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"Anytime You Need a Friend" is a song by American singer and songwriter Mariah Carey. The song was written and produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff, for her third studio album, Music Box (1993). It was released on May 31, 1994 through Columbia Records, as the fifth and final single from the album. The song is influenced by pop, R&B and gospel music genres. While the album focused heavily on pop oriented and radio friendly material, "Anytime You Need a Friend" deviated from the formula, finishing as the only gospel-infused song on Music Box. Lyrically, the song's protagonist tells her love interest that anytime he may need a friend, she will be there unconditionally for him. Throughout the song's bridge and climax, critics noted the lyrics altering from those of a friend, to those of a lover.

"Anytime You Need a Friend"
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Music Box
B-side"Dreamlover" "Do You Think of Me" "Music Box"
ReleasedMay 31, 1994 (1994-05-31)
  • Mariah Carey
  • Walter Afanasieff
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Without You" / "Never Forget You"
"Anytime You Need a Friend"
"Endless Love"

The song was well received by contemporary music critics, many of whom praised Carey's large spanning vocal range, as well as its gospel influence that they felt was missing on most of Music Box. Aside from its critical acceptance, the song achieved strong worldwide chart positions and peaked at number twelve on the US Billboard Hot 100, but became her first single to miss out the top-ten. Additionally, it peaked at number five in Canada and topped the singles charts in Finland. The song attained a top-twenty peak position in Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Carey performed "Anytime You Need a Friend" live on several televised talk and award shows around the world, including the Late Show with David Letterman, the British music chart program Top of the Pops and German entertainment show Wetten, dass..?. Additionally, the song served as a closing number on Carey's Music Box and Daydream World Tours, and was featured on her compilation albums, Greatest Hits (2001) and The Ballads (2008). Although several remixes were commissioned for the song, the C+C remix became the most notable, being produced by C+C Music Factory's David Cole and Robert Clivillés, and the first of Carey's remixes to feature her on production credits.

The song's music video was filmed by Danielle Federici, in New York during the summer of 1994. The video was filmed in black-and-white fashion, and features Carey's first image makeover, where she appears with a straightened hairstyle for the first time in her career. Additionally, the music video showcases scenes of Carey singing by a large church choir in a foyer, as well as several people, ranging from a small child to an elderly man, who are alone and depressed. As the video progresses, the child and man are befriended after brief interludes and prayers to God. The song's C+C remix also features its own music video, displaying behind the scenes footage of Carey and her staff enjoying themselves during the original video's filming.

Background and recordingEdit

For her third studio effort, Columbia Records decided to market Carey in a similar fashion to that of her debut, only having her produce a more commercial and radio-friendly album. Their plans were to tone down Carey's vocals, and soften the album's production, leaving a more contemporary pop record.[1] Agreeing to the change, Carey and Afanasieff began writing and recording material for her third studio effort, Music Box (1993). On the album's first track "Dreamlover", Carey worked with Dave Hall throughout the song's entire production.[2][3] In order to help with some of the song's arrangements, Mottola enrolled the help of Walter Afanasieff, who took on the completed track and transformed it into a more commercial hit.[3] Music Box received mixed critical response from contemporary critics, who suggested that in lowering Carey's vocal bombast, her energy level decreased and felt the album had an "absence of passion."[4][5] The only song that was not subject to the common criticism was "Anytime You Need a Friend," which some called the album's only real glimpse of Carey's upper vocal registers, and one of the only passionate and gospel moments on Music Box.[6] In an interview, Carey described that although the album's main goal was to be more commercial and radio-friendly than her previous release, she felt the need to include at least one song that featured a church choir and traces of the music that influenced her growing up as a child.[6]


"Anytime You Need a Friend" is a mid-tempo song which draws influence from pop, R&B and gospel musical genres. According to the sheet music published at by EMI Music Publishing, the song is written in the key of C major, while the beat is set in the signature of common time, which moves at a moderate pace of 83 beats per minute.[7] It has a sequence of Am/C–Bm7(no5)–E7/G–Am as its chord progression.[7] Carey's vocals in the song span over three octaves, from the low note of an E3 to the high note of a B6.[7] The song was written by Carey and Afanasieff, with production helmed by the pair as well. After the song's bridge, a church choir is introduced and featured throughout its final chorus and climax.[8] Carey's vocals are layered over the background gospel-styled vocals on the final chorus, after which she uses the whistle register to close the song.[8] The song's lyrics describe a relationship the protagonist has with another individual, telling them that anytime they need a friend, she will be there unconditionally.[8]

