On Mariah Carey's "Save The Day" with Ms. Lauryn Hill
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
On August 21, 2020, The Queen Mariah Carey delivered a motivational track entitled "Save The Day". It is the first single to be released from her newest compilation album, The Rarities which is due to be released on October 2nd.
The track is a mid-tempo pop/R&B- influenced ballad, which samples the Fugees 1996 hit, "Killing Me Softly’ and features background vocals from the talented Lauryn Hill. I had high expectations for this song because it was produced by Jermaine Dupri. He and Mariah have a long history of hit-making, so I'm always thrilled to know when they are collaborating on new projects, having produced smashes like, "We Belong Together" "Always Be My Baby," and "It's Like That." Jermaine and Mariah are a powerful duo. Period.
That said, I was initially underwhelmed after hearing the song for the first time, but I grew to like it after multiple replays. Like. Not love. Please don't drag and cancel me, lol! Mariah's voice sounds clear, strong, and confident but 'Save The Day' simply was not what I was expecting. Prior to its release, I was high on the Underneath The Stars EP. The 'Drifting Remix' is my favorite and was the #1 pick for my upcoming Summer 2020 playlist that I am building to share with the lambs on my Apple Music profile which currently includes my playlist of the entire #MC30 collection and a 'Save The Day' streaming playlist for my iPhone family who wants to support the queen in this streaming era. Stay tuned for that!
Moving on... I figured that my taste for a more sultry R&B-Riah moment is maybe what swayed my opinion of this song. So, I checked myself and started to appreciate it for what it is and not what I wanted it to be. Mariah does not always give us what we want. Sometimes, she gives us what we need.
Once I changed my mindset, I listened to the song 100-times exactly, according to the play counter on my phone. (Calm down stream-police, I also streamed on YouTube and from Apple Music on my Mac, so the official count is higher than that). Disclaimer aside, I began to compare the song to some of my personal favorites from Motivational-Riah, 'Make It Happen' and 'Hero', and soon realized that 'Save The Day' is missing something... What is it?
Consider these lyrics from "Make It Happen"
"Without a penny to my name
So very young and so afraid
No proper shoes upon my feet
Sometimes I couldn't even eat
I often cried myself to sleep
But still I had to keep on going"
I feel these lyrics every single time. I feel the struggle and even hear it in her voice as she sings it. Mariah let's us in on a personal moment here and tells a story that a lot of people can relate to, especially now amid the current COVID-19 climate. I can listen to 'Make It Happen' on a loop and it never gets old. The beat is infectious, there is a real story being told there, and there's a gospel tone in the lyrics that hits home every time. I stan this song! 'Save the Day' on the other hand, feels watered down, slightly confused, and politically correct.
Consider the first few lines of 'Save The Day'
We're all in this together
You're my only hope
And it's too divided, too deep to understand
But if we don't do it, tell me, who will?
The first line is a statement that everyone has been overusing lately in 2020 but I was able to ignore that because... Well, Mariah said it and when the queen speaks, I listen. The second line feels a tad melodramatic and then she goes on to the main message which I will summarize as a call to action for us to set aside our differences which are often influenced by a painful history that goes deeper than most of us can even begin to unpack (i.e. racism, sexism, and all the isms that continue to pollute the world with hate and intolerance), and stand together in a sense, to fight the good fight for the good of humanity. Yay! Such a cute moment! It's a message I can get on board with, of course, but the issue is the delivery.
Peep the chorus.
"If he won't, and she won't, and they won't, then we won't
We won't ever learn to save the day, woah, oh
If he won't, and she won't, and they won't, then we won't
We won't ever learn to save the day."
Here's the thing, I actually like what she did here lyrically. She's basically saying that if we are all looking for someone else to step up, then the capacity to make a change becomes stagnate. When I hear this part of the song, I imagine a bunch of stubborn people standing in a circle pointing the finger at each other instead of actually working together to solve the problem. The chorus captures this energy perfectly.
What’s off about it for me, is the piano. If you just listen to it by itself around 1:20 and play it up to 2:20, the melody sounds like it was written for a family-friendly sitcom. It kinda sounds cheesy...There is no soul, no heartbeat, no gospel. I'm not shading "In the Mix" because it was an appropriate song for the purpose it was meant to serve but I'm just saying... That's what it reminded me of. Personally, it's kinda hard to listen to more than once without wincing just a little bit.
The piano melody doesn’t quite blend well with the Hip-Hop/soulful sounding Fugees sample, at least for me. Even the transition from the intro into the sample was a bit stark. It was like one song stops and another one abruptly chimed in. Add to the fact that Lauryn's vocals are on a loop in the background and we have an interesting piece that feels a bit unsure of itself. It’s missing a sense of cohesiveness. Listen to the instrumental below and pay attention to just the piano. Tell me what you think in the comments.
I think the new melody would have served the song better with a more traditional R&B sound. Blending the two that way would have possibly made the song sound more cohesive. Right now, it just sounds like two different songs. When you compare it to something like "Hero," which was more of a traditional ballad that more or less served a similar motivational anthem-like purpose, it’s just not on the same level in terms of quality of production and instrumentation.
The song just felt a little incomplete, which is fair considering it was a previously unreleased track. I can understand why some lambs didn't care for the song as much. Mariah simply has better attempts with this style of music. However, when I stopped trying to make the song be "Make it Happen" and "Hero," I appreciated the bop quality that the Fugee sample provided, Mariah's angelic vocals, and the message of the song. For me, it was cute, but not a favorite. I will continue to support the song because Mariah seems to love it and as a loyal lamb, I want every song Mariah releases to reach its full potential.
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Also, please check out my book, Manstress Diaries which includes plenty of Mariah-inspired moments that only the Lambily could truly appreciate, including chapters: "Stay the Night" and "Don't Forget About Us." See my previous post for more information about me, this blog, my book and also peep the complete list of chapters to whet your appetite, or check out the product page. Thanks for reading! More song reviews to come soon!
In short, the story follows a young and unstable therapist named Khai Allen, who has a bit of an anxiety problem and some serious daddy issues. He falls for a married man named Terrence, who is battling a Xanax addiction. Things go to shit when Khai realizes Terrence will never leave his husband and Khai and resorts to some drastic measures to keep their toxic affair alive. Sex, dangerous lies, heartbreak, and untimely deaths... I think you're going to love it. It may or may not be closely related to my own experiences, but I'll leave that for your wild imaginations. You can purchase signed copies HERE or bleak unsigned copies on barnesandnoble.com.
For the #Lambily only, I am offering 5% off when you purchase a signed copy of Manstress Diaries. Simply use the code: #MC30 when you're checking out to receive the discount! Check out the full list of Chapters and comment which titles stand out to you!
Stream "Underneath The Stars" and "Save The Day" for clear skin!