Mariah Carey’s Top 25 Best Songs

In celebration of Mariah’s classic Christmas hit “All I Want for Christmas is You” officially becoming a top 40 hit, we look back at the diva’s absolute best tracks. After all, she is the best dahhhling!

25. “Someday” (1990)

From the album, Mariah Carey
Hot 100 peak: #1

Although Mariah is usually known for her soaring ballads, “Someday” is a fantastical mix of sizzling 80s beats and layered vocals. Mimi’s vocals are full force on the track and she never misses a beat. And damn does she look fab in those rockin’ 90s mom jeans! Feeel the nostalgia!

ID: 751196

24. “Make It Happen” (1991)

From the album, Emotions
Hot 100 peak: #5

Musically, it’s somewhat of a “Someday 2.0” with loads of Mimi melisma and inspirational lyrics. What really puts it over the top is the killer piano track. It’s like a 90s R&B church service with Mariah rockin the mom jeans again. Too perfect.

ID: 751226

23. “Obsessed” (2009)

From the album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel
Hot 100 peak: #7

“And I was like, why you so obsessed with me?”

Whoa! Where did that come from? Mimi was always known as the conservative girl with the big voice in the early 1990s. But we all knew she was really a diva in disguise. An egotistical main course with a heavy side of sass. Not to say that’s a bad thing, though. You need to realize that Mimi is and always will be better than you. She’s even bigger and better than Eminem as she so unashamedly lets everyone know in this 2009 track. The vocals are a little weak (and damn that AutoTune), but it’s made up for with the acid lyrics that Mimi so coolly lays over horn-tinged R&B beats. It’s made pretty clear in this icy kiss off that you don’t mess with Mimi. And we love her for being so honest.

ID: 751240

22. “Bliss” (1999)

From the album, Rainbow
Hot 100 peak: n/a

One of Mimi’s lesser known gems, “Bliss” is a heavenly track. The laid-back tone and layered vocals could have easily been executed lazily if anyone else had laid down the track. But, as always, Mariah shows an amazing deal of control that keeps command of the song throughout. And oh Lord… those whistles. I swear this woman is an angel.

ID: 751249

21. “Touch My Body” (2008)

From the album, E=MC2 (that’s squared, dahling)
Hot 100 peak: #1

It’s cheesy, it’s corny, it’s silly… and it’s oh so sexy. Mariah’s most recent #1 hit is a low-key, sensual delight with a killer hook and breathy vocals. And hot damn… the woman was 38 when this video was shot. You can try to stop drooling, but you won’t be able to.

ID: 751255

20. “Breakdown” (1997)

From the album, Butterfly
Hot 100 Airplay peak: #53 (did not chart on the Hot 100 due to chart rules)

I hope whoever prevented this track from getting a full single release was fired. This song is IT. Showcasing Mimi’s songwriting at its best, the track exudes emotional tension that is a delight to listen to. Yes, Mimi, we even delight in your incredible… I mean terrible pain. Plus, every big rapper in the business (I’m looking at you Minaj) can thank Mariah for fusing rap and pop into a very tasty concoction.

ID: 751257

19. “Heartbreaker” (1999)

From the album, Rainbow
Hot 100 peak: #1

Mmmmhmmm, Mariah was bouncin with Jay-Z before America even knew Beyonce’s name. It’s hard not to love this irresistible piece of urban-tinged pop. Mariah has an uncanny ability to pen the catchiest hooks and this is a prime example of her talent. And oh please girl, that belly button shirt? Christina and Britney can step aside because Mariah started that fab trend. She also birthed the whole “pop star fighting themselves” fad with this hilarious video. I think it’s safe to say that Mariah is actually Goddess of the Earth and that she created everything and it was good.

ID: 751270

18. “My All” (1997)

From the album, Butterfly
Hot 100 peak: #1

Mariah is often cited for ability to reach disturbingly high notes, but many often forget about her smoky, full-throttle low register. Both sides of her voice on full display in this Latin-touched ballad. Those runs, those belts, the tangible longing!! I can’t even handle it. Someone get me some water. Oh looks! There’s plenty of it in this totally sexy video. Here comes the drool again.

