|Single by Mariah Carey|
|from the album Music Box|
|B-side||"Do You Think of Me"|
|Released||July 27, 1993|
|Songwriter(s)||Mariah Carey, Dave Hall|
|Mariah Carey singles chronology|
|Alternative cover art|
One of U.S. CD maxi-singles
"Dreamlover" is a song by American singer Mariah Carey, released on July 27, 1993, as the lead single from her third studio album, Music Box (1993). The lyrics were written by Carey, with music composed by Carey and Dave Hall, and was produced by Carey, Walter Afanasieff and Hall. The song incorporates a sample of the hook from "Blind Alley" by the Emotions into its melody and instrumentation, but is primarily a loop of Genius Of Love by Tom Tom Club. "Dreamlover" helped Carey transition into the pop music market, a choice made following the mixed reception to her previous studio effort Emotions (1991), which featured gospel and 1960s soul influences. Lyrically, the song pictures a protagonist calling for a perfect lover, her "dreamlover," to whisk her away into the night and not disillusion her like others in the past.
"Dreamlover" received generally positive reviews from contemporary music critics, many of whom praised the song's incorporated sample, as well as Carey's carefree vocal style. The song was the first of several of her lead singles that sampled older tunes as a musical bed, as seen in "Fantasy" (1995), "Honey" (1997), "Heartbreaker" (1999), and "Loverboy" (2001). It experienced strong worldwide success, becoming Carey's seventh chart topper on the US Billboard Hot 100, remaining there for eight weeks. It peaked at number one in Canada and became a top-ten single in Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Carey performed "Dreamlover" live on several televised talk shows around the world, including The Arsenio Hall Show in September 1993, the British music chart program Top of the Pops, and the 1993 Music Fair in Japan. In 1999, following the release of Carey's Rainbow, the song was included in the Mariah Carey Homecoming Special, and her appearance on The Today Show. Additionally, "Dreamlover" was featured in the set-lists of most of her succeeding tours, making its debut on the Music Box Tour (1993). The song was included on Carey's compilation albums, #1's (1998), Greatest Hits (2001), and #1 to Infinity (2015).
The song's music video was filmed by Diane Martel in Copake, in upstate New York, during August 1993. It includes an appearance by Carey's dog Jack, and shows Carey dancing in a flowerbed and field, swimming in a large pond, boarding a hot air balloon, and dancing alongside several shirtless male dancers. According to author Chris Nickson, the video's carefree setting harmonized well with the song's soft instrumentation. Due to the song's strong radio airplay and extended charting, the video received frequent play on several music video channels throughout the summer of 1993.
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 3 Music and lyrics
- 4 Critical reception
- 5 Chart performance
- 6 Music video and remixes
- 7 Live performances
- 8 Track listing and formats
- 9 Credits and personnel
- 10 Charts and certifications
- 11 See also
- 12 References
Carey's debut studio album made a strong impact on pop music, but the singer became interested in altering her sound and branching out into other genres for her second studio effort, Emotions (1991). Columbia allowed her to take more control over her musical direction, enabling her to change the musical genre, melodies, and production style. Carey worked with many new musicians and producers on the album; Walter Afanasieff was the only holdover from her debut. Emotions contained influences from gospel, R&B and soul music as well as from 1950s, 60s, and 70s balladry. While the album was praised by some as being more mature and raw, it failed to reach the critical or commercial heights of her debut effort, selling fewer units and failing to introduce Carey into new markets. Columbia decided to return Carey to the same genre as her debut album and have her produce a more commercial and radio-friendly record. Their plans were to tone down Carey's vocals and soften the album's production to create a contemporary pop record. Carey and Afanasieff agreed to the change and began writing and recording material for her third studio effort, Music Box (1993).
While recording Music Box, Carey began to alter her songwriting style and genre choices, most notably in "Dreamlover". The song is different from anything she had recorded on her previous album, as it leans on pop and light R&B influences. While searching for new record producers for the album, Carey came across Dave Hall, a New York native who was known from his work on Mary J. Blige's debut album, What's the 411? (1992). Carey wanted to incorporate a sampled loop from an older song into "Dreamlover", her second song to do so. The pair reviewed several older tunes and melodies, and chose "Blind Alley", performed by The Emotions in 1972. This song had previously been sampled in Big Daddy Kane's "Ain't No Half-Steppin'", which led Mariah to use the sample for Dreamlover.  In an interview with Fred Bronson, Carey described working with Hall:
"I wanted to do something that had a happy feeling, something that was more open and released, and that's really not Dave. It's very anti what he's about. So he said, 'Oh, you want to do that happy stuff? All right, all right.' He was not into doing it. Then we started listening to a lot of different and old loops and we used the 'Blind Alley' loop and I started singing the melody over it."
