Written By: Charlie
Mariah Carey is the biggest selling female artist of all time and is praised for her superhuman high belts and infamous whistle register that has blown away audiences for almost 3 decades. Over the past 25 years she has managed to rack up 18 number ones since her debut as well as the best-selling holiday single of all time meaning she is the solo artist with the most number ones in history, surpassing icons such as Whitney Houston and Elvis Presley. I am now taking a look at her biggest hits since she debuted in 1990.
10 - “My All” – Butterfly – 1997
“My all” is called ‘the fan favourite’ out of all her number one hits. The song has become iconic for Carey as it showcases, the more delicate side of her range with a new style of singing called ‘Airy falsetto’ which has become a trademark for the mega star. The song is also extremely hard to sing showcasing Carey’s formidable singing technique she is known for.
“My all” became her 13th number one hit on the Billboard charts and was heralded by music critics for its impressive vocal style Carey was using. The song was written and produced by Carey and Walter Afanasieff. "My All" is built around Latin guitar chord melodies, and makes subtle use of Latin percussion throughout the first chorus, before taking on a more conventional contemporary R&B-style beat. Carey was inspired to write the song and use Latin inspired melodies after her trip to Puerto Rico, where she was influenced by the culture.
The lyrics are about a female who would do anything for her lover, and again critics praised her for her incredibly clever lyrics and word choices. The song’s video was also a new seen more intimate side of Carey since her divorce from Matolla and won her ‘sexiest woman of the decade’ by Playboy.
9 - “Heartbreaker’ ft. Jay Z” – Rainbow – 1999
‘Heartbreaker’ is the 1st track on Carey’s 7th studio album ‘Rainbow’ released on November the 2nd 1999. Heartbreaker was a Hip-Hop urban sounding track featuring, the then new rapper, Jay Z. It became Mariah’s 14th number one hit and received mixed reviews globally.
Carey’s transition into urban/Hip-hop music was official after the release of “Heartbreaker” which didn’t appeal to some of the audience Carey once had when she first came onto the scene with her Gospel/Soul ballads, however Carey gained a new younger audience because of the new innovative sound she was bringing. Much like ‘Fantasy remix’ “Heartbreaker” is praised for being another milestone in Carey’s career and a massive influence on today’s artists.
The song itself is based on a sample from “Attack of the Name Game” by Stacy Lattisaw, a hit song from 1964. Carey then wrote her own lyrics and produced her own melody over the sample to make it into a completely new urban sounding track “Heartbreaker”. On the ‘Rainbow’ album Carey also featured the “Heartbreaker remix ft. Da Brat and Missy Elliot” which became notorious for Carey with explicit raps by Da Brat and Missy Elliot.
8 - .“Honey” – Butterfly – Mariah Carey
“Honey” was the opening number from her 6th studio album ‘Butterfly’ and proved extremely controversial amongst both fans and critics with its music video. Carey was divorcing from ex-husband Tommy Matolla after an extremely abusive marriage when she released the most personal album of her career ‘Butterfly’.
“Honey” was the first video to be released and Carey showed off a new found image. For the first 6 years of her career Carey revealed Matolla, who was also her manager, had controlled what she wore, forcing her to go on stage in long dresses and trench coats which Carey did not want to continue doing. She showed off her new freedom in the “honey” video wearing a variety of ‘sexy’ outfits showing off Carey’s body. “Honey” became Carey’s 12th number one, meaning she was the female artist with the most number ones in history, a record she has surpassed today. “Honey” also pushed Carey further into the Hip-Hop market, various remixes being released including famous rappers such as Jermaine Dupri, Da Brat and Mase the Lox
7 - “Emotions” – Emotions – 1991
“Emotions” is dubbed ‘Vocal suicide’ by many music critics around the world, being Carey’s most vocally demanding and hardest song to sing out of her extensive catalogue. The track showcases 4.8 octaves out of her impressive 5.2 which already proves not many singers can pull this song off considering the huge range needed to sing it.
It’s become a standard for Carey to perform this throughout her tours and live appearances, critics believe it defined Carey as an artist as it really shows off the vocal power only she has been known to have. Many singers have attempted to cover Carey’s iconic classic but it’s universally agreed the song should only be sung by Mariah Carey.
“Emotions” is the first single on Carey’s second album, also titled ‘emotions’ which received praise for being a much for soulful and improved version of her debut album.
6 - ‘Vision of love’ – Mariah Carey – 1990
Mariah Carey’s first ever single released, which she wrote when she was 16 and just graduating from high school. At 20 years old the world was being introduced to the biggest star in musical history with a never before seen 5 octave range that could easily rival with other budding young stars like Whitney Houston or Celine Dion.
“Vision of Love” is the most successful debut track in history and was a young Carey’s first number one single. The song was heralded for its intricate vocal runs and riffs and Carey’s super humanly quick melisma. What also helped sky rocket Carey to mega stardom was her use of the ‘whistle register’ something that has become her trademark. Carey is now known for hitting the highest notes in history, as well as having one of the biggest vocal ranges in the world. “Vision of love” is now titled ‘the birth of melisma and runs as we know it’ as well as being called, by Simon Cowell, the reason for him setting up singing shows such as American idol and X factor.
