First Hit #1: December 25, 1993
We cap off 1993 with Mariah Carey again channeling Disney, and getting another hit out of it. Hero is one of those mildly inspirational songs that seems perfect for a children’s film, maybe the video would have clips from the film, featuring the hero doing some derring do and being generally appealing. It’s not an especially adventurous song, but it’s something that fits within the themes of a Disney film. It’s all about believing in yourself and achieving your goals, and the fact that the hero is an entirely internal force is one of those things that makes complete sense for the kind of film that teaches kids to work hard and believe in themselves. It’s not especially daring, but it’s something people like to hear, and people like to be inspired.
Carey can do inspirational. She’s actually surprisingly subdued here – no trips into the whistle register, relatively simple performance – but then again that works for the song, since it feels actually kind of attainable. It’s a rare Carey song where she’s not trying to push her range and show off, and as a result it’s a rare Carey song that can be sung by other people. Which isn’t to say her voice isn’t powerful or an important component of the whole thing, but that it’s a song that feels attainable. That fits the themes, it’s all about self actualization, and going too far out to the edges would undermine the themes. She’s not the first artist to make a song about how the listener is a special person who can achieve their desires – it’s a pop subcategory at this point – but she’s understood how to do it, by keeping it within reach for the audience.