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Emotions: Mariah’s 21st 100 Million Stream Song

Mariah Carey Emotions cover

It’s truly incredible to witness our favorite artist’s song, “Emotions,” released back in 1991 during the soundscan era, achieve the remarkable milestone of 100 million streams on Spotify. This achievement stands as a testament to its enduring appeal and longevity over the years.

The Making of “Emotions”

After the commercial success of her debut album, Mariah Carey wasted no time and quickly entered the studio to work on her second album, which would later be titled “Emotions,” just like its first promotional single. During the writing process for the album, Carey faced a falling out with Ben Margulies, with whom she had co-written seven out of eleven songs on her debut album. Together, they had crafted a demo tape that caught the attention of Tommy Mottola, leading to her signing with Columbia Records.

However, a prior contract Carey had signed before joining the label had an unfavorable clause, obliging her to split not only the songwriting royalties but also half of her earnings with Margulies. She confesses in her Memoir she hadn’t considered this when they were writing songs in her father’s basement. Sony officials clarified that he would only be compensated according to standard co-writer rates. This led to a legal battle, during which Margulies filed a lawsuit against Sony, seeking additional benefits and the right to continue working with Carey.

After nearly a year, the judge ruled that Margulies would receive ten percent of Carey’s direct earnings from her record sales and no longer be entitled to work with the songstress. Now that this was settled, Mariah could commence her writing and collaborating with legends such as Walter Afanasieff, Robert Clivillés and David Cole.

How Emotions Captured the Limelight

Emotions” serves as a standout track from Mariah Carey’s second studio album, also titled “Emotions,” released in 1991. Carey co-wrote and co-produced the song alongside Robert Clivillés and David Cole of C+C Music Factory, under Columbia Records. The song, released as the album’s lead single on August 13, 1991, showcased Carey’s remarkable vocal agility. She displayed her impressive four-octave and four-semitone vocal range on the track, spanning from C3 to E7. The highest notes showcased in those final whistles that many of us try to emulate in the shower, albeit without much success, became the song’s trademark.

Interestingly, “You’re so Cold” had initially been chosen as the lead single, but once “Emotions” was completed, the decision was swiftly changed. The song’s composition samples “Best of My Love” by The Emotions, although this wasn’t officially credited on the album due to a later out-of-court settlement.

“Emotions” quickly climbed the Billboard charts, reaching the number one spot on October 12, 1991, where it held its position for three weeks. This achievement marked Carey’s remarkable fifth consecutive number one single, making her the sole artist to accomplish this feat to date.

The physical promotional single offered a choice of B-sides, including “Vanishing,” “Vision of Love,” or “There’s Got to Be a Way 12″ mix,” while the EP featured multiple remixes by Cole and Clivillés, as well as Carey’s own re-recordings.

Internationally, “Emotions” stood out as Carey’s most successful single since “Vision of Love” (1990), her debut album’s lead single. It reached the pinnacle of the charts in Canada, securing her third number one in the country. Additionally, the song achieved top-five positions in Greece and New Zealand, while also marking Carey’s first single to enter the top 20 in the United Kingdom since her debut. Although it achieved modest success in Australia, just missing the top ten, its impact in Europe remained limited.

The single earned platinum certification from the RIAA in the United States, with its continued streaming success likely to propel it to double platinum status in the near future.

The Video

The music video for the single “Emotions,” skillfully directed by Jeff Preiss, presents a captivating visual narrative that showcases Mariah Carey and her friends in a joyous house gathering, exuding a vibrant and carefree atmosphere. The video seamlessly alternates between these lively scenes and powerful moments where Mariah is seen passionately belting out the song from the back seat of a convertible, adding a dynamic element to the storytelling.

The creative use of desaturation enhances the video’s visual aesthetics, allowing different color tints to gracefully emerge and change, transitioning from warm browns to intense reds and serene blues, effectively complementing the emotional undertones of the song.

As of the time of writing this article, the “Emotions” music video has garnered an impressive 57 million views on YouTube, captivating viewers from all corners of the globe – check our Youtube stats page for more current numbers.

Awards and Accolades

“Emotions” earned a well-deserved nomination for the prestigious 1992 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. Although Mariah Carey’s powerful rendition garnered immense praise, the award ultimately went to Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About.”

Undeterred, Carey showcased her vocal prowess by delivering a captivating live performance of “Emotions” at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, leaving the audience in awe. Following this show-stopping appearance, she further enchanted viewers with another memorable rendition on The Arsenio Hall Show, aired on September 23, 1991.

Throughout her illustrious career, Mariah Carey has consistently featured “Emotions” as a cherished part of her concert repertoire. It was included in the infamous MTV Unplugged: this intimate and acoustic performance showcased her extraordinary live abilities, effectively silencing any doubts or misconceptions about her vocal prowess being a studio creation.

The song was the exhilarating opening number for various tours, including the Music Box Tour in 1993, Daydream World Tour in 1996, Butterfly World Tour in 1998, and Rainbow World Tour in 2000. Notably, during the Rainbow World Tour, Carey chose to omit the second verse from her performance of the song. After almost a decade, she delighted fans by reviving “Emotions” during her Angels Advocate Tour in 2009–2010, marking the first live rendition of the song in nearly ten years since the Rainbow World Tour.

The 12″ Club Mix of “Emotions” left a lasting impact, even transcending into modern times. It was notably sampled in Drake’s 2018 track “Emotionless,” which quickly achieved tremendous success and reached almost 200 million streams.

Despite celebrating its 32nd anniversary, “Emotions” still garners an impressive average of 40 thousand daily streams on Spotify alone. Surprisingly, the single was only certified Platinum fin the USA in 2019 – and now with a worldwide count of 860,000 physical sales, 400,000 digital sales, 100 million streams on Spotify alone and 57 million views on YouTube, it’s definitely en route to further eligibility.

Its infectious upbeat tempo and iconic 11-second whistle arpeggios have made it an enduring favorite among Mariah Carey’s fans, who continue to sing along with passion, raising one finger to their ear and another to the sky. As a timeless classic in Mariah’s repertoire, “Emotions” remains a testament to her vocal mastery and enduring appeal, captivating audiences for generations to come.

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