Few artists have had the magnitude of success that diva Mariah Carey has.
While her top-charting glory days are not amongst us currently, her contributions to music make her one of the biggest names in the history of music and a living legend worthy of highlighting during Women’s History Month. Carey is one of the most successful music artists of all time, yet she is also one of the most underappreciated and discredited, largely due to her notable public lows including 2001’s Glitter, 2014’s holiday performance, and 2016’s New Year’s Eve performance on Dick Clark’s. Despite these, the sprinkle of a true star never truly diminishes.
Carey burst onto the music scene in 1990, after spending years serving as a background singer for Brenda K. Starr. At the age of 20, her career would take off almost instantly. Her debut album, Mariah Carey, was 1991’s best selling release and gave her four number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including her iconic debut single, “Vision of Love”. Singers such as Beyonce and Rihanna have cited the release of that single as reasons they became singers. Her fifth single, “Emotions”, released from the album of the same title, would give her her fifth consecutive #1 single, a record that has not been broken or duplicated by any other musician in music history.
Mariah has earned comparisons to greats such as Celine Dion and Whitney Houston for her impressive five octave range, however, stands as an act of her own for being both a songwriter and producer to her own material — a rarity that the other two fail to possess. To date, she is the female songwriter and producer with the most #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at 17 and 14, respectively. After the success of her diamond certified (meaning sales surpassing 10 million in the United States) album Music Box, and the best-selling Christmas album of all time (worldwide sales exceeding 16 million), Merry Christmas, Carey would take personal struggles from her first marriage to release two of the most important albums of her career.
1995’s Daydream became her second diamond certified album, making her one of three female artists to achieve this feat. Combined, Daydream and Music Box have sold over 60 million albums worldwide. The album’s singles include “Always Be My Baby”, the Boyz II Men assisted “One Sweet Day”, and “Fantasy”. While all three singles would go to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, “One Sweet Day” holds the record for longest stay at #1 at 16 weeks, while the “Fantasy” remix is responsible for popularizing the “hip-pop” marriage present in music today; a joint production between a singer from pop or R&B collaborating with a hip-hop artist.
The success of the album was followed by 1997’s Butterfly, a showcase of Carey’s further influence of urban music following her first divorce.
Her success throughout the 90’s was unparalleled; she was the biggest selling artist of the 90s and accumulated 15 #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 by the year 2000. Following an unsuccessful period from 2001-2004, she returned to the top of the charts with 2005’s The Emancipation of Mimi. The album sold over 12 million copies worldwide and was the biggest selling album of the year in the United States. The album’s biggest single, “We Belong Together”, was the biggest song of the 2000s after spending 14 weeks at #1, becoming the second longest #1 single in the chart’s history. It gave Carey the distinction of having the biggest song of two consecutive decades for the 90s and 2000s. Shortly after in 2008, she earned the distinction of becoming the solo artist with the most #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 when “Touch My Body” became her 18th #1 single, debuting with the largest digital downloads for any single at that time.
Since then, Carey’s success has stretched over into writing books, contributing to films, and touring her notorious catalog. She still releases music, and has seen post-prime success with singles such as “Obsessed”, “#Beautiful”, and the re-occuring chart breaker that is “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, which could go to #1 at any point in the holiday season, peaking at #3 last year… 24 years after its release. Her latest release, 2018’s Caution, is a celebration of trends that are popular in music today with a classic spin on her signature contributions. Her current single, “A No No”, samples Lil’ Kim’s “Crush On You”, and is catching radio traction by the week.
Scandals and shortcomings aside, for these achievements we must celebrate our living legends while they are still with us. And for this reason alone, we shoutout Mariah Carey for her contributions to music, her dramatic divaness, and her famous diss to J. Lo of “I don’t know her”.