Throwback Thursday: Mariah Carey – “I’ll Be There” (featuring Trey Lorenz)
In March of ’92, Mariah Carey was just under two years into her career, but she had already released two albums and logged five No. 1 hits. Her entry into the game remains unmatched, and while fans were raving, there were bitter music critics suggesting that she wasn’t capable of replicating her recorded vocals in a live performance, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
To answer the nut-ass critics, her record label devised a plan for her to perform on MTV Unplugged. Her sophomore set, Emotions, was released six months prior, so this was also seen as a promotional tool for that album. The performance, recorded on March 16, 1992, initially only included two songs from her self-titled debut and four from her sophomore LP, but at the last minute, MC was told that it was customary for artists to do a cover in the Unplugged set. And just like that, we got an iconic cover of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.”
For the cover, Mariah sang Michael Jackson’s parts while her backup singer, Trey Lorenz, sang Jermaine Jackson’s parts. The original version, released 22 years earlier, is amazing in its own right, but MC and Trey took that song to new heights.
When it finally premiered in April 1992, Mariah’s MTV Unplugged performance was so popular that the network aired it three times more frequently than they normally would for other episodes. Columbia Records capitalized on this popularity by releasing the performance as a live album — it would go on to sell over seven million copies. Also, “I’ll Be There” ended up being released as a single, and much like the original, it topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Mariah’s sixth No. 1.