Skip To Content
    Sep 29, 2015

    We Need To Talk About Mariah Carey

    Can we give Mimi a break?

    This is Mariah Carey. She's one of the best selling music artists ever, and she has one of the greatest voices the world has ever heard.

    Vince Bucci / AFP / Getty Images

    (Mariah in 1993, holding two American Music Awards)

    Mariah's career is legendary. She scored a number-one single every year of the '90s, duetted with the biggest names in music — from Ol' Dirty Bastard to Luciano Pavarotti — and she'd sold more than 70 million albums by the time she was 26 years old.

    Jeff Haynes / AFP / Getty Images

    Moreover, she wrote 17 of those number-one hits, created a genre of music, and inspired a generation of singers.

    I mean, seriously, look at all the singers that have been dubbed "The Next Mariah." So many of them have come and gone, or they're on their way down the road to obscurity...

    Chris Jackson / Getty Images
    Chris Weeks / Getty Images
    Larry Busacca / Getty Images

    Leona Lewis is incredibly talented, but her music failed to connect with the masses after her hit "Bleeding Love." Christina Aguilera faded after experimenting with her sound too much and alienating most of her fan base, and now, Ariana Grande is fighting to distance herself from the Mariah comparisons, which, in all honesty, is a good thing.

    It would be a Sisyphean task for any new artist to live up to Mariah's storied career; even Mariah herself is having trouble maintaining the legacy she's built.

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    After nearly 25 years in the music business, it seems Mariah is beginning to crumble under the weight of her career. She's competing with herself, but it's a battle she can't win.

    It's now been ten years since the release of The Emancipation of Mimi, the album that catapulted Mariah back into the good graces of the public. The music was great, and the live performances were stellar.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Here she is singing "We Belong Together" on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

    However, in 2008, things took a turn for the resurrected diva. She released E = mc2, her follow-up to Emancipation, an album that managed to quiet critics who thought she was done after the commercial failures that were Glitter and Charmbracelet.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    At this point, Carey was a newly married 38-year-old woman, and she began to face more criticism from people saying she wasn't dressing for her age. Mariah's look has always been policed, but when ageism entered into the equation, things got a lot worse. But more on that in a sec.

    Brief backstory: In the beginning, every move Mariah made was heavily calculated, which is the case with most pop stars. But things were more difficult for her because even the way she dressed was monitored by her then-husband Tommy Mottola, the music exec who discovered her.

    Dan Callister / Getty Images
    Sion Touhig / Getty Images
    Lawrence Lucier / Getty Images

    Once Mariah divorced Mottola in '97, she began to be freer with her wardrobe. Bye bye to the woman who stood still on stage and wore gowns that covered every inch of her body while singing ballads.

    Let's cut to 2009, the year the world was met with the death of Michael Jackson. Mariah was chosen to sing "I'll Be There," a song made popular and originally sung by The Jackson 5.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    One again, Mariah's outfit of choice was criticized for not being appropriate for a funeral, but, beyond that, during the performance, Mariah's voice cracked. This led to people wondering if the woman with a five-octave voice could no longer sing. (Mariah says she was overcome with emotion, and that's why it was harder for her to sing during Jackson's funeral.)

    And now youths think Mariah can't sing AT ALL. But this is so, so wrong.

    I wonder does Mariah know she can't sing anymore

    What planet is this?!

    Mariah Carey is content w the fact she can't sing anymore. She's got cell phone games to pay the bills. Strange days we live in.

    😞

    Mariah Carey made great R&B music back in the day. It's sad she can't sing anymore lol.

    Yes, there are a lot of performances that have not been up to par with what's expected of Mariah, but this brings us to the issue at hand: Why does everyone still want perfection from Mariah, and more importantly, why is she trying to give it to us?

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Since the beginning, Mariah's career has been built on the notion that she can do no wrong, and it's an idea that has persisted in spite of a difference in vocals from the '90s to present day.

    But why should she sound the same now, as she did when she was 25 years old? The voice is an organic instrument, so it will experience wear and tear. Mariah shouldn't put herself through the trouble of trying to live up to her former self, and fans shouldn't expect that of her.

    Here's Mariah a few years ago singing live backstage at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, her "new" voice on full display.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Sure, it's huskier, deeper, but the talent still remains.

    And another video of her singing some classic jazz tunes:

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    And another for good measure.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Not '90s quality, but still great.

    The worse thing about nostalgia is that it leaves no room for change. Is remembering things as they were always the best answer? Point is: Mariah Carey is different, and that's OK.

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    And her being different doesn't change the amazing music she's blessed the world with.

    Reminder: Mariah's catalogue of hits is the stuff of legend.

    You can still rock out to "Always Be My Baby" during a nice, cool fall night...

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    ...or cry your eyes out while listening to "Breakdown."

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    ...and you can definitely jam to "Heartbreaker" with your closest friends.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    Perfection and predictability are boring, but Mariah is human so she isn't either of those things — Mariah, you'll always be on fire. 🔥

    Def Jam / Via giphy.com

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form