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Pop - Released January 11, 2013 | Columbia

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Vocal gymnastics and Christmas songs are not often thought of as a compatible combination, but on Merry Christmas, Mariah Carey jumps, climbs, crawls, twirls, and dashes her way through both traditional fare and original Christmas songs. She shifts through styles, offering fans from all musical camps a gift of their own. There is even a "Joy to the World" medley mixing the old and the new: the traditional Christmas song and the Three Dog Night hit. And, as usual, her gospel-voiced background singers are out in full force. There are two ways to enjoy this album. One is to sit back and revel in Carey's vocal fireworks, and the other is to pour yourself a glass of eggnog, get cozy by the tree, and have yourself a Merry Christmas.
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Soul - Released November 16, 2018 | Epic

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Ambient/New Age - Released January 1, 2010 | Def Jam Recordings

Merry Christmas was released in 1994, and 16 years later Mariah Carey delivers a sequel, appropriately titled Merry Christmas II You and also featuring the diva in a sexy little Santa suit. The similarities don’t end there, either: Mariah revives her original seasonal tune “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and often touches upon the classy, clean updated traditional vibe of her readings from the 1994 set. Underneath this surface, Merry Christmas II You has a different vibe than its predecessor, derived in large part from the numerous originals here. Five of the 12 full songs bear a Carey writing credit (including that revival of “All I Want for Christmas Is You”) and these new tunes sometimes give Merry Christmas II You a lively modern feel, particularly the jumping Jermaine Dupri/Bryan-Michael Cox co-written opener “Oh Santa!” and the slow groove of “When Christmas Comes,” highlights that balance the too saccharine sentiment of “Christmas Time Is in the Air Again” and “One Child.” The range of these originals indicates the scope of the record as a whole, how it touches on a little of everything to please every kind of audience, mixing up “Auld Lang Syne” and a medley of Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas with traditional religious carols and secular favorites like “Here Comes Santa Claus.” Apart from that pair of stiff originals, the whole thing is cheerful and engaging, a worthy sequel to its predecessor. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released August 4, 1993 | Columbia

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R&B - Released June 12, 1990 | Columbia

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This extremely impressive debut is replete with smooth-sounding ballads and uplifting dance/R&B cuts. Carey convincingly seizes many opportunities to display her incredible vocal range on such memorable tracks as the popular "Vision of Love" (featured during her television debut on The Arsenio Hall Show, an appearance noted by many as her formal introduction to stardom), the energetic "Someday," and the moody sounds of the hidden treasure "Vanishing." With this collection of songs acting as a springboard for future successes, Carey establishes a strong standard of comparison for other breakthrough artists of this genre. ~ Ashley S. Battel
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R&B - Released April 30, 1992 | Columbia

This live performance is the perfect peek into the life of rising pop/soul vocal sensation Mariah Carey at a youthful and innocent age in an intimate, acoustic setting. Throughout this performance, recorded live for MTV's Unplugged, Carey is quite electric and charismatic within her vocal presence and succeeds in enlightening the already engaged audience from the get-go. The audience certainly feels the warmth and sincerity of Carey's lyrical messages of longing, loss, friendships, and love. Carey's supporting cast of gifted group musicians back her up with soulful melodiousness, spontaneity, and enriching percussion. Gradually, the power and esteem of these tales lift to new heights and remain at a peak with the breathtaking, moment-making performance of "I'll Be There," a charming song first cut by the Jackson 5. All and all, this is an inspiring event, though still simple enough for the listener to catch those musical places that need to be polished. "Can't Let Go," Carey's radio single for the album, makes it as the seventh and final track, though the cameras are shut off for the Unplugged episode. Certainly, this is a record of hope, virtue, and the possibilities of newfound love. ~ Shawn M. Haney
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Pop - Released January 1, 2014 | Def Jam Recordings

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Pop - Released December 4, 2001 | Columbia

