“Baby, how could you ever believe..that another could replace me, the one and only?”
…is an accurate statement from the incomparable and irreplaceable songbird Mariah Carey. I fell in love with Mariah at a very young age, thanks to Fantasy. Fantasy was sung in the 97 movie Rush Hour by a character as it played on the radio. My cousins and I used to watch that movie faithfully to hear this immaculate record. Over the years, my admiration for Mariah would continue to grow because she literally dropped hits after hits.
Mariah is next to The Beatles for having the most number 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100:
Vision of Love – 1990
Love Takes Time – 1990
Someday – 1990
I Don’t Wanna Cry – 1990
Emotions – 1991
I’ll Be There – 1992
Dreamlover – 1993
Hero – 1993
Fantasy – 1995
One Sweet Day – 1995
Always Be My Baby – 1995
Honey – 1997
My All – 1997
Thank God I Found You – 2000
We Belong Together – 2005
Don’t Forget About Us – 2005
Touch My Body – 2008
Also, Mariah holds the record for a single staying the most weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100: One Sweet Day.
Mariah deserves to have her flowers while we have her because she IS the blueprint, & everyone’s favorite singer..favorite singer. Mariah’s legacy is usually overshadowed by her alleged “diva antics” and her 2014 Christmas performance. However, I’ll say this..on her best and WORST days, she is still the greatest to ever do it..& no one can take that away from her.
☝🏾 (From the First Vision, where she sings Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)..which was a popular song by Aretha Franklin. Aretha is one of Mariah’s favorite singers, & does it so much justice).
This post will give appreciation to every album she’s ever released, & to showcase why myself and millions of people love the elusive chanteuse!
Mariah Carey – 1990
Highlights: Vision of Love, I Don’t Wanna Cry, Vanishing, Sent From Up Above
For Mariah to be a 20 year old unknown singer-songwriter, she blew the world away with her self-titled debut. A woman with a strong voice like hers should be a crime!! Her first single Vision of Love is still refreshing to hear to this day, & showed the girls that she had TIME!
Emotions – 1991
Highlights: Emotions, Can’t Let Go, Make It Happen, You’re So Cold, Till the End of Time. (See my review! 25 Years of Emotions )
Emotions is easily Mariah’s most under appreciated album, YET her best 90s album VOCALLY. It’s something about Emotions that make me go so hard for it. The dedication to the Motown sound/Aretha Franklin era is probably what it is, because it’s so immaculate.
MTV Unplugged – 1992
Highlights: If It’s Over, I’ll Be There
A live album? Mariah Carey? YES! At the time, Mariah didn’t tour, & had critics wondering was she a studio artist, or could she be the whole package. She proved those critics wrong with her MTV unplugged performance.
Her cover of I’ll Be There was so successful that it became a number one single. It was only smart to drop it as an album.
Music Box – 1993
Highlights: Dreamlover, Hero, Anytime You Need A Friend, Music Box, Without You, Just To Hold You Once Again
Music Box is a slower mellow affair, which is completely different from Mariah’s first two albums. However, Mariah channels her inner dance record with Now That I Know, reminding me of Whitney’s cover of I’m Every Woman. What makes Mariah win on Music Box is Anytime You Need A Friend. AYNAF is simply an uplifting gospel record..that has me STILL wanting a complete gospel album from Mariah.
Music Box is also overlooked in appreciation for her popular albums, but if I’m not mistaken..it is her best selling album next to Daydream to this day. P.S. She worked with my favorite producer (Babyface) and created magic!
Merry Christmas – 1994
Highlights: All I Want For Christmas Is You, Silent Night, Jesus, Oh What A Wonderful Child.
It’s pretty safe to say that Mariah invented Christmas. With her heavenly vocals, she sings traditional and original holiday songs like taking a candy cane from a tree. Actually her hit song All I Want For Christmas Is You has become the best song ever to play during this season.
Daydream – 1995
Highlights: Fantasy, One Sweet Day, I am Free, Always Be My Baby, Melt Away, Looking In
At the peak of her career, Mariah started to leave her days of singing pop ballads in gowns behind her, & sing within a genre she identified with the most: R&B. Within her past albums, you can notice the R&B influences..but Tommy Mottola. 🙄.
