Mariah Carey is Mariah Carey's self-titled debut studio album that was released on June 12, 1990 by Columbia Records.
The album topped the Billboard 200 for 11 consecutive weeks and was certified 9x platinum by the RIAA with shipments of 9 million copies in the United States.
- Vision Of Love 3:28
- There's Got To Be A Way 4:53
- I Don't Wanna Cry 4:47
- Someday 4:06
- Vanishing 4:11
- All In Your Mind 4:43
- Alone In Love 4:11
- You Need Me 3:51
- Sent From Up Above 4:05
- Prisoner 4:22
- Love Takes Time 3:48
In 1988, 18-year-old Mariah Carey moved out of her mother's house in Long Island, New York and into a small apartment in Manhattan.
She had a demo tape consisting of four songs, which she had written during her high school years with Ben Margulies.
As 1988 unfolded, Carey (who was still without a record deal) struggled to draw the attention of record executives in New York. While working several jobs, she continued writing and producing music with Margulies, making changes and additions to the demo.
After months of difficulty, she met with singer Brenda K. Starr, and soon began singing back-up for her. Eventually, Starr began hearing what she described as "glimpses" of Carey's voice throughout sessions, and noticed her "gifted voice." Starr realized that Carey was capable of achieving success, but only needed help to break through into mainstream music.
Carey and Ben Margulies began writing prior to Carey's signing, and had composed over fourteen songs; seven of which earned a place on the album. Originally, she and Margulies planned to produce the entire album as well, an idea her label did not permit.
On the album, she worked with a range of producers and writers, including from Ben Margulies, Rhett Lawrence, Narada Michael Walden, Ric Wake and Walter Afanasieff; the latter would continue working extensively with Carey on future projects.
As production for the album began, Carey worked with Walden in New York, where they produced the song "I Don't Wanna Cry". While he described Carey as "very shy," he noted how professional she was for someone her age.
Additionally, Carey wrote "There's Got to Be a Way" during her first recording session with Wake. During the session, they wrote four songs, but only produced the latter song for the album.
After flying to New York and working with Carey, Walden was astonished by her voice. Together, they collaborated on transforming many of the demo's songs into more commercial recordings, which took place in Tarpan Studios in San Rafael, California. For her work with Lawrence, she traveled to New York once again.
In the studio, Mariah presented him with the demo of the song "Vision of Love" which she had written with Margulies years prior. Lawrence saw "potential" in the song, but he did not think much of it in its early stages. He described the song's sound as having a "fifties sort of shuffle".
According to Lawrence, Carey needed a more contemporary sound, so they met in the studio alongside Margulies and producer Chris Toland. They added a new arrangement to the original chord progression, while Carey changed the song's melody and key. Afterwards, Margulies added few drum notes to the arrangement, including additional guitar and bass notes.
When Carey worked with Walden on "I Don't Wanna Cry", they worked on several other songs; together, they decided to "slow down the tempo" and create a "crying type of ballad," one (which according to him) featured a direct inspiration from gospel genres.
After completing the song, Lawrence noted how much of a perfectionist Carey was. He said that after finishing the song, she returned to the studio the following week, all in order to correct "one line" that troubled her.
As one of the four original songs she gave to Mottola, "Someday" became Wake's favorite from the start. According to Wake: "I loved that song right from the beginning...Then Mariah called me one day and said 'I'd love to do it if you want to do it.' It was great, I'm glad she called me."
During its recording, Carey revealed how the song came into existence. She had been working on the demo with Margulies in his studio. As he began playing different notes on the electric keyboard, she directed him on the chord changes, while providing the chorus, lyrics and melody.
In the song "All in Your Mind", Carey does a great vocal performance, doing staccatos up to F7. According to Carey, her voice "split" while doing those ornaments. While she thought to remove it from the song's recording, Wake and Walden were very impressed by the vocal flips, claiming that it would fit in perfectly.
Carey's debut album was completed and being mastered when she wrote the song "Love Takes Time" with Ben Margulies.
Margulies said, "It was sort of a gospelish thing I was improvising, then we began working on it. It was on a work tape that we had...and we recorded a very quick demo. It was just a piano vocal demo - I played live piano, and she sang it."
Carey was on a mini-tour of ten states, playing acoustically with a piano player and three back-up singers. While on a company plane, she played the demo of "Love Takes Time" for Columbia Records president Don Ienner.
Margulies said: "All the important guys were on the plane. Tommy Mottola, Ienner, and Bobby Colomby." Carey was told the song was a "career-maker," and that it had to go on the first album. She protested (as her album was already being mastered) and intended this ballad for her next release.
The demo was sent to producer Afanasieff. When Carey flew west to work with Narada Michael Walden on some tracks for her first album, Tommy Mottola and Don Ienner were impressed with Afanasieff's work and gave him an executive staff producer job with the label.
