First Hit #1: May 4, 1996
Always Be My Baby is a song that is a few lyrical tweaks from being kind of touching and sweet, but as is it’s kind of creepy. See, the problem is that it’s about an estranged lover, and there are lines like “you can’t escape me”, which kind of make it, well, a bit stalker-esque. She isn’t letting this man go quietly into the good night, or at least she’s kind of being openly hostile about the prospect of him going away. Oh yes, you know better than to leave the Mariah Carey vocal army, you will return. And then, going by her previous singles, she’ll probably spurn you. It’s like a story in reverse chronology.
The thing is, with the upbeat sound and the title, even some of the lyrics, it reminds me of parents having difficulty letting go of their kids. I understand why Carey and her collaborators didn’t make that song – it definitely wouldn’t have been something Carey was familiar with, given that she was many years from having kids of her own. Jermaine Dupri also didn’t have kids at the time. But, given that the song started with the title and the melody, with the rest of the lyrics coming afterwards – at least according to what I’ve read – I keep wondering if it was a missed opportunity. But then, it was hugely successful, and the bright pop sound does have a neat contrast with the slightly malevolent lyrics that were recorded, so maybe it’s for the best that we got the song we did.