ID: 751271

17. “Honey” (1997)

From the album, Butterfly
Hot 100 peak: #1

Back in ‘97, after seven years of dear sweet Mimi sporting mom jeans and belting out the ballads, Mariah truly unfurled from her Tommy Mottola-created cocoon. The result is a sexy, sassy, absolutely irresistible and undeniable R&B pop track that features Mariah using more layered vocals and experimenting with a decidedly more urban tone. And let me tell you, it’s like sweet, sweet honey to the ears.

ID: 751280

16. “Music Box” (1993)

From the album, Music Box
Hot 100 peak: n/a

Another diamond lost in the rough of time, “Music Box” is a stunning track; a wisp of starry-eyed lyrics and sublime melisma. Once again, Mimi’s stunning whistle register make an appearance during the bridge, which gives the track a shimmery, angelic tone.

ID: 751344

15. “When You Believe” (1998)

From the album, #1’s
Hot 100 peak: #15

How perfect is this song? Not only is it lyrically inspirational and ooey-gooey, but it takes two of music’s biggest R&B divas and creates an explosion of glorious vocal runs, belted notes, and feathery melisma. Whitney’s deep, smooth vocals perfectly complement and harmonize with Mariah’s airy head voice. This is a golden nugget in music form.

ID: 751346

14. “Love Takes Time” (1990)

From the album, Mariah Carey
Hot 100 peak: #1

I feel like this song is often unfairly treated as a “Vision of Love 2.0”. But in reality, it’s an incredibly lovely song in its own right. Mariah’s vocals are stunning (when are they not?) and you can you really feel the pain in her voice. It was also the first collaboration between Mimi and Walter Afanasieff; a duo that would create some of the best musical works in history in years to come. I wish it had never ended.

ID: 751353

13. “When I Saw You” (1995)

From the album, Daydream
Hot 100 peak: n/a

I feel like this song should be named “When I Heard You” because the very, very first time it graced my eardrums I wasn’t able to remove its hook from my head. It’s the same type of tender ballad that Mariah has always sang, but this track features a sense of sincerity and urgency that is undeniable. Also, thumbs up to those crashing drums and finger snapping in the background. Just adds more draaaama!

ID: 751356

12. “Underneath the Stars” (1995)

From the album, Daydream
Hot 100 peak: n/a

Screw Romeo & Juliet! Forget Rose & Jack! No more Bella & Edward! THIS is the ultimate love story! A breezy, warm, cozy, melt-in-your-mouth track that will whisk you away to a world you could only imagine in your dreams. Much more story-oriented than some of her other work, Mimi’s vocals are absolutely angelic. When I listen to this song, I literally feel like I’m laying on a grassy English hillside with the love of my life laying next to me and all we’re doing is breathing in the fresh night air and staring at the stars. It’s truly magical.

ID: 751359

11. “Without You” (1993)

From the album, Music Box
Hot 100 peak: #3

The pain! The ache! The agonizing torment! Mariah has often been known for producing stunning version of classic cover songs (i.e. “I’ll Be There”, “I Want to Know What Love Is”), but this one takes the cake. The emotion in the song is so palpable that I just feel like grabbing my fuzzy blanket and going through a whole bucket of ice cream while watching Titanic. It also features some of Mimi’s best lower register moments. Her low notes are like chocolate cake; silky, smooth, and delicious.

ID: 751362

10. “Always Be My Baby” (1995)

From the album, Daydream
Hot 100 peak: #1

The video to this track perfectly captures every feeling that the song portrays. Maybe it’s the light, easy listening beat, or the “doo doo doo dum” background vocals, but this song always evokes a sense of innocence, a feeling of young love. It’s a magical feeling and a magical song. Where’s my tire swing?