Throughout the song, the lyrics seemingly show the evolving relationship between the couple.[8] Carey sings Anytime you need a friend / I will be here / You'll never be alone again / So don't you fear / Even if you're miles away / I'm by your side / So don't you ever be lonely / Love will make it alright, which hints at a current friendship where more still uncovered emotions are present.[8] Author Chris Nickson explains on the song's switch in relationship, as the lyrics change to If you just believe in me / I will love you endlessly / Take my hand / Take me into your heart / I'll be there forever baby / I won't let go / I'll never let go.[8] The protagonist is willing to accept the relationship as only a friend, but tells her partner that no matter his feelings for her, she loves him and still wishes to be loved by him, something she will never forget or "let go".[8]

Critical receptionEdit

"Anytime You Need a Friend" was generally well received by contemporary music critics, many of whom praised the song's gospel influence as well as Carey's vocal range. Following the mixed reception to the song's parent album, Music Box, "Anytime You Need a Friend" was deemed a strong contrast to the album's pop influence. Critics agreed that through lowering Carey's vocal bombast, the album suffered due to lowered passion and energy levels. The song however, was considered the only standout from the album, altering heavily from the pop oriented formula of Music Box. J.D. Considine from The Baltimore Sun wrote "Where another singer might have been tempted to turn "Anytime You Need a Friend" into a full-blown sanctified sing-out, Carey and producer Walter Afanasieff use the gospel harmonies on the chorus as contrast for Carey's pop soul vocal."[9] A writer from Portland Press Herald called the song one of Carey's "original classics", and felt it earned a place on her compilation album #1's, even though it did not top the Billboard Hot 100.[10] In an article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a writer commented that Carey's vocal range in the song sounds as if it's from a "glass-shattering dimension" and complimented her incorporation of the gospel genre and church choir into the song's climax.[11] Christopher John Farley from Time described the song as "gospel flavored" and wrote "'Anytime You Need a Friend' demonstrates Carey's vocal power, although too fleetingly."[12] While calling it "undeniably strong", David Browne from Entertainment Weekly gave the song a mixed review, writing "'Anytime You Need a Friend' feature gospel-inflected choirs seemingly intended to demonstrate that Carey has soul — which she doesn't — but they're beautifully arranged, and they serve as a nice counterpoint to Carey's own lapses into show-offy vocal gymnastics."[13] Suraya Attas from The Straits Times described Carey's voice as husky, and felt it "exploited her vocal range to the fullest."[14] In 2003, The Daily Record named "Anytime You Need a Friend" one of the "World's Greatest First Dance Songs."[15] USA Today critic John T. Jones called the song "inspirational", while a writer from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution branded it "the center of the album."[16][17] "Anytime You Need A Friend" won a BMI Pop Award and an ASCAP Pop Music Award for the Songwriter Award in 1995.[18]

Chart performanceEdit

"Anytime You Need a Friend" became the first of Carey's singles to not reach the top-ten on the US Billboard Hot 100. The song debuted at number 45 on the chart and eventually peaked at number 12, remaining in the top-40 for 18 weeks and on the chart for 21.[19] Despite this, it was popular on US radio and was ranked number forty-seven on the 1994 Year-End Charts, giving Carey three singles in the top half of the chart.[20] On the Year-End Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, "Anytime You Need a Friend" finished at number 21 and number 39 on the Hot Dance Music Club Play Singles Year-End Chart.[20] In Canada, the song debuted at number 82 on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart during the week of May 23, 1994.[21] Seven weeks later, the song reached its peak of number five on the singles chart, spending three consecutive weeks at the position and a total of 20 weeks on the chart.[22] On the RPM Year-End Charts, "Anytime You Need a Friend" finished at number 39.[23] On the week dated June 19, 1994 on the Australian Singles Chart, the song entered at number 48. Weeks later, it ascended to its peak position of number 12, where it stayed for one week, and a total of 17 weeks fluctuating inside the singles chart. "Anytime You Need a Friend" was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting shipments of over 35,000 units.[24] On the Dutch Top 40 chart, "Anytime You Need a Friend" reached the number one position on the singles chart.

