Twenty years ago today, the world got to hear two of the greatest vocalists of all time on one song: “When You Believe,” a duet between Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, hit the airwaves. The song was special not just because they were two of the most popular artists of all time — it was special because the two artists were believed to be feuding. For eight years leading up to that collaboration, the two had been pit against each other in the press, and for a while in the early ’90s, Whitney routinely shaded the fuck out of Mariah.
(Sidebar: It was a respectful kind of shade, if you will. The kind of shade you throw at a formidable opponent — unlike the way she shaded Paula Abdul. Mariah, on the other hand, never retaliated because she respects Whitney. Madonna wasn’t as lucky.)
In order to make the collaboration happen, Babyface — who co-wrote and produced the song — is said to have told both artists that the other had agreed to collaborate (before this was actually true). His plan worked, and the rest history. And unlike Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, whose relationship worsened after their collabo, Whitney and Mariah ended up becoming friends.
“When You Believe” peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100; considering the two artists involved, this was far below expectation. However, it performed much better across the world, reaching the top 5 in the UK and France. The song, which was on the soundtrack of The Prince of Egypt, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, which is a songwriter’s award. Babyface, who co-wrote the Nippy and Mimi version, didn’t share in the glory because bitch-ass Stephen Schwartz, who wrote the initial version of the song (which appears in the movie), left Babyface’s name off the submission to the Academy. Stephen’s a hater.
Anyway, join me in this beautiful walk down memory lane.