The following biography
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Mariah Carey (born March 27,
1970) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. She made
her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive
Tommy Mottola, and released her self-titled debut studio album, Mariah Carey.
The album went multi-platinum and spawned four consecutive number one singles,
on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. After the success of the album, she won the
Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1991. Following her marriage to Mottola in
1993, a series of hit records established her position as Columbia's
highest-selling act. Music Box (1993), was certified diamond and became one of
the best-selling albums of all time and Merry Christmas (1994), eventually
became the most successful holiday album. Daydream (1995), made music history
when the lead single "Fantasy" debuted at number one on the Billboard charts,
making her the first female artist to accomplish a number one debut in the U.S.
The second single, "One Sweet Day" a duet with Boyz II Men, spent a record
sixteen weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and remains the longest running
number one song in US chart history. During the recording of the album Carey
began to deviate from her pop background, and slowly traversed into R&B and
Hip-hop. After her separation from Mottola, this musical change and personal
transformation was clearly evident with the release of Butterfly (1997), which
she personally considered her best album.
Carey left Columbia in 2000, and
signed a record-breaking $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records. In
2001, Carey ventured into film with Glitter (2001). Before the film's release
she suffered a physical and emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for severe
exhaustion. Following the film's poor reception, she was bought out of her
recording contract for $50 million, which led to a decline in her career. She
signed a multi-million dollar contract deal with Island Records in 2002, and
after a relatively unsuccessful period, returned to the top of music charts with
The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). It became the best-selling album by a solo
artist globally of that year, marked by the success of "We Belong Together",
which became the most successful solo single of her music career, and was later
named "Song of the Decade" by Billboard. Following Carey's success with The
Emancipation of Mimi, she once again ventured into film, and starred in Precious
(2009). Her role in the film was met with critical acclaim, she was awarded the
"Breakthrough Performance Award" at the Palm Springs International Film
Festival, and a NAACP Image Award nomination.
In a career spanning over two
decades, Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one
of the best-selling music artists of all time. In 1998, she was honored as the
world's best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the World Music Awards.
Carey was also named the best-selling female artist of the millennium in 2000.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), she is the
third best-selling female artist in the United States, with 63 million certified
albums. With the release of "Touch My Body" (2008), Carey gained her eighteenth
number one single in the United States, more than any other solo artist.
Additionally, she remains the best-selling international artist in Japan, and
holds the top four best-selling albums by a non-Asian artist. Aside from her
commercial accomplishments, Carey has won five Grammy Awards, seventeen World
Music Awards, eleven American Music Awards and twenty-eight Billboard Music
Awards. As part of her artistry, she is often cited as one of the most
influential voices in pop music, and is credited for her five-octave vocal
range, power, melismatic style and signature use of the whistle register.
Born March 27, 1970 (1970-03-27)
Huntington, New York, United States
Genres Pop, R&B, hip hop, soul,
record producer, actress
Years active 1988–present
Labels Columbia, Virgin, Island
Biography1970–87: Early life and struggles
Mariah Carey was born in
Huntington, Long Island, New York, on March 27, 1970. The singer's father,
Alfred Roy, was of African American and Venezuelan descent, while her mother,
Patricia (née Hickey), was an Irish American. Patricia's father had died
while she was young; however, she inherited his passion for music. She
developed a career as an occasional opera singer and vocal coach, and met Alfred
in 1960. As he began earning a living as an aeronautical engineer, the couple
wed later that year, and moved into a small suburb in New York. After the
pair's elopement, Patricia's family disowned her, due to marrying a man of
color. Carey later explained that growing up, she felt a notion of neglect from
her maternal family, a mark that affected her greatly: "So later I was like,
'Well, where does this leave me? Am I a bad person?' You know. Its still not
that common to be a multi-racial person, but I'm happy with the combination of
things that I am." During the interval of years in between Allison and the
singer's birth, the Carey family experienced personal struggles within the
community due to their ethnicity. Carey's name was derived from the song
"They Call the Wind Mariah", originally from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint
Your Wagon. When Carey was only three years of age, her parents divorced,
due to the increasingly strenuous nature of their marriage.
After their separation, Carey's
older sister Allison moved in with her father, while the other two children
remained with Patricia. As the years passed, Carey would grow apart from her
father, and would later stop seeing him altogether. By the age of four,
Carey recalled that she had begun to sneak the radio under her covers at night,
and just sing from her heart, and try and find peace within the music. During
elementary school, she would excel in subjects that she enjoyed, such as
literature, art and music, while not finding interest in others. After
several years of financial struggling, Patricia earned enough money to move her
family into a stable and more affluent sector in New York. Carey had already
enrolled in Greenlawn's Harborfields High School. She had begun writing
poems, and adding melodies to them, thus starting as a singer-songwriter.
Even from a young age, Carey excelled in her music, and demonstrated usage of
the whistle register, though only beginning to master and control it through her
training with her mother. Though opening her daughter to the world of
classical opera, Patricia never pressured Carey to pursue a career in that type
of genre, as she never seemed interested in that world of music. Carey
recalled that she kept her singer-songwriter works a secret and noted that
Patricia had "never been a pushy mom. She never said, 'Give it more of an
operatic feel'. I respect opera like crazy, but it didn't influence me."
Towards the end of her high school
Carey developed a relationship with Gavin Christopher, with whom she shared
musical aspirations. The song-writing duo, however, needed an assistant who
could play the keyboard; "We called someone and he couldn't come, so by accident
we stumbled upon Ben [Margulies]. Ben came to the studio, and he really couldn't
play the keyboards very well - her was really more of a drummer - but after that
day, we kept in touch, and we sort of clicked as writers." The two began
writing and composing songs in his father's store basement, during Carey's
senior year. After composing their first song together, "Here We Go Round
Again", which Carey described as having a Motown-vibe, they continued writing
material for a full length demo. After Carey's graduation her mother wed
once more, which ultimately prompted her to move out from Patricia's apartment,
and into a one bedroom studio in Manhattan, which she shared with four other
female students. During this period, Carey worked several jobs as a
waitress, usually getting fired after two week intervals. While requiring
work to pay for her rent, Carey's mind and effort still remained with her
musical ambitions, as she continued working late into the night with Margulies,
in hopes of completing a demo take that could be passed on to record
executives. After completing her four song demo tape, Carey tried to pass it
to music labels, but was met with failure each time. It was then she was
introduced to rising pop singer of Puerto Rican descent, Brenda K.
1988–92: Recording debut and career
As Carey's friendship with Starr
grew, so did her interest in helping Carey succeed in the industry. On a
Friday night in November 1987, Carey accompanied Starr to a record executives
gala, where she handed her demo tape to Tommy Mottola, head of Columbia Records,
who listened to it on his way back home. After the first two songs, he
became so enamored at the sound and quality of Carey's voice that he turned
around returned to the event, only to find that she had left. In what has
been widely described by critics as a modern day Cinderella-like tale,
after searching Carey for two weeks, and eventually contacting her through
Starr's management, he immediately signed her and began mapping out her debut
into mainstream music. While she maintained that she wanted to continue
working with Margulies, Mottola enlisted top producers of the time, including
Ric Wake, Narada Michael Walden and Rhett Lawrence. Mottola and the staff at
Columbia had planned to market Carey as the main female pop artist on their
roster, competing with the likes of Whitney Houston and Madonna, who were signed
to Arista and Sire Records respectively. After the completion of the album,
titled Mariah Carey, Columbia spent an upward of $1 million to promote it.
Though opening with weak sales, the album eventually reached the top of the
Billboard 200, after Carey's exposure at the 33rd annual Grammy Awards.
Mariah Carey stayed atop the charts for eleven consecutive weeks, and she
won the Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance trophies for her
single "Vision of Love". The album yielded an additional three number one
singles on the Billboard Hot 100, following the four week number-one run of
"Vision of Love". Carey became the first artist since The Jackson 5 to have
their first four singles reach number one. Mariah Carey finished as the
best-selling album in the United States of 1991, while totaling sales of
over 15 million copies.
Only months after the Mariah Carey
began its descent on the charts, Carey already began working on her second
studio effort, eventually titled Emotions (1991). The album, as Carey
described it, payed homage to Motown soul music, as she felt the need to pay
tribute to the type of music and genre that truly influenced her as a struggling
child. For the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, who only had a
small role on her debut, as well as Clivillés and Cole, from the dance group C+C
Music Factory. However, Carey's relationship with Margulies deteriorated
over a contract Carey had signed prior to her signing with Columbia, agreeing to
split not only the songwriting royalties from the songs, but half of her
earnings as well. However, when the time came to write music for Emotions,
Sony officials made it clear he would only be paid the fair amount given to
co-writers on an album. Subsequently, Margulies filed a lawsuit against Sony
which ultimately led to their parting of ways. On September 17, 1991,
Emotions was released around the world, and was accepted by critics as a more
mature album than its predecessor. While praised for Carey's improved
songwriting, production and new sound, the album was criticized for its
material, which many felt was noticeably weaker than her debut. Though the
album managed sales of over eight million copies globally, Emotions failed to
reach the commercial and critical heights of its predecessor.
As they had done after the release
of her debut, critics once again questioned whether Carey would embark on a
world tour, in promotion for her material. Although Carey explained that due
to her stage fright, and the general strenuous nature of her songs, a tour
sounded very daunting, speculation grew that Carey was a "studio worm", and that
she wasn't capable of producing the perfect pitch and 5-octave vocal range for
which she was known. In hopes of putting any claims of her being a
manufactured artist to rest, Carey and Walter Afanasieff decided to book an
appearance on MTV Unplugged, a television program aired by MTV. The show's
purpose was to present name artists, and feature them "unplugged" or stripped of
studio equipment. While Carey felt strongly of her more soulful and
powerful songs, it was decided that her most popular content to that point would
be included. Days prior to the show's taping, Carey and Afanasieff thought
of adding a cover version of an older song, in order to provide something
different and unexpected. They chose "I'll Be There", a song made popular by
The Jackson 5 in 1970, rehearsing it few times before the night of the show. On
March 16, 1992, Carey recorded a seven-piece set-list at Kaufman Astoria Studios
in Queens, New York. The revue was met with critical acclaim, leading to it
being aired over three times as often as an average episode would. The
revue's success tempted Sony officials to use it as some form of an album.
Sony decided to release it as an EP, selling for a reduced price due to its
shorter length. The EP proved to be a success, shunning critics and
speculations that Carey was just a studio artist, and was given a
triple-Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),
and managed Gold and Platinum certifications in several European markets.
1993–96: First marriage, Music Box and
During early 1993, Carey began
working on her third studio album, Music Box. After Emotions failed to
achieve the commercial heights of her debut album, Carey and Columbia came to
the agreement that the next album would contain a more pop influenced sound, in
order to appeal to a wider audience. During Carey's writing sessions, she
began working mostly with Afanasieff, with whom she co-wrote and produced most
of Music Box. During the album's recording, Carey and Mottola became
romantically involved. They wed in a lavish ceremony on June 5, 1993, with
several high profile guests including Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Gloria
Estefan and Ozzy Osbourne. One month later, on August 31, Music Box was
released around the world, debuting at number-one on the Billboard 200. The
album was met with mixed reception from music critics; while many praised the
album's pop influence and strong content, others felt that Carey made less usage
of her acclaimed vocal range. Ron Wynn from Allmusic described Carey's
different form of singing on the album: "It was wise for Carey to display other
elements of her approach, but sometimes excessive spirit is preferable to an
absence of passion." The album's second single, "Hero", would eventually
come to be one of Carey's most popular and inspirational songs of her
career. The song became Carey's eighth chart topper in the United
States, and began expanding Carey's popularity throughout Europe. With the
release of the album's third single, Carey achieved several career milestones.
Her cover of Badfinger's "Without You" became her first number one single in
several European countries, including Austria, Germany, the Netherlands,
Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Due to the song's
success, Music Box spent prolonged periods at number one on the album charts of
several countries, and eventually became one of the best-selling albums of
all time, with worldwide sales of over 32 million copies. After declining to
tour for her past two albums, Carey agreed to embark on a short stateside string
of concerts, titled the Music Box Tour. Spanning only six dates across North
America, the short but successful tour was a large step for Carey, who
dreaded the hassle of touring.
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Following Music Box, Carey took a
relatively large period of time away from the public eye, and began working on
an unknown project throughout 1994. The project was kept very secretive
until Billboard announced on their October issue, that Carey would release a
holiday album later that year. In late 1994, Carey recorded a duet with
Luther Vandross; a cover of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross's "Endless Love".
By that point, Columbia felt
Carey had already established herself as a pop singer, and vocalist, but wanted
to to try and feature her as more of an entertainer. Through the release of
Merry Christmas, Columbia hoped that audiences would buy Carey's material solely
for her name and reputation, and squash fears of her being a typical pop
singer. The album was released on November 1, 1994, on the same day that the
album's first single, "All I Want for Christmas Is You", was released. The
album eventually became the best-selling Christmas album of all time, with
global sales reaching over 15 million copies. Additionally, "All I
Want for Christmas Is You" was critically lauded, and is considered "one of the
few worthy modern additions to the holiday canon." Rolling Stone described
it as a "holiday standard", and ranked it fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll
Christmas Songs list. Commercially, it became the best-selling holiday
ringtone of all time, and the best-selling single by a non-Asian artist in
Japan, selling over 2.1 million units (both ringtone and digital
download). By the end of the holiday season of 1994, Carey and
Afanasieff had already begun writing material for her next studio album, which
would be released in the fall of of the following year.
Released on October 3, 1995,
Daydream combined the pop sensibilities of Music Box with downbeat R&B and hip
hop influences. The album's second single, "One Sweet Day" was inspired by
the death of Cole, as well as her sister Allison, who had contracted AIDS.
The song remained atop the Hot 100 for a record-breaking sixteen weeks, and
became the longest running number one song in history. Daydream became her
biggest-selling album in the United States, and became her second album to
be certified Diamond by the RIAA, following Music Box. The album again was
the best-seller by an international artist in Japan, shifting over 2.2 million
copies, and eventually reaching global sales of over 25 million units.
Critically, the album was heralded as Carey's best to date; The New York Times
named it as one of 1995's best albums, and wrote, "best cuts bring R&B
candy-making to a new peak of textural refinement [...] Carey's songwriting has
taken a leap forward and become more relaxed, sexier and less reliant on
thudding clichés." Carey once again opted to embark on a short world tour
titled Daydream World Tour. It had seven dates, three in Japan and four
throughout Europe. When tickets went on sale, Carey set records when all
150,000 tickets for her three shows at Japan's largest stadium, Tokyo Dome sold
out in under three hours, breaking the previous record help by The Rolling
Stones. Due to the album's success, Carey won two awards at the American
Music Awards for her solo efforts: Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite
Soul/R&B Female Artist. Daydream and its singles were respectively nominated
in six categories at the 38th Grammy Awards. Carey, along with Boyz II Men,
opened the event with a performance of "One Sweet Day". However, Carey did
not receive any award, prompting her to comment "What can you do? I will never
be disappointed again. After I sat through the whole show and didn't win once, I
can handle anything." In 1995, due to Daydream's enormous Japanese sales,
Billboard declared Carey the "Artist of the Year" in Japan.
1997–2000: New image and independence,
Butterfly and Rainbow
After the release of Daydream and
the success that followed, Carey began focusing on her personal life, which was
a constant struggle at the time. Carey's relationship with Mottola began to
deteriorate, due to their growing creative differences in terms of her albums,
as well as his controlling nature. With each following album, and her
continual established fame and popularity, Carey began to take more initiative
and control with her music, and started infusing more genres into her work.
During mid-1997, Carey was well underway, writing and recording material for her
next album, Butterfly (1997). She sought to work with other producers and
writers other than Afansieff, such as Sean Combs, Kamaal Fareed, Missy Elliott
and Jean Claude Oliver and Samuel Barnes from Trackmasters. During the
album's recording, Carey and Mottola separated, with Carey citing is as her way
of achieving freedom, and a new lease on life. Aside from the album's
different approach, critics took notice of Carey's altered style of singing,
which she describe as breathy vocals. Her new-found style of singing was met
with mixed reception; some critics felt is was a sign of maturity, that she
didn't feel the need to always show off her upper range, while others felt
it was a sign of her weakening and waning voice. The album's lead
single, "Honey", and its accompanying music video, introduced a more overtly
sexual image than Carey had ever demonstrated, and furthered reports of her
freedom from Mottola. Carey stated that Butterfly marked the point when she
attained full creative control over her music. However, she added, "I don't
think that it's that much of a departure from what I've done in the past [...]
It's not like I went psycho and thought I would be a rapper. Personally, this
album is about doing whatever the hell I wanted to do." Growing creative
differences with producer Afanasieff continued, and eventually ended their
working relationship, after collaborating on most of Carey's material.
Reviews for Butterfly were generally positive: Rolling Stone wrote, "It's not as
if Carey has totally dispensed with her old saccharine, Houston-style balladry
[...] but the predominant mood of 'Butterfly' is one of coolly erotic reverie.
[... Except "Outside" the album sounds] very 1997. [...] Carey has spread her
wings and she's ready to fly", Allmusic editor, Stephen Thomas Erlewine
described Carey's vocals as "sultrier and more controlled than ever", and
heralded Butterfly as her "best record and illustrates that Carey continues to
improve and refine her music, which makes her a rarity among her '90s
peers." The album was a commercial success, although not to the degree of
her previous three albums.
Toward the turn of the millennium,
Carey began developing other projects, many of which she wasn't able to during
her marriage. On April 14, 1998, Carey partook in the VH1 Divas benefit
concert, where she sang alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Shania Twain,
Gloria Estefan and Carole King. Carey had begun developing a film project
All That Glitters, later re-titled to simply Glitter, and intended her
songwriting to other projects, such as Men in Black (1997) and How the Grinch
Stole Christmas (2000). After Glitter fell into developmental hell, Carey
postponed the project, and began writing material for a new album. The
executives at Sony Music, the parent company of Carey's label Columbia, wanted
her to prepare a greatest hits collection in time for the commercially favorable
holiday season. However, they disagreed as to what content and singles
should constitute the album. Sony wanted to release an album that featured
her number one singles in the United States, and her international chart toppers
on the European versions, void of any new material, while Carey felt that a
compilation album should reflect on her most personal songs, not just her most
commercial. She felt that not including any new material would result in
cheating her fans, therefore including four new songs that she had
recorded. While compromised, Carey often expressed distaste towards the
album's song selection, expressing her disappointment in the omission of her
"favorite songs". The album titled, #1's (1998), featured a duet with
Whitney Houston, "When You Believe", and was included on the soundtrack for The
Prince of Egypt (1998). During the development of All That Glitters, Carey
had been introduced to DreamWorks producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who asked her if
she would record the song "When You Believe" for the soundtrack to the animated
film The Prince of Egypt. In an interview with Ebony, Houston described
working with Carey, as well as their growing friendship: "Mariah and I got along
very great. We had never talked and never sang together before. We just had a
chance for camaraderie, singer-to-singer, artist-to-artist, that kind of thing.
We just laughed and talked and laughed and talked and sang in between that ...
It's good to know that two ladies of soul and music can still be friends."
#1's became a phenomenon in Japan, selling over one million copies in its
opening week, and placing as the only international artist to accomplish this
feat. When describing Carey's popularity in Japan throughout the 1990s,
author Chris Nickson compared it to Beatlemania in the 1960s. The album sold
over 3.25 million copies in Japan after only the first three months, and holds
the record as the best-selling album by a non-Asian artist, while amassing
global sales of over 17 million copies.
During the spring of 1999, Carey
began working on the final album of her record contract with Sony, her
ex-husband's label. During this time, Carey's strained relationship with
Sony affected her work with writing partner Afanasieff, who had worked
extensively with Carey throughout the first half of her career. She felt
Mottola was trying to separate her from Afanasieff, in hopes of keeping their
relationship permanently strained. Due to the pressure and the awkward
relationship Carey had now developed with Sony, she completed the album in a
period of three months in the summer of 1999, quicker than any of her other
albums. The album, titled Rainbow (1999), found Carey once again working
with a new array of music producers and songwriters, such as Jay-Z and DJ
Clue. Carey also wrote two ballads with David Foster and Diane Warren, whom
she seemingly used to replace Afanasieff. Rainbow was released on November
2, 1999, to the highest first week sales of her career at the time, however
debuting at number two on the Billboard 200. Throughout early-2000, Carey's
troubled relationship with Columbia grew, as they halted promotion after the
album's first two singles. They felt Rainbow didn't have any strong single
to be released, whereas Carey wanted a ballad regarding personal and inner
strength released. The difference in opinion led to a very public feud, as
Carey began posting messages on her webpage in early and mid-2000, telling fans
inside information on the dispute, as well as instructing them to request "Can't
Take That Away (Mariah's Theme)" on radio stations. One of the messages
Carey left on her page read: "Basically, a lot of you know the political
situation in my professional career is not positive. It's been really, really
hard. I don't even know if this message is going to get to you because I don't
know if they want you to hear this. I'm getting a lot of negative feedback from
certain corporate people. But I am not willing to give up." Fearing to lose
their label's highest seller, Sony chose to release the song. Carey,
initially content with the agreement, soon found out that the song had only been
given a very limited and low-promotion release, which made charting extremely
difficult and unlikely. Critical reception of Rainbow was generally
enthusiastic, with the Sunday Herald saying that the album "sees her
impressively tottering between soul ballads and collaborations with R&B
heavyweights like Snoop Doggy Dogg and Usher [...] It's a polished collection of
pop-soul." Vibe magazine expressed similar sentiments, writing, "She pulls
out all stops [...] Rainbow will garner even more adoration". Though a
commercial success, Rainbow became Carey's lowest selling album to that point in
2001–04: Glitter; personal and
After she received Billboard's
Artist of the Decade Award and the World Music Award for Best-Selling Female
Artist of the Millennium, Carey parted from Columbia and signed a
record-breaking $100 million five-album recording contract with Virgin Records
(EMI Records), Carey was given full conceptual and creative control over the
project. She opted to record an album partly mixed with 1980s influenced
disco and other similar genres, in order to go hand-in-hand with the film's
setting. She often stated that Columbia had regarded her as a commodity,
with her separation from Mottola exacerbating her relations with label
executives. Just a few months later, in July, 2001, it was widely reported that
Carey had suffered a physical and emotional breakdown. She had left messages on
her website that complained of being overworked, and her relationship with
the Latin icon Luis Miguel ended. In an interview the following year, she
said, "I was with people who didn't really know me and I had no personal
assistant. I'd do interviews all day long and get two hours of sleep a night, if
that." Due to the pressure from the media, her heavy work schedule and the
split from Miguel, Carey began posting a series of disturbing messages on her
official website, and displayed erratic behavior on several live promotional
outings. On July 19, 2001, Carey made a surprise appearance on the MTV
program Total Request Live (TRL). As the show's host Carson Daly began
taping following a commercial break, Carey came out pushing an ice cream cart
while wearing a large men's shirt, and began a striptease, in which she shed her
shirt to reveal a tight yellow and green ensemble. While she later revealed
that Daly was aware of her presence in the building prior to her appearance,
Carey's appearance on TRL garnered strong media attention. Only days later,
Carey began posting irregular voice notes and messages on her official website:
"I'm trying to understand things in life right now and so I really don't feel
that I should be doing music right now. What I'd like to do is just a take a
little break or at least get one night of sleep without someone popping up about
a video. All I really want is [to] just be me and that's what I should have done
in the first place ... I don't say this much but guess what, I don't take care
of myself." Following the quick removal of the messages, Berger commented
that Carey had been "obviously exhausted and not thinking clearly" when she
posted the letters.
On July 26, she was suddenly
hospitalized, citing "extreme exhaustion" and a "physical and emotional
breakdown". News websites and programs began reporting how Carey threatened
to commit suicide by slitting her wrists the night before, and how Patricia,
Carey's mother, hastily called for help. When questioned regarding Carey's
suicidal rumor, Berger claimed she had broken dishes out of desperation, and as
a result, accidentally cut her hands and feet. Carey was inducted at an
un-disclosed hospital in Connecticut, and remained hospitalized and under
doctor's care for two weeks, followed by an extended absence from the
public. Following the heavy media coverage surrounding Carey's publicized
breakdown and hospitalization, Virgin Records and 20th Century Fox delayed the
release of both Glitter, as well as its soundtrack of the same name.
Consequently, critics suggested that in delaying Glitter, hype for the project
would have largely subsided, and would possibly hurt both ticket and album
sales. When discussing the project's weak commercial reaction, Carey blamed
both her frame of mind during the time of its release, its postponement, as well
as the soundtrack having been released on September 11. Critics panned
Glitter, as well as its accompanying soundtrack; both were unsuccessful
commercially. The accompanying soundtrack album, Glitter, became Carey's
lowest-selling album to that point. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch dismissed it as
"an absolute mess that'll go down as an annoying blemish on a career that, while
not always critically heralded, was at least nearly consistently
successful." Following the negative cloud that was ensuing Carey's personal
life at the time, as well as the project's poor reception, her unprecedented
$100 million five-album record deal with Virgin Records (EMI Records) was bought
out for $50 million. Soon after, Carey flew to Capri, Italy for a
period of five months, in which she began writing material for her new album,
stemming from all the personal experiences she had endured throughout the past
year. Carey later said that her time at Virgin was "a complete and total
stress-fest [...] I made a total snap decision which was based on money and I
never make decisions based on money. I learned a big lesson from that."
Later that year, she signed a contract with Island Records, valued at more than
$24 million, and launched the record label MonarC. To add further to
Carey's emotional burdens, her father, with whom she had little contact since
childhood, died of cancer that year.
In 2002, Carey was cast in the
independent film, WiseGirls, alongside Mira Sorvino and Melora Walters, who
co-starred as waitresses at a mobster-operated restaurant. It premiered at the
Sundance Film Festival, and received generally negative critical response,
though Carey's portrayal of the character was praised; Roger Friedman of Fox
News referred to her as "a Thelma Ritter for the new millennium", and wrote ,
"Her line delivery is sharp and she manages to get the right laughs". Later
that year, Carey performed the American national anthem to rave reviews at the
Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Towards the end of 2002, Carey released her next studio album Charmbracelet,
which she said marked "a new lease on life" for her. Though released in the
wake of Glitter and Carey's return to the music scene, sales of Charmbracelet
were moderate and the quality of Carey's vocals came under criticism. Joan
Anderson from The Boston Globe declared the album "the worst of her career, and
revealed a voice [that is] no longer capable of either gravity-defying
gymnastics or soft coos", while Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine
expressed similar sentiments and wrote, "What is a greater problem is that
Mariah's voice is shot, sounding in tatters throughout the record. She can no
longer coo or softly croon nor can she perform her trademark gravity-defying
vocal runs." In an attempt to "relaunch" her career following the poor
reception to Glitter, as well as her breakdown, Carey announced a world tour in
April 2003. Lasting over eight months, the Charmbracelet World Tour: An
Intimate Evening with Mariah Carey, became her most extensive tour to date,
spanning sixty-nine shows around the world. Throughout the United States,
the shows were done in smaller theaters, and something more Broadway-influenced,
"It's much more intimate so you'll feel like you had an experience. You
experience a night with me." However, while smaller productions were booked
throughout the tour's stateside leg, Carey performed at stadiums in Asia and
Europe, performing for a crowd of over 35,000 in Manila, 50,000 in Malaysia, and
to over 70,000 people in China. In the United Kingdom, it became Carey's
first tour to feature shows outside of London, booking arena stops in Glasgow,
Birmingham and Manchester. Charmbracelet World Tour: An Intimate Evening
with Mariah Carey garnered generally positive reviews from music critics and
concert goers, with many complimenting the quality of Carey's live vocals, as
well as the production as a whole.
2005–07: Return to prominence with The
Emancipation of Mimi
Throughout 2004, Carey focused on
composing material for her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005).
The album found Carey working predominantly with Jermaine Dupri, as well as
Bryan-Michael Cox, Manuel Seal, The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey's longtime
collaborator, Jermaine Dupri. The album debuted atop the charts in several
countries, and was warmly accepted by critics. Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian
defined it as "cool, focused and urban [... some of] the first Mariah Carey
tunes in years which I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again", while
USA Today's Elysa Gardner wrote, "The ballads and midtempo numbers that truly
reflect the renewed confidence of a songbird who has taken her shots and kept on
flying." The album's second single, "We Belong Together", became a "career
re-defining" song for Carey, at a point when many critics had considered
her career over. music critics heralded the song as her "return to
form", as well as the "return of The Voice", while many felt it would
revive "faith" in Carey's potential as a balladeer. "We Belong Together"
broke several records in the United States and became Carey's sixteenth chart
topper on the Billboard Hot 100. After staying at number one for fourteen
non-consecutive weeks, the song became the second longest running number one
song in US chart history, behind Carey's 1996 collaboration with Boyz II Men,
"One Sweet Day". Billboard listed it as the "song of the decade" and the
ninth most popular song of all time. Besides its chart success, the song
broke several airplay records, and according to Nielsen BDS, gathered both the
largest one-day and one-week audiences in history.
During the week of September 25,
2005, Carey set another record, becoming the first female to occupy the first
two spots atop the Hot 100, as "We Belong Together" remained at number one, and
her next single, "Shake It Off" held the number two spot. On the Billboard
Hot 100 Year-end Chart of 2005, the song was declared the number one song, a
career first for Carey. Billboard listed "We Belong Together" ninth on The
Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs and was declared the most popular song of
the 2000s decade by Billboard. The album earned ten Grammy Award
nominations in 2006–07: eight in 2006 for the original release (the most
received by Carey in a single year), and two in 2007 for the Ultra Platinum
Edition. In 2006 Carey won Best Contemporary R&B Album for The Emancipation of
Mimi, as well as Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for "We
Belong Together". The Emancipation of Mimi was the best-selling album in
the United States in 2005, with nearly five million units sold. It was the first
album by a solo female artist to become the year's best-selling album since
Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill in 1996. At the end of 2005, the
IFPI reported that The Emancipation of Mimi had sold more than 7.7 million
copies globally, and was the second best-selling album of the year after
Coldplay's X&Y. It was the best-selling album worldwide by a solo and female
artist. To date, The Emancipation of Mimi has sold over 12
million copies worldwide. At the 48th Grammy Awards, Carey performed a
medley of "We Belong Together" and "Fly Like a Bird". The performance
earned the night's only standing ovation, prompting Teri Hatcher, who was
presenting the next award, to exclaim, "It's like we've all just been
In support of the album, Carey
embarked on her first headlining tour in three years, named The Adventures of
Mimi: The Voice, The Hits, The Tour after a "Carey-centric fan's" music
diary. The tour spanned forty stops, with thirty-two in the United States
and Canada, two in Africa, and six in Japan. Tickets for the tour went on
sale on June 2, 2006, with prices ranging from $95 to $150 USD, and featured
Carey's long-time friend Randy Jackson as the tour's musical director.
Carey's performances consisted of old songs from her catalog as well as her
newest singles. The tour received warm critical reaction from music critics
and concert goers, many of which celebrated the quality of Carey's live vocals,
as well as the show as a whole. However, critics felt the show's
excesses, such as Carey's often costume changes and pre-filmed clips, were
unnecessary distractions. The tour proved successful, with Carey playing to
over 60,000 fans in the two stop in Tunis alone. Midway through the tour,
Carey booked a two-night concert engagement in Hong Kong, which was scheduled to
take place following her Japanese shows. The shows were cancelled, however,
after tickets went on sale. According to Carey's then-manager Benny Medina, the
cancellation was due to the concert promoter's refusal to pay Carey her
agreed-upon compensation. The promoter instead blamed poor ticket sales
(allegedly, only 4,000 tickets had sold) and "Carey's outrageous demands".
Carey ultimately sued the promoter, claiming $1 million in damages due to the
concert's abrupt cancellation.
2007–09: E=MC², second marriage, and
By spring 2007, Carey had begun to
work on her eleventh studio album, E=MC², in a private villa in Anguilla.
When asked regarding the album title's meaning, Carey said "Einstein's theory?
Physics? Me? Hello! ...Of course I'm poking fun." She characterized it as
"Emancipation of Mimi to the second power", and said that she was "freer" on
this album than any other. Although E=MC² was well received by most
critics, some of them criticized it for being very similar to the formula
used on The Emancipation of Mimi. Two weeks before the album's release,
"Touch My Body", the record's lead single reached the top position on the
Billboard Hot 100, becoming Carey's eighteenth number one and making her the
solo artist with the most number one singles in United States history,
surpassing the record held by Elvis Presley. Additionally, it gave Carey
her 79th week atop the Hot 100, tying her with Presley as the artist with the
most weeks at number one in the Billboard chart history." E=MC² debuted at
number one on the Billboard 200 with 463,000 copies sold, the biggest opening
week sales of her career. With six number one albums, Carey is now tied with
Britney Spears and Janet Jackson in the United States for the third most number
one albums for a female artist, behind Madonna with seven and Barbra Streisand's
nine chart toppers. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked her at number six on
the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists", making Carey the second most
successful female artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Carey and actor/comedian Nick Cannon met while they shot her music video for her
second single, "Bye Bye", on an island off the coast of Antigua. On April
30, 2008, Carey married Cannon at her private estate on Windermere Island in The
Bahamas. Carey had a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler's 2008 film You
Don't Mess with the Zohan, playing herself. On January 20, 2009, Carey
performed "Hero" at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball after Barack Obama was sworn
as America's first African-American president. On July 7, 2009, Carey –
alongside Trey Lorenz – performed her version of The Jackson 5 song "I'll Be
There" at the memorial service for Michael Jackson. At the sight of
Jackson's casket, Carey's voice, overwhelmed with emotion, cracked in the
opening line of the song. She later apologized on The Today Show,
explaining how she did her best effort despite the circumstances.
In 2009, she appeared as a social
worker in Precious, the movie adaptation of the 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. The
film garnered mostly positive reviews from critics, as has Carey's
performance. Variety described her acting as "pitch-perfect". Precious
won awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival,
receiving top honors there. In January 2010, Carey won the
Breakthrough Actress Performance Award for her role in Precious at the Palm
Springs International Film Festival. September 25, 2009, Carey's twelfth
studio album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, was released. Reception for the
album was generally positive, but mixed in certain aspects; Stephen Thomas
Erlewine of Allmusic called it "her most interesting album in a decade",
while Jon Caramanica from The New York Times criticized Carey's vocal
performances, decrying her overuse of her softer vocal registers at the expense
of her more powerful lower and upper registers. Commercially, the album
debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, and became the lowest-selling
studio album of her career. The album's lead single, "Obsessed", became her
40th entry on the Billboard Hot 100 and her highest debut on the chart since "My
All" in 1998. The song debuted at number eleven and peaked at number seven
on the chart, and became Carey's 27th US top-ten hit, tying her with Elton John
and Janet Jackson as the fifth most top-ten hits. Within hours after the
song's release, various outlets speculated that its target was rapper Eminem, in
response to his song "Bagpipes from Baghdad", in which he taunted Carey's
husband, Nick Cannon. According to MTV, Carey alludes to drug problems in
"Obsessed", which Eminem opened up about on his sixth studio album,
Relapse. The album's follow-up single, a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to
Know What Love Is", failed to achieve any significant chart success in the
United States, or much throughout Europe, but managed to break airplay records
in Brazil. The song spent 27 weeks atop the Brasil Hot 100 Airplay, making it
the longest running song in the chart's history. On December 31, 2009,
Carey embarked her seventh concert tour, Angels Advocate Tour, which visited the
United States and Canada. Though stateside, the tour spanned few
international dates, such as in Brazil and Singapore, where Carey played to over
100,000 spectators. On January 30, 2010, it was announced that Carey would
release a remix album of Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel; titled Angels Advocate
(an R&B remix album featuring a collection of newly remixed duets with some of
Carey's favorite artists). The album was slated for a March 30, 2010
release, but were eventually cancelled.
2010–present: Merry Christmas II You,
motherhood and fourteenth studio album
Following the cancellation of the
Angels Advocate, it was announced that Carey would return to the studio to start
work on her thirteenth studio album. It was later revealed that it would be
her second Christmas album, the follow-up to Merry Christmas (1994), which
became the best-selling Holiday album of all time. Long time collaborators
for the project include Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin, Bryan-Michael Cox and
Randy Jackson, as well as new collaborators such as Marc Shaiman. Dupri
stated that a single would be released alongside the album before the year's
end. During a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, in August 2010,
Island Def Jam executive Matt Voss announced that the album would be out on
November 2, 2010. and would include six new songs and a remix of her
classic hit "All I Want for Christmas Is You". The album, titled Merry
Christmas II You, was released alongside an accompanying DVD, and was sent to
retailers on November 2, 2010. Merry Christmas II You debuted at number
four on the Billboard 200 with sales of 56,000 copies, surpassing the opening
week sales of Carey's previous holiday album of 45,000 copies 16 years
prior. It also became Carey's 16th top ten album in the United States.
The album debuted at number one on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it only
the second Christmas album to top this chart.
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In May 2010, Carey dropped out of
her planned appearance in For Colored Girls, the film adaptation of the play For
Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, citing
medical reasons. After much media speculation, Carey confirmed on October
28, 2010 that she and Cannon were expecting a baby, and that she would be due in
the Spring of 2011. Carey also revealed that she had been pregnant shortly
after her wedding with Cannon, but she miscarried. On April 30, 2011, the
couple's third wedding anniversary, Carey gave birth to fraternal twins via
C-section. The twins were named Monroe, after Marilyn Monroe, and Moroccan
Scott, after Cannon proposed to Carey in her Moroccan-style room; Scott is
Cannon's middle name and his grandmother's maiden name. On February 11,
2011, Carey announced on HSN, that she recorded a duet with Tony Bennett for his
upcoming "Duets" album, titled "When Do The Bells Ring For Me". Following
the birth of their children, Cannon revealed during an interview with Billboard
that Carey had already begun working on a new record. Cannon said "She's
been working away, and we have a studio in the crib, and [the pregnancy] has
totally inspired her on so many different levels. You're definitely gonna see
some new phenomenal music from Mariah" and assured Carey would plan on releasing
it by the end of the year. In October 2011, Carey announced that she
re-recorded her song "All I Want for Christmas Is You" with Justin Bieber as a
duet for his Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe. On November 5,
2011, Carey and Bieber filmed a music video for the duet at the Macy's in New
York City. On October 21, 2011, a pre-taped interview with Barbara Walters
aired on ABC's 20/20, during the interview Carey and Cannon allowed the cameras
to photograph/film twins Moroccan and Monroe for the first time ever. In
November 2011, Carey was included in the remix to the mixtape single "Warning"
by Uncle Murda, the remix also features 50 Cent and Young Jeezy. That same
month, Carey announced that she and John Legend collaborated on a duet, "When
Christmas Comes", which was originally part of Carey's 2010 holiday album "Merry
Christmas II You".
Love is the subject of the majority
of Carey's lyrics, although she has written about themes such as racism, social
alienation, death, world hunger, and spirituality. She has said that much of her
work is partly autobiographical, but Time magazine wrote: "If only Mariah
Carey's music had the drama of her life. Her songs are often sugary and
artificial—NutraSweet soul. But her life has passion and conflict," applying it
to the first stages of her career. He commented that as her album's progressed,
so too her songwriting and music blossomed into more mature and meaningful
material. Jim Faber of the New York Daily News, made similar comments, "For
Carey, vocalizing is all about the performance, not the emotions that inspired
it. Singing, to her, represents a physical challenge, not an emotional
unburdening." While reviewing Music Box, Stephen Holden from Rolling Stone
commented that Carey sang with "sustained passion", while Entertainment Weekly's
Arion Berger wrote that during some vocal moments, Carey becomes "too
overwhelmed to put her passion into words." In 2001, The Village Voice
wrote in regards to what they considered Carey's "centerless ballads", writing,
"Carey's Strawberry Shortcake soul still provides the template with which
teen-pop cuties draw curlicues around those centerless [Diane] Warren ballads
[...] it's largely because of [Blige] that the new R&B demands a greater range
of emotional expression, smarter poetry, more from-the-gut testifying, and less
unnecessary notes than the squeaky-clean and just plain squeaky Mariah era.
Nowadays it's the Christina Aguileras and Jessica Simpsons who awkwardly
oversing, while the women with roof-raising lung power keep it in check when
tune or lyric demands."
Carey's output makes use of
electronic instruments such as drum machines, keyboards and
synthesizers. Many of her songs contain piano-driven melodies, as she
was given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said that she
cannot read sheet music and prefers to collaborate with a pianist when composing
her material, but feels that it is easier to experiment with faster and less
conventional melodies and chord progressions using this technique. While
Carey learned to play the piano at a young age, and incorporates several ranges
of production and instrumentation into her music, she has maintained that her
voice has always been her most important asset: "My voice is my instrument; it
always has been." Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in
her career and helped to spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals
for remixes. Disc jockey David Morales has collaborated with Carey on
several occasions, starting with "Dreamlover" (1993), which popularized the
tradition of remixing R&B songs into house records, and which Slant magazine
named one of the greatest dance songs of all time. From "Fantasy" (1995)
onward, Carey enlisted both hip-hop and house producers to re-structure her
album compositions. Entertainment Weekly included two remixes of "Fantasy"
on a list of Carey's greatest recordings compiled in 2005: a National Dance
Music Award-winning remix produced by Morales, and a Sean Combs production
featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. The latter has been credited with
popularizing the R&B/hip-hop collaboration trend that has continued into the
2000s, through artists such as Ashanti and Beyoncé. Combs said that Carey
"knows the importance of mixes, so you feel like you're with an artist who
appreciates your work—an artist who wants to come up with something with
Voice and timbre
Mariah Carey possesses a 5-octave
vocal range, and has the ability to reach notes beyond the 7th
octave. She was ranked first in a 2003 MTV and Blender magazine
countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music, as voted by fans and readers in an
online poll. Carey said of the poll, "What it really means is voice of the MTV
generation. Of course, it's an enormous compliment, but I don't feel that way
about myself." She also placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100
Outstanding Pop Vocalists".
Regarding her voice type, Carey
said that she is alto, while French-American baritone and singing teacher in the
Conservatoire de Paris Malcolm Walker states that she is light lyric soprano,
"because the upper register is much more healthier [sic] than the lower
register." However, within contemporary forms of music, singers are
classified by the style of music they sing. There is currently no authoritative
voice classification system within non-classical music. Attempts have been
made to adopt classical voice type terms to other forms of singing, but they are
controversial, because the development of classic voice categorizations
were made with the understanding that the singer would amplify his or her voice
with their natural resonators, without a microphone. Author Chris Nickson
described Carey's Legato in depth while discussing Music Box, describing how
Carey is able to "keep the tunes softness and sweetness, without resorting to
volume. Carey's vocals are defined as soft and controlled, managing to maintain
the delicate balance in a manner that seems effortless."
Baritone Malcolm Walker as
well as music critic Stephen Holden of The New York Times and vocal
pedagogue Jeannette Lo Vetri describes Carey's voice as "pure, full, rounded and
warm", adding that belting and head voices has a great brightness.
Malcolm Walker praise her belting voice, saying it "works very well" and states
that Carey "passes easily in head voice. It's her true voice." The middle
register is "ample and full" and the voice resonates with strong
vibrato. Jon Pareles, of The New York Times, describes Carey's lower
register as "rich" and "husky", on the other hand, Walker,
Holden, and Lo Vetri state it's "tired", "distended" in its lowest
parts. Carey also possesses a "whisper register". In an interview with the
singer, Ron Givens of Entertainment Weekly described it this way, "In one brief
swoop, she seems to squeal and roar at the same time: whisper register."
Additionally, towards the late 1990s, Carey began incorporating breathy vocals
into her material, usually beginning the song and then building up to a "full
throated" climax. Tim Levell from the BBC News described her vocals as
"sultry close-to-the-mic breathiness", while USA Today's Elysa Gardner
wrote "it's impossible to deny the impact her vocal style, a florid blend of
breathy riffing and resonant belting, has had on today's young pop and R&B
Voice experts praise Carey's vocal
technique, stating that she can deliver very fast and controlled
staccatos "always keeps a neutral larynx position—except sometimes in
her lower register" and "glides effortlessly from bottom to top and vice
versa." Her mastery of melismas and legato is also very
praised. Malcolm Walker adds her vocal lines are "very well led,
especially in piano register." According to Spanish soprano Montserrat
Caballé, "Carey is such a musician. Perfect timing, divine accuracy, subtle and
refined phrasing, melismas always connected to the rhythm and structure of song,
infaillible ability to etablish and resolving musical ideas and theme and
effortless combination of climax and resolve." Jon Pareles also praise her
musicianship, writing, "she can linger over sensual turns, ... syncopate like a
scat singer [and sing] with startlingly exact pitch."
Carey has said that from childhood
she has been influenced by R&B and soul musicians such as Billie Holiday and
Sarah Vaughan. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, and
she credits The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins as the most
influential in her early years. When Carey incorporated hip-hop into her
sound, speculation arose that she was making an attempt to take advantage of the
genre's popularity, but she told Newsweek, "People just don't understand. I grew
up with this music". She has expressed appreciation for rappers such as The
Sugarhill Gang, Eric B. & Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G. and Mobb
Deep, with whom she collaborated on the single "The Roof (Back in Time)"
(1998). Carey was heavily influenced by Minnie Riperton, and began
experimenting with the whistle register due to her original practice of the
During Carey's career, her vocal
and musical style, along with her level of success, has been compared to Whitney
Houston and Celine Dion. Carey and her peers, according to Garry Mulholland, are
"the princesses of wails [...] virtuoso vocalists who blend chart-oriented pop
with mature MOR torch song". Author and writer Lucy O'Brien attributed the
comeback of Barbra Streisand's "old-fashioned showgirl" to Carey and Dion, and
described them and Houston as "groomed, airbrushed and overblown to
perfection". Carey's musical transition and use of more revealing clothing
during the late 1990s were, in part, initiated to distance herself from this
image, and she subsequently said that most of her early work was "schmaltzy MOR".
Some have noted that unlike Houston and Dion, Carey co-writes her own songs, and
the Guinness Rockopedia (1998) classified her as the "songbird supreme".
Carey's vocal style and singing
ability have significantly impacted popular and contemporary music. As music
critic G. Brown from The Denver Post wrote, "For better or worse, Mariah Carey's
five-octave range and melismatic style have influenced a generation of pop
singers." According to Rolling Stone, "Her mastery of melisma, the
fluttering strings of notes that decorate songs like "Vision of Love", inspired
the entire American Idol vocal school, for better or worse, and virtually every
other female R&B singer since the Nineties." Jody Rosen of Slate Magazine
wrote of Carey's influence in modern music, calling her the most influential
vocal stylist of the last two decades, the person who made rococo melismatic
singing. Rosen further exemplified Carey’s influence by drawing parallel
with American Idol, which to her, “often played out as a clash of melisma-mad
Mariah wannabes. And, today, nearly 20 years after Carey's debut, major labels
continue to bet the farm on young stars such as the winner of Britain's X Factor
show, Leona Lewis, with her Generation Next gloss on Mariah's big voice and big
hair." Sean Daly of St. Petersburg Times wrote, "Depending on how you feel
about public humiliation, the best/worst parts of American Idol are the audition
shows, which normally break down into three distinct parts:(1) The Talented
Kids.(2) The Weird Kids.(3) The Mariahs." Daly further commented, "The Mariahs
are the hardest ones to watch, mainly because most of them think they're
reeeaaally good. The poor, disillusioned hopefuls plant themselves in front of
judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson – then proceed to stretch,
break and mutilate every note of a song, often Mariah's Hero, a tune that has
ruined more throats than smoker's cough." New York Magazine's editor Roger
Deckker said that in regarding Carey as an influential artist in music, he
commented that "Whitney Houston may have introduced melisma (the vocally
acrobatic style of lending a word an extra syllable or twenty) to the charts,
but it was Mariah—with her jaw-dropping range—who made it into America’s default
sound." Deckker also added that "Every time you turn on American Idol, you
are watching her children". Despite her vocal prowess, Carey's vocal
technique particularly with the use of melisma and belting, has been subject to
public scrutiny mainly because of young singers such as from talent shows have
been overly imitating her singing technique in which critics commented "Mariah
Carey is, without a doubt, the worst thing to happen to amateur singing since
the karaoke machine". As Professor Katherine L. Meizel noted in her book,
‘’The Mediation of Identity Politics in American Idol’’, “Carey’s influence not
just stops in the emulation of melisma or her singing amongst the wannabe’s,
it’s also her persona, her diva, her stardom which inspires them.... a pre-fame
Carey’s influence is notable in
numerous hip hop, pop and R&B artists, including Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige,
Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Nelly Furtado,
Leona Lewis, Brandy Norwood, Jessica Simpson, Pink, and
Missy Elliott, among others. Knowles credits Carey's singing and her song
"Vision of Love" as influencing her to begin practicing vocal "runs" as a child,
as well as helping her pursue a career as a musician. Rihanna has stated
that Carey is one of her major influences and idol. Christina Aguilera has
cited in her early stages of her career that Carey is a big influence in her
singing career and being one of her idols. According to Pier Dominguez,
author of Christina Aguilera: a star is made : the unauthorized biography,
Aguilera has stated how she loved listening to Whitney Houston, but it was Carey
who had the biggest influence on her vocal styling. Carey's carefully
choreographed image of a grown woman's image struck a chord on Aguilera. Her
influence on Aguilera also grew from the fact that both were of mixed
heritage. Philip Brasor, editor of The Japan Times, expressed how Carey's
vocal and melismatic style even influenced Asian singers. He wrote regarding
Japanese superstar Utada Hikaru, "Utada sang what she heard, from the diaphragm
and with her own take on the kind of melisma that became de rigueur in American
pop after the ascendance of Mariah Carey." In an article called "Out With
Mariah's Melisma, In With Kesha's Kick", writer David Browne of The New York
Times discusses how the ubiquitous melisma pop style has suddenly fallen down
from pop culture in favor of young stars who uses the now ubiquitous autotune in
which the first mentioned was heavily popularized into mainstream pop culture
with the likes of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Browne had commented
"But beginning two decades ago, melisma overtook pop in a way it hadn’t before.
Mariah Carey’s debut hit from 1990, “Vision of Love,” followed two years later
by Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” set the bar insanely
high for notes stretched louder, longer and knottier than most pop fans had ever
heard." Browne further added "A subsequent generation of singers, including
Ms. Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé, built their careers around melisma.
(Men like Brian McKnight and Tyrese also indulged in it, but women tended to
dominate the form.)"
Carey is also credited for
introducing R&B and hip hop into mainstream pop culture, and for popularizing
rap as a featuring act through her post-1995 songs. Sasha Frere-Jones,
editor of The New Yorker commented, "It became standard for R&B/hip-hop stars
like Missy Elliott and Beyoncé, to combine melodies with rapped verses. And
young white pop stars—including Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and Christina
Aguilera—have spent much of the past ten years making pop music that is
unmistakably R&B." Moreover Jones concludes that "[Carey’s] idea of pairing
a female songbird with the leading male MCs of hip-hop changed R&B and,
eventually, all of pop. Although now anyone is free to use this idea, the
success of “The Emancipation of Mimi” suggests that it still belongs to
Carey." Judnick Mayard, writer of The Fader, wrote that in regarding of R&B
and hip hop collaboration, "The champion of this movement is Mariah Carey."
Mayard also expressed that "To this day ODB and Mariah may still be the best and
most random hip hop collaboration of all time", citing that due to the record
"Fantasy", "R&B and Hip Hop were the best of step siblings." Kelfa Sanneh
of The New York Times wrote, "In the mid-1990's Ms. Carey pioneered a subgenre
that some people call the thug-love duet. Nowadays clean-cut pop stars are
expected to collaborate with roughneck rappers, but when Ms. Carey teamed up
with Ol' Dirty Bastard, of the Wu-Tang Clan, for the 1995 hit "Fantasy (Remix)",
it was a surprise, and a smash." Aside from her pop culture and musical
influence, Carey is credited for releasing a classic Christmas song called "All
I Want For Christmas Is You". In a retrospective look at Carey's career,
Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker said, the "charming" song was one of Carey's
biggest accomplishments, calling it "one of the few worthy modern additions to
the holiday canon". Rolling Stone ranked "All I Want for Christmas Is You"
fourth on its Greatest Rock and Roll Christmas Songs list, calling it a "holiday
standard." Following the release of her Greatest Hits album, Devon Powers of
Popmatters has said in his review that "She has influenced countless female
vocalists after her. At 32, she is already a living legend—even if she never
sings another note." Carey’s acumen also extended for being a successful
businesswoman, with the launch of her perfumes, her clothing line and
books. She has portrayed the true nature of being a superstar, according to
sociologist Naomi Hirahara, and is a classic example of the word "diva". Carey
is never seen without her large entourage, whether it be award shows,
performances or as guests on late night specials. Hirahara says, "her demands
are sporadic, her looks are glamorous, she is hardly of her age, but she is
still ruling. Nowadays people emulate the idea of being a diva, but Carey was
the original one in true sense of the term."
Honors and awards
Throughout Carey's career, she has
collected many honors and awards, including the World Music Awards' Best Selling
Female Artist of the Millennium, the Grammy's Best New Artist in 1991,
Billboard's Special Achievement Award for the Artist of the Decade during the
1990s. In a career spanning over 20 years, Carey has sold over 200 million
albums, singles, and videos worldwide, making her one of the biggest-selling
artists in music history. Carey is ranked as the best-selling female artist of
the Nielsen SoundScan era, with over 52 million copies sold.
Possessing a five-octave vocal range, Carey was ranked first in MTV and Blender
magazine's 2003 countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music, and was placed
second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists".
Aside from her voice, she has become known for her songwriting. Yahoo Music
editor Jason Ankeny wrote, "She earned frequent comparison to rivals Whitney
Houston and Celine Dion, but did them both one better by composing all of her
own material." According to Billboard magazine, she was the most successful
artist of the 1990s in the United States. At the 2000 World Music Awards,
Carey was given a Legend Award for being the "best-selling female pop artist of
the millennium", as well as the "Best-selling artist of the 90s" in the United
States, after releasing a series of albums of multi-platinum status in Asia and
Europe, such as Music Box and Number 1's. She is also a recipient of
the Chopard Diamond Award in 2003, recognizing sales of over 100 million albums
worldwide. Additionally, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
lists Carey as the third-best-selling female artist, with shipments of over 63
million units in the US. In Japan, Carey has the top four
highest-selling albums of all time by a non-Asian artist.
Carey has spent a record 79 weeks
at the number-one position on Billboard Hot 100, becoming the artist with the
most weeks at number-one in US chart history. On that same chart, she has
accumulated 18 number-one singles, which ties her with Elvis Presley for the
second most number-one singles in the chart's history (after only The
Beatles). In 1994, Carey released her holiday album Merry Christmas has
sold over 15 million copies worldwide, and is the best-selling Christmas album
of all time. It also produced the successful single "All I
Want for Christmas Is You", which became the only holiday song and ringtone to
reach multi-platinum status in the US. In Japan, Number 1's has sold over
3,250,000 copies and is the best-selling album of all time in Japan by a
non-Asian artist. Her hit single "One Sweet Day", which featured Boyz II
Men, spent sixteen consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart in
1996, setting the record for the most weeks atop the Hot 100 chart in
history. After Carey's success in Asia with Merry Christmas, Billboard
estimated Carey as the all-time best-selling international artist in Japan.
In 2008, Billboard listed "We Belong Together" ninth on The Billboard Hot 100
All-Time Top Songs and second on Top Billboard Hot 100 R&B/Hip-Hop
Songs. The song was also declared the most popular song of the 2000s decade
by Billboard. In 2009, Carey's cover of Foreigner's song "I Want to Know
What Love Is" became the longest-running number-one song in Brazilian singles
chart history, spending 27 consecutive weeks at number-one. Additionally,
Carey has had three songs debut at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100:
"Fantasy", "One Sweet Day" and "Honey", making her the artist with the most
number-one debuts in the chart's 52-year history. Also, she is the first
female artist to debut at number 1 in the U.S. with "Fantasy". In 2010,
Carey's 13th album and second Christmas album, Merry Christmas II You, debuted
at No.1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, making it only the second Christmas
album to top that chart. On November 19, 2010, Billboard magazine named Carey in
their "Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years" chart at number
Philanthropy and other activities
Carey is a philanthropist who has
donated time and money to organizations such as the Fresh Air Fund. She
became associated with the Fund in the early 1990s, and is the co-founder of a
camp located in Fishkill, New York, that enables inner-city youth to embrace the
arts and introduces them to career opportunities. The camp was called Camp
Mariah "for her generous support and dedication to Fresh Air children", and she
received a Congressional Horizon Award for her youth-related charity work.
She is well-known nationally for her work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in
granting the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses, and in November
2006 she was awarded the Foundation's Wish Idol for her "extraordinary
generosity and her many wish granting achievements". Carey has
volunteered for the New York City Police Athletic League and contributed to the
obstetrics department of New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Medical
Center. A percentage of the sales of MTV Unplugged was donated to various
other charities. In 2008, Carey was named Hunger Ambassador of the World
Hunger Relief Movement. In February 2010, the song, "100%", which was
originally written and recorded for the film, Precious, was used as one of
the theme songs for the 2010 Winter Olympics, with all money proceeds going to
One of Carey's most high-profile
benefit concert appearances was on VH1's 1998 Divas Live special, during which
she performed alongside other female singers in support of the Save the Music
Foundation. The concert was a ratings success, and Carey participated in the
Divas 2000 special. In 2007, the Save the Music Foundation honored Carey at
their tenth gala event for her support towards the foundation since its
inception. She appeared at the America: A Tribute to Heroes nationally
televised fundraiser in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and in
December 2001, she performed before peacekeeping troops in Kosovo. Carey
hosted the CBS television special At Home for the Holidays, which documented
real-life stories of adopted children and foster families, from the Wayback
Machine on October 22, 2001. In 2005, Carey performed for Live 8 in
London and at the Hurricane Katrina relief telethon "Shelter from the
Storm". In August 2008, Carey and other singers recorded the charity
single, "Just Stand Up" produced by Babyface and L. A. Reid, to support "Stand
Up to Cancer".
Declining offers to appear in
commercials in the United States during her early career, Carey was not involved
in brand marketing initiatives until 2006, when she participated in endorsements
for Intel Centrino personal computers and launched a jewelry and accessories
line for teenagers, Glamorized, in American Claire's and Icing stores.
During this period, as part of a partnership with Pepsi and Motorola, Carey
recorded and promoted a series of exclusive ringtones, including "Time of Your
Life". She signed a licensing deal with the cosmetics company Elizabeth
Arden, and in 2007, she released her own fragrance, "M". In 2007, Forbes
named her as the fifth richest woman in entertainment, with an estimated net
worth of US $270 million. In November 2011, it was reported that
Carey's net worth was valued at more than $500 million. On November 29,
2010, she debuted a collection on HSN, the collection range included jewelry,
shoes and fragrances. In November 2011, Carey was announced as the new
global ambassador for Jenny Craig, following her 70-pound (32 kg) weight loss
with the program after giving birth to fraternal twins in April.
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The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application. Bloomington: Indiana
University Press. ISBN -0253351103.
James, Harold (1998). Guinness
Rockopedia. Los Angeles: Guinness Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
Nickson, Chris (1995). Mariah
Carey: her story. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-13121-0.
Nickson, Chris (1998). Mariah Carey
revisited. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-19512-0.
Peckham, Anne (2005). Vocal
Workouts for the Contemporary Singer. Boston: Berklee Press. ISBN 0876390475.
Shapiro, Marc (2001). Mariah Carey:
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Voix. Paris: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-19512-0.
Hardy, Phil. The Faber Companion to
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Fred Bronson's Billboard Book of
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Joel Whitburn Presents the
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Additional information concerning
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archive services and print editions of the magazine.
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