Although Carey had heard the hook used in several other songs over the years, she felt her use of the sample was done in a more innovative way. "We built the song from there and I wrote the lyrics and the melody and Dave ended up liking it," she continued. After having completed the song, Hall complimented Carey's work ethic and form of writing, calling her a "perfectionist" and "very professional." He explained that they incorporated the hook, a melody, and the sample into the song over the course of one night. The song's title was not added until the end of production. Hall said Carey works in a unique fashion, usually developing the song's instrumentals and hook prior to the lyrics and title. Carey describes the songwriting process:
"The way I usually work is I do an untitled song. We'll grab the hook, whether sampled or created, and use it as the working title. I wrote the verses first, as well as the melody and the inclusion of several instrumentals. Sometimes I'll have an idea for a lyrics. If I'm collaborating with someone, I'll direct them in the direction that I'm going chord wise, because I get all these melody ideas and then I lose them if I don't have someone really good with the keyboard with me. That's why I tend to collaborate because I lose the ideas by the time I figure out the chord. All these melody ideas just go."
When Carey's fiancé at the time, Tommy Mottola, came to hear the song in the studio, he had mixed feelings. He approached Walter Afanasieff and asked him to add some additional instrumentation and flavor. Afanasieff changed the song at the production level, altering the way in which the hook sample was incorporated into the song, as well as adding several new instruments. He described the changes to Bronson in an interview:
"Mariah and Dave did this loop thing which was new to us pop producers at the time. Their version of 'Dreamlover' was missing a lot of stuff. The spirit of the song was up but it wasn't hitting hard enough. I re-worked the drums, organ and keyboard. The organ and hi-hat part I changed made it a bit more swinging and a little bit more driving. I put a whole new shade of colors to it."
Music and lyrics
"Dreamlover" is a mid-tempo pop and light R&B track. The song is written in the key of F major, and the beat is set in common time which moves at a moderate pace of 104 beats per minute. It has the sequence of F7–Gm7–F7–Gm7 as its chord progression.
The song was written and produced by Carey and Hall, with additional work done by Afanasieff, who added a slightly altered instrumentation. "Dreamlover" samples the hook and a musical loop from "Blind Alley" by R&B group The Emotions. The sampling provides a "backbone" for the instrumentation and production, as well as being interlooped in the bridge. Carey uses a whistle register to introduce the first verse.
In his review, Jozen Cummings from PopMatters described the song as "pure, frothy pop." Cummings felt Afanasieff's usage of the Hammond B3 organ added "an old school vibe" to "Dreamlover", as it harmonizes with the "extremely catchy musical hook." Cummings describes the theme of the lyrics:
"... the lyric is a description of, and a call for, the mythic Dreamlover; someone to take her away, to 'rescue' her. Fluffy-seeming stuff, to be sure (and possibly cringe-inducing for some folk), but very possibly also an expression of the simplest of romantic dreams: to find the 'right' person; someone who makes you feel taken care of, loved, safe."
Cummings called the second verse's first lines "Don't want another pretender / To disillusion me one more time / Whispering words of forever / Playing with my mind" an "interesting mix of innocence and very grown-up cynicism and world-weariness." Wayne Robins from Newsday compared the vocals to "Motown and Philly soul singing," while praising Afansieff's inclusion of the Hammond B-3 for the way the "riffs provide a nice organic contrast to the synthesizers that dominate the record."
"Dreamlover" earned widely positive reviews from music critics, many of whom praised its production, the sampling of the hook, and the vocals. In reference to the common criticism that Carey over-sings and over-uses her upper registers, Cummings wrote "truth is, she is never crass in the use of her amazing instrument. On 'Dreamlover', especially, she keeps a close, tasteful rein on the acrobatics." While reviewing Butterfly (1997), Rich Juzwiak of Slant Magazine praised the song's incorporation of the "Blind Alley" hook, saying it was done "as sweetly as possible." Ron Wynn from Allmusic called the song personal and intense. He enjoyed Carey's more mature vocal style on the album, as well as the usage of the hook and the instrumentation. David Browne from Entertainment Weekly felt Carey's soft singing and lack of volume was hurtful to the song, saying she "lost herself." He thought the hook was catchy, but overly familiar. Tom Moon from The Philadelphia Inquirer called the song "irresistibly bubbly" while J. D. Considine from The Baltimore Sun called its melody "breezy." Roger Friedman from Fox News named "Dreamlover" and "Vision of Love" Carey's best, calling them "the original hits." Entertainment Weekly listed the song as one of "The 100 Greatest Moments in Rock Music: The 90s"; it was their top pick for 1993. "Dreamlover" received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
"Dreamlover" was Carey's seventh number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, topping the chart in its sixth week and stayed there for eight consecutive weeks (September 5 to October 30, 1993)—her longest stay at the time. It replaced "Can't Help Falling in Love" by UB40, and was later replaced by Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)." It spent 26 weeks in the top 40 and was ranked number eight on the Hot 100 1993 Year-End Charts and 20 on the Decade-End Charts. The song was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on September 22, 1993, denoting shipments of over one million units throughout the United States. It sold 935,000 units domestically. "Dreamlover" holds the joint title of the highest debuting song on the Billboard Pop Songs chart, entering the chart at number 12 on the week dated August 14, 1993 but was tied by Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" in 2014. In Canada, "Dreamlover" became Carey's fifth number one single on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart, debuting at number 60 on the chart during the week of August 14, 1993. Three weeks later, the song reached the chart's number one position; it spent six consecutive weeks at the top and a total of 21 weeks on the singles chart. On the RPM Year-End Charts, "Dreamlover" finished at number two.
