Linda Ronstadt was America's sweetheart of the '70s, because she was able to combine a pretty face, a pretty voice and a safe personality. Her songs might be full of big notes and high emotions, but they satisfied every predictable expectation of a love ballad or good-time rocker. Mariah Carey is America's sweetheart of the '90s for the exact same reasons. Music Box> topped the Billboard album charts, yielding number-one singles like "Dreamlover" and "Hero." The titles, one a hollow Minnie Riperton knock-off and the other a stiff Barbra Streisand imitation, are tip-offs to Carey's reliance on untethered fantasy (she's the fantasizer in the lyrics and the fantasy object in the videos). These songs, coªwritten and co-produced like most of the album by Walter Anasieff and Carey herself, are constructed to show off her dizzying soprano, not to provide an original approach to a well-worn subject. Even when she gets a strong ballad to sing, like her current singles--Babyface's "Never Forget You" or Badfinger/Nilsson's "Without You"--she overdoes the self-pity bit so much that the song loses its dramatic tension. --Geoffrey Himes
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.