Review: “Daydream” by Mariah Carey (CD, 1995)

Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown is the 1995 album ‘Daydream’ – the fifth studio release by American singing sensation Mariah Carey. Is this album everything you could dream of, or a total nightmare? Read on…

Mariah Carey's 1995 'Daydream' album
Mariah Carey’s 1995 ‘Daydream’ album

Following just under less than a year on from her album Merry Christmas (1994), and her huge hit album Music Box (1993), Mariah Carey returned with her brand new album.

The album opens with some trademark Mariah vocals before jumping into the beats of Fantasy, the lead single. This song is a smooth and gentle ride, a bit like the video that features Mariah managing to hold her notes perfectly on a slow rollercoaster, and lazily rollerskating. This nice gentle sound is aided by the sampling of Genius Of Love by Tom Tom Club, whose hook is generously sampled throughout the song. The song gave her a #4 UK hit, and rightly so – it’s a perfect place to start.

Next up is Underneath The Stars, which is a tender ballad, giving Mariah plenty of space to show off those amazing beautiful vocals. She’s joined by tinkling electric piano and a soft beat. It’s a mellow almost 70’s sounding track, and the vocal harmonies really give it the warmth you’d hope. The track was the 6th and final single from the album, although it only charted in the US.

This is followed by single One Sweet Day, which she co-wrote with Boyz II Men. This collaboration would prove to be potent with the music buying Americans, resulting in what is now a tied longest-running number one single on the US chart. I’m not particularly a fan of Boyz II Men, and therefore this song is a bit of a drudge for me to get through – as it feels like a bit of a nauseating song. I guess you just had to be there back then to ‘get it’. Whilst it sat at #1 in the US for 16 weeks, it reached #6 in the UK, staying on the chart for 12 weeks.

Third single, Open Arms is next, which gave Mariah a #4 UK hit in February 1996, and is a cover of the 1982 track by the band Journey. It opens with Mariah’s vocals before she’s joined by piano and eventually drums. Again, we’re safely in power ballad territory.

Always Be My Baby is next, and this really lifts the tempo and tone. It feels almost pop, aided by the bright piano chord sequences and beats. Mariah gets to show off a more diverse vocal style, whilst throwing in some ‘doo doo doos’ and a few reaching vocals. It’s quite a simple track, but it’s refreshing. It gave her a #3 UK hit single in the summer of 1996. This is a great little track.

Up next is I Am Free, which opens with a piano that reminds me of Robin The Frog’s hit version of Halfway Down The Stairs. Mariah swiftly arrives, giving us a some of her perfectly controlled vocals. She’s joined by herself for some nice vocal dreamy harmonies that flitter around the scales. This is textbook Carey.

This is followed by When I Saw You, which again has a piano intro that reminds me of another song – this time Memory. The melody follows this in part too, but as the song builds it safely strays away. The track is a bit weaker and unmemorable, but it’s nice enough. The elongated notes occasionally get a bit ridiculous, and you sometimes feel like finishing off her sentence sooner for her.

Long Ago is next and it’s off to a funky start, as a hip hop beat drops in. This track sounds very different to the rest of the songs so far, as it has a more urgent tempo to it, although the bass and beats don’t really evolve. The end result is a bit of a more refreshing sound, and one that wouldn’t go amiss on an En Vogue album.

Then we’re on to Melt Away which opens with some electric piano, that quietly give way to finger clicks and Mariah singing in a low register. She rises for the chorus of this RnB track. Again, this track shows off Mariah’s more than capable ballad vocal style, hitting that incredible high note as the song fades out (you only just catch it).

Next up is Forever, which sounds like it’s just fallen out of the 1950s or 1960s with it’s simple piano and drum sequences. It’s textbook Carey again, hitting the big dramatic key notes, along with the key change towards the final verse.

This is followed by Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Sweet Dub Mix) which has David Morales on production alongside Mariah. This more dance sound for Mariah just goes to show off how well her vocals can do dance music if she was allowed to. At times, Morales’ input reminds me of Kylie Minogue‘s Morales mix of her Where Is The Feeling? single from the same year.

The album closes with Looking In gives us a haunting piano-led ballad. The vocals, the piano, and other instruments all help to build this track up to a slightly sinister sound. Mariah’s light vocals dance effortlessly across this song, resulting in one of the best tracks on this album.

Mariah Carey’s lead single ‘Fantasy’

Verdict

Over all, there is still pop Mariah here, but the increasingly RnB Mariah often pushes slips through the door. This feels like a nice companion to Music Box musically and lyrically, and if you’re a fan of that, then I think you’ll enjoy this album too.

For me, the reliance on yet more ballads, makes this hard to listen to all in one go. The upbeat tracks are refreshing and very welcome, but it is definitely worth staying with it for the final track, Looking In.

Rated 3 stars - Give it a go!
  • POP RESCUE 2020 RATING:  3 / 5
  • 1995 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #1, certified 2x Platinum by the BPI.
  • POP RESCUE COST: 33p from a British Heart Foundation store.

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