In France, the single entered the chart at number 43 during the week of October 29, 1994. After spending one week at its peak position of number 12, the song fluctuated inside the singles chart for a total of 16 weeks. In Germany and Ireland, "Anytime You Need a Friend" reached numbers 31 and 16 on their respective singles charts. On the New Zealand Singles Chart dated June 26, 1994, the song entered the chart at number nine. After spending two weeks at its peak position of number five, and a total of 14 weeks in the singles chart, the song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), denoting shipments of over 7,500 units.[25] In Switzerland, "Anytime You Need a Friend" peaked at number 15, however spending 17 weeks fluctuating in the Swiss Singles Chart. On the UK Singles Chart week dated June 18, 1994, the song debuted at number nine.[26] The following week, it reached its peak position of number eight, spending a total of ten weeks in the singles chart. Following a live performance of the song by Eoghan Quigg on the fifth series of the British talent show The X Factor, "Anytime You Need a Friend" re-surged onto the singles chart at number 96 on November 22, 2008.[27] As of 2010, MTV estimates sales of the song in the United Kingdom to be at 100,000 units.[28]


"Anytime You Need a Friend" was remixed by David Cole and Robert Clivillés of C+C Music Factory.[29] Although over fifteen various edits and extended mixes were created, for the most part they are based on the "C+C Club Mix." Other variations, extended mixes, and edits include but are not limited to the "All That and More Mix," "Dave's Empty Pass," and the "Boriqua Tribe Mix".[29] Cory Rooney and Mark Morales created a "Soul Convention Mix" and a stringapella for the song.[29] Because of the large number of remixes, two maxi singles were released in the US Carey was given co-producing credit for both the C&C mixes and the Soul Convention/Stringapella, the first time that she had been given producing credit on remixes of her songs.[29] Gregg Shapiro from the Windy City Times complimented the remix, writing "the presence of each improves on the original. They have something new to say; even with the songs that began as dance tracks."[30] Jose F. Promis gave the C+C remix two and a half out of five stars, writing how the remix found Carey "getting quite gritty and earthy."[29] He concluded his review with "It made for a topnotch dancefloor number, and stands as an excellent example of early- to mid-'90s dance music, not to mention being one of the singer's most compelling, underrated, and forgotten efforts."[29]

Music videosEdit

In the still, Carey is seen singing. Behind her stand the choir, perched on the large stairwell. Critics noted the inclusions of God and religion in the video, during moments such as this when prayer to God is imminent.[31]

The music video, directed by Danielle Federici, was filmed during the early summer of 1994.[6] It was filmed in black-and-white, and features Carey walking along the streets of New York, watching several different people, ranging from a small child to an elderly man, lonely and in need of a friend. Additionally, aside from several scenes of Carey and a large church choir in a large antechamber, the video is known as the first video in which Carey appears with straightened hair.[6] Throughout her career up until that point, Carey had famously sported long, auburn curls. However, the video presented Carey's first image makeover, where she appears with bangs and a long straightened hairstyle.[6] The video begins with scenes of Carey walking down a long New York street, with the addition of close ups of Carey's face. As she stares down the road, she witnesses a small girl, sitting alone in an alley corner, glaring into the sky. As the first chorus begins, Carey enters a large foyer, with a choir dressed in black singing perched atop a large staircase. During the second verse, she similarly witnesses an older man, who is sitting on a withered stoop.

Consecutively, during the song's bridge, Carey watches as the small child's mother carries her to a nearby playground where her friends are frolicking and playing. Similarly, the elderly man is met with some other elderly citizens, who accompany him to another building nearby. During the song's climax, Carey joins the choir, flailing her hands wildly towards the sky, and smiling and gazing into the cloudy morning. Renee Graham from The Boston Globe gave the video two out of four stars. She complimented on the fact that the video captured the song's lyrical essence and how it managed to portray it in a clear and concise way. Although calling it "simple," Graham commented that "Videos have never really been Mariah Carey's thing, and frankly, they've never had to be. Carey has a killer voice, so the last thing she'd want to do is overshadow her singing with a lot of choreography, complicated story lines or explosions."[31] Author Chris Nickson compared several parts of the video to religion and belief in God. During such scenes when Carey appears with the choir, he felt it seemed as though they were both channeling a common entity through music; God. Additionally, he claimed it was more evident with each passing scene of the video, as each of the lonely people in the video gaze up into the skies, possibly praying or searching for an answer to their loneliness.[6] A video was commissioned for the C+C club mix of the song. Known as the C+C video edit, it was also directed by Danielle Federici and serves as a behind the scenes addendum to the main music video.[29] It is also filmed in black and white, and is composed of clips of Carey and her friends during filming of the video, where they chat, laugh and enjoy time with each other. Carey's husband at the time Tommy Mottola made a cameo appearance in the video, appearing alongside Carey during the second verse.[32] The remix video was later included on the 1995 home video release, Fantasy: Mariah Carey at Madison Square Garden.

