Queen of billboard: Ranking Mariah Carey’s No. 1 hits

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TheGrio ranks all 19 of Carey’s No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Replace this with your subheader copy

Mariah Carey has left an indelible mark on the music industry. With 19 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles to her name, she holds the record for the most chart-topping hits by a solo artist, trailing only the Beatles (20) for the overall record.

From the sultry ballads that tugged at our heartstrings to the infectious, feel-good anthems that set the dance floors ablaze, Carey’s chart-toppers span a wide spectrum of emotions and themes. Her influence extends beyond her extraordinary vocal prowess; she is an accomplished songwriter and producer, playing an integral role in shaping the sound of her era.

Mariah Carey Lights The Empire State Building In Celebration Of The 25th Anniversary Of "All I Want For Christmas Is You"
Mariah Carey lights the Empire State Building in celebration of the 25th anniversary of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at the Empire State Building on December 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Each of these songs carries its unique narrative and melody, representing the evolution of Carey’s artistry. In celebration of Carey’s contributions to music, theGrio ranks all 19 of Mariah Carey’s Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles.

19. “Touch My Body” (2008)

The opening track from Carey’s 2008 album, “E=MC2,” stands out as one of her most straightforward and catchy hits to reach the summit of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Touch My Body” finds its place at the bottom of this ranking primarily because of its outdated cultural references and minimalist musical arrangement.

18. “Don’t Forget About Us” (2005)

A bonus track from the deluxe edition of Carey’s 2005 return to the music scene with “The Emancipation of Mimi,” this track turned into an unexpected success. “Don’t Forget About Us” seamlessly blended with the contemporary R&B sound of that era, which is why it hasn’t retained its timelessness like her earlier hits.

17. “Thank God I Found You” (1999)

Collaborating with Joe and the boy band 98 Degrees, Carey delivered a chart-topping ballad crafted by the renowned Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. While the song’s heartfelt lyrics convey a genuine emotion, it doesn’t rank among the most unforgettable compositions from Jam and Lewis.

16. “Heartbreaker” (1999)

The lead single from the 1999 album “Rainbow” featured a verse from Jay-Z. Although he was at the peak of his commercial powers, Carey meshed better with other rappers, before and after this topped the charts.

15. “We Belong Together” (2005)

After the disappointment of “Glitter” and its unsuccessful rebound, “Charmbracelet,” Carey found her stride again with “The Emancipation of Mimi.” Produced with Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal, “We Belong Together” reminded the public that she had more to offer.

14. “Someday” (1990)

After coming out of the gate with big ballads, “Someday” was the first time the public heard an uptempo Carey. It’s a solid pop record with subtle flourishes of hip-hop attitude, mostly stemming from the lyrics and vocal delivery.

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Mariah Carey performs onstage during Global Citizen Festival 2022: New York at Central Park on September 24, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

13. “I Don’t Wanna Cry” (1990)

This is one of the aforementioned impactful ballads that introduced Carey to the world, showcasing her formidable vocal prowess. “I Don’t Wanna Cry” is a potent composition brimming with the depth of emotion and yearning that a singer can convey.

12. “I’ll Be There (Live)” (1992)

After two studio albums, listeners already knew Carey’s voice was special. However, a cover of the Jackson 5’s No.1 ballad “I’ll Be There” from her performance on “MTV Unplugged” left little doubt that Carey was already the voice of a generation.

11. “Dreamlove” (1993)

“Dreamlover” expanded on the spirit of “Someday” with a slightly larger step into the hip-hop world. While mostly a breezy pop song at its core, the rhythm track gives the song a slight heft that others didn’t have before.

10. “Honey” (1997)

This song launched arguably Carey’s best album, 1997’s “Butterfly.” All of her teases with hip-hop culminated with this song, featuring Diddy’s Hitmen and Q-Tip on production. It’s a perfect blend of Carey’s pop sensibility and the slick, funky rap of the so-called “shiny-suit” era.

9. “Love Takes Time” (1990)

“Love Takes Time” is the final track on Carey’s self-titled debut album, showcasing an exquisite sense of vulnerability and fragility. The song was her first collaboration with producer Walter Afanasieff, a monumental partnership that yielded 10 Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, including six No. 1 hits.

8. “Fantasy” (1995)

Built on a savory sample of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love,” Carey’s “Fantasy” foreshadowed her deep dive into hip-hop. You can hardly find a track that features Carey sounding more exuberant in her range and power.

7. “My All” (1997)

Carey dug her heels deep into hip-hop with 1997’s “Butterfly,” but “My All” showed she still had a knack for crafting mountainous love ballads. She lays her heart on the line, pleading for one more night with her lover, making for an incredibly sexy yet classy song.

6. “Emotions” (1991)

After amassing four No. 1 singles on her self-titled debut album, the lead single and title track to her follow-up album, 1991’s “Emotions,” proved Carey wasn’t going anywhere. Her writing and peerless high vocal range fused with the dance-heavy production of C+C Music Factory made for a hit that’s part pop, dance and gospel.

5. “Alwys Be My Baby” (1995)

Carey’s first collaboration with songwriter-producer Jermaine Dupri turned out to be a match made in heaven. “Always Be My Baby” and its parent album, 1995’s “Daydream” are a real turning point in Carey’s career from a sonic standpoint and paved the way for more hits with Dupri.

4. “One Sweet Day” (1995)

What happens when the biggest pop diva of the 1990s links up with the biggest pop vocal group of the 1990s, Boyz II Men ? “One Sweet Day,” an ode to the victims of the AIDS crisis, lived up to the expectations, becoming the longest-running No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with 16 straight weeks — a record that stood for over two decades.

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Mariah Carey (center) performs onstage with Moroccan Cannon (L) and Monroe Cannon (R) during her “Merry Christmas To All!” at Madison Square Garden on December 13, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MC)

3. “Vision of Love” (1990)

The song that started it all. Not only did “Vision of Love” announce the arrival of Carey as one of the preeminent vocalists of the generation, but also as one of the most skillful songwriters of the 1990s. The first No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit of Carey’s career is a titanic ballad that only a voice like hers can pull off.

2. “All I Want For Christmas is You” (1994)

The holiday song is the gift that keeps on giving every December. Although “Touch My Body” is technically her most recently released No. 1 single, “All I Want For Christmas is You” didn’t top the charts until 2019, 25 years after it dropped. That feat speaks to the unmatched longevity of the song’s infectious power.

1. “Hero” (1993)

No matter how many hit songs an artist produces, there’s always that one defining masterpiece. For Mariah Carey, “Hero” holds the distinction of being her signature song. Originally penned for Gloria Estefan, “Hero” marked a departure from Carey’s usual themes of love and relationships, emerging as an empowering anthem of self-determination and optimism. It soared to popularity then, and its timeless appeal could still make it a hit today.

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