Always Be My Baby (1996)

""Always Be My Baby" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey from her fifth studio album Daydream (1995). It was released by Columbia Records in March 9, 1996 as the third US single and fourth overall. The song was written by Carey, Jermaine Dupriand Manuel Seal. A mid-tempo song, its lyrics describe the feeling of attachment and unity the singer feels towards her estranged lover, even though they are no longer together, she says he will always be a part of her and will "always be her baby" even after they move on.

Music critics praised "Always Be My Baby" and it was a commercial success, becoming Carey's 11th chart topper on the US Billboard Hot 100, tying her with Madonna and Whitney Houston for most number-one singles for a female artist at the time. It spent two weeks atop the chart and became Carey's eighth chart topper on the Canadian Singles Chart. In other regions, the song performed well, peaking at number three in the United Kingdom, number five in New Zealand, number 17 in Australia and in the top 20 in most music markets where it charted.

The song's music video features scenes of Carey frolicking by a campsite in upstate New York, as well as swinging on a large swing over a lake. Additional inter-cuts include scenes of two children, one male and female, sneaking out at night and spending time together by a campfire similar to Carey's location. Most scenes from the video were filmed at The Fresh Air Fund's Camp Mariah, named after Mariah Carey for her generous support and dedication to Fresh Air Fund children. The song was performed live during her Daydream World Tour(1996) and many of her future tours and concerts. "Always Be My Baby" was also featured in Carey's compilation albums: Number 1's(1998), Greatest Hits (2001), The Ballads (2008) and Number 1 to Infinity (2015).

Background

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While Carey was writing and recording Daydream in early 1995, she began searching for different producers, in order to give her work a new sound. Jermaine Dupri, who had risen to fame during that period, began working with Carey on material for her album. After recording the song in December 1994, Carey recalled that she chose to work with Dupri because he had a "very distinct vibe." Additionally, Carey commissioned the assistance of hip-hop and contemporary R&B producer, Manuel Seal. As Seal played different keys on the piano, Carey led him with the melody she was "hearing inside her head" and began humming the phrase "always be my baby." In an interview with Fred Bronson, Carey discussed the process it took to write and produce the song:

Jermaine, Manuel and I sat down and Jermaine programmed the drums. I told him the feel I wanted and Manuel put his hands on the keyboards and I started singing the melody. We went back and forth with the bridge and the B-section. I had the outline of the lyrics and started singing 'Always be my baby' off the top of my head.

Like producers before him, Dupri commended Carey's vocal abilities, "she can pretty much do anything with her voice. She's really strong vocally." Another musical craft the song featured was the inclusion of heavy background vocals of her lower registers, with Carey then belting and singing the higher notes over her background vocals and melody, creating a "double voice effect." When discussing the technique used in the background vocals, Carey said:

The background vocals are an important part of the picture for me. That's why I like to do them myself a lot of the time, or initially I'll lay down the tracks. I'll double my voice or do a couple of tracks of my own voice. It's easy for me to match my voice. And then if I'm going to use other background singers, I'll let them go on top of mine.

Composition

"Always Be My Baby" is a ballad, which incorporates pop and contemporary R&B genres. It has a moderate tempo of 76 beats per minute. The song features a "double voice" which is an effect Carey created in the studio, where her lower vocal notes are used as backup, and her higher chest notes are used as the song's main focal point. The song's instrumentation is written in the key of E major and increases by one semitone to F major. It is set in signature common time. Carey's vocals span from the note of B2 to F5.

RElease and Remixes

Carey recorded three different sets of vocals for "Always Be My Baby."

The main remix of the song was also produced by Jermaine Dupri. Known as the "Mr. Dupri Mix," it features re-sung vocals with all of the lyrics and most of the melodic structure retained while using a sample of the song "Tell Me If You Still Care" by The SOS Band. It includes a rap from Da Brat and background vocals from Xscape.

Carey recorded yet another set of vocals for dance remixes produced by David Morales that were only released on maxi-single in the UK. Named the "Always Club Mix" (along with its edit, the "Def Classic Radio Mix"), this club remix of the song has a totally new melodic structure, with the lyrics altered to fit the new melody and song structure. DJ Satoshi Tomiie also created a dance dub that used these new vocals; calling it the "ST Dub," it appeared on the maxi-single that included the Morales mixes.

The original album vocals were also remixed into a reggae version that included Jamaican-American reggae rap artist Li'l Vicious. Called the "Reggae Soul Mix," this remix includes a rap breakdown by Vicious, with him shouting over Carey's vocals throughout the track.

Music Video

The music video for "Always Be My Baby" was the second video Carey's directed. In it, she is the seemingly happy narrator of a tale of young love, as a young boy and a girl elope in the middle of the night. The video was filmed on location at Carey's sponsored charity, the Fresh Air Fund upstate New York camp. The video begins with scenes of Carey on a lakeside tire-swing, smiling and beginning to retell a story of young love. As she sits upon the swing, scenes of two children sneaking out of their bungalow in the middle of the night are shown. They frolic together beside a fireplace, soon coming up to the lakeside swing Carey had been on before. They soon go swimming wearing their clothes, much like Carey did in her video for "Dreamlover" though she does not jump into the water herself this time. As they jump into the water, Carey is then seen by the campfire they passed on their journey to the lake, smiling with friends and enjoying herself by the fire. Eventually the boy and girl are seen kissing underwater. The video concludes with scenes of the young boy and girl walking together back to their bungalow, walking hand-in-hand. Having possibly witnessed the entire event, Carey is seen once again by the large swing, chuckling and staring into the night's sky.

An alternate video was shot for the song's remix. It too was directed by Carey, and was shot in black and white. The shot of Carey in a beret that would become the cover for this single is a scene from the video. The video features cameo appearances by Da Brat and Xscape. It begins with Carey and the duo spending time recording the song in Carey's in-home studio. In the video, Carey is wearing a large white, straw hat and features long golden hair. As the trio finishes the song, scenes of Carey by her pool are shown, with cameos made by her dog, Jack. Brat and Xscape are seen poolside with Carey, playing cards and drinking beer, as the trio further bond and laugh. Towards the end of the video, scenes of the trio in the studio are shows, and intermingled with snippets of Carey walking inside her mansion, shared with then husband Tommy Mottola. The video ends with Carey and Brat bonding by the studio and pool