Well anyway, she had more control over her music, & created a masterpiece. This album also marked the beginning of her musical relationship with Jermaine Dupri.
The powerful and touching One Sweet Day and the tear jerking Looking In gave a glimpse of Mariah’s life at the time, from losing frequent collaborator David Cole, her failing marriage to music exec Tommy Mottola, and the falling out with her older sister Allison. However, Daydream marked the beginning of “R&Briah.”
Butterfly – 1997
Liberating. PERFECTION. EAR CANDY. Those are just a few words to discuss Mariah’s magnum opus Butterfly. The definition of artistic freedom. One of her favorite albums, she stated that it was a turning point in her life and career..because she was finally allowed to create music that made her feel at home. As I stated earlier, the R&B influences have always been in her work, but this album here? It allowed her to transition to the R&B world completely, while still having success on the pop charts.
Mariah stated that the label she was on at the time (Columbia,) was afraid to allow her to market outside of the contemporary pop world. In today’s world, we have artists like Beyoncé and Rihanna, who cross over into numerous music genres..and have major success doing so. However in the 90s, it was risky for someone of Mariah’s stature to attempt to stick to what she came into the industry doing..because it sold her records.
Clearly, it worked for Mariah..because she had cemented her legacy even more with Butterfly. It was critically acclaimed, more than 1..#1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100..and is considered to still be her best work 20 years later.
#1s – 1998
Highlights: I Still Believe, When You Believe
It is not normal to have a greatest hits album at the tender age of 28, but when you’re THE Mariah Carey…you can do THAT! All of her 13 hit singles at the time were on this compilation, along with new songs to show you that she is never stopping the show. Her cover of “I Still Believe” is dedicated to Brenda K. Starr, who Mariah was singing background vocals for before she was the superstar she is today.
Rainbow – 1999
Highlights: Heartbreaker, Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme,) Bliss, Petals, Crybaby
Rainbow is one of my favorite Mariah albums, merely because of how she did not hold back. As her divorce from Mottola was still in effect, she put all of her sadness and anger into the music. I honestly feel like this album was her goodbye to a crappy relationship.
Mariah embraces her inner Minnie Riperton with Bliss…and I LOVE IT SO MUCH! Do I need to go on a rant on how amazing Heartbreaker is? The original version is sampled by Stacy Lattisaw’s Attack Of The Name Game…which is a song that Mimi loves so much! Anyways, it is such a wonderful album, and I think everyone needs to listen.
Glitter – 2001
Highlights: Never Too Far, Loverboy, Don’t Stop (Funkin’ 4 Jamaica,) All My Life, Want You
How could anyone forget the Glitter era? From the ICONIC TRL pop up to the movie premiering on the day of 9/11…it’s such a shame that something Mariah worked so hard for, was negatively received. While the movie wasn’t the greatest, I PERSONALLY believe the soundtrack was great. From the Candy by Cameo sampled Loverboy, to the free cover of Cherrelle’s Didn’t Mean To Turn You On, Mariah excels and channels her inner 80s.
Charmbracelet – 2002
Highlights: Through The Rain, Yours, You Got Me, My Saving Grace, Subtle Invitation.
Described as her “comeback” album after a long year in 2001, Charmbracelet gives you a chill mood & is more personal than most of her recent albums at the time. It was Mariah’s “I’m Going To Be Alright,” album. Her cover of Bringin’ On The Heartbreak is bone chilling and immaculate! Mariah retouches her jazz roots with Subtle Invitation (She previously touched this genre with The Wind from 91’s Emotions,) & it is an awesome affair.
Sunflowers for Alfred Roy is a touching song dedicated to her late father, who passed away the same year. If you know Mariah’s story, her relationship with her father wasn’t the greatest…but this song shows how they finally reconciled and found peace before he passed, which is always good!
Charmbracelet is a great album to sit and sip your wine too. It wasn’t as big as her past albums, but it showed the world that Mimi is a survivor.
