Daydream is Mariah Carey's fifth studio album that was released on October 3, 1995 by Columbia Records.
- Fantasy 4:04
- Underneath The Stars 3:33
- One Sweet Day (featuring Boyz II Men) 4:42
- Open Arms 3:30
- Always Be My Baby 4:20
- I Am Free 3:09
- When I Saw You 4:24
- Long Ago 4:33
- Melt Away 3:42
- Forever 4:00
- Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Sweet Dub Mix) 3:04
- Looking In 3:35
During the album's recording, Mariah Carey grew as an artist, as well as a writer. For the first time in her career, she was able to make music that she truly related to, R&B and hip hop.
While Columbia allowed her more leniency with the music she recorded, they became hesitant when she featured late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard in the remix for "Fantasy." They feared the sudden change was completely left field for her music, and worried it would jeopardize the album's success.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Carey openly spoke of her issues with Columbia Records: "Everybody was like 'What, are you crazy?' They're nervous about breaking the formula. It works to have me sing a ballad on stage in a long dress with my hair up."
While Carey's new musical direction caused tension between her and Columbia, it began to severely strain her relationship with her husband at the time, Tommy Mottola. Mottola had always been involved in Carey's career, because he was the head of Sony Music, the parent company of her label.
Since the time of Carey's debut, Mottola had controlled nearly every aspect of her career, keeping her sound carefully regulated and insisting that she continue recording middle-of-the-road pop music, despite her interest in hip hop music.
Carey confessed that she never tried to change the situation because "[she] used to be insecure and cautious, and so [she] would listen to what the people said."
However, the control Mottola exerted over Carey's career soon "spilled into her personal life" once they were married, increasing the amount of conflict between the two of them. Soon, it was obvious that their marriage was in shambles; as stated in a Vanity Fair article, "the couple began to argue at the drop of a hat."
Carey was very involved in the project, more so than she had ever been on an album. She told Time magazine: "I went into this phase of recording, recording, recording and doing it really fast. This time, I had more time, and I focused more on what I wanted to do."
As Carey's career and work continued to reflect her views on how it should sound, her marriage to Mottola continued to "deteriorate."
One of the first songs that was recorded for the album was "Fantasy".
While Carey began developing new ideas for the album, she thought of the song "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club; she had always been a fan of the song, and presented Dave Hall with the idea of sampling the song's hook.
Hall incorporated a groove that he felt complimented Carey's voice, while she composed some of the other beats and wrote the lyrics. She recorded a remix to the song as well, featuring hip-hop verses from O.D.B of the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as production from Puffy.
Carey spoke highly of the remix, complimenting Puffy and O.D.B, saying: "He's so known in the street, and he's one of the best people out there...we kind of did what we both do and having O.D.B took it to another level. He was my ultimate choice, so I was really happy with the way it turned out."
"One Sweet Day" was a song that Carey wrote with R&B group Boyz II Men. After Carey's friend and past collaborator David Cole died, she began writing and developing a song that would pay homage to him and all the friends and family her fans had lost along life's journey.
Carey had the chorus and concept composed, and after meeting with Boyz II Men, they realized they too had a similar idea in development.
Together, using Carey's chorus and idea, as well as the melody they had produced, they wrote and composed the song. It was produced by Afanasieff, who built on the song's melody and added various grooves and beats.
While the album's development was underway, Carey expressed interest in working with Jermaine Dupri, whom she had been a fan of since his 1992 song, "Jump."
Soon after, Carey, Dupri, and Manuel Seal began composing a song for the album, with Carey and Dupri becoming close friends and frequent collaborators on later albums. As Seal played the piano, she began humming and playing with certain notes in the B-section, until she came up with the chorus for "Always Be My Baby".
After the rest of the song was written and composed, Carey recorded the song alongside longtime background singers Kelly Price, Shanrae Price, and Melonie Daniels. Together, they built "a wall of background voices" in which she would cover with her final belting notes.
The song featured a downbeat rhythm, while its composition was described as "sassy and soft R&B" which displayed a "sexy and slow jam".
"Underneath the Stars" was the first song recorded for Daydream. The song featured a "'70s soul vibe" as well as synthetic record scratches, in order to the give the song an authentic '70s sound.
