Top 40 single reviews

Mariah Carey

I Don’t Wanna Cry

Album: Mariah Carey

Year: 1991


       Mariah Carey and her boyfriend have drifted apart in the emotional “I Don’t Wanna Cry.”

           A sober guitar opens the single, setting a searching tone. She and her boyfriend are eating dinner together. The only sounds heard are the clinking of the silverware on the plates and chewing. She thinks, as she cuts up her pork chop, they don’t talk anymore. It’s become a regular occurrence. Five years ago, they were a vibrant couple, laughing at in-jokes and planning their future. Every once in a while, he will say to her he will take on less hours at work. She responds she will find an activity they could do together. However, she admits neither of them intend to act on it. While he gets up from the table to put his plates away, she’s biting her lips to hold back the tears. She can’t be in a loveless relationship anymore. (“Once again we sit in silence/After all is said and done/Only emptiness inside us/Baby look what we've become/We can make a million promises/
But we still won't change/It isn't right to stay together/When we only bring each other pain.”)

      In the chorus, she tells him she’s going to take a shower. She feels sticky He murmurs an okay and she heads up to their bedroom. Once inside, she turns on the water and begins to sob. They are no longer the same people they were when they first began dating. He’s her first love and he will always have a part of her. However, she needs to get out. (“I don't wanna cry/Don't wanna cry/Nothing in the world/Could take us back/To where we used to be/Though I've given you my heart and soul/I must find a way of letting go/'Cause baby/
I don't wanna cry.”)

         Within the last year or so, he’d gotten more involved at his job and she decided to quit hers to find something fulfilling. She decided to go back to school.  She’s not sure why either of them is staying. Is it fear of being alone? Is it because they both have been with each other for so long it’s the safe choice? They are acting like a happy couple but she knows they are not.  She’s finding it difficult to keep up the façade. (“Too far apart to bridge the distance/But something keeps us hanging on and on/Pretending not to know the difference/
Denying what we had is gone/Every moment we're together/It's just breaking me down/
I know we swore it was forever/But it hurts too much to stay around.”)

      The chorus is sung again.

       In the bridge, she’s frustrated and on the brink of telling him she’s leaving. There isn’t any love between them anymore.  Within the past year or so, things have changed between them and it’s not the same.  She can’t do it anymore. (“All the magic's gone/There's just a shadow of a memory/Something just went wrong/We can't go on make-believing/On make-believing.”)

       The chorus is sung again to end the single.

     Carey’s anguished, brokenhearted vocals grasp for strength as she realizes the truth of her relationship. She saw her future including halfhearted questions about how the other’s day is going and separate plans for the weekend. There isn’t much communication and affection is nonexistent. It’s something she has to change and deep down, she knows it’s up to her to make the decision.

         The brave “I Don’t Wanna Cry” is a rare perfect ballad which lets emotions be the center and not the glory notes.

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