According to Afanasieff: "I guess to see if he made the right choice, (Tommy) called me up one day. "He said, 'We've got this Mariah Carey album done, but there's a song that she and Ben Margulies wrote that is phenomenal, and I want to try everything we can to put it on the album.' I said, 'What do you want me to do?' and he said, 'You only have a couple of days, but are you ready to cut it?' I couldn't believe the opportunity that it was. I'd never produced anything by myself up until that time."
The demo was very close to what Mottola wanted the finished product to be.
According to Afanasieff: "We cut the song and the music and the basics in about a day - and the only reason is this deadline. It was do it or we were gonna miss out on the whole thing. We got the tape and recorded everything and we got on the plane and went to New York (and) did her vocals. She did all the backgrounds, practically sang all night...We came back to the studio that afternoon, and we had to fix one line very quickly, and then (engineer) Dana (Jon Chapelle) and I got back on the plane with the tape, went back to the studio in Sausalito, and mixed it. So it was a three-day process: a day and a half for music, kind of like a day for vocals, and a day for mixing."
Afanasieff heard from Columbia executives as soon as they received the mix. They wanted Carey's vocal a little louder, so a remix was quickly completed. The producer asked if the song would still make the debut album, and was told, "We're going to do our best."
On the first copies of the album that were printed, "Love Takes Time" was not listed on the cassette or compact disc liner notes, even though the song was on the cassette or CD itself.
"(On) some of the original first copies of the record, they didn't have time to print the name of the song," Margulies laughs. "And so the song's on there, but it doesn't say that it's on there. It was a song that actually was strong enough to stop the pressing...I don't know if they had to throw away a few hundred copies."
"Mariah Carey" entered the US Billboard 200 at number 80, and reached the top 20 in its fourth week.
The album topped the chart in its 36th week, due to Mariah Carey's exposure at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards and stayed there for 11 consecutive weeks; to date, it is the longest stay at number one of her career.
The album remained in the top 20 for 65 weeks and on the Billboard 200 for 113 weeks.
It was certified nine-times Platinum by the RIAA on December 15, 1999. The album has sold 4,885,000 copies in the United States, becoming the best-selling album of 1991 in the United States.
In Canada, the album peaked at number one on the Canadian RPM Albums Chart during the week of April 20, 1991; to date, it is certified seven-times Platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), denoting shipments of 700,000 copies.
The album peaked at number six in Australia, where it went double Platinum and finished sixth on the ARIA Charts end of 1991 top 50 albums.
During the week of September 15, 1990, "Mariah Carey" entered the UK Albums Chart at its peak of number six.
After spending 40 weeks fluctuating in the chart, the album was certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting shipments of 300,000 copies. Worldwide sales of the album stand at 15 million copies.
In a contemporary review, Entertainment Weekly wrote that while Carey possessed an "astonishing vocal range and high ideals", the album was plagued by poor songwriting.
Robert Christgau was more critical in The Village Voice, unenthusiastically touching on the opera roots of Carey's mother while finding much of the material clueless about its love themes.
Jan DeKnock from the Chicago Tribune was more impressed by the album, finding it abundant with "sparkling tracks" that showcase her songwriting and production talents, particularly the track "Vanishing".
Ashley S. Battel from AllMusic found the record "extremely impressive" and described the songs as "smooth-sounding ballads and uplifting dance/R&B cuts" on an album that served "as a springboard for future successes". Battel concluded: "Carey establishes a strong standard of comparison for other breakthrough artists of this genre."
Aside from the heavy marketing and promotional campaign held by Sony Music, Carey performed on several television programs and award ceremonies, stateside and throughout Europe.
Her first televised appearance was at the 1990 NBA Playoffs where she sang "America the Beautiful". Soon after, she performed "Vision of Love" back-to-back on both The Arsenio Hall Show and The Tonight Show.
In September of 1990, Carey appeared on Good Morning America where she performed an a cappella version of "Vision of Love," alongside the Billy T. Scott Ensemble.
She performed "Vision of Love" on various other American television shows such as the 1991 Grammy Awards and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as European programs such as The Veronica Countdown (The Netherlands) and the Wogan Show (United Kingdom).
Promotion for the album continued with her follow up singles.
"Love Takes Time" was performed on "The Arsenio Hall Show" as well as Carey's televised performance at "The Tattoo Club."
The third single from the album "Someday", was performed at the 1991 American Music Awards which helped it reach number one in the United States.
Her fourth single "I Don't Wanna Cry", reached the top of the Hot 100 without any immediate promotion.
As promotion for the album ended, Sony released a fifth single "There's Got to Be a Way", in the United Kingdom.