Underneath the Stars (song)

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"Underneath the Stars"
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Daydream
A-side "Forever"
Released April 5, 1996
Format CD single, 12" vinyl
Recorded December 1994
Genre
Length 3:33
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff
Producer(s) Mariah Carey, Walter Afanasieff (album version)
Mariah Carey, Trackmasters (remix)
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Forever"
(1996)
"Underneath the Stars"
(1996)
"Honey"
(1997)
Daydream track listing
"Fantasy"
(1)
"Underneath the Stars"
(2)
"One Sweet Day"
(3)

"Underneath the Stars" is a romantic love song by American singer-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.[1] 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[edit]

Throughout 1993, Carey began conceptualizing Music Box (1993), which became the highest selling album of Carey's career.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] Following its tepid commercial performance, Columbia aimed for Music Box to be a vehicle for very commercial singles that could garner strong radio airplay.[3] 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.[4][5] Due to the album's success, Columbia allowed Carey more control over the music she recorded for Daydream (1995).[2]

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.[3] 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).[2] The song was eventually chosen as the sixth and final single from the album, and was released on April 5, 1996 through Columbia Records.[3] In Australia, the song was released as a b-side to Carey's previous single, "Forever" (1996).[6]

Controversy[edit]

Throughout 1998, Carey was compiling songs for her first compilation album, #1's. The album, alongside "Underneath the Stars" and "Breakdown", led to a publicized conflict with Columbia Records. Carey wanted to include the two songs on the album, and felt that a greatest hits record should reflect on her most personal and favorite songs, not her most commercial.[7] Sony on the other hand, wanted to release an album that featured her U.S. number one singles, void of any new material.[7] To accompany her thirteen number ones, Carey recorded four new songs. She felt that not including any new material would result in cheating her fans.[7] While compromised, Carey often expressed distaste towards the album's song selection, expressing her disappointment in the omission of her "favorite songs."[7]

For this reason, Sony titled the album #1's, as Carey felt the need to express the album's true content, a collection of her number one hits.[7] In December 2001, Columbia released the album Greatest Hits, which featured Carey's number one singles alongside songs she said "needed to be really heard," such as "Underneath the Stars" and "Forever."[8] In an interview with MTV, Carey made the following statement regarding the album. "There's a lot of songs that I'm happy are gonna see the light of day. I think people are going to like this Greatest Hits because there are songs on it that were not necessarily singles."[9]

Composition[edit]

A 21-second sample of the song features a Minnie Ripperton style instrumentation, with '70s soul influences.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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."[10]

Reception[edit]

While not commercially released, "Underneath the Stars" has been lauded with a widespread acclaim, becoming one of the album's best-received tracks, with music critics complimenting its instrumentation and vocals. Rolling Stone stated that, "Afanasieff cowrote his one of strongest tunes yet, the sweet, bouncy 'Underneath the Stars.'"[11] Chris Nickson, author of Mariah Carey Revisited: Her Story (1998), said the song was as "strong as any slow jam released in the nineties, and one that would find a lot of flavor late at night with dancers."[12] Chris Dickinson from St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the song one of Carey's best compositions, and wrote "it easily evokes a languid dreamy sensuality with its throbbing bass-line and synthetic record scratches."[13] Writer and journalist Christopher John Farley from Time described "Underneath the Stars" as "cool and blissfully nostalgic," while Cheo H. Coker called it "dynamic but subtle."[14][15] The song received a limited number of pressings in the United States, where it charted weakly on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, peaking at number sixty-nine.[3]

Music video and live performances[edit]

On February 11, 2012, Carey revealed through her Twitter account that a music video for the song was actually recorded. Filming sessions occurred in Netherlands, England and France; Carey commented, however, that it "never got released & I don't know where it is!"[16] Due to its limited release and chart performance, "Underneath the Stars" was only performed during Carey's Daydream World Tour (1996).[17] During the shows in Japan, Carey featured the song as the tenth track on the set-list. Appearing on stage wearing a long black evening gown, Carey discussed the song's composition and development with the audience, prior to its recital.[18] The live performance from the Tokyo Dome on March 7, 1996 was recorded and released on a rare DVD titled "Mariah Carey Live In Japan."[19] The song has recently been performed in 2012 in Carey's performances in Austria in April and Morocco in May.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Underneath the Stars" — 3:33
  2. "Underneath the Stars" (Drifiting Re-Mix) — 4:00
  3. "Underneath the Stars" (Drifiting Re-Mix W/O Rap) — 4:00
  • AUS CD single[6]
  1. "Forever" — 4:01
  2. "Underneath The Stars" — 3:33
  3. "Forever" (Live) — 4:12
  4. "Make It Happen" (Live) — 4:43

Charts[edit]

Chart (1996) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay 69

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the Daydream liner notes.[22]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Mariah Carey's Twitter". Twitter.com. 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Nickson 1998, pp. 147
  3. ^ a b c d e Nickson 1998, pp. 148
  4. ^ "Mariah Carey – Biography". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2010-08-17. [dead link]
  5. ^ Williams, Chris (2011-07-03). "Mariah Carey’s Music Box LP (1993) Revisited With co-writer Walter Afanasieff – Return To The Classics". Soul Culture. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  6. ^ a b Forever (CD Single liner notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1996. 663440 2. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Shapiro 2001, p. 116
  8. ^ "Higher and Higher". Vibe. Vibe/Spin Ventures. 1998-11-12. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  9. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2001-11-16). "Mariah Insists Her Greatest Work Isn't Always Most Popular". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2010-09-28. 
  10. ^ Pareles, Jon (1995-10-08). "Mariah Carey Glides Into new Territory". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2011-06-13. 
  11. ^ Holden, Stephen (1995-10-08). "POP MUSIC; Mariah Carey Glides Into New Territory". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ Nickson 1998, pp. 149
  13. ^ Dickinson, Chris (1995-10-19). "Is A Little More Funk Too Much To Ask?". St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Lee Enterprises). Retrieved 2011-06-13. 
  14. ^ Farley, Christopher John (1995-09-26). "Pop's Princess Grows Up". Time (Time. Time Warner). Retrieved 2011-06-13. 
  15. ^ Coker, Cheo H. (1995-10-01). "Carey's 'Daydream' Has the Goods to Silence Detractors". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved 2011-06-13. 
  16. ^ Carey, Mariah (2012-02-11). "Mariah Carey on Twitter". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  17. ^ Nickson 1998, pp. 155
  18. ^ Argenson 2010, pp. 29–33
  19. ^ "Mariah Carey Live In Japan (1996) DVD". Amazon.co.uk. 1996-03-07. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  20. ^ Underneath the Stars (CD Single liner notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1996. CSK 8776. 
  21. ^ Underneath the Stars (12" Vinyl liner notes). Mariah Carey. Columbia Records. 1996. CAS 8945. 
  22. ^ Carey, Mariah (1995). Daydream (Liner Notes) (Compact Disc). Mariah Carey. New York City, New York: Columbia Records. 

References[edit]