Last week, Mariah Carey returned with the smooth, feisty new single "I Don't," featuring YG. Over the last couple years, Carey has been more present than ever in culture with her reality show Mariah's World, her first European tour in years, a Vegas residency and an upcoming tour with Lionel Richie. In honor of her new release, we asked our readers to vote for the best Mariah Carey song. Here are the results.
Carey tied with Madonna and Whitney Houston for most chart-topping singles in 1996 with "Always Be My Baby," her 11th single to reach Number One. The romantic, midtempo tune is one of her more straightforward pop hits from the early portion of her career, featuring a catchy chorus and one of her most tender vocal performances. Jermaine Dupri co-wrote and produced the song and later released his own official remix featuring guest verses from Da Brat and Xscape. Dupri and Carey re-teamed for The Emancipation of Mimi in 2005.
Originally written by Carey for Gloria Estefan, "Hero" was used as the centerpiece song for the film of the same name starring Dustin Hoffman, Geena Davis and Andy Garcia. It is one of Carey's most inspirational songs, and she's performed it at many patriotic events, including Barack Obama's inaugural ball in 2009. It was also her eighth Number One single, a feat she achieved in three years.
For a female artist to make a comeback in her mid-thirties is almost entirely unheard of in mainstream pop, but Carey is unlike most other pop artists. The early 2000s were marred with the failure of her autobiographical film Glitter and its soundtrack, a breakdown and the lackluster performance of the follow-up Charmbracelet. With assistance from L.A. Reid, Carey relaunched herself and her career, moving back to the top of the charts with the thrilling Emancipation of Mimi and the hit romantic ballad "We Belong Together." It was her first Number One single since "Thank God I Found You" in 2000.
"Fantasy" was an important track for both Carey and pop music overall. For many, the hip-hop-leaning sound of both the original track and the Bad Boy Remix, produced by Sean Combs and featuring a verse from Ol' Dirty Bastard, launched a movement for pop artists to collaborate with rappers to create urban crossover megahits. The move was originally seen as controversial at the time for the vocalist's more squeaky-clean image, but it ended up creating one of her biggest, most recognizable hits as well as influencing the direction that many new millennium pop artists would take.
Naturally, Carey's debut single is easily her most iconic. The vocal acrobats she shows off with ease inspired an entire generation of pop vocalists and entered her into the diva lexicon amongst the likes of Whitney and Aretha without refute. The song, written by Carey while she was in high school, was originally featured on the demo tape that got her signed to Columbia Records. It reached Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 nine weeks after its released and stay there for one month. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards, taking home Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.