Bio: This pop diva enjoyed an unprecedented string of US chart-toppers that helped establish her as the most successful female solo artist of the 90s. Carey is the third child of an Irish-American mother, a former opera singer turned voice tutor, and a half-Venezuelan father. As a schoolgirl she began singing on R&B sessions in New York when she met keyboard player and songwriter Ben Margulies who became her songwriting partner and close friend. With Carey writing the melodies and most of the lyrics, and Margulies arranging the songs, they developed a simple blend of soul, gospel and pop that showed off Carey’s amazing vocal range to the full.
Carey struggled as a waitress until fortune smiled on her. While at a showbusiness party, a friend of the singer thrust a demo cassette into the hands of Sony Music’s US president Tommy Mottola. While driving home from the party Mottola played the cassette in the car and was so impressed that he immediately set out on a Prince Charming-like quest to find his Cinderella. Carey was duly signed to Columbia Records and her 1990 debut single, ‘Vision Of Love’, was a smash hit. It became the first in a run of five consecutive US number 1s. Managed by Randy Hoffman (whose roster also included Hall And Oates) the success story proved swift and efficient in construction. In addition to providing four chart-topping singles (‘Vision Of Love’, ‘Love Takes Time’, ‘Someday’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Cry’), her debut album stayed on top of the US album charts for 11 weeks, as she duly picked up 1991 Grammy Awards for Best Female Vocalist and Best New Artist, an extraordinary start to a career.
The title track of Carey’s second album Emotions gave the singer a record fifth consecutive US number 1, while ‘Can’t Let Go’ and ‘Make It Happen’ narrowly failed to reach the top slot. Subsequent number 1 US singles included a cover version of the Jackson Five’s ‘I’ll Be There’ (from the MTV Unplugged EP), ‘Dreamlover’ and ‘Hero’ (both from 1993’s chart-topping Music Box). Her only UK number 1 to date, however, came with a cover version of Badfinger’s ‘Without You’ in February 1994. In June 1993, Carey married Mottola (they subsequently divorced in 1998). The following year’s seasonal Merry Christmas featured another transatlantic hit single, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’. It had been preceded by a successful collaboration with soul singer Luther Vandross, ‘Endless Love’.
Carey’s 1995 release, Daydream, exceeded all expectations and notched up sales of over six million in the USA within three months of release. Some critics did question whether Daydream was a controlled exercise in vacuous formula writing, with little emotion or heart. Nevertheless, it produced three further huge-selling US number 1 singles, ‘Fantasy’, ‘One Sweet Day’ (a collaboration with Boyz II Men that topped the US charts for a staggering 16 weeks), and ‘Always Be My Baby’. Butterfly, her first album to be recorded following her initial separation from Mottola, featured Carey’s most adventurous collection of songs to date, and inevitably repeated the success of her previous albums. ‘Honey’ and ‘My All’ became Carey’s 12th and 13th US chart-toppers.
At the end of 1998 Carey enjoyed another worldwide hit with ‘When You Believe’, a duet with fellow diva Whitney Houston taken from the animated DreamWorks movie The Prince Of Egypt. Her solo chart domination showed no sign of abating in 1999 despite a rather misguided lurch into urban R&B territory, with the singer scoring yet another US chart-topper, ‘Heartbreaker’, featuring rapper Jay-Z. ‘Thank God I Found You’, featuring Joe and 98°, reached the top the following February. Altogether, Carey’s records had sold over 110 million copies worldwide by the end of the decade, establishing her as the biggest-selling female US solo artist of the 90s.
In 2001, Carey signed a four album, $80 million recording contract with Virgin Records. Shortly before the release of her debut for the label, the soundtrack to a movie loosely based on her life (Glitter), Carey was admitted to hospital suffering from mental and physical exhaustion. Despite generating the US hit single ‘Loverboy’, the album was one of the year’s most high-profile failures and prompted speculation about the future of her Virgin Records contract. The rumours became fact in January 2002 when Carey parted company with the label.
Later in the year Carey signed a multi-album recording contract with Island Def Jam, and formed her own imprint, MonarC Music. The first release on the label was her new studio album, Charmbracelet, which largely eschewed the hip-hop flirtations of the late 90s in a partially successful attempt to woo back the singer’s MOR audience. By the time of 2005’s The Emancipation Of Mimi, supposedly named after an alter-ego of the singer, Carey had changed her mind again and enlisted the help of the Neptunes, Nelly, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg on a collection immersed in urban culture. The album returned the singer to the top of the US charts in April. Carey also achieved her first US number 1 single for several years, ‘We Belong Together’. The track spent most of the summer at the top of the charts, with the follow-up ‘Shake It Off’ reaching the number 2 position later in the year and ‘Don’t Forget About Us’ achieving the coveted Christmas number 1 slot.
In March 2008, Carey leapfrogged Elvis Presley in the all-time list of US chart-toppers when ‘Touch My Body’ climbed to the top, placing her behind only the Beatles.
Mariah Carey "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
Learn more about this artist's Christmas hits by clicking on the song titles below.