Carey performed the cart topping debut at the 33rd Grammy awards for the first time in 1991 where a nervous Mariah stunned the audience with her piercing whistle register and incomparable stamina. Carey had begun her climb to the top of the music industry.
5 - “Fantasy Remix ft. O.D.B” – Daydream - 1995
‘The most influential and important song in music history’ – Billboard.
The remix of Carey’s pop classic ‘fantasy’ featuring Wu Tang Clan member O.D.B was one of the most controversial songs of Carey’s career and began her transition into Hip Hop music. Carey, at the time, was known for her soul and RnB masterpieces as well as being dubbed ‘the squeaky clean diva’ by music critic’s globally so it was no surprise when Carey shocked audiences when she decided to collaborate with the notorious O.D.B, who was known for his extremely explicit and overtly sexual raps.
The collaboration was Carey’s decision, after she went against her record label’s wishes, and released the remix anyway despite the impact this could have both on her professional and musical reputation. To the record label’s shock and Carey’s delight the remix debuted at number 1, giving Carey her 9th number one single.
Critics praised Carey for her incredible vocal improvement (Daydream era, as it is dubbed by fans, is known as Carey’s vocal prime) and impeccable artistry to mix Hip-hop/Rap with pop music. Carey is now credited for introducing Hip-hop and rap music into popular music charts, as well as starting the singer/rapper collaboration idea which has become a hugely popular theme amongst the new generation of artists we see today. Music critics universally agree Carey’s revolutionary track is the reason music is the way it is today and is without a doubt the most important song of Mariah’s career.
4 - “One Sweet Day” – Daydream – 1995
“One Sweet Day” is the longest running number one in the history of the Billboard charts, dominating the top spot for an unparalleled 16 weeks. The song was a collaboration with iconic American RnB band ‘Boys II Men’ written about the death of a loved one, Carey being inspired by the sufferers of the AIDS epidemic, which was a global prevalent at the time.
The song was internationally lauded by many music critics, celebrated for its lyrical content and gravity defying vocals from Carey, accompanied with the soulful sound of Boys II men. Rolling Stone ranked it 1st on greatest collaborations of all time after its immense success on charts around the world.
Both Carey and Boys II men performed the legendary track at the 38th Grammy Awards in 1996, which has been called one of the best performances the Grammy’s has ever seen since it started. In addition it was performed at the late Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, which made history in both Carey’s and Boys II men’s careers.
3 - “Hero” – Music Box – 1993
Probably Carey’s most well known and most inspirational ballads of her entire career “Hero” is celebrated as one of Carey’s best works in terms of her rich vocals. The song experienced massive success on charts globally, becoming Carey’s 8th billboard number one, tying her with Whitney Houston (at the time) just 3 years in to Carey’s career. The lyrics are about how no matter how tough times may get, we all have a ‘hero’ inside us and we will always ‘have the strength to carry on’.
Many fans of Carey’s have said it’s helped them get through rough times in their lives and is requested frequently at concerts to be performed. It’s become a signature song for Carey and is still to this day one of her most performed songs. On top of both commercial and personal success, Carey’s track has been covered by many artists since its release, including musical legends such as Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle. Also in 2008 it was covered by X factor contestants on the UK show, which they performed with Carey on opening night, the cover was a big hit in the UK and became the first number 1 by a talent show.
2 - ”We Belong Together – The emancipation of Mimi - 2005
Dubbed ‘The return of the voice” after a slump in Carey’s career at the start of the millennium ‘We Belong Together” became Carey’s 16th number one dominating the billboard charts for 14 weeks, making it the second longest running number one in history, only behind Carey’s 1995 hit ‘One sweet day’. The track re-defined Carey as an artist after critics claimed her career was over after the unmatched success Carey had in the 90’s.
The song lyrics are about a woman who is still in love with a former lover and her desperation for him to return, again Carey was heralded for her ingenious writing talents. The song earned Carey several music awards and nominations, as well as 3 Grammy’s and ‘Cleverest song writer of the millennium’ by billboard.
The song has become a trade mark ballad for Mariah and is performed by her in various events and throughout her tours. Carey performed the song in a medley with ‘Fly like a Bird’ (also featured on ‘the emancipation of Mimi’) at the 48th Grammy awards and the performance is called ‘the greatest and most iconic of her career’.
1 - “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Merry Christmas – 1994
“All I want for Christmas is you” is the second track featured on Carey’s 4th studio album ‘Merry Christmas’ released on November the 1st 1994. The smash hit was the first single to be released from the album and instantly sky rocketed to number 1 in various charts globally and has continued to do so each year ever since.
The song is an up-tempo 60’s vibe track featuring heavy instrumental and back-up vocals as well as show casing all areas of Carey’s colossal 5 octave vocal range. Critics praised her for her pitch perfect vocals and impressive song writing skills and is considered by Rolling Stone and Billboard as ‘A Holiday Standard’. The song has managed to sell 15 million copies (and counting) globally making it the best-selling holiday track of all time. Since its release Carey has performed the track in a slew of live performances throughout her career as well as collaborating with So So Def in 2000 and releasing a remix of the song with re-sung vocals. In 2010 she also re-sung the smash hit in a collaboration with teen heart throb Justin Bieber for his Christmas album.