This week we will be with Mariah Carey.
Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and occasional actress. Born and raised on Long Island, New York, Carey came to prominence after releasing her self-titled debut studio album Mariah Carey in 1990; it went multiplatinum and spawned four consecutive number one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Under the guidance of Columbia Records executive and later husband Tommy Mottola, she continued booking success with followup albums Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), and Merry Christmas (1994), Carey was established as Columbia’s highest-selling act. Daydream (1995) made music history when its second single “One Sweet Day”, a duet with Boyz II Men, spent a record sixteen weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and remains the longest-running number-one song in U.S. chart history. During the recording of the album, Carey began to deviate from her R&B and pop beginnings and slowly traversed into hip hop. This musical change became evident with the release of Butterfly (1997), at which time Carey had separated from Mottola.
Carey left Columbia in 2000, and signed a $100 million recording contract with Virgin Records America. Before the release of her film Glitter (2001), she suffered a physical and emotional breakdown and was hospitalized for severe exhaustion. Following the film’s poor reception, she was bought out of her recording contract for $50 million, which led to a decline in her career. She signed a multimillion dollar contract deal with Island Records in 2002, and after an unsuccessful period, returned to the top of music charts with The Emancipation of Mimi (2005). Its second single “We Belong Together” became her most successful single of the 2000s, and was later named “Song of the Decade” by Billboard. Carey once again ventured into film with a well-received supporting role in Precious (2009); she was awarded the “Breakthrough Performance Award” at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and received Black Reel and NAACP Image Award nominations.
Throughout her career, Carey has sold more than 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In 1998, she was honored as the world’s best-selling recording artist of the 1990s at the World Music Awards. Carey was also named the best-selling female artist of the millennium in 2000. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, she is the third-best-selling female artist in the United States, with 63.5 million certified albums. With the release of “Touch My Body” (2008), Carey gained her 18th number-one single in the United States, more than any other solo artist. In 2012, Carey was ranked second on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Women in Music”. Aside from her commercial accomplishments, Carey has won five Grammy Awards, 19 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, and 31 Billboard Music Awards. Referred to as the “songbird supreme” by the Guinness World Records, she is famed for her five-octave vocal range, power, melismatic style and signature use of the whistle register.
1988–92: Mariah Carey and Emotions
Carey exiting the Shepherd’s Bush Theatre after promoting her single “Vision of Love” on The Wogan Show, in 1990
As Starr’s friendship with Carey grew, so did her interest in helping Carey succeed in the industry. In December 1988, Carey accompanied Starr to a record executives’ gala, where she handed her demo tape to Tommy Mottola, head of Columbia Records, who listened to it on his way back home. After the first two songs, he was so enamored of Carey’s voice that he returned to the event, only to find that she had left. In what has been widely described by critics as a modern day Cinderella tale, after searching for Carey for two weeks, he immediately signed her and began mapping out her commercial debut. While she maintained that she wanted to continue working with Margulies, Mottola enlisted top producers of the time, including Ric Wake, Narada Michael Walden and Rhett Lawrence. Mottola and the staff at Columbia had planned to market Carey as their main female pop artist, competing with Whitney Houston and Madonna (signed to Arista and Sire Records respectively). After the completion of her debut album, Mariah Carey, Columbia spent more than $1 million promoting it. Despite a weak start, the album eventually reached the top of the Billboard 200, after Carey’s exposure at the 33rd Annual Grammy Awards. Mariah Carey stayed atop the charts for eleven consecutive weeks,[not in citation given] and she won the Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance awards for her single “Vision of Love”. The album yielded three more number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, following the four-week number-one run of “Vision of Love”. Carey became the first artist since The Jackson 5 to have their first four singles reach number one. Mariah Carey finished as the best-selling album in the United States in 1991, while totaling sales of over 15 million copies.
Carey began recording her second studio album, Emotions, in 1991. She described it as a homage to Motown soul music, as she felt the need to pay tribute to the type of music that had influenced her as a child. For the project, Carey worked with Walter Afanasieff, who only had a small role on her debut, as well as Robert Clivillés and David Cole, from the dance group C+C Music Factory. However, Carey’s relationship with Margulies deteriorated over a contract Carey had signed before signing with Columbia, agreeing to split not only the songwriting royalties from the songs, but half of her earnings as well. However, when the time came to write music for Emotions, Sony officials made it clear he would only be paid the fair amount given to co-writers on an album. Margulies later filed a lawsuit against Sony which ultimately led to their parting of ways. Emotions was released on September 17, 1991, and was accepted by critics as a more mature album than its predecessor. While praised for Carey’s improved songwriting, production, and new sound, the album was criticized for its material, thought weaker than that of her debut. Though the album managed sales of over eight million copies globally, Emotions failed to reach the commercial and critical heights of its predecessor.
As after the release of her debut, critics again questioned whether Carey would embark on a world tour to promote her material. Although Carey explained that stage fright and the style of her songs made a tour very daunting, speculation grew that Carey was a “studio worm”, and that she was incapable of producing the perfect pitch and 5-octave vocal range for which she was known. In hopes of putting to rest any claims of her being a manufactured artist, Carey and Walter Afanasieff decided to book an appearance on MTV Unplugged, a television program aired by MTV. The show presented name artists “unplugged” or stripped of studio equipment. While Carey felt[vague]strongly of her more soulful and powerful songs, it was decided that her most popular content would be included. Days before the show’s taping, Carey and Afanasieff thought of adding a cover version of an older song, in order to provide something different and unexpected. They chose “I’ll Be There”, a song made popular by The Jackson 5 in 1970. On March 16, 1992, Carey recorded a seven-piece set-list at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, New York. The revue was met with critical acclaim, leading to it being aired more than three times as often as an average episode would. The success tempted Sony officials to market it. Sony decided to release it as an EP, priced low because it was short. The EP proved to be a success, contrary to critics and speculations that Carey was just a studio artist, and was given a triple-Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and managed Gold and Platinum certifications in several European markets.