Some artists surround themselves with managers and consultants, and strategize for months on how to get their album to the top of the charts. Mariah Carey hit Number One while she was sleeping.
On Monday, Carey’s eleventh studio album, E=MC2, shot to the top of the iTunes album chart, after a fan-generated hashtag calling for #JusticeforEMC2 began trending on Twitter overnight. The album, released in 2008, slowly re-entered the iTunes 200, ascending the list and peaking at the top spot by the time Carey woke up Monday morning.
The achievement came more than a year after a similar hashtag got Carey’s Glitter soundtrack to the top of the iTunes chart in 2018, 17 years after the album’s initial release. The #JusticeforGlitter campaign was so effective that the singer even added a couple of songs off the album to her “Caution World Tour” that year.
Just how E=MC2 conquered the charts (again) is a testament to the power of a dedicated fan base and the rapid speed at which trends are formed these days on social media.
The album was first released by Island Records on April 15th, 2008, debuting at Number One on the Billboard charts. While it spawned the hit single “Touch My Body” (which gave Carey her 18th Number One hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and helped her surpass Elvis Presley as the solo artist with the most Number One singles in history), the album’s latest anniversary had passed without much fanfare or acknowledgement from either the label or Carey herself. But Carey’s “Lambily” (the name for the singer’s fandom) had other ideas.
According to a spokesperson from Twitter, conversation around the album and the use of the #JusticeforEMC2 hashtag started to take off early Sunday, before peaking late on Monday night. A little digging reveals that the hashtag was first used by 17-year-old David (who asked that his full name not be used), under his Twitter handle, “unocompetitor.” David, who’s currently self-isolating at home, says it was a spur of the moment thing, brought on by a mix of his love for the album, and a little quarantine boredom.
“I saw that the album was discounted (iTunes priced it at $4.99 compared to $9.99 for most new releases) and it was slowly gaining momentum on the iTunes chart, so I, along with a few other fans, thought, ‘Maybe we should get it to Number One,'” David tells Rolling Stone. “It happened before with Glitter; why not make it happen again?”
“We’re not able to do much due to this quarantine,” the teenager adds, “so why not kill some time listening to a good body of work?”
Twitter says the #JusticeforEMC2 hashtag had amassed more than 8,000 mentions before Carey first tweeted about it on Monday. On Tuesday, the singer mentioned the improbable feat again, performing a snippet of “Last Kiss,” one of the ballads off the album (we reached out to Carey for comment but have yet to hear back).
Woke up yesterday to find out that E=MC2 is somehow the #1 album on iTunes!! On its 12th anniversary no less 😃 Lambily, you are the friggin' BEST! I hope you enjoy this impromptu version of Last Kiss ❤️❤️❤️ #JusticeForEMC2 #eternally12 https://t.co/Z5FasE8DaV pic.twitter.com/AhfuE1kI7y
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) April 28, 2020
Twitter says there have now been almost 25,000 mentions of the hashtag and counting. Carey’s last tweet, meantime, has generated 15,000 likes as of this writing. Four songs from the album — “For the Record,” “Migrate,” “I Wish You Well,” and “Thanx 4 Nothin’” also trended worldwide over the weekend. E=MC2 topped the iTunes charts for two straight days and is still in the top three as of this writing.
As for why this 12-year-old album deserves “justice,” David says he’s never seen or heard Carey refer to E=MC2 in her interviews, and the album’s recent anniversary date went by without any posts or mentions from the diva. “I don’t think Mariah understands how much us ‘Lambs’ cherish her bodies of work,” he says. “Hopefully, #JusticeForEMC2 got her attention.”
For what it’s worth, David says he is actually a new fan of Carey’s, having only recently delved into her catalog. “I’ve been hearing Mariah’s classics on the radio since I was a kid,” he says, “but I didn’t become a fan until around the Caution era, maybe a little later than that. It was such a good album,” he says of Carey’s 2018 release.
“Outside of being an amazing singer, she’s a phenomenal songwriter, and I think that’s one of the many reasons why I love her so much,” he says. “Her voice alone is enough to give you goosebumps, but when you dissect the lyrics of some of her songs, they touch the soul, and you can’t help but to get emotional. She’s the epitome of art, and I’m so happy to be able to say I’m a Lamb.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was originally published to protect the identity of the subject.