"Can't Let Go" is a song and the second single from Mariah Carey's second album, Emotions. The song was written and produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff. The song was officially released on October 23, 1991 during the fourth quarter of 1991 and the first quarter of 1992 elsewhere.
The protagonist of this synthesizer-heavy ballad laments an ex-lover who has moved on, and though she tries she "can't let go".
Mariah had fallen out with her songwriting partner Ben Margulies following a financial dispute, and her record label suggested that she work with the other producers of her debut album such as Rhett Lawrence, Ric Wake and Narada Michael Walden. She chose Walter Afanasieff, who had produced her second single "Love Takes Time" (1990), and "Can't Let Go" was one of the songs they created. After the release of the single "Emotions", "Can't Let Go" was promoted on both "The Arsenio Hall Show" in September 1991 and "Saturday Night Live" in November 1991.
The single's video, directed by Jim Sonzero, features Mariah wearing an evening gown and her hair in a bun. It was filmed in black and white, and the video starts & closes with shots of a rose open and closed respectively.
In 1992, writers Sharon Taber and Ron Gonzalez filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff citing that "Can't Let Go" was taken from their unknown song, "Right Before My Eyes". The plaintiffs demanded to obtain copies of the studio recording tapes to see if conversation between Carey and Afanasieff would prove them guilty. However, after being reviewed, the only guilty fear apparent was Mariah Carey quoted as saying "Can't Let Go" was sounding "too much like our other song." The lawsuit was later dropped or settled out of court.
Mariah's first five American singles (most recently "Emotions") had reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Can't Let Go" ended the streak when it reached number two (kept from #1 by "All 4 Love" by Color Me Badd), and spent seventeen weeks in the top forty.
The song topped the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, becoming Mariah's fourth number one single; the next single, "Make it Happen" would break that streak. "Can't Let Go" ranked twentieth on the 1992 Hot 100 year-end charts.
"Can't Let Go" reached the UK Top 20 and the Canadian Top 10. It became her lowest peaking single at the time in all of the major Anglophone singles markets (with the exception of the UK) and failed to make the Australian Top 50.
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||2|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||1|
|U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs||2|
|Australian Singles Chart||63|
|Canadian Singles Chart||7|
|UK Singles Chart||20|
|Dutch Singles Chart||77|