Underneath the Stars is the last single from Mariah Carey's fifth studio album "Daydream."
The single was released on April 5, 1996. The song was written & produced by Mariah and Walter Afansieff.
The song (which has been considered by Mariah as one of her personal favorites) features a soft melody and retro-style melody & had music critics drawing comparisons to earlier works from one of her vocal inspirations, Minnie Riperton.
The song received a limited number of pressings in the United States & 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 the "Daydream" album by music reviewers.
A music video was shot for "Underneath the Stars" in Europe, but the video remains unreleased.
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."
Song Background[edit | edit source]
Before Mariah knew or began searching for the direction she wanted the album to follow, she 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.
As such, it became the first song Mariah wrote and recorded for the album & 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.
"Underneath the Stars" was the first song that Mariah recorded for the album.
Song Composition[edit | edit source]
"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.
The song also incorporates Mariah's usage of double voice in which she sings the verses in a lower octave and then sings the crescendo & climax in a higher register over it.
Mariah felt the additions were simple steps taken to further display a contemporary R&B groove & pay homage to the style of Minnie Riperton, who was one of her biggest vocal influences growing up.
According to author Chris Nickson, the song has a soft sound and "a lot of texture" and bass, showing a more creative side to Mariah.
While reviewing the album, 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."
Music Video[edit | edit source]
On February 11, 2012, Mariah revealed through her Twitter account that a music video for the song was actually recorded.
The filming sessions occurred in the Netherlands, England and France. However, Mariah commented that it "never got released & I don't know where it is!"
On November 13th, 2020, Mariah finally released the all awaited rarity in commemoration of MC30 and finally finding in in her “vault!” The music video included never before seen Daydream Tour footage and an overview of her frolicking in a grassy area; Mariah captioned on her Twitter: “The long lost video for Underneath The Stars is finally here! It's one of my favorite songs from the Daydream album and somehow never got released. I'm so happy to have found it for #MC30!”
Critical Reception[edit | edit source]
Even "Underneath the Stars" wasn't commercially released, it has received widespread acclaim, becoming one of the album's best-received tracks with music critics complementing the song's instrumentation & vocals.
Rolling Stone stated that "Atnasieff cowrote his one of strongest tunes yet, the sweet, bouncy 'Underneath the Stars."
Chris Nickson (the author of "Mariah Carey Revisited: Her Story") 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."
Chris Dickinson from St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the song one of Mariah's best compositions, and wrote "it easily evokes a languid dreamy sensuality with its throbbing bass-line and synthetic record scratches."
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."
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.
Controversy[edit | edit source]
In 1998, Mariah was compiling songs for her first compilation album "Number 1's."
The album (alongside the songs "Underneath the Stars" and "Breakdown") led to a publicized conflict with Columbia Records.
Mariah 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 songs.
On the other hand, Sony wanted to release an album that featured her US number one singles, void of any new material.
To accompany her thirteen number ones, she recorded four new songs. Mariah felt that not including any new material would result in cheating her fans.
While compromised, Mariah often expressed distaste towards the album's song selection, expressing her disappointment in the omission of her "favorite songs."
For this reason, Sony titled the album #1's as Mariah's felt the need to express the album's true content, a collection of her number one hits.
In December of 2001, Columbia released the album "Greatest Hits" which featured Mariah's number one singles alongside songs she said "needed to be really heard" such as "Underneath the Stars" and "Forever."
In an interview with MTV, Mariah 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."
Live Performances[edit | edit source]
Due to its limited release and chart performance, "Underneath the Stars" was only performed during Mariah's Daydream World Tour.
During the shows in Japan, she featured the song as the tenth track on the set-list.
Appearing on stage wearing a long black evening gown, Mariah discussed the song's composition and development with the audience, prior to its recital.
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."
The song has recently been performed in 2012 in Mariah's performances in Austria in April and Morocco in May.