Back in the Spotlight – Mariah Carey!
October 23, 2023
This week we’re celebrating thirty years since the release of Mariah Carey’s conquering hit, Hero. She’s one of the most legendary voices in music and with so many incredible songs in her repertoire, we’re constantly championing her talents! Just a month after celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of her phenomenal record Music Box, one of the best-selling albums of all time, we’re diving into some of Mariah’s finest moments, kicking off with the song of the hour…
Hero has become one of Mariah’s biggest anthems, but things were almost very different! Mariah originally wrote the song alongside co-producer Walter Afanasieff with Gloria Estefan in mind. But after the head of her label heard the track, he was insistent it be changed and kept for Mariah herself. Released on the 18th of October 1993, it spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and has become one of her most performed songs. The video was cut using footage from her intimate show at New York’s Proctor’s Theatre, a concert that formed her third video album, Here is Mariah Carey. One of the standout tracks from her blockbuster third record Music Box, Hero is an epic and tender ballad, and its lyrics and emotionality are still as evocative and inspirational today.
It’s one of the most covered songs of all time, but Mariah’s version is unquestionably one of the best known. It was also her first ever number one single in the UK, taking the top spot at the same time that Music Box, the record on which Without You appears, was number one on the UK album chart. Mariah based her version of this legendary ballad on pioneering singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson’s 1970s cover. While recording Music Box, she happened to hear the track in a restaurant and was instantly inspired to record her own take. Ominously, her version was released just one week after Harry Nilsson’s passing. Her single has been certified platinum in the UK and US, so that’s a lot of heartbreak to have soundtracked.
Just as Mariah had been inspired by Harry Nilsson, a similar origin story benefits her chart-topping hit Fantasy. After catching Tom Tom Club’s vibrant track Genius of Love on the radio, she was reminded of her childhood, and felt the overall vibe fit with the melody and lyrics of a song she was working on. Taking the main hook and working with producer Dave Hall, Fantasy was born. The lead single from her fifth album Daydream, the instant hook and cascading vocal launched the song to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on release, making Mariah the first ever female artist to debut at number one! The video also marked another important milestone for Mariah as her directorial debut. Filmed at Playland amusement park in Rye, New York, it encapsulates the original carefree, youthful joy that inspired the song.
Always Be My Baby
One of the most celebrated songs from the 90s, this addictive midtempo ballad has stood the test of time. Written by Mariah alongside co-producers Manuel Seal and Jermaine Dupri, it marked a shift in her aesthetic, incorporating more elements of hip-hop and RnB. It also marked the start of an enduring working relationship with Jermaine. One of the standout tracks from her fifth album Daydream, which has since been certified diamond in the US, it was her eleventh number one on the Billboard Hot 100, at the time tying her with fellow legends Madonna and Whitney Houston! Following the success of her video for Fantasy, Mariah also directed the accompanying clip for Always Be My Baby. Choosing to film on location at The Fresh Air Fund’s Camp Mariah in upstate New York, it also highlighted her passion and support for the charity.
All I Want For Christmas Is You
For all those who celebrate, Mariah is the undisputed Queen of Christmas. Marking the end of spooky season last year with a hilarious post on her socials, November 1st has officially become the day to press play on this legendary banger of festivity. As we’re just two weeks away from the start of Mariah season, we couldn’t leave it out. Taken from her first ever holiday album Merry Christmas, released in 1994, Mariah really started as she meant to go on. This epic hit of celebration was the last US number one of the 2010s and the first of the 2020s, making Mariah the first artist in history to top the chart in four separate decades! And it’s returned to that number one spot every Christmas since. Mistletoe, mince pies and Mariah, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.
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