DAR Music: Mariah Carey's Daydream

By @CherchezLaPorsh

1. Fantasy
2. Underneath The Stars
3. One Sweet Day 
4. Open Arms
5. Always Be My Baby
6. I Am Free
7. When I Saw You
8. Long Ago 
9. Melt Away 
10. Forever
11. Daydream Interlude 
12. Looking In 

I've had such a love/hate relationship with Mariah Carey over the years. I think it stemmed from her first three albums (not including her christmas album), as I found her annoying, and her music barely relatable. It wasn’t until her 1995 release that I realized the extent of her talent. Mariah Carey is one of those people, who in her prime was a powerful force in the industry. Everything she did instantly made history. She is largely to thank for influencing almost every female R&B artist after her and personally I think it mostly has to do with her “Daydream” album. I love that we get to look at this in depth, it is truly a masterpiece and the one album of hers to me that is ridden with depth, mind-blowing talent and pure genius.

Just a bit of background, at the time Mariah Carey recorded the “Daydream” album, she was gaining an immense amount of commercial success from her previous releases. It was around this time that critics, musicians, composers and analysts had all been talking about Mariah’s octave range. This was a phenomenon because no other female singer had the range she did. Also, not a single person before or after her can reach the octave heights she did. It really is remarkable. This was discovered in 1991 with her song and title track “Emotions”, so this is what the world was looking for in every album and every track thereafter. She didn’t disappoint. In my opinion, this is a nearly perfect album, it’s short, powerful and we do get a whole lot of her range and abilities.

The album starts off with the first track and first single “Fantasy”, and honestly, initially I didn’t like this song when it released, but it grew on me pretty quickly. Here’s what I like about this: with this album Mariah wanted to crossover from strictly pop to more R&B and this was the first exposure fans got to that. It worked well for her. She wrote the song, helped in producing it along with Puffy (and some others) and chose this particular song to incorporate Wu-Tang’s ODB and release it later as a remix. Perfect decision. The commercial success of the original and the remix was incredible. Is this a typical track you would expect from an artist whose fan base and target audience is pop fans and teens? Absolutely not, but she nailed it. Everything from concept, to lyrics to hip hop/R&B infusion and Puffy’s annoying but needed ad-libs throughout set the song up to be a favorite.

The next track is also the 6th single off this album, "Underneath The Stars" which is where we get our first introduction to this phenomenal ability to drastically change octaves from one word to another. Like I said no other singer in history has been able to do this and we hear it about two lines in for the first time. This whole song is sung in a higher octave so the dips in her voice bring her back to her default soprano or alto voice. In all honesty, she’s completely comfortable at any range. Now with the song, the only way to describe it is beautiful. It starts off with a nice piano, and then M.C’s smooth soft vocals. This is the perfect “slow song”, which I am such a sucker for. I love “sweet” and “cute” songs and this plays right in to that with lines like:

“And imagined I was yours and you were mine/
As we lay upon the grass there in the dark/
Underneath the stars”

I absolutely love that. It makes my heart melt, but at the risk of being overly sappy, I’ll stop. I’m sure you get the point anyways. This is a great song for those of us who like to think that love stories always work out and love is never unrequited.  Wishful thinking I know, but sweet nevertheless.

Next up is one of my favorite songs of all time, of course, "One Sweet Day". Written to commemorate the passing of Carey's close friend David Cole,  who better to partner with and make this a hit than the highest selling group of the 90's. They succeeded of course. This was the second single from the album and a true reflection of the R&B vibe Mariah was going for. Partnering up with Boyz II Men was perfect because they were also in their prime. All of their voices are incredibly complimentary, and actually I give a ton of credit to Mariah for this one because her voice perfectly offsets the 4 guys. She outshines them and sure enough she can keep up with the deep notes as well as hit those super high notes. The commercial success of this song is incredibly notable, as it spent 16 weeks in the number one spot on Billboard's Top 100, and this was nominated for 6 Grammys. It would go to become song of the year and is ranked by some as the best collaboration of all time. To add to that, it was sung at the memorial service for Princess Diana, which was watched by hundreds of millions worldwide. This was truly a collaboration of epic proportions. Mariah Carey is a true powerhouse and this is evidence.