ID: 751366

9. “Emotions” (1991)

From the album, Emotions
Hot 100 peak: #1

This track has so much effervescence that it’s practically impossible not to dance to. The gospel roots mixed with a more current beat make for a hand-clapping, finger-snapping, toe-tapping good time. Not to mention it’s probably one of the hardest songs in the world to sing. THOSE WHISTLES. Dear Lord, I have heard this song a million times and it is STILL hard for me to believe that Mimi can actually perform those whistle runs… but we all know she’s perfect, so she obviously can. Emotions, for me, was a pretty bland album, but its title track was one helluva party.

ID: 751369

8. “Vanishing” (1990)

From the album, Mariah Carey
Hot 100 peak: n/a

As far as pure vocal performances go, this has got to be Mariah’s very best. Its simplicity, just a piano and Mimi’s voice, is what makes the song so incredible. Her notes go all over the map; melisma is everywhere. Yet, it doesn’t feel unfocused or scattered… it all comes together perfectly. It’s such a light, airy track with such perfect vocals that it almost does vanish right into thin air when it’s finished… until you hit the replay button that is.

ID: 751372

7. “All I Want for Christmas is You” (1994)

From the album, Merry Christmas
Hot 100 peak: #21

Christmas doesn’t officially begin until you listen to this song. It’s hard to believe that an artist with sales in the 200 million range and 18 number one hits would have their most popular song be… a Christmas song. But it works splendidly. The track is a bouncy, jingly piece of Christmas magic. Filled to the brim with tricky vocal runs, sleigh bells galore, full background vocals, and lyrics of holiday desperation, “All I Want for Christmas is You” is the ultimate Christmas classic.

ID: 751373

6. “We Belong Together” (2005)

From the album, The Emancipation of Mimi
Hot 100 peak: #1

The ultimate queen of comebacks, “We Belong Together” was released after nearly five years of crashes and burns from Mimi’s musical catalogue (Glitter, anyone?). It’s already a perfect song: a delicate piano-led track with breathy, earnest vocals and a simple, catchy hook. But because it was heralded as “The Return of Mimi” makes the song just that much more special. It was so well-received that it became the #1 song of the 2000s decade.

ID: 751374

5. “Fantasy” (1995)

From the album, Daydream
Hot 100 peak: #1

“Fantasy” is an absolute delight. A funky, urban-tinged pop record with a MASSIVE chorus, Mariah oozes confidence on this record breaking track (it was the first #1 debut song by a female artist). It’s so sassy, so cheery, so fun.

ID: 751376

4. “One Sweet Day” (1995)

From the album, Daydream
Hot 100 peak: #1 (16 weeks!!)

This collaboration is almost too good. Effortless, powerful, and stunning, “One Sweet Day” is a gorgeous track and one of Mariah’s absolute best. The duet with Boyz II Men is flawless and the entire effort is so heartfelt and moving. It also proved popular among the masses as it is STILL the longest running #1 song of all time!!

ID: 751377

3. “Hero” (1993)

From the album, Music Box
Hot 100 peak: #1

I kind of feel like I don’t even need to explain this song. Just listen to the perfection.

ID: 751387

2. “Vision of Love” (1990)

From the album, Mariah Carey
Hot 100 peak: #1

This was it: The triumphant arrival of Mariah Carey. A stunning array of powerful belts, complex runs, shocking whistle notes, and a simple, memorable lyric, “Vision of Love” is probably the greatest debut songs of all time. A pure classic.

ID: 751388

1. “Dreamlover” (1993)

From the album, Music Box
Hot 100 peak: #1

A pure, epic delight, “Dreamlover” is easily the greatest Mariah Carey song of all time. Just imagine… it’s 1993 and Mariah has been mostly absent from the music scene for about a year. You find out that Mimi has a new song and you just can’t contain yourself so you buy it as soon as it comes out! You pop it into your cassette player and it all starts… the glittery, build-up intro, the stunning whistle note, the sing-along verses, the larger-than-life chorus. “Dreamlover” is a masterpiece in every sense; lyrically, vocally, production-wise. It truly cemented Mariah as music’s biggest force and paved the way for later hits such as “One Sweet Day” and “We Belong Together”. It’s beautiful and perfect!!

ID: 751389

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