The Emancipation of Mimi – 2005 (re-released later that year with bonus tracks)
Highlights: We Belong Together, It’s Like That, Fly Like A Bird, Joy Ride, Stay The Night, Don’t Forget About Us.
Never count a legend out is my summary of this album. Mariah Carey is forever the GOAT for releasing TEOM. Everything about this era is iconic: the title, album cover, the songs. If you thought Butterfly was artistic freedom, TEOM is above that. I mean Mariah was back in full force during this era.
FLY LIKE A BIRD ALONE IS HEAVENLY! Jesus. It’s hard for me to listen to that song because of it being in heavy rotation at one of my uncle’s funeral..but it’s perfect. What is also so incredible and everything is the song of the 2000s decade: We Belong Togeher.
The album opener “It’s Like That” sets the mood for this album that Mariah is free from her shaky past, & is looking forward to the future! Liberating Mimi is the best thing her past could have ever done.
E=MC2 – 2008
Highlights: Touch My Body, Cruise Control, O.O.C., I Stay In Love, Migrate, I Wish You Well
Mariah described this album as the desert to her major hit album TEOM, & I have no choice but to agree. E=MC2 holds the same formula, but has Mimi exploring the reggae genre with one of Bob Marley’s offspring..(Cruise Control).
I love how Mariah opened up a lot more on this album about her marriage to Mottola, but you can see how on this record..she is more free and happier because of her newfound relationship with fellow entertainer Nick Cannon. This album had the chance to have more hits outside of her most recent number one “Touch My Body.” Full with club bangers and catchy pop hits, E=MC2 has Mariah comfortable, experimental & legendary like always.
Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel – 2009
Highlights: Betcha Gon’ Know, Obsessed, Ribbon, More Than Just Friends, I Want To Know What Love Is.
Released right after the successful E=MC2, Mariah gave her true fans an intimate affair with Memoirs. An album with mostly ballads, Memiors is the perfect R&B album. Even Mariah’s cover of “I Want To Know What Love Is,” is a soulful masterpiece.
Merry Christmas II You – 2010
Highlights: Charlie Brown Christmas, Oh Santa!, When Christmas Comes
Mariah’s second holiday album isn’t as huge as her first, but like any Mariah album, it’s the perfect album to listen to if you want to get into the holiday spirit!
Me. I am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse – 2014
Highlights: Cry., Faded, Make It Look Good, Camouflage, You Don’t Know What To Do, Supernatural, One More Try, The Art of Letting Go.
After the release of Mariah’s second Christmas album, she gave birth to her twins Moroccan & Monroe, did a season of American Idol, and have a failed hit single with Triumphant. However, with the release of Beautiful with R&B newcomer Miguel..she had a top 20 platinum hit record in her hands again.
Originally titled The Art of Letting Go, MIAMTEC is an incredible album despite the long title. The album is clearly a open letter to the state of her marriage to Nick Cannon (Cry, Faded, Camouflage, You Don’t Know What To Do).
Faded is a standout track on the album, & should have been her 19th number one hit single! Collaborating with the likes of Mike Will-Made-It, made me happy that they created such a bop. Dedicated is also a great song that reunites her with Nas, whom she collaborated with on a remix of Thank God That I Found You. The song is basically the musicians reminiscing of the good old days.
The rest of the album is ear candy with the Motown sounding Make It Look Good. Stevie Wonder made an appearance on this record playing the harmonica, and it’s so freaking perfect. Mariah’s children make an appearance on supernatural and it is the most beautiful song you’ll ever hear in life.
The tear jerking camouflage, & the astounding cover of the late great George Michael’s One More Try, made Me. I am Mariah one of the best albums released in 2014. Although, it did not sell well based off of the numbers she always sold..it was critically acclaimed by music critics..showing that the songbird supreme still had it in her to make memorable R&B music.
It’s evident that Mariah will go down in history for having one of the best music careers in history. There will never be another Mariah Carey, because she is a remarkable singer-songwriter. I can go on and on about how legendary MC is…but I think everyone gets the point. Mariah Carey deserves her flowers while we have her, because she struggled, overachieved & touched millions with her timeless discography.