Twenty-five years ago, Mariah Carey claimed her seat atop the pop pantheon, scoring her first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100.
Another would follow, and then another, and then another until she had eighteen in all -- more than Elvis, and just three shy of beating The Beatles’ long-standing record.
Those hits -- featured on the upcoming compilation, #1 to Infinity -- will always be our babies. As the superstar belts out those songs during a Vegas residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, we look back on the very best of Mariah.
18. "Thank God I Found You" (1 week, 2000)
With a handsome entourage that included R&B crooner Joe and 98 Degrees, there was not a feel that wasn’t felt when they all collectively let their voices coalesce into the prettiest (and most banal) of musical paradises.
17. “Touch My Body” (2 weeks, 2008)
Turning up the heat for this slinky, sassy jam from 2008’s E=MC², it was hard to know what or who was hotter: the sexed-up song or Mariah, the object of Jack McBrayer’s nerd affection in the sultry music video.
16. “Don’t Forget About Us” (2 weeks, 2005)
Mariah’s smoldering comeback was in full bloom when “Don’t Forget About Us” was released as a bonus track on the reissue of 2005’s momentous The Emancipation of Mimi. Sure, it capitalized on the massive success of “We Belong Together,” but considering that single’s divinity, can you blame her?
15. “Someday" (2 weeks, 1991)
Bringing the badassery while dressed in some serious mom jeans (hey, it was the early ’90s) Carey was the dumpee on her third consecutive No. 1 -- a departure from the songstress’ previous slow jams. She was done, moving on, “not pretending.” And to get her point across, she hit an insane whistle note at the end. Take that, ex-lover. Also, take this.
14. "I Don't Wanna Cry" (2 weeks, 1991)
Mariah knows real-life heartbreak, and here she vents the best way she knows how -- via song. Her voice is full and forceful, working up to a soulful chorus that scales her incomparable range.
13. “Hero” (4 weeks, 1993)
How do we know Mariah appreciates her beloved fans, the “lambs”? She keeps giving them this wonderfully schmaltzy ballad about inner beauty and all things Hallmark, despite loathing it herself.
12. "I'll Be There" (2 weeks, 1992)
The Jackson 5 made it a hit in 1970, and then Mariah -- preserving the magic during this tribute performed at her MTV Unplugged special -- did it again 22 years later.
11. "One Sweet Day" (16 weeks, 1995-1996)
It was more than one sweet day for Mariah and Boyz II Men -- it spent a whopping 16 weeks at No. 1. They owned that chart like they owned this bittersweet send-off to the dearly departed.
10. “Vision of Love” (4 weeks, 1990)
While the Long Island up-and-comer was having a vision of love, the rest of us -- being wooed by her powerhouse chops -- were having visions of a long, successful career. It all started with this glorious, gospel-tinged slow burner, the then-20-year-old singer’s first chart-topper.
9. "Heartbreaker" (2 weeks, 1999)
The lead single off 1999’s Rainbow bounced about with infectious gusto and a candy-colored chorus. Jay-Z stopped by mid-song for a rap cameo, and the Voice -- alternating between breathy and belt-y -- found its sweet spot.
8. "Love Takes Time" (3 weeks, 1990)
Her second stop at the top was with “Love Takes Time,” firmly establishing Carey as the new balladeer on the block. “I can’t escape the pain inside,” she confessed on this forgotten gem. The world couldn’t escape either -- from this song.
7. "Dreamlover" (8 weeks, 1993)
Mariah's career certainly didn't need any rescuing in 1993, but her heart did. The singer's personal ad set to music -- "I need somebody uplifting to take me away" -- was as enchanting as her frolicking through a field wearing Daisy Dukes.
6. "Emotions" (3 weeks, 1991)
High note after high note after high note. You’re welcome.
5. "Honey" (3 weeks, 1997)
Stripped of her squeaky-clean image (and most of her clothes), Carey -- with the magical touch of Puff Daddy and Bad Boy's production team -- completed her metamorphosis into a hip-hop heroine. The intoxicating summertime single stormed the charts, igniting one of the most memorable rebirths in music history.
4. "My All" (1 week, 1998)
When it comes to bummed-out ballads, this lover’s heavy-hearted plea from the Butterfly era -- her first emancipation, in 1997 -- is sublimely and unexpectedly understated. Sad, too. Even the Latin-inspired guitar strings can’t suppress the sniffles.
3. "We Belong Together" (14 weeks, 2005)
After a rough patch at the onset of the new millennium, Carey made the comeback of all comebacks -- 14 weeks in that top spot! -- with this R&B-inspired power ballad, which was a throwback to classic Carey.
2. "Fantasy" (8 weeks, 1995)
Merging her pop roots with her rap influences, Mariah made her initial foray into hip-hop with the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard for the radio remix of “Fantasy.” The Tom Tom Club-sampled confection was more than a “sweet, sweet fantasy” -- the songbird made it a dizzying, dazzling reality.
1. “Always Be My Baby” (2 weeks, 1996)
That opening coo. Those head-swirling “do do doop dums.” THAT KEY CHANGE. Like the timeless