On June 12th, five octave vocalist Mariah Carey’s self-titled debut album celebrated it’s 27th anniversary. Since her debut, Mariah has shelled out thirteen more studio albums, including two Christmas albums and one very memorable soundtrack and has amassed a mountain of achievements that rightfully puts her in place as one of the most successful female artists of all time. So we thought we’d celebrate this festive moment by ranking all her official studio albums from #POW to bleakest! Now mind you, there is no such thing as a bleak Mariah album, we love everybody here!
#14 – Glitter (2001)
Starting off our list is the infamous soundtrack to the not-so-infamous-on-the-box-office movie of the same name. Mariah has cited it’s disappointing performance as a fault of it’s release date being shared with the 9/11 attacks, however fans rub this off as a minor misstep in an otherwise mammoth-sized career. I think it’s safe to say, for the Lambs, Glitter has become a cult classic, but in comparison to her other albums, Glitter falls short.
Highlights: Didn’t Mean To Turn You On, Want You, Reflections
#13 – Merry Christmas II You (2010)
The follow-up to one of the best Christmas albums of all time, Merry Christmas II You, serves a similar lively atmosphere, however the overproduced–or as what Carey likes to call “extra festive” treatment of the songs just feels way too much to digest. But fear not, if you were to pop in this record for a few plays during the holidays, you will not be disappointed.
Highlights: Christmas Time Is In The Air Again, Here Comes Santa Claus, Oh! Santa
#12 – Rainbow (1999)
Scrap-ups of what was to be the soundtrack for Glitter, Mariah released Rainbow in 1999 to escape her Sony Music contract. Despite this move not working out for her, Rainbow proved to be a formidable effort that transformed the newly hatched butterfly into a robust Hip-Hop chanteuse. On Rainbow, Mariah shows off the different colors and textures of her voice, whilst inadvertently celebrating LGBT pride!
Hightlights: Crybaby, After Tonight, Bliss
#11 – Music Box (1993)
Remaining her highest selling album and her first effort to be certified Diamond in the US, Music Box was also successful in guiding Mariah in a different direction musically. Although some Lambs are not fans of the album it’s softer and more polished innovative melodies is what puts this album ahead of everyone else.
Highlights: Anytime You Need You a Friend, Now That I Know, Music Box
#10 – E=MC² (2008)
Although experimenting a wide range of musical influences, Emancipation = Mariah Carey to the power of 2, a wordplay on Einstein’s greatest famous mass–energy equivalence formula, ironically failed to break the formula of it’s predecessor. Although more polished and with an inclusion of more dance-able tracks, E=MC2 is definitely not a bad record.
Highlights: I Stay In Love, For The Record, Bye Bye
#09 – Merry Christmas (1994)
Only four years into her career, Mariah was encouraged to do a Holiday album by her label! Although not a norm at the time, Mariah, a risk-taker agreed and what came after was an instant classic. Her voice is a marvel on the record. The album has become an American Classic, cementing her legacy as the Queen of Christmas.
Highlights: All I Want For Christmas Is You, Miss You Most, O Holy Night
#08 – Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel (2009)
After doing it all, in 2009 Mariah finally relaxed and at ease, dropped her most sonically consistent effort to date. Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel is an experience, a journey through her life up to that point. Although not everyone’s favorite, Memoirs’ sheer excellence definitely merits recognition.
Highlights: Betcha’ Gon Know, H.A.T.E.U, Languishing
#07 – Charmbracelet (2002)
Immediately coming off of an year packed with personal and professional struggles, Mariah fled to Capri, took three months of her time and hastily dropped Charmbracelet, in hopes of getting back into the good graces of the public. Of what was an unsuccessful attempt, the result was an excellent record. Lyrically her best, although what some would describe as marred with excessive whispering, Charmbracelet remains simply gorgeous.
Highlights: The One, Lullaby, Boy (I Need You)
#06 – Emotions (1991)
As Mairah gained more creative control over her music, on her second studio album she deviated from her self-titled debut, into a more gospel and soul seasoned sound. With the mammoth sized vocals, Mariah was determined to revert from the Whitney Houston comparisons and create her own unique identity as a singer-songwriter in the business. I think after a 27-year-long career, it’s safe to say that she succeeded.
Highlights: You’re So Cold, The Wind, So Blessed
#05 – Mariah Carey (1990)
One of the most important debut albums in the history of music. Although Carey herself was very little involved in it’s production due to her labels’ mistrust in her abilities, Debut showcased Mariah’s versatility as a singer-first then a songwriter. On the record, she does everything from robust vocal climaxes quipped with high whistle notes to a rap breakdown. Titled appropriately, this album was the perfect introduction of Mariah Carey to the world.
Highlight: Vision of Love, Vanishing, Prisoner
#04 – The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)
At a point when everything thought her career was over and nobody wanted to work with her, Mariah Carey took two years to plan her comeback. The elusive butterfly underwent yet another transformation, this time beautifully maturing into an R&B diva that celebrated her independence with a lack of restraint. The Emancipation of Mimi was a massive hit. Nabbing another Song of the Decade to her name, this arguably proved to be one of the greatest comebacks of all time.
Highlights: We Belong Together, Joy Ride, Fly Like a Bird
#03 – Daydream (1995)
By many, Daydream is considered to be the beginning of her musical and vocal transformation, a change that would become very apparent on her later efforts. Daydream garnered massive success, Mariah claimed her first Song of The Decade with ‘One Sweet Day’ which is also the longest running #1 in the History of Billboard Hot 100, a record that remains unbroken to this day. To some of the lambs, Daydream remains her best record yet.
Highlights: Always Be My Baby, Melt Away, Forever
#02 – Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse (2014)
Almost 25 years into her career, after enduring a plethora of push-backs and delays, the festively titled fourteenth studio album finally came out in May of 2014. However, nowhere on the record is Mariah ‘elusive’. After claiming every imaginable record to her name, making the world witness her legendary return, shelling out Christmas classics, becoming a mother to twins (dem babies), Mariah reminded us that she has not lost sight of her true self and who she is, only more so matured. Although her least successful, every track on this album packs a punch. Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse’s lack of success, was a definite wasted opportunity.
Highlights: Faded, You Don’t Know What To Do, Heavenly (No Ways Tired/Can’t Give Up Now)
#01 – Butterfly (1997)
Not much of a surprise here! Butterfly is and will always remain, besides being Mariah’s personal favorite, her best record ever. After seven whole years, her transition was complete and to compliment it came Butterfly, a true testament of her freedom and maturity.
Highlight: Butterfly, Breakdown, The Roof
What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments down below or head over to our Twitter page!