single. It's a fun record for me, and I'm glad that people are feeling that. I mean, I'm not sick of it yet, which is a good sign. Because I've definitely heard it more than anyone else in the world."