More of Mariah Carey.
During early 1993, Carey began working on her third studio album, Music Box. After Emotions failed to achieve the commercial heights of her debut album, Carey and Columbia came to the agreement that the next album would contain a more pop influenced sound, in order to appeal to a wider audience. During Carey’s writing sessions, she began working mostly with Afanasieff, with whom she co-wrote and produced most of Music Box. On August 31, Music Box was released around the world, debuting at number-one on the Billboard 200. The album was met with mixed reception from music critics; while many praised the album’s pop influence and strong content, others felt that Carey made less usage of her acclaimed vocal range. Ron Wynn from AllMusic described Carey’s different form of singing on the album: “It was wise for Carey to display other elements of her approach, but sometimes excessive spirit is preferable to an absence of passion.” The album’s second single, “Hero”, would eventually come to be one of Carey’s most popular and inspirational songs of her career. The song became Carey’s eighth chart topper in the United States, and began expanding Carey’s popularity throughout Europe. With the release of the album’s third single, Carey achieved several career milestones. Her cover of Badfinger’s “Without You” became her first number one single in Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Music Box spent prolonged periods at number one on the album charts of several countries, and eventually became one of the best-selling albums of all time, with worldwide sales of over 32 million copies. After declining to tour for her past two albums, Carey agreed to embark on a short stateside string of concerts, titled the Music Box Tour. Spanning only six dates across North America, the short but successful tour was a large step for Carey, who dreaded the hassle of touring. Following Music Box, Carey took a relatively large period of time away from the public eye, and began working on an unknown project throughout 1994. In October 1994, Billboard announced that Carey would release a holiday album later that year. That 1994, Carey recorded a duet with Luther Vandross; a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’s “Endless Love”. Carey’s album Merry Christmas was released on November 1, 1994, on the same day that the album’s first single, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, was released. The album eventually became the best-selling Christmas album of all time, with global sales reaching over 15 million copies. Additionally, “All I Want for Christmas Is You” was critically lauded, and is considered “one of the few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon.” Rolling Stone described it as a “holiday standard”, and ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list. Commercially, it became the best-selling holiday ringtone of all time, and the best-selling single by a non-Asian artist in Japan, selling over 2.1 million units (both ringtone and digital download). By the end of the holiday season of 1994, Carey and Afanasieff had already begun writing material for her next studio album, which would be released late the following year.
Released on October 3, 1995, Daydream combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip hop influences. The album’s second single, “One Sweet Day” was inspired by the death of David Cole, as well as her sister Alison, who had contracted AIDS. The song remained atop the Hot 100 for a record-holding 16 weeks, and became the longest-running number-one song in history. Daydream became her biggest-selling album in the United States, and became her second album to be certified Diamond by the RIAA, following Music Box. The album again was the best-seller by an international artist in Japan, shipping over 2.2 million copies, and eventually reaching global sales of over 25 million units. Critically, the album was heralded as Carey’s best to date; The New York Times named it one of 1995’s best albums, and wrote, “best cuts bring R&B candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement […] Carey’s songwriting has taken a leap forward and become more relaxed, sexier and less reliant on thudding clichés.” Carey once again opted to embark on a short world tour titled Daydream World Tour. It had seven dates, three in Japan and four throughout Europe. When tickets went on sale, Carey set records when all 150,000 tickets for her three shows at Japan’s largest stadium, Tokyo Dome, sold out in under three hours, breaking the previous record held by The Rolling Stones. Due to the album’s success, Carey won two awards at the American Music Awards for her solo efforts: Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist. Daydream and its singles were respectively nominated in six categories at the 38th Grammy Awards. Carey, along with Boyz II Men, opened the event with a performance of “One Sweet Day”. However, Carey did not receive any award, prompting her to comment “What can you do? I will never be disappointed again. After I sat through the whole show and didn’t win once, I can handle anything.” In 1995, due to Daydream ’s enormous Japanese sales, Billboard declared Carey the “Overseas Artist of the Year” in Japan.