Mariah Carey chronology
Singles from Butterfly
"Honey" Released: August 26, 1997
"Butterfly" Released: December 1, 1997
"The Roof (Back in Time)" Released: March 20, 1998
"Breakdown" Released: March 24, 1998
"My All" Released: April 21, 1998
Mariah Carey and Butterfly MP3..
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|The New York Times||(Positive)|
|Rolling Stone||4/5 stars|
Butterfly received generally positive reviews from music critics. Nathan Brackett, senior editor of Rolling Stone, praised Butterfly's producers and Mariah Carey's "more controlled" vocals. Brackett noticed a connection between much of Mariah Carey's lyrics and her separation from Mottola. Jon Pareles, editor of The New York Times called Butterfly "a new turn" in Mariah Carey's career. Aside from commenting on its deviance from Mariah Carey's previous work, he noted songs in which Mariah Carey alludes to her failed marriage to Mottola, such as "Butterfly" and "Close My Eyes". He wrote "Since Mariah Carey writes her own lyrics, fans might expect a glimpse of marital discord or pride in her new-found autonomy." David Browne from Entertainment Weekly gave Butterfly a B- in his review. Browne wrote: "In Breakdown, [Mariah Carey] demonstrates she can match the staccato, lite-reggae phrasing of her guests, two members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony." He described an increased intimacy in the music but noted the arrangement made it difficult to hear the lyrics Mariah Carey was singing. "Butterfly is undeniably pleasant, with little of the all-conquering bombast usually associated with Mariah Carey. But it's also the last thing anyone would have expected from her: blandly self-effacing."
In a retrospective review of Butterfly, Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic appreciated the new direction of Mariah Carey's music, commenting on the increased urban feel of the work. He described the record as "a collection of hit singles surrounded by classy filler" and "while [the songs] are all well-crafted, many of them blend together upon initial listening". However, he noted an increased control in her voice which led him to describe some of the ballads such as 'Butterfly' and 'Breakdown' as among her best work. He said Butterfly was one of Mariah Carey's best records and she was "continuing to improve and refine her music, which makes her a rarity among her '90s peers." Rich Juzwiak from Slant Magazine awarded Butterfly a score of four and a half out of five stars, calling it "elegant" and praising Mariah Carey's mature vocals. Juzwiak particularly praised "Breakdown", which he called one of Butterfly's best tracks. Of Mariah Carey's vocals, he wrote, "The relatively high and thin register that she sings in when not belting (and that's often) could be the most important of Butterfly's changes, as it marks the first time that Mariah the vocalist seems consistently real. She's utterly soulful." In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, critic Robert Christgau gave Butterfly a "dud" rating, indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought".