The superstar, who's currently serving as a key advisor on The Voice, reveals why "We Belong Together" is one of her favorite songs to perform
In a clip for The Voice’s “Story Behind the Song,” the superstar — who currently serves as the key advisor during the competition series’ Knockout Rounds — reveals how the song came to be and what makes it so special.
“‘We Belong Together’ is a song I wrote for The Emancipation of Mimi which is one of my favorite albums of mine,” Carey, 48, says in the video shared exclusively with PEOPLE. “We, the team, always knew that ‘We Belong Together’ was going to be the main single from that album.”
Since the hit came after some of Carey’s less successful projects, including the release of her eighth studio album Glitter in 2001 and ninth album Charmbracelet in 2002, it was considered by critics a career re-defining moment.
“I had gone through some ups and downs, and I was working with my friend Jermaine Dupri — working on these really late night schedules, which [I love], and everybody is like, ‘Here she comes. We’re going to start working at 12 and get done at 5 in the morning, 6 in the morning’ — but we started going back and forth with melody ideas,” Carey says. “We were also working with my friend Johntá Austin, he and I were having fun and laughing and writing a bunch of different lyrics and Jermaine walked in like, ‘Are you guys serious? Focus.'”
Carey continues to say that they all sat down and really focused on the second verse of the song, which samples lyrics from Bobby Womack’s “If You Think You're Lonely Now.”
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“We knew it was going to have an effect on us when it came down to the publishing, but we didn’t care because we really, really focused on that song,” Carey says. “I don’t know that we’ve ever actually been able to top it.”
The music video for the song depicts Carey dressed up as a bride getting ready for her wedding day. Her character is set to marry an older and powerful man but decides to run away from the reception with the ex-lover she still has feelings for.
“I get goose bumps thinking about it because it really was such a special time in my life when we did that record,” Carey says. “I feel like the video definitely captured the emotion of the song.”
After its release, “We Belong Together” stayed on top of the charts for 14 non-consecutive weeks and earned her two Grammy Awards.
To this day, Carey says she’s really proud of everything that went into the record.
“I still love it,” Carey says. “It’s one of my favorite songs to perform. Some songs that I write I’m sitting alone writing the lyrics by myself and sometimes when you collaborate with others you can brainstorm and really work together for the end result. That was one of those songs.”
She adds: “It really was a labor of love.”
Season 15 of The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.