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When it comes to 90’s House music and the epic Diva remixes that became a trend, Mariah Carey was ahead of the curve. Say what you will about Mariah’s music, but in this instance she was a true innovator. The general rule with club mixes of popular songs by superstar Female artists was that they had no real involvement in the process… enter Mariah. She remains one of the only Divas – which include Whitney, Deborah Cox, and Toni Braxton – to re-record her vocals nearly every time to fill up almost the entire remix with vocals, runs and ad-libs. Mariah starting this process back in 1993 with David Morales’ “Dreamlover”, and still the other Divas didn’t put in the work she did, showing that Mariah had a true appreciation for the Club mix and the Club crowd. And they appreciated her, rewarding her with 16 #1 singles on the Billboard Dance/Club Play charts.
Being a House head myself, here are my personal 10 favorite Mariah club stompers!
10. “I Still Believe” (Morales Classic Club Mix)
This is a relatively simple David Morales remix when compared to the huge and wonderfully layered Club remixes we had come to expect fro the pair. It’s kind of a basic House beat, with the traditional cymbals and other effects. Carey’s vocals here are also a little understated, but it makes for a truly “Classic” sound in a time when the House scene was changing. It was a nice slice of nostalgia which was perfect for this Brenda K. Starr remake.
9. “Say Somethin” (Stereo Anthem Mix)
This has such a dark underground vibe, it’s almost like a dub remix of yore. Even Mariah’s vocal performance is a little dark to match the Morales production. Still, it works perfectly and is a total revamp of the Neptunes produced track. She fills out the song like usual, and has the background girls helping out with some addictive harmonies. Great stuff.
8. “Can’t Take That Away” (Morales Revival Triumphant Mix)
This is really nothing more than Mariah vibing to the lush Morales track. There’s not so much in melody or verses in the traditional house remix sense (that can be found on the Morales Club mix from the same EP). She sort of talks through it, emphasizing the message of the song. It all feels great though, the production is phenomenal and the seemingly impromptu harmonizing with the background singers results in some stunning and inspirational licks. This remix gives a totally different feel to the same message conveyed on the original ballad.
7. “It’s Like That” (David Morales Club Mix)
“The Return of the Voice”, the tag line associated with the “Mimi” era, also meant the return of the re-recorded vocals. It had been over 5 years since Mariah hit the studio to fill out a thumping house track, us House heads got the feeling that idea had ended. But when this was released, it was worth the wait. Morales provides such a fun and funky remix, that was a new sound but also familiar and reminiscent to the glory days of 90’s House. The verses do seem a little out of pace for me, but it’s all worth it when we get to Mariah and her background vocalists riffing over the track.
6. “Honey” (Classic Mix)
“I need it need it need it”. This David Morales remix is a gem simply because it doesn’t try too hard, but is still effective in making listeners want to get up and dance to the very funky grooves. What sends the remix over the edge are the adlibs that Mariah adds that completely fill up the track from start to finish.
5. “Always Be My Baby” (David Morales Always Club Mix)
This is a bit of a rarity. If you can find it though, it’s worth every single second. Like “Mariah’s Theme”, Carey doesn’t necessarily follow any specific melody, she just riffs the lyrics lightly as to not take away from the funkiness of Morales’ production. Not much else to say, it’s just an excellent production that I wish I had my hands on the entire time it was available.
4. “Dreamlover” (Def Club Mix)
To my knowledge, this is the very first time Mariah re-recorded a song for the club crowd. And for a first timer (although she did experiment with House on her 1991 “Emotions” album with Clivilles and Cole), she did a bang up job of complimenting the track. Somehow her vocals make the lyrical content slightly darker, while still providing power notes. Truth be told, David Morales and his production are the star. The infectious opening, the percussions, just everything about his track makes this a true gem of a club mix.
3. “Anytime You Need a Friend” (C&C Club Version)
Mariah and her friends Clivilles and Cole got together and slayed the House crowds with this Classic remix. This is the first time I personally knew that Mariah was ahead of the pack in the club world. At 14 I wasn’t in the clubs or even buying maxi-singles, but when she released video for this remix, I fell in love. The full remix is just epic, and when Mariah truly fell into this whole club scene vocally. She has a beautifully harmonized intro, she scats, she just brings a new life to this inspirational song. And it’s now a true classic. (I’m going to post the edited Video version, just because! And an additional note, this was the very first time I felt like I was seeing the real Mariah in a video. Another reason why I absolutely loved this remix)
2. “Heartbreaker/ If You Should Ever Be Lonely” (Junior’s Club Mix)
Mariah and David Morales had an undeniable streak with their flawless club mixes, and obviously had amazing chemistry. So when it was announced that Junior Vasquez was remixing “Heartbreaker” I was surprised, and intrigued. This remix is truly innovative and unique. Not only is the House beat, which is very dark and intense, truly KILLER. But the hook is when the song gets slowed down slightly and turns into her take on an 80’s club track “If You Should Ever Be Lonely” by Val Young. It’s a groundbreaking and very surprising turn that works to great effect. It’s one of those layered club mixes with so much thought and work put into it that you have to appreciate it while dancing your ass off.
1. “Fantasy” (Def Club Mix)
What else can you say about Morales’ “Fantasy” remix, besides it’s a Masterpiece of House music. This remix is proof that Club remixers have true talent and skills and don’t just randomly up the tempo of the song to appease the Clubs. Morales put in serious work and professional technique with this, which is basically a trilogy of remixes. It starts out with an alert of sirens and heavy percussion, it thumps and pounds appropriately. The track slows down for a second to revert back to the Tom Tom Club track that the original song borrows heavily from, then it turns back up and on a truly heart-pumping, floor-stomping note. The songs ends on a sweet note, mellowing out with Mariah ad-libbing softly. This is perfect for not only the dance floor, but doing cardio in the gym or cleaning up, or just anytime you need to dance. Classic!