Always Be My Baby is the third single from Mariah Carey's fifth studio album "Daydream."
The single was released on March 9, 1996. The song was written & produced by Mariah, Jermaine Dupri & Manuel Seal Jr.
The song's lyrics describe the feeling of attachment and unity the protagonist 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 have praised "Always Be My Baby." The song became Mariah's 11th chart topper on the Billboard Hot 100, tying her with Madonna and Whitney Houston for most number one singles for a female artist.
It spent two weeks atop the chart and became Mariah's eight chart topper on the Canadian Singles Chart.
In other regions, the song performed moderately, peaking at number three in the United Kingdom, number five in New Zealand, number seventeen in Australia and in the top twenty in most music markets where it charted.
The song's music video features scenes of Mariah frolicking by a campsite as well as swinging on a large swing over a lake.
Additional inter-cuts include scenes of two children: one male & female sneaking out at night and spending time together by a campfire similar to Mariah's location.
Most scenes from the video were filmed at The Fresh Air Fund's Camp Mariah (which is named after Mariah) for her generous support and dedication to the Fresh Air Fund children
The song was performed live during her Daydream World Tour & many of her future tours & concerts.
Song Background & RecordingEdit
While Mariah 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 her on material for her album.
After recording the song in December of 1994, Mariah recalled that she chose to work with Jermaine because he had a "very distinct vibe."
Additionally, she commissioned the assistance of hip-hop and contemporary R&B producer, Manuel Seal.
As Manuel played different keys on the piano, Mariah 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, Mariah discussed the process that 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, Jermaine commended Mariah'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 Mariah's lower registers with her then belting and singing the higher notes over the her background vocals and melody, creating a "double voice effect."
When discussing the technique used in the background vocals, Mariah 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."
"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 that Mariah 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. It is set in signature common time.
Mariah's vocals span from the note of B2 to F5.
The music video for "Always Be My Baby" was the second video that Mariah directed.
In the video, 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 Mariah's sponsored charity, the Fresh Air Fund upstate New York camp.
The video begins with scenes of Mariah on a lakeside tire-swing, smiling and beginning to retell a story of young love.
As Mariah 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 Mariah had been on before.
As they jump into the water, Mariah is then seen by the campfire they passed on their journey to the lake, smiling and enjoying herself by the fire.
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, Mariah is seen once again by the large swing, chuckling and staring into the night's sky.
Music Video for Remix VersionEdit
An alternate video was shot for the song's remix. It too was directed by Mariah and it was shot in black and white.
The shot of Mariah wearing 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 Mariah and the duo spending time recording the song in her in-home studio.
In the video, Mariah is wearing a large white, straw hat and features long golden hair.
As the trio finishes the song, scenes of Mariah by her pool are shown with cameos made by her dog, Jack.
Da Brat and Xscape are seen poolside with her, 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 Mariah walking inside her mansion, shared with then husband Tommy Mottola.
The video ends with Mariah and Da Brat bonding by the studio and the pool
"Always Be My Baby" was released by Columbia Records on March 9, 1996 in Europe, and debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 on the issue dated April 6, 1996 (behind Celine Dion's song "Because You Loved Me") which had replaced Mariah's previous single, "One Sweet Day", at number one.
The song stayed at number two for four weeks and topped the Hot 100 on May 4, 1996 where it spent two weeks before returning to the number two position for an additional five weeks.
At the end of its US chart run, the song spent a total of nine weeks at number two, the fourth longest stay in the chart's history.
The song became Mariah's 11th chart topper in the United States, tying her with pop singers Whitney Houston and Madonna as the female solo artist with the most number one singles, a record she passed soon after.
After spending two weeks atop the Hot 100, the three singles from "Daydream" had given Mariah a combined 26 weeks (six months) atop the chart, something never duplicated by another artist until Usher and The Black Eyed Peas in the mid to late 2000s.
In Canada, the song became Mariah's eighth chart topper, after it ascended to the number one position on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart during the week of May 20, 1996.
While it charted well outside the US, the song didn't manage to chart as high as her previous two singles "Fantasy" and "One Sweet Day."
In Australia, the song entered the Australian Singles Chart at number 28 during the week of March 13, 1996.
The song spent 16 weeks fluctuating in the chart before spending its last week at number 47 on June 30th
"Always Be My Baby" was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting shipments of over 35,000 units.
The song debuted and peaked at number five in New Zealand, spending three consecutive weeks at the position.
After 16 weeks, the song fell of the singles chart and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).
In the United Kingdom, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number three, where it peaked.
In its second week, the song fell to number four, staying on the chart for a total of ten weeks.
As of 2008, sales in the UK are estimated at over 220,000.
In Ireland, the song peaked at number ten on the Irish Singles Chart, spending nine weeks in the chart.
In the Netherlands, "Always Be My Baby" entered the singles chart at number 43 during the week on April 20, 1996.
The song peaked at number 27, spending one week at the position and five weeks in the chart overall.
The song entered the singles chart in Sweden at number 58 during the week of May 3, 1996.
After peaking at number 38 and spending a total of five weeks in the chart, the song fell off the Swedish Singles Chart.
The song garnered positive reviews by the critics.
Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly complimented the song's "relaxed swing" and felt its instrumentation helped make it a standout from the album.
Stephen Holden, editor of The New York Times, complimented "Always Be My Baby," calling it one of "the best on the album."
At the 38th Grammy Awards the song received a nomination for "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance."
Mariah performed the song during her entire run of her Daydream World Tour, her Rainbow World Tour & The Adventures of Mimi and during select shows on her Charmbracelet World Tour & Angels Advocate Tour.
During the Japanese shows in 1996, she donned a white suit and jacket & featured three female back-up singers.
Red spotlights were used throughout the performance as well as some light dance routines.
During her Rainbow World Tour, Mariah wore a two piece outfit, a pair of pants and top with golden heels.
Three back-up singers were provided, one male and two female while she interacted with the front row fans.
On her Adventures of Mimi Tour in 2006, Mariah donned a pair of black leggings, worn with a bikini-like top.
Wearing Christian Louboutin pumps, she sang on the arena's secondary stage where she sang three of the set-list's titles.
On April 15, 2008 (during the 7th season of "American Idol"), David Cook performed a rock arrangement of the song in which Mariah mentored the contestants on her songs.
David's version of the song received high praise from the judges and even Mariah. His studio recording of the song was released onto the iTunes Store during the show's run and became the season's best-selling singles.
Singer Austin Mahone sampled the song for his song "Shawty Shawty."
The main remix for the song is called "Always Be My Baby" (Mr. Dupri Mix) features re-sung vocals with most of the melodic structure retained while a sample of The SOS Band's song "Tell Me If You Still Care" is featured in the song.
R&B group Xscape and female rapper Da Brat provide vocals to the remix.
The United States CD single of "Always Be My Baby" features a song called "Slipping Away" that was supposed to be on "Daydream," but it didn't make the album.