Carey felt the additions were simple steps taken to further display a contemporary R&B groove. Additionally, she felt the song paid homage to the style of Minnie Riperton, who was one of Carey's biggest vocal influences growing up.
The song had a soft sound, and had "a lot [sic] of texture" and bass, showing a more creative side to Carey
For the album, Carey covered the Journey's 1982 song "Open Arms". The song was of Carey's personal choice, as well as her own idea. Together with Afanasieff, they toned down the song's arrangement, making it a bit glossy, especially in comparison to the "raw and powerful 'One Sweet Day.'" Additionally, with the help of her background singers, she added a touch of gospel to the song.
One of the more gospel-influenced songs on the album was "I Am Free." The song was created by Carey, Afanasieff and Loris Holland, with whom she had worked previously on Merry Christmas.
Carey began humming the melody with the lyrics she had already written, while Holland played the organ and Afanasieff worked on the song's programming, giving the song a genuine and unforced gospel feel. The chorus was sophisticated and natural, with each following line "cascading onto one another", something that would have proved difficult for a "less skilled vocalist".
Carey started leaning away from the "standard Celine Dion ballad" and more towards R&B jams. However, she was not going to completely abandon the type of songs that made her famous.
For this reason, she wrote "When I Saw You" with Afanasieff, a song that would truly embody some of her earlier work, as well as show off her powerful vocals.
Returning to her R&B territory, Carey recorded "Long Ago", the second song she wrote alongside Dupri and Seal which contains a strong hip hop background. Her vocals in the song were described as "sliding over the insistent bassline like silk."
"Melt Away" was a song Carey produced on her own, and co-wrote with Babyface. The song's writing and production were "superb". with each verse gliding into its chorus.
According to Chris Nickson, "Underneath the Stars" 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."
Another song that brought back reminders of older decades was "Forever". The throwback was featured through the chord changes and in the way the guitar arpeggios "stayed at the forefront of the music." The song displayed subtle vocals from Carey as well as an undeniable richness.
"Daydream Interlude (Sweet Fantasy Dub Mix)" was one of the liveliest tracks on the album. The song was a club remix of "Fantasy", which was tuned and remixed by famed house music producer David Morales.
The song was directed to be a dance-club song, further broadening Carey's "musical horizon." It incorporated Carey's vocals, and added them to a thumping house beat, something he would do for many of her future singles.
"Looking In" was the final song on the album. Written in 15 minutes, it was Carey's most personal song at the time, one in which she let herself appear "naked" and "stripped down; it was written by her and Afanasieff.
"Daydream" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with 224,000 copies sold, staying on the top of the charts the following week with 216,000 copies sold; in its third week, it topped the charts again with 170,000 copies sold. It also topped Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
The album became the second best-selling album of 1996 and the 18th best-selling album of the '90s decade in the United States. It was certified diamond by the RIAA, denoting shipments of 10 million copies.
"Daydream" remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, with sales of more than 20 million copies worldwide.
"Daydream" was well received by contemporary critics.
In The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote that her songwriting had improved dramatically, "becoming more relaxed, sexier, and less reliant on thudding clichés".
"One Sweet Day", "Melt Away", "Always Be My Baby", and "Underneath the Stars" were singled out as highlights, while "Fantasy" featured what Holden described as "some of the most gorgeously spun choral music to be found on a contemporary album".
Los Angeles Times journalist Cheo H. Coker said Daydream boasted material that would silence Carey's critics (especially "Fantasy" and "Underneath the Stars") and offered "something for everybody while somehow remaining true to her essence".
People deemed it Carey's best record, benefiting from "funkier and mellower" songs and the singer's improved control over her voice, "evincing greater muscularity and agility".
According to Encyclopedia of Popular Music writer Colin Larkin: "Some critics questioned whether Daydream was a controlled exercise in vacuous formula writing, with little emotion or heart."
Reviewing the album for Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker preferred the "less dignified tunes"—particularly "Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Sweet Dub Mix)"—over the "monuments to assiduous good taste" in "When I Saw You" and "I Am Free", which he panned as overwrought ballads.
Nonetheless, Tucker called the album Carey's best since her 1990 self-titled debut.