Next, Mariah Carey graces us with another one of my favorite songs of all time "Open Arms" and the third single off the album. Although this wasn't received as well commercially I think it has its place in the tracklist. The only thing I can say about this song is lyrics, lyrics, lyrics!! If the previous tracks didn't do it for you, this one should. Once again, what we know we can expect is her vocal range and this song is the perfect showcase of that. She starts off the song a cappella which is a gift to listeners. Once again, her soft, smooth, and silky vocals with a piano accompanying her makes this ballad a flawless one. As the verse progresses, the power in her voice does too, and it's like a climb until you get to the chorus where she just kills it. Once again, this is a very sappy song, but it's meant to be. This is the go to song for anyone who has found their way back to someone they once loved. It is like a "chick-flick" but in song form. How can you go wrong with:

"Lying beside you
Here in the dark
Feeling your heart beat with mine
Softly you whisper
You're so sincere
How could our love be so blind"

The melody is brilliant and Mariah's voice is exquisite. She kills it on this track. She also "remixed" this in Spanish and added it as a bonus track on Latin American release of the album so that definitely created some variation.

"Always Be My Baby" is the next song and as usual, I have to point out track placement! This one is the opposite of what we would have just heard. As slow and sappy as the previous track was, this one gives the listeners upbeat, pop entertainment that is fun! She needed it at this point seeing as though we are at the midway point! This would be the 4th single off this album and through its commercial success, THIS would be the track that gets Mariah a solidified ranking next to Whitney Houston and Madonna. When I think of it, that's incredible, because she was 26 at the time of this album release and she already gets put alongside true legends. This track, from beats to lyrics and production, sort of steers away from the R&B vibe she was initially going for. Like I said, the listeners needed it, but it's not my favorite. It's too teeny-bopper for my liking, but I do appreciate her talent and I think she shines on this track as well.

I'm going to skip a few tracks to "Melt Away", where she collaborated with in writing this with one of my favorite people, none other than Babyface. The R&B God! Now I was a little heartbroken that we didn't get to hear Babyface's vocals on this, but from the millisecond the instrumentals start and you hear the melody, Babyface is infused and laced throughout. He's present without actually being present, regardless I love it! In my opinion, putting Boyz II Men and Babyface on the same album is utter genius and of course Mariah Carey does it! She wins over the hearts of R&B fans instantly. This track is also a perfect showcase of not only her octave range but her vocal power. She carries this song and she does it well. To be honest, she doesn't ever need vocal accompaniments, because the way she sang this is impeccable and there is so much presence. The only way I can describe this is to say it's majestic. Definitely worth a listen!

She doesn't stop either as "Forever" is the next song. Once again, my heart melts (and not really in a good way) when I hear this. Let me be sappy for a second. This is the ode to the lost love, first love perhaps... the one you would never forget. The words of course are sweet, but this puts me in my feelings, so for 4 minutes, reminiscing about a lost love is something I prefer not to do. Here are some snippets however:

"Those days of love are gone
Our time is through
Still I burn on and on
All of my life
Only for you"

And then she hits you with the chorus: "Forever and ever my darling Forever, You will always be the only one". Like I said, very sweet in essence but maybe this one pulls on the heartstrings a little too much. I do think this is good for this album, as it is heartfelt, emotional and sappy, so this fits in well.

Almost at the end of the album and we finally get the title track "Daydream (Interlude)". This was a very well executed track production-wise. From the first beat, it's whimsical and mimics that of a dream state in the most accurate way a song can. Not only that, Mariah's voice is soothing and although we've seen the power behind her voice, it's mellow here. Again, this is allowing the listener to "drift off" a bit. I also like that this seems to be a showcase of her vocal abilities. There are a whole lot of dips, high notes to deep ones and back up. Again, this was executed well and brings the whole concept of the album together. What about the lyrics? They're the most provocative that we are gonna get from Mariah Carey, but it's tasteful. Here, take a look at a couple of the verses:

"In my daydreams
It seems so real
You touch me
You come into my room
Come to me
But it's just a fantasy
It feels so sweet"

"I feel raptured over you
In silence I keep it to myself
Come and take me
Don't want nobody else"

Like I said, it is slightly racy, but tasteful! I also commend the track placement here, as it's nearing the end of the album so to have a song like this resonates with the listener. Once again, very well executed!

"Daydream" leaves us with just one other track, "Looking In" and I like this one, because we waited the whole entire album to hear a song in an octave only she can pull off. Although it's not the supersonic notes we've waited for, this is the closest to it we get so it is much appreciated! Much like the others, this is sweet, filled with emotion and definitely leaves us satiated with an adequate dose of her brilliance.

In an attempt to tap into the R&B fan base(which she did well), Mariah Carey gave us a nearly perfect album! The success of this was definitely merited as she gave us hit after hit and maintained her consistency while incorporating a more soulful sound. What came of it  was a heart-wrenchingly relatable, emotional and heartfelt album filled with pure and utter vocal talent. "Daydream" has enough depth that no matter what your preference is, there is definitely a song on this album you will like. I think that's what she's good at, catering to a specific demographic but making sure there's something for everyone. Mariah Carey killed it with this album and in my opinion, it will be her single greatest work. 



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