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CREDITS AND PERSONEL

Credits adapted from the Daydream liner notes.

  • Mariah Carey – vocals, songwriting, producer
  • Walter Afanasieff – songwriting, producer, mixing
  • Herb Powers – mastering

UNDERNEATH THE STARS (1996)

"Underneath the Stars" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. The romance song was written and produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff, for her fifth studio album, Daydream (1995). It was released on April 5, 1996 through Columbia Records, as the sixth and final single from the album, and as a B-side to "Forever" in Australia. The R&B-influenced song, which has been considered by Carey as one of her personal favorites, features a soft melody and retro-style melody, and had music critics drawing comparisons to earlier works from one of her vocal inspirations, Minnie Riperton.

"Underneath the Stars" received a limited number of pressings in the United States, and failed to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100. However, the song did manage to chart at number sixty-nine on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs airplay component chart. Critically, it was considered one of the best songs on Daydream by music reviewers. A music video was shot for "Underneath the Stars" in Europe, but the video remains unreleased. The song was performed throughout the Daydream World Tour and the performance at the Tokyo Dome was later included on a rare DVD titled "Mariah Carey Live In Japan."

Background

Throughout 1993, Carey began conceptualizing Music Box (1993), which became the highest selling album of Carey's career. For her past two albums, Carey's creative choices were heavily controlled by her label Columbia Records, as well as her husband and CEO of the company, Tommy Mottola. Carey's previous effort, Emotions (1991), drew influence from 1950s, 60s, and 70s balladry, gospel, R&B and soul music, and failed to achieve the same success matched by her debut album. Following its tepid commercial performance, Columbia aimed for Music Box to be a vehicle for very commercial singles that could garner strong radio airplay. The album was formed as a pop record, and more mainstream than anything on Emotions. Music Box went on to sell over 32 million copies worldwide, and earned its place among the best-selling albums of all time. Due to the album's success, Columbia allowed Carey more control over the music she recorded for Daydream (1995).

Before Carey knew or began searching for the direction she wanted the album to follow, Carey already had the idea and melody for "Underneath the Stars," and felt that it would fit into the album no matter what the eventual sound would be. As such, it became the first song Carey wrote and recorded for the album, and served as a sort of tribute to the music which she grew up listening to, as well as one of her main vocal inspirations, Minnie Riperton.[3] "Underneath the Stars" was the first song Carey recorded for her fifth studio album, Daydream(1995). The song was eventually chosen as the sixth and final single from the album, and was released on April 5, 1996 through Columbia Records. In Australia, the song was released as a B-side to Carey's previous single, "Forever" (1996).

Composition

"Underneath the Stars" features a "'70s soul vibe," courtesy of the use of a Rhodes piano, as well as synthetic record scratches, in order to the give the song an authentic aged sound. The song also incorporates Carey's usage of double voice, in which she sings the verses in a lower octave, and then sings the crescendo and climax in a higher register over it. Carey felt the additions were simple steps taken to further display a contemporary R&B groove, and pay homage to the style of Minnie Riperton, who was one of Carey's biggest vocal influences growing up.  According to author Chris Nickson, the song has a soft sound, and "a lot of texture" and bass, showing a more creative side to Carey. While reviewing Daydream, Stephen Holden from The New York Times described the song's double voice, as well as its lyrical content: "'Underneath the Stars,' in which all the voices are Ms. Carey's, achieves the same dissolving synergy between a lyric and entwining vocal lines as she sings: "Beautifully and bittersweetly / You were fading into me."