"Dreamlover" entered the Australian Singles Chart at number 41 during the week of August 23, 1993, eventually reaching a peak of number seven and spending a total of 21 consecutive weeks on the chart. The song was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting shipments of over 35,000 units throughout the country. In New Zealand, "Dreamlover" reached a peak position of number two on the New Zealand Singles Chart and spent sixteen weeks fluctuating on the chart. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) certified the song gold for shipments of 7,500 units in the country. On the Dutch Top 40, "Dreamlover" debuted at number 36 during the week of August 28, 1993. After attaining a peak of number nine, the song dropped off the top 40 after a chart run of 13 weeks. On the yearly charts, the song finished at number 69. In Switzerland the song peaked at number thirteen and spent sixteen weeks on the singles chart. On the UK Singles Chart, "Dreamlover" reached its peak position of number nine during the week of September 4, 1993. It spent a total of ten weeks on the chart, exiting on October 23, 1993. Sales in the United Kingdom are estimated at 150,000 units.
Music video and remixes
The music video for "Dreamlover" was directed by Diane Martel and filmed in upstate New York in June 1993. The video features scenes of Carey swimming in a small pond by a waterfall, boarding a colorful hot air balloon, and dancing alongside several shirtless male dancers. As the video begins, Carey is swimming underwater while wearing clothing. She is soon gasping for air and climbing into a flower bed above. As she frolics and rolls in a field, scenes of Carey boarding a hot air balloon are inter-cut. Her dog Jack makes an appearance, as he follows her through the field and pond. After a short interval of dancing alongside several male dancers, Carey leaves with her dog as the video concludes. After filming the video, Carey revealed that the water was so cold that she refused to swim until the director, Martel, dived in first. Author Chris Nickson felt the video captured the song's soft and relaxed nature: "The casual feel, almost like clips from home movies edited together, captured the song's off-the-shoulder airiness." The video received heavy rotation on several video music channels, which added to the song's chart performance.
"Dreamlover" marked the first time Carey was given creative control over remixing her songs. She enlisted David Morales to create the Def Club Mix; it was the first of Carey's remixes to use re-recorded vocals. An officially-released live version of "Dreamlover", derived from the television special Here Is Mariah Carey (1994), is available. "Dreamlover" B-side track ("Do You Think of Me") was written and produced by Carey, Afanasieff, Cory Rooney, and Mark Morales. Kelefa Sanneh from The New York Times complimented the remix, writing "[It] is a revelation: after a long percussion break, he isolates a few of Ms. Carey's ad-libs; her ultrafalsetto vocals sound spookier than all of Basement Jaxx's sound effects combined."
Carey performed "Dreamlover" on several televised broadcasts in the US and throughout Europe. The song was sung live on The Arsenio Hall Show with "Hero" as a two-piece set-list. Carey performed "Dreamlover" on the British music program Top of the Pops, the Dutch program Platendaagse, and the Japanese show Music Fair. In a promotional effort for her seventh studio album Rainbow, Carey filmed a FOX special titled The Mariah Carey Homecoming Special, a mini-concert filmed at her old high school in Huntington, New York. It aired on December 21, 1999. "Dreamlover" served as one of the opening numbers. The song was performed in 2003 on The Today Show as part of a four-song set as a promotion for Carey's 2002 album, Charmbracelet.
Following the televised appearances, Carey performed the song live on several of her tours. In the Daydream World Tour she performed it in front of a backdrop showing footage from the song's video. On her Music Box Tour and Butterfly World Tour, the song served as the fifth song of the set-list. Carey performed alongside several female back-up dancers who mimicked her light dance routines. Carey used a similar presentation on the Rainbow World Tour. On Carey's Charmbracelet and The Adventures of Mimi Tours, three male backup dancers were featured on stage, with the three female background vocalists behind them. On the latter tour, Carey's wore a black bikini, with a matching cape and Christian Louboutin pumps. She mixed the song with an instrumental remix of Mtume's song "Juicy Fruit." Following the release of her twelfth studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009), Carey embarked on the Angels Advocate Tour. It was her first tour that did not regularly feature the song, as it was only performed on a few select dates. In addition, Carey sang the song as a part of her Las Vegas residency, Mariah Carey Number 1's , which chronicles the singer's 18 US Hot 100 Number 1 hits. For the performance, she donned a sequined white dress, and entered the stage in a pink convertible car. At the end of the performance, she stands atop a stage fan, while her skirt blows in the wind, as an homage to Marilyn Monroe.
Track listing and formats
Credits and personnel
These credits were adapted from the Music Box liner notes.
- Mariah Carey – co-producing, songwriting, vocals
- Dave Hall – co-producing, songwriting, synthesizer
- Walter Afanasieff – co-producing, songwriting, organ
- Bob Ross – engineering
- Ren Klyce – programming
- Mick Guzauski – mixing
- Bob Ludwig – mastering
Charts and certifications
Certifications and sales
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