Live performancesEdit

Carey promoted "Anytime You Need a Friend" on several live televised performances throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Carey's performance of the song at an intimate concert at Proctor's Theatre on July 15, 1993 was filmed and released as the VHS Here Is Mariah Carey.[33] Carey performed the song during a live appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, which was followed by an interview regarding the album.[34] During the performance, a live band and several male and female background vocalists were featured.[34] Promotion through Europe included a visit and performance on the British music chart program Top of the Pops, German entertainment show Wetten, dass..?, Hey Hey It's Saturday in Australia, and the 1993 Japanese Music Fair.[34] Aside from the several televised appearances, Carey performed the song throughout her Music Box Tour (1993) and Daydream World Tour (1996). During the shows in 1993, Carey featured the song as the fifteenth song on the set-list, and was performed in a similar fashion as on her televised appearances.[34]

Prior to beginning the song, Carey urged the crowd to "never be lonely" and "always try and find that special person in your life."[35] Following the show in Chicago, Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot felt that her performance of the song truly "demonstrated that her multi-octave voice is no studio fabrication."[35][36] During her shows at the Tokyo Dome during 1996, Carey sported a long and wavy hairstyle, while wearing a long black gown.[33] She sang the original version of the song, up until halfway through the last chorus, until merging into the C+C remix. Several background vocalists were once again featured on stage, all donning black garbs.[33] However, once the remix began, six male dancers made their way to the right and left sides of the stage, performing heavy dance routines as Carey walked around the stage. Once the remix began, the lighting was altered.[33] Aside from the usual fluorescent lighting that was used throughout the show, additional pink and purple lighting was added for the number, as it served for the shows closing and final song. During her succeeding shows in Europe, Carey's outfits altered as well as her hairstyle.[33] She wore a long, white strapless gown and sported her hair in a straightened ponytail style. From 1996 to 2019, Carey has not performed the song live on television or on her tours.[33]

Carey started performing the song for the first time in 23 years on Caution World Tour in 2019.

Other versionsEdit

In a review done by Digital Spy for Leona Lewis' debut album, Spirit, Nick Levine felt the song "Footprints in the Sand" borrowed heavily from Carey's track, writing "'Footprints In The Sand' seems hellbent on revisiting Mariah Carey's schlock-pop masterwork 'Anytime You Need A Friend.'"[37] "Anytime You Need a Friend" was covered on several different occasions on a variety of reality and talent competitions. Some became heavily popularized by the media due to the nature of the performance or performer. On the fifth season of the British talent program The X Factor, contestant Eoghan Quigg performed a live cover of the song during a "Mariah Carey" themed week.[38] The song was chosen by Simon Cowell, who felt it would fit his younger vocals. Following the performance, he received acclaim from all three judges.[39] Following the show's end, Quigg embarked on a live tour throughout 2009 alongside the other finalists, performing the song at each show alongside fellow contestant, Diana Vickers.[40] Similarly, on the fourth season of the reality talent show America's Got Talent, a trio of children named Michael, Avery and Nadia, together forming "The Voices of Glory," performed a live rendition of the song.[41] Their performance was well received by the judges, with David Hasselhoff exclaiming "Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful job."[42]

Track listingsEdit

Credits and personnelEdit

These credits were adapted from the Music Box liner notes.[48]

"Anytime You Need a Friend" was recorded at Right Track Studios, New York, and mixed at Sony Music Studios, New York.

Charts and certificationsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nickson 1998, p. 80
  2. ^ Nickson 1998, p. 86
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  4. ^ Nickson 1998, pp. 105
  5. ^ Wynn, Ron. "Music Box > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit