Mariah Carey’s 18 No. 1 hits, ranked
The Colosseum’s newest headliner plans to put all of them on display beginning May 6. We've taken a look back at each one.
It’s official—Mimi is coming to Las Vegas. The long-rumored Mariah Carey residency is now a reality, and beginning May 6, fans of the five-time Grammy winner can catch Mariah Carey #1s at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. Carey placed a total of 18 No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts between 1990 and 2008, and she plans to play all 18 of them in her new production. So without further ado, a completely unscientific ranking of those hits.
18. “I Don’t Wanna Cry” (Mariah Carey, 1991)
Proof that Mariah was on an unstoppable roll in 1990-91, this heat-check single gets hardly any play today but was the fourth consecutive No. 1 to start her career.
17. “Touch My Body” (E=MC2, 2008)
Despite the most questionable simile in pop music history (“They be all up in my business like a Wendy (sic) interview”), Mariah’s most recent No. 1 was par for the course in a year that also saw “Low” and “Lollipop” top the charts.
16. “Thank God I Found You” (Rainbow, 1999)
Far be it for us to suggest that Mariah would ever ride anyone’s coattails, but “Thank God I Found You” collaborators Joe and 98 Degrees were never hotter than in 1999, a year when anything—even LFO—seemed possible. Unfortunately, all three parties released better music that year, especially Joe and his timeless “I Wanna Know.”
15. “Hero” (Music Box, 1993)
The Titanic of Mariah hits, “Hero” was the unsinkable ballad, a song so ubiquitous and clichéd that it could be applied to just about anything—weddings, funerals, school dances, sandwich shops. It was a gigantic hit, but there are at least 14 songs you’d rather hear her sing, right?
14. “I’ll Be There” (MTV Unplugged, 1992)
The only MTV Unplugged performance to ever hit No. 1, Mariah’s faithful rendition of the Jackson 5 classic turned into a duet with the help of longtime backup singer Trey Lorenz.
13. “Love Takes Time” (Mariah Carey, 1990)
This boilerplate ballad became the template for so many artists who came after (Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” doesn’t exist without it) that it almost seems cliché today. But all clichés have to start somewhere.
12. “My All” (Butterfly, 1998)
Mariah’s ballads have a tendency to blur together, but “My All” is unique in just how low-key it is. Even when she goes for the money notes, the Latin-flavored instrumentation just simmers beneath, never stealing her spotlight away.
11. “Honey” (Butterfly, 1997)
Hip-hop had been creeping into Mariah’s sound ever since “Fantasy,” but it really took hold with “Honey,” a sea-change hit that coincided with her split from record exec Tommy Mottola. With the sex appeal cranked up all the way, Mariah and Bad Boy’s production team (including Puff Daddy) ushered in the new approach.
10. “Don’t Forget About Us” (The Emancipation of Mimi, 2005)
No one was forgetting about Mariah after “We Belong Together.” Although this follow-up hit mined similar themes of heartbreak and regret, “Don’t Forget About Us” was all about the victory lap.
9. “Someday” (Mariah Carey, 1991)
Not content to be pigeonholed as a balladeer, Mariah’s change-of-pace third single was a New Jane Swing banger that ripped a page straight out of the Color Me Badd playbook. Taken by itself, the intro could very well lead into “I Wanna Sex You Up.”
8. “One Sweet Day” (Daydream, 1995)
On paper, the pairing of Mariah and Boyz II Men was a genius stroke. She was the biggest female singer on the planet, and they were in the midst of an all-world run where the only threat to a Boyz II Men chart-topper was the next Boyz II Men chart-topper. It didn’t matter that the actual the song was not as memorable as either’s previous work—it’s still the longest-running No. 1 hit in Billboard history.
7. “Dreamlover” (Music Box, 1993)
Girl Next Door Mariah is a concept that never really took off, but “Dreamlover” is its short-lived apotheosis, all knotted flannel, jean shorts and plenty of open field to dance around in. She just wants a dream lover so she doesn’t have to dream alone.
6. “Fantasy” (Daydream, 1995)
Mariah needed a cred boost around the mid-’90s, and she got it thanks to a sample of an old Tom Tom Club hit and a remix featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Few things in 1995 were as foolproof as guest spot from Dirt McGirt.
5. “Vision of Love” (Mariah Carey, 1990)
Please welcome the bride and groom to the dance floor—and Mariah Carey to the pop charts. This slow burner and first-dance staple was a formidable opening bow, solid proof that the 20-year-old from Long Island had star potential.
4. “Always Be My Baby” (Daydream, 1996)
“Always Be My Baby” is to the ’90s what “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was to the ’80s: the seminal female sing-along song of the decade. What started out as a simple love song has been forever co-opted as a reaffirmation of friendship and, dare we say it, girl power. Once those “doo-doo-doos” start, there’s nothing left for guys to do except hold their significant others’ coats and bags and try to weather the storm.
3. “Heartbreaker” (Rainbow, 1999)
The last great song before a half-decade in the wilderness is the fitting culmination of Sexy Mariah and Hip-Hop Mariah. Jay-Z’s verse on the original recording is instantly memorable, but the remix, with Missy Elliott and Da Brat, is the real gem.
2. “We Belong Together” (The Emancipation of Mimi, 2005)
The comeback single to top all comeback singles is the reason for the season. Simply put, Mariah’s Caesars residency doesn’t happen without this Jermaine Dupri-produced jam, which stayed at No. 1 for 14 weeks, became the biggest song of the year and emancipated Mimi from her commercial decline.
1. “Emotions” (Emotions, 1991)
“Emotions” is a tour de force, a whirlwind of whistle notes so vocally taxing that Mariah has been regularly lowering its key since 1992. If you’re at a karaoke bar and want to make a statement, have the DJ cue up “Emotions.” No other Mariah track shows off her pipes quite like this one—or makes you feel so badly about your own.