’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Always Be My Baby”
The ninety-seventh No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey. This mid-tempo Pop song was Carey’s 11th of 18 No. 1 hits, and has turned out to be one of her most enduring recordings, even 20+ years later. The video for the song is, as of this writing, the fifth most-watched clip on Carey’s Vevo channel among her releases from the ’90s, more popular than anything else off the Daydream album, her fourth studio (non-holiday) release. The use of piano and drums on “Always Be My Baby” somewhat resembles that of her mid-’00s smashes, “We Belong Together,” “Shake It Off” and “Don’t Forget About Us.” Maybe it was ahead of its time, and hence has had a long shelf life.
The Daydream album embraced retro musical influences more unabashedly than any of Carey’s prior releases. There is a Motown-era, girl group sensibility to the “Always Be My Baby,” from the opening “do-do-doop” vocals through the innocent, G-rated lyrics, further purified with a video set at a kids’ summer camp. Carey’s subsequent releases from Daydream would continue in this trend: The brilliantly underrated “Forever” and “Underneath The Stars,” neither of which was officially released or promoted as a proper single, and thus neither of which charted. We prefer both of those tracks to “Always Be My Baby.”
Let’s listen again to “Always Be My Baby”:
We’re fans of Mariah Carey’s but never found this track to be especially interesting. That’s not to say it isn’t tightly written, arranged, produced and performed. We also can acknowledge it’s catchy. But it’s not a standout for us.
Was it dope? Sure, this track was released in peak Mariah years and was No. 5 for the year. The video was on heavy rotation and landed in the year-end Top 20 countdowns for MTV and VH1. Not bad, especially for an album’s third single.
Does it hold up? In addition to what we mentioned above regarding its views on Vevo, a friend of ours recently was mentioning that she didn’t like Carey much, except, of course, for “We Belong Together” and “Always Be My Baby.” That strikes us as a sentiment we imagine may others share.
Dopeness: 2 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?