By the end of 1990, Mariah Carey had already collected two #1 hits with two ballads. It was time to switch up the tempo, so Columbia Records decided to release “Someday” as the 3rd single from her eponymous debut album.
“Someday” was one of the four tracks Mariah and Ben Margulies had recorded prior to the record deal and it was on that legendary demo tape that got her signed as soon as Tommy Mottola played it. Margulies recalled the initial stages of the song’s conception, saying that “[it] started out as a bass line, sort of a drum-machine, almost hip-hop type groove” and later evolved into the New Jack Swing-influenced track we all know.
During the recording of Mariah’s debut album, Sony brought in Ric Wake to make some alterations to the track. Wake reportedly replaced some of the horn melodies with electric guitars, but the essence of the song remained the same. “Someday” has a funky spirit, it has a great bassline and the melodies are very catchy. Mariah’s lyrics showed a different side of her, they portrayed the image of a girl who’s in control of her feelings and is telling off the boyfriend who rejected her, which clashed with the “scorned lover” perception that her ballads may give. Not to mention her vocals have a very gritty attitude to them that tops off with the acapella whistles at the very end.
While Ben Margulies was happy with the final version of the song, Mariah didn’t like it. She has stated that she hates the way it was produced and that since she was not allowed to co-produce on her first record, she just had to accept it. She has performed the song very few times, starting with the 1991 AMAs, her iconic MTV Unplugged show in 1992 and the Thanksgiving Special for NBC in 1993, followed by performances on her Music Box Tour.
“Someday,” however, was a hit single. Not only did it give Mariah her 3rd consecutive #1 Hot 100 hit, but it was the biggest airplay hit from the debut album, spending 10 weeks at #1 on Hot 100 Airplay and topping the CHR/Top 40 chart. The CD Single was also certified Gold by the RIAA for shipments of 500,000 copies to retailers, making it one of the biggest hits of 1991 overall.
The music video uses the “new 7″ jackswing” remix of the song, produced by Shep Pettibone and features a little girl, resembling Mariah herself, who was treated badly by a boy who now wants her back. It was filmed at Bayonne High School in New Jersey and was directed by Larry Jordan. Mariah’s not particularly fond of her look in the music video either, even if it was very casual and simple.
Despite her refusal to perform it for over two decades, Mariah included “Someday” in the setlist for her #1 to Infinity residency in Vegas. She incorporates elements of TLC’s “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” into it as an hommage to the New Jack Swing era of the early 90s and is joined on stage by a group of kids dancing during the instrumental break with the guitar solo. And Mariah has also stated that performing some of her early hits has made her appreciate them some more so, who knows, maybe she will finally grow to like it… someday.