Anytime You Need A Friend (1994)
"Anytime You Need a Friend" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. The song was written and produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff, for her third studio album, Music Box (1993). It was released on May 31, 1994 through Columbia Records, as the fourth and final single from the album. The song is influenced by pop, R&B and gospel music genres. While the album focused heavily on pop oriented and radio friendly material, "Anytime You Need a Friend" deviated from the formula, finishing as the only gospel-infused song on Music Box. Lyrically, the song's protagonist tells her love interest that anytime he may need a friend, she will be there unconditionally for him. Throughout the song's bridge and climax, critics noted the lyrics altering from those of a friend, to those of a lover.
The song was well received by contemporary music critics, many of which praised Carey's large spanning vocal range, as well as its gospel influence that they felt was missing on most of Music Box. Aside from its critical acceptance, the song achieved strong worldwide chart positions and peaked at number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100, but became her first single to miss out the top-ten. Additionally, it peaked at number five in Canada and topped the singles charts in Finland and the Netherlands. The song attained a top-twenty peak position in Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Carey performed "Anytime You Need a Friend" live on several televised talk and award shows around the world, including the Late Show with David Letterman, the British music chart program Top of the Pops and German entertainment show Wetten, dass..?. Additionally, the song served as a closing number on Carey's Music Box and Daydream World Tours, and was featured on her compilation albums, Greatest Hits(2001) and The Ballads (2008). Although several remixes were commissioned for the song, the C+C remix became the most notable, being produced by C+C Music Factory's David Cole and Robert Clivillés, and the first of Carey's remixes to feature her on production credits.
The song's music video was filmed by Danielle Federici, in New York during the summer of 1994. The video was filmed in black-and-whitefashion, and features Carey's first image makeover, where she appears with a straightened hairstyle for the first time in her career. Additionally, the music video showcases scenes of Carey singing by a large church choir in a foyer, as well as several people, ranging from a small child to an elderly man, who are alone and depressed. As the video progresses, the child and man are befriended after brief interludes and prayers to God. The song's C+C remix also features its own music video, displaying behind the scenes footage of Carey and her staff enjoying themselves during the original video's filming.
For her third studio effort, Columbia Records decided to market Carey in a similar fashion to that of her debut, only having her produce a more commercial and radio-friendly album. Their plans were to tone down Carey's vocals, and soften the album's production, leaving a more contemporary pop record. Agreeing to the change, Carey and Afanasieff began writing and recording material for her third studio effort, Music Box (1993). On the album's first track "Dreamlover", Carey worked with Dave Hall throughout the song's entire production. In order to help with some of the song's arrangements, Mottola enrolled the help of Walter Afanasieff, who took on the completed track and transformed it into a more commercial hit. Music Boxreceived mixed critical response from contemporary critics, who suggested that in lowering Carey's vocal bombast, her energy level decreased and felt the album had an "absence of passion." The only song that was not subject to the common criticism was "Anytime You Need a Friend," which some called the album's only real glimpse of Carey's upper vocal registers, and one of the only passionate and gospel moments on Music Box. In an interview, Carey described that although the album's main goal was to be more commercial and radio-friendly than her previous release, she felt the need to include at least one song that featured a church choir and traces of the music that influenced her growing up as a child.
"Anytime You Need a Friend" is a mid-tempo song which draws influence from pop, R&B and gospel musical genres. According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by EMI Music Publishing, the song is written in the key of C major, while the beat is set in the signature of common time, which moves at a moderate pace of 83 beats per minute. It has a sequence of Am/C–Bm7(no5)–E7/G♯–Am as its chord progression. Carey's vocals in the song span over three octaves, from the low note of an E3 to the high note of a B♭6. The song was written by Carey and Afanasieff, with production helmed by the pair as well. After the song's bridge, a church choir is introduced and featured throughout its final chorus and climax. Carey's vocals are layered over the background gospel-styled vocals on the final chorus, after which she uses the whistle register to close the song. The song's lyrics describe a relationship the protagonist has with another individual, telling them that anytime they need a friend, she will be there unconditionally.
