“All I Want for Christmas Is You” is Carey’s biggest-selling single of all time. But is it her best? Not exactly.
After all, Carey has 18 No. 1 singles, more than any other solo artist and every other artist except The Beatles. Here’s a look at how Carey’s greatest hits stack up.
19. 'THANK GOD I FOUND YOU' (2000, No. 1, one week)
The weakest of Mariah’s chart-toppers by a country mile — not just because 98 Degrees and Joe can’t keep up with her, but because the song is so flimsy it can barely support all the adornments. It was actually the sound of the 20th Century Mariah Bubble bursting.
18. 'I’LL BE THERE' (1992, No. 1, two weeks)
Her remake of the Michael Jackson classic for her “MTV Unplugged” is cute, but surprisingly straightforward and ordinary.
17. 'TOUCH MY BODY' (2008, No. 1, two weeks)
Maybe the biggest hit ever to fret about sex tapes being put on YouTube while also offering stage directions.
16. 'I DON’T WANNA CRY' (1991, No. 1, two weeks)
Maybe the surest sign from her debut that Mariah’s powerful voice could turn an average song into a hit.
15. 'SOMEDAY' (1991, No. 1, two weeks)
What saves this average song is the way Mariah delivers a Chaka Khan-esque breakdown to shake things up.
14. 'DREAMLOVER' (1993, No. 1, eight weeks)
The midtempo sweetness of the love song is a bit on the bland side, but she saves it by starting to stretch the constraints of being Pop Mariah.
13. 'LOVE TAKES TIME' (1990, No. 1, three weeks)
The gorgeous ballad is one of Mariah’s most durable, even if it follows the Whitney Houston template a little too closely.
12. 'MY ALL' (1998, No. 1, one week)
Built around acoustic guitars, this big ballad showcases how much Mariah’s delivery improved over the years, though the massive dance remix may be even more effective.
11. 'EMOTIONS' (1991, No. 1, three weeks)
After becoming known for her ballad-heavy debut, this showed that Mariah could sorta get down. And of course the dog-whistle scream is in full effect.
10. 'VISION OF LOVE' (1990, No. 1, four weeks)
As dramatic a pop debut as any in music history, young Mariah proved immediately that she had the vocal power to take on all comers.
9. 'DON’T FORGET ABOUT US' (2005, No. 1, two weeks)
A dreamy slice of smooth R&B that shows how Mariah has learned the power of restraining her vocals.
8. 'ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU' (1994, perennial No. 1 on holiday charts)
The upbeat holiday classic modernizes the girl-group carols carefully crafted by Phil Spector and turns it into a dramatic good time.
7. 'HERO' (1993, No. 1, four weeks)
The most traditional uplifting pop ballad in her entire catalog is also the one that feels the most timeless.
6. 'HONEY' (1997, No. 1, two weeks)
The birth of Hip-Hop Mariah holds up very well, as do Puff Daddy’s rhymes, especially “Mariah, you on fire.”
5. 'HEARTBREAKER' (1999, No. 1, two weeks)
Everything about this feels like late-’90s, moneyed optimism. There’s the way they leave Jay Z’s mic open throughout the song so we can hear all his “uh huh”s and ad-libs before he delivers a knockout verse about shopping, Jacuzzis and Benzes. And then there’s layers and layers of vocals so it sounds like an army of Mariahs demanding, “Gimme your love.”
4. 'ONE SWEET DAY' (1995, No. 1, 16 weeks)
The heart-wrenching ballad with Boyz II Men is the pinnacle of Pop Mariah, where melisma adorns nearly every note to wring out every bit of emotion from the tribute to so many friends we lost along the way-eee.
3. 'FANTASY' (1995, No. 1, eight weeks)
The adventurous move into the dance-pop world was a bit shocking back in the day, as she built a whole new sound out of a smart sample of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.”
2. 'ALWAYS BE MY BABY' (1996, No. 1, four weeks)
This carefree midtempo ballad showed how much fun Mariah could have when she felt like it. It still shows off her legendary range, but also shows that she can be chill and laid-back enough to make “doobedoo oh” work as a chorus.
1. 'WE BELONG TOGETHER' (2005, No. 1, 14 weeks)
This ballad takes the best of Hip-Hop Mariah and marries it with the best of Pop Mariah to create a style that really is all her own. To make it even more powerful, it was an undeniable comeback a few short years after the music industry was calling her washed-up. Oh babybaby, don’t ever count Mimi out.