This year, singer Mariah Carey celebrates 20 years in the music business. So in honor of her anniversary, I am chronicling my “Best of” list. So here is Part 2 of my 20 best songs by, “The Voice” aka “Mimi” aka the one and only Mariah Carey.
Part 2 includes the best 10 from 1998-2010
Best Remake: “I Still Believe” – Mariah recorded “I Still Believe” for her #1s album. The song was a tribute to her mentor and friend Brenda K. Starr who originally recorded the song in 1988. Mariah’s rendition of the song is soulful, but not too over the top. I think she successfully pays homage to the original while putting her own personality into the vocal performance.
Best lyric: “If there’s one spark of hope/Left in my grasp/I’ll hold it with both hands/It’s worth the risk of burning/To have a second chance.”
Best Song from Rainbow Album: “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” – A contender for best remake, Mariah’s rendition of the Phil Collins classic is the highlight of the Rainbow album. Mariah’s painful plea at the finale of the song (see best lyric) is heart wrenching and emotional. In true Mariah fashion, she makes the song her own.
Best lyric: “And you coming back to me is against all odds/ And it’s the chance I’ve got to take.”
Best Inspirational Song: “Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme)” – This is a powerful song that not only inspires, but empowers. The ballad is relatable to anyone that has dealt with detractor, naysayers, or bullies. Mariah’s strong vocal performance on the song are what stand out most. She sings the lyrics with conviction and a sincere belief in what she is singing.
Best lyric: “They can do anything they want to you/If you let them in/But they won’t ever win/If you cling to your pride and just push them aside.”
Best Song from Charmbracelet Album: “Clown” – Nobody does subtle, lyrical revenge better than Mariah. Rumors has been around for awhile about who the song is about. Regardless, Mariah goes hard on the unknown subject of the song. But the song itself is sassy, tongue and cheek, and quite fun to listen to.
Best lyric: “Taking my G5 twenty minutes wasn’t nothing/But I guess you didn’t know, that’s the way I roll/Consequently now your ego’s fully overblown/You don’t want the world to know that you’re just a puppet show/And the little boy inside often sits at home alone and cries, cries, cries, cries.”
Best Song from The Emancipation of MiMi Album: “We Belong Together” – Picking the best song on Mariah’s comeback album is difficult. But I chose “We Belong Together.” The song is part hip hop, part old school, and part classic Mariah ballad. She even references the lyrics of Bobby Womack. It’s hands down Mariah best song of the 2000s.
Best lyric: “I’m feeling all out of my element/Throwing things, crying, trying to figure out where the hell I went wrong/The pain reflected in this song ain’t even half of what I’m feeling inside/I need you, need you back in my life, baby.”
Best #1 Song: “Don’t Forget About Us” – Thematically, this song is “We Belong Together, part 2.” But the song is so good, that it stands alone as one of Mariah’s best. Not only is the song awesome, but also historic. It was Mariah’s 17th #1 single, which tied her with Elvis (a feat she would later surpass).
Best lyric: “She’s got your head all messed up now that’s the trickery/So why you running around like you don’t know how this loving used to be/I’ll bet she can’t do it like me, she’ll never be MC/ Baby, don’t you, don’t you forget about us”
Best Honeymoon Song: “Joyride” – It’s ridiculous (in a good way) how much vocal range Mariah shows on this song. The song oozes a romantic vibe. The background piano and chimes add to the whimsicality of the track. Lyrically, the song is simple and sweet. Mariah’s vocal performance is one of the best since Butterfly. Emotionally tender, this song is the perfect addition to any wedding night soundtrack.
Best lyric: “I don’t need anything when you’re here next to me/Nobody in this whole wide world/Could ever replace you in my eyes/We found paradise, forever you and I.”
Best Song from E=MC2 Album: “Side Effects” – Never one to name names, on Side Effects, Mariah seemingly recounts the days of her marriage to music mogul Tommy Mottola. The lyrics to the song are personal and revealing. But musically, it’s an awesome hip-hop song that features a great rap by Young Jeezy.
Best lyric: “Still a little protective about the people that I let inside/Still a little defensive thinking folks be trying to run my life/ Still a little depressed inside, I fake a smile and deal with the side effects.”
Best Use of Scripture in a Song: “Wish You Well” – So, I made up this category because I really love this song and wasn’t really sure where to put it. This is Mariah’s song for the haters (you know who you are). However, instead of blasting them with a raging hip-hop beat, Mariah chooses a soft, melodic ballad complete with Biblical scriptures. This song is the perfect ending to the album.
Best lyric: “Maybe when you’re cursing me/You don’t feel so incomplete/But we’ve all made mistakes/ Felt the guilt and self-hate/ I know that you’ve been there for plenty/ Maybe still for love for me/But let him without sin cast the first stone brethren.”
Best Song from Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel Album: “Betcha Gon’ Know” – I absolutely LOVE this song. It’s karmic and clever. Mariah’s best effort at lyrical revenge.
Best lyric: “This is for real, for real, for real/Oprah Winfrey whole segment for real, for real/ Barbara Walters 20/20 for real, for real, 60 minutes for real.”