This year, singer Mariah Carey celebrates 20 years in the music business. Over the course of the past 20 years, “The Voice” as she has been called, has recorded dozens of songs. For every occasion, there is literally a Mariah Carey song to mark the event. It’s no secret that I am one of Mariah’s biggest fans (or lambs as MiMi likes to call us). So in honor of her anniversary, I am chronicling my “Best of” list. So here is Part 1 of my 20 best songs by, “The Voice” aka “Mimi” aka the one and only Mariah Carey.
Part 1 includes the best 10 from 1990-1998
Best Song from the Mariah Carey Album: “Love Takes Time” – The second single off her debut album, this song solidified Mariah’s place as my favorite solo artist. Even at the ripe old age of 10, I knew that Mariah possessed a talent that is rarely duplicated. This is the perfect broken hearted girl song.
Best lyric: “Losing my mind from this hollow in my heart/Suddenly I’m so incomplete/ Lord, I’m needing you now tell me how to stop the rain/Tears are falling down endlessly.”
Best Duet: “I’ll be There” with Trey Lorenz – This song was a last minute addition to Mariah’s MTV Unplugged special. The duet features Mariah’s friend and background singer Trey Lorenz. The two have an obvious camaraderie that was evidenced in the chemistry between the two. Recorded early in her career, the song proved that Mariah was not simply a studio performer. She has the ability to deliver powerful live performances as well.
Best lyric: “Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter /Togetherness is all I’m after/Whenever you need me/I’ll be there.”
Best Song from Emotions Album: “Emotions” – So, I’m usually into ballads, but this is one of the best up tempo songs I’ve ever heard. Mariah’s high octave vocal trills are AMAZING.
Best lyric: “You’ve got me feelin’ emotions/Deeper than I’ve ever dreamed of/You’ve got me feelin’ emotions/Higher than the heavens above.”
Best Wedding Song: “Endless Love” – This is one of the most anticipated musical collaborations in R&B. When Luther Vandross, the reigning king of the R&B ballad and Mariah united to rerecord the iconic “Endless Love” (originally recorded by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross), the world, (at least my small portion of it) was ecstatic. The result was pure magic.
Best lyric: “Two hearts that beat as one/Our lives have just begun/I’ll hold you close in my arms/I can’t resist your charms”
Best Song from Music Box Album: “Music Box” – I’m sure most readers expected me to list “Hero” but after hearing that song close to a million times, I’m over it. But I think “Music Box” is the most beautiful and simple song that Mariah has ever recorded.
Best lyric: “If I should fall your love is strong enough to lift me up/If I’m afraid you chase away my fears and take me to a brighter place beyond the rain.”
Best Holiday Song: “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – Mariah created an instant hit with this song. It’s amazingly fun and light, but solid enough to be a timeless classic. The song is infectious and stays with you for hours after you hear it. But it’s not at all annoying.
Best lyric: “I won’t ask for much this Christmas /I won’t even wish for snow /I’m just gonna keep on waiting /Underneath the mistletoe.”
Best Song from Daydream Album: “Always Be My Baby” – This was a tough decision because this album has many great songs (a few that I feature in other best categories). But there is something about this song that makes me happy. When Mariah sings the first “Doo, doo, doop” combined with the light and whimsical musical backing, it’s hard not to smile.
Best lyric: “You’ll always be a part of me/And I’m part of you indefinitely/Boy don’t you know you can’t escape me/Ohh darling cause you’ll always be my baby.”
Best Dance Song: “Fantasy” – This is hands down, one of Mariah’s best up-tempo song. Complete with a Tom Tom Club “Genius of Love” sample, this song is a great dance track. It is a pure pop classic that is full of rhythm and movement. And the rap by ODB on the remix is a stone cold winner (me and Mariah go back like babies and pacifiers).
Best lyric: “Images of rapture/Creep into me slowly/ As you’re going to my head/ And my heart beats faster/When you take me over/Time and time and time again.”
Best Song from Butterfly Album: “Butterfly” – This is my absolute favorite Mariah song. Hands down, without a doubt, no contest, MY FAVORITE. Why? Musically, it’s beautiful. The soft piano is intoxicating. Lyrically, the words speak to a human experience that is both personal and universal. And performance wise, I believe it is Mariah’s most intricate and nuanced vocal performance ever. It’s almost impossible for me to put my love for this song into words. Simply put, this song is amazing.
Best lyric: “I can’t pretend these tears aren’t overflowing steadily/ I can’t prevent this hurt from almost overtaking me/ But I will stand and say goodbye/ For you’ll never be mine until you know the way it feels to fly.”
Best Movie Soundtrack Song: “When You Believe” – Written for the Prince of Egypt Soundtrack, this song marks another powerhouse collaboration. Mariah joins fellow diva Whitney Houston on the track and the results are pure magic. The two singers harmonize well neither ever trying to out sing the other. Mariah effortlessly switches from harmony and melody in classic Mariah style. The song itself is the type of inspirational ballad that Mariah does perfectly.
Best lyric: “They don’t always happen when you ask/And it’s easy to give in to your fear/But when you’re blinded by your pain/Can’t see your way clear through the rain/A small but still resilient voice/Says love is very near.”