Mariah protested loud and often when her first hits collection, #1's, was released that the album was not a hits collection: "I haven't been recording long enough for that!" Nothing will age your catalog like leaving your record label, however, so when she flew the Columbia coop for Virgin in 2000, her old label assembled Greatest Hits for release a couple months after the monumental disaster of Glitter, her Virgin debut. Now, this move was surely designed to further wound the ailing Mariah, but this kind of collection was essentially inevitable, and it's about as good as it could be, containing all of her big hits (including songs that did not make it to the top of the charts) over the course of 28 tracks. This is certainly helpful, since it rounds up everything, but its double-disc running time is a bit of a detriment, since it simply is too much. By the end of the second disc, the collection feels a little padded, and her music simply sounds better in the more concentrated collection of #1's, since it runs smoother and has all the really big hits (with the notable exception of the original version of her best single, "Fantasy"). But if you want more simply for archival reasons, this will suit the bill (even though the packaging is unbearably skimpy: no notes, just publishing information and thumbnails of the single covers, which is like having no packaging at all). ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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R&B - Released October 4, 2018 | Epic

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R&B - Released September 17, 1991 | Columbia

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R&B - Released October 3, 1995 | Columbia

Mariah Carey certainly knows how to construct an album. Positioning herself directly between urban R&B with tracks like "Fantasy," and adult contemporary with songs like "One Sweet Day," a duet with Boyz II Men, Carey appeals to both audiences equally because of the sheer amount of craft and hard work she puts into her albums. Daydream is her best record to date, featuring a consistently strong selection of songs and a remarkably impassioned performance by Carey. A few of the songs are second-rate -- particularly the cover of Journey's "Open Arms" -- but Daydream demonstrates that Carey continues to perfect her craft and that she has earned her status as an R&B/pop diva. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released October 14, 2003 | Columbia

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R&B/Soul - Released September 3, 1997 | Columbia

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R&B - Released November 2, 1999 | Columbia

Mariah Carey claims Rainbow, her first album since divorcing Tommy Mottola, "chronicles my emotional roller coaster ride of the past year," but less subjective listeners could be forgiven for viewing it as simply another Mariah Carey album. After all, all the elements are in place -- the crossover dance hits, the ballads, the cameos, the hip producers, the weird cover choice from the early '80s. But dig a little deeper, and her words ring true. Rainbow is the first Carey album where she's written personal lyrics, and allusions to her separation from Mottola are evident throughout the album, even if it doesn't really amount to the "story" she mentions in the liner notes. As appropriate for any introspective album, it's a bit ballad-heavy, which makes Rainbow seem a little samey. Yet that's not the only reason the record has a weird sense of déjà vu, since this follows the same formula as its two predecessors, distinguished primarily by her newfound fondness for flashing flesh. That repetition isn't necessarily a problem, since she does formula very well, managing to appeal to both housewives as well as b-boys. Rainbow proves that she can still pull off that difficult balancing act, but it's hard not to be a little disappointed that she'd didn't shake the music up a little bit more -- after all, it would have been a more effective album if the heartbreak, sorrow, and joy that bubbles underneath the music were brought to the surface. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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R&B - Released January 1, 2005 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

The titular "Mimi" of The Emancipation of Mimi is, by all accounts, an alter ego of Mariah, a persona that captures Carey's true feelings and emotions. In case you didn't know what "emancipation" means, Mariah helpfully provides a dictionary definition of the word in the opening pages of the liner notes for her eighth proper album: it means "to free from restraint, control, oppression, or the power of another" or "to free from any controlling influence" or "to free somebody from restrictions or conventions." So, on The Emancipation of Mimi, Mariah frees herself from the constraints of being herself, revealing herself to be -- well, somebody that looks startlingly like Beyoncé, if the cover art is any indication. Mimi, or at least the sound of her emancipation, sounds remarkably like Beyoncé, too, working a similarly sultry, low-key, polished club groove. And that's the main story of The Emancipation of Mimi: since the reserved, tasteful adult contemporary pop of 2002's Charmbracelet failed to revive her career, she's done a 180 and returned to R&B, in hopes that maybe this will create some excitement. It's not a bad idea, particularly because Mariah could use any change at this point, and it's not executed all that badly either, as all 14 tracks -- heavy on mid-tempo cuts and big ballads, with a few harder dance tunes featuring big-name guest rappers scattered along the way -- all follow the same deliberately smoky, late-night template. While the Neptunes provide the best dance cut here with "Say Somethin'" (featuring a cameo by Snoop Dogg), especially welcome are some nice old-school '70s smooth soul flourishes, best heard on James Poyser's deliciously sleek "Mine Again" and such "Big Jim" Wright productions as "I Wish You Knew" and "Fly Like a Bird." As good as those Wright-helmed cuts are, they are also the times that the mixes slip and don't hide the flaws in Mariah's voice, and it sounds as airy, thin, and damaged as it did on Charmbracelet, where her ragged vocals dealt a fatal blow to an already weak album. Here, apart from those Wright tracks, the producers camouflage her voice in a number of ways, usually involving putting the groove and the sound of the production in front of the vocals. While the tunes aren't always memorable, it does make for a consistent album, one that's head and shoulders above the other LPs she's released in the 2000s, even if it doesn't compare with her glory days of the '90s. Ironically enough, a big reason why The Emancipation of Mimi doesn't sound as good as those '90s albums is that Mariah never sounds like herself on this record. When she's not sounding like Beyoncé, she sounds desperate to be part of the waning bling era, dropping product placements for Bacardi, Calgon, and Louis Vuitton, or bragging about her house in Capri and her own G4, all of which sounds a little tired and awkward coming from a 35-year-old woman in her 15th year of superstardom. Disregarding these two rather sizeable problems, The Emancipation of Mimi still works, at least as a slick, highly crafted piece of dance-pop -- it might not be as hip as it thinks it is, nor is it as catchy as it should be, but it's smooth and listenable, which is enough to have it qualify as a relative comeback for "Mimi" Carey. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released April 24, 1998 | Columbia

This maxi-single was the first of two released for Mariah Carey's chart-topper "My All" (the other featured a drastically altered hip-hop version titled "My All/Stay Awhile"). This single is more of an EP, featuring two versions of "My All" and remixes of three tracks from her album Butterfly. The first track is the original album version of "My All," which is a ballad. That is followed by the "Classic Club Mix" of "My All," in which the song is turned into a nine-minute dance track, complete with Spanish-styled acoustic guitars. Thankfully, "My All" is one of those ballads that, unlike many others of its time, lends itself surprisingly well to dance-remix treatment. The other three remixes aren't drastically different from the album versions, but to collectors that probably does not matter. The version of "Breakdown" included here, an R&B track that became an urban radio hit, features Bone Thugs-N-Harmony a little more prominently than the album version. There's also the Mobb Deep remix of "The Roof," which, save for the new rap, again sounds just like the original. Finally, there's an extended house mix of the dance track "Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)," which extends the almost too-short album version of the reprise into a full-blown, almost-ten minute house jam. This single almost plays like a Butterfly part two, featuring slightly altered versions (except for the "My All" dance mix) of album tracks, which, unless one is a diehard fan, is probably of little interest. ~ Jose Promis
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Dance - Released February 5, 1999 | Columbia

From her #1's collection, Mariah Carey released her version of the Brenda K. Starr hit "I Still Believe" as a tribute to the singer who (as legend has it) gave Carey her first break in the music business. Carey's version was a Top Five hit, largely due to the maxi-single's packaging and marketing, which featured a flesh-baring Carey on the cover and contained five completely distinct versions. The single opens with Carey's original version of the song, which pales somewhat in comparison to Starr's more passionate interpretation. The second track, "Stevie J. Clean Remix," featuring raps by Mocha and Amil, bringing to mind the backing music one would find in an early-'70s scary Saturday morning cartoon. The other urban mix, titled "I Still Believe/Pure Imagination," features raps by Krayzie Bone and da Brat, and sounds like a completely different song. That version took on a life of its own, becoming its own hit on the U.S. R&B charts (for all intents and purposes, it should have been its own song, titled "Pure Imagination," because, beyond lyrical references, it has absolutely nothing in common with the original song). The mix is, nonetheless, breezy, laid-back, and typical of mid-'90s urban/hip-hop, and features da Brat saying "lose the ego," all the while self-aggrandizing herself. Finally, two dance/house mixes are included. The first is "Morales' Classic Club Mix," which is a standard, but well-made dance remake, and is quite smooth, with Carey giving a great vocal performance. The second is "The Kings Mix," which is a more straight-on house mix, with no real verse and chorus, and again, has virtually nothing in common with the original song. So, in effect, this "single" is more of an EP than anything else, which is fine, and explains, as is often the case with Carey products, why it was such a success. ~ Jose Promis
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Pop - Released August 27, 1999 | Columbia

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Pop - Released September 14, 2018 | Epic

R&B - Released March 24, 2017 | Epic

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