Single Review: Mariah Carey “We Belong Together”

We Belong Together
Album: The Emanicipation of Mimi
Year: 2005

Mariah Carey chides herself for taken her ex-boyfriend for granted in the self-aware, confessional ballad “We Belong Together.”

The single begins slyly with a piano playing part of the chorus. However, as Carey adlibs some “oohs,” handclaps and bass are added into the background, creating a softened tone. Mariah Carey apologizes for telling her ex-boyfriend that she didn’t care for him. She thinks if she gave him a hug after their fight, he would’ve stayed. She blames herself for being immature and thinking he would always be there. Now, she’s single and alone. (“I didn’t mean it/When I said I didn’t love you so/I should have held on tight/I never should’ve let you go/I didn’t know nothing/I was stupid/I was foolish/I was lying to myself/I could not fathom that I would ever/Be without your love/Never imagined I’d be/Sitting here beside myself’). The sample for Bobby Womack’s “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” can be heard in this section and looped mostly throughout the single.

She didn’t take the time to get to know him or herself while they went out together. She was naive, thinking she was beyond the self-discovery period of her life. But now she’s feeling hollow. (“‘Cause I didn’t know you/’Cause I didn’t know me/But I thought I knew everything/I never felt”).

In the pre-chorus, she misses the sound of his voice, his hand on her shoulders, and the smoothness of lips on her mouth. But that’s the way it is and she has to live with only the memories now. She would give up anything to have him cuddling next to her at that very moment. (“The feeling that I’m feeling now/Now that I don’t/Hear your voice/Or have your touch and kiss your lips/Cause I don’t have a choice/Oh, what I wouldn’t give/To have you lying by my side/Right here, ’cause baby”).

He meant a lot to her which she realizes. It’s like she’s missing some secret part of her that no one knew but him. The breakup is still sinking in. She pleads for him to give her a call or show up at her door. They were great together and were meant to be. She wonders who she will turn to talk about her problems or talk about nothing and everything until the early morning. She’s not interested in anyone else and no one can take his place. (“When you left/I lost a part of me/It’s still so hard to believe/Come back baby please/We belong together/Who else am I gonna lean on/When times get rough/Who’s gonna talk to me on the phone/Till the sun comes up/Who’s gonna take your place/There ain’t nobody there/We belong together”). The Babyface “Two Occasions” can sample heard.

She’s up all night, unable to sleep. She turns on the radio to the local classic R&B station, only to be mocked by the songs. The one song, specifically is the Womack sample. The song is detailing exactly what she’s going through and she wants to avoid it. She switches to another R&B station and hears a snippet of Babyface’s “Two Occasions.” She bursts into tears. (“I can’t sleep at night/When you are on my mind/Bobby Womack’s on the radio/Singing to me/’If you think you’re lonely now’/Wait a minute/This is too deep, too deep/I gotta change the station/So I turn the dial/Trying to catch a break/And then I hear Babyface/”I only think of you”/And it’s breaking my heart/I’m trying to keep it together/But I’m falling apart”).

Babyface’s “Two Occasions” is sped up as Carey semi-raps the lyrics. She’s thrown out of sorts. Pieces of broken objects are around her as she weeps. She’s confused and can’t think how she let herself become self-absorbed while she was dating him. She points that the hurt is she’s conveying in the single doesn’t even come close to what she’s truly feeling. She doesn’t know what to do without him in her life. (“I’m feeling all out of my element/I’m throwing things/Crying/Trying to figure out/Where the hell I went wrong/The pain reflected in this song/Ain’t even half of what/I’m feeling inside/I need you/Need you back in my life baby”).

The section above is the standout moment in the single. Instead of going for the cliched caterwauling which is expected to happen, she picks up the pace and injects some aggravation into her voice.

Carey, however, saves the melismas for the end. And really, what would a Mariah song be without the booming choruses sung with exaggerated emphasis on the single’s title?

Carey’s casual delivery of the lyrics are like a late-night conversation after an evening of some drinks, deconstructing every last action leading up to the break-up. Mariah’s officially back with material which flatters her voice.


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