"Up Out My Face," from Mariah Carey's 2010 album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, is a strange piece of pop. As produced by Carey, Christopher (Tricky) Stewart, and Terius (The-Dream) Nash, "Up Out My Face" has a lumbering, breathable beat--all piano chords and synth-horn hits. Carey is a model of sangfroid on the track, airily dismissing some chump who did her a bad turn: "You ain't never gonna feel this thing again / You gon' get a lot of calls, cause I CC'd all your friends."
Where is this song meant to be played? It's too slow for the dance floor, but too cool-headed to spin at a party. You could blare it while driving--those horns sound as big as rainbows over a proper speaker system--but there are people in this world who feel weird about rattling windows with leisurely girl-powered R&B. The remix, featuring a few guest bars from rapper Nicki Minaj, makes "Up Out My Face" even weirder. In order to make room for Minaj, the song cuts out a couple repetitions of its refrain (the part about CC'ing everybody). The result is a pop song with almost no recurring sections: It moves from verse to chorus to differently structured verse, to Minaj threatening to run something over with a pickup truck, to an unexpected shout-out to the Harvard University student body.
Carey is a well-established force, and so you can't really call any of this "risky--she won't live or die on the basis of one oddly-shaped single. Still, it's nice to hear music that's at once sexy, glossy, and formally unpredictable. In the end, "Up Out My Face" really belongs in your headphones. It's meant to be marveled at, and that's best done up close.
On iTunes: Mariah Carey / "Up On My Face" (Remix)