Throughout the song, the lyrics seemingly show the evolving relationship between the couple. Carey sings Anytime you need a friend / I will be here / You'll never be alone again / So don't you fear / Even if you're miles away / I'm by your side / So don't you ever be lonely / Love will make it alright, which hints at a current friendship where more still uncovered emotions are present. Author Chris Nickson explains on the song's switch in relationship, as the lyrics change to If you just believe in me / I will love you endlessly / Take my hand / Take me into your heart / I'll be there forever baby / I won't let go / I'll never let go. The protagonist is willing to accept the relationship as only a friend, but tells her partner that no matter his feelings for her, she loves him and still wishes to be loved by him, something she will never forget or "let go."
"Anytime You Need a Friend" was remixed by David Cole and Robert Clivillés of C+C Music Factory. Although over fifteen various edits and extended mixes were created, for the most part they are based on the "C+C Club Mix." Other variations, extended mixes, and edits include but are not limited to the "All That and More Mix," "Dave's Empty Pass," and the "Boriqua Tribe Mix". Cory Rooney and Mark Morales created a "Soul Convention Mix" and a stringapella for the song. Because of the large number of remixes, two maxi singles were released in the US Carey was given co-producing credit for both the C&C mixes and the Soul Convention/Stringapella, the first time that she had been given producing credit on remixes of her songs. Gregg Shapiro from the Windy City Times complimented the remix, writing "the presence of each improves on the original. They have something new to say; even with the songs that began as dance tracks." Jose F. Promis gave the C+C remix two and a half out of five stars, writing how the remix found Carey "getting quite gritty and earthy." He concluded his review with "It made for a topnotch dancefloor number, and stands as an excellent example of early- to mid-'90s dance music, not to mention being one of the singer's most compelling, underrated, and forgotten efforts."
The music video, directed by Danielle Federici, was filmed during the early summer of 1994. It was filmed in black-and-white, and features Carey walking along the streets of New York, watching several different people, ranging from a small child to an elderly man, lonely and in need of a friend. Additionally, aside from several scenes of Carey and a large church choir in a large antechamber, the video is known as the first video in which Carey appears with straightened hair. Throughout her career up until that point, Carey had famously sported long, auburn curls. However, the video presented Carey's first image makeover, where she appears with bangs and a long straightened hairstyle. The video begins with scenes of Carey walking down a long New York street, with the addition of close ups of Carey's face. As she stares down the road, she witnesses a small girl, sitting alone in an alley corner, glaring into the sky. As the first chorus begins, Carey enters a large foyer, with a choir dressed in black singing perched atop a large staircase. During the second verse, she similarly witnesses an older man, who is sitting on a withered stoop.
Consecutively, during the song's bridge, Carey watches as the small child's mother carries her to a nearby playground where her friends are frolicking and playing. Similarly, the elderly man is met with some other elderly citizens, who accompany him to another building nearby. During the song's climax, Carey joins the choir, flailing her hands wildly towards the sky, and smiling and gazing into the cloudy morning. Renee Graham from The Boston Globe gave the video two out of four stars. She complimented on the fact that the video captured the song's lyrical essence and how it managed to portray it in a clear and concise way. Although calling it "simple," Graham commented that "Videos have never really been Mariah Carey's thing, and frankly, they've never had to be. Carey has a killer voice, so the last thing she'd want to do is overshadow her singing with a lot of choreography, complicated story lines or explosions." Author Chris Nickson compared several parts of the video to religion and belief in God. During such scenes when Carey appears with the choir, he felt it seemed as though they were both channeling a common entity through music; God. Additionally, he claimed it was more evident with each passing scene of the video, as each of the lonely people in the video gaze up into the skies, possibly praying or searching for an answer to their loneliness. A video was commissioned for the C+C club mix of the song. Known as the C+C video edit, it was also directed by Danielle Federici and serves as a behind the scenes addendum to the main music video. It is also filmed in black and white, and is composed of clips of Carey and her friends during filming of the video, where they chat, laugh and enjoy time with each other. Carey's husband at the time Tommy Mottola made a cameo appearance in the video, appearing alongside Carey during the second verse. The remix video was later included on the 1995 home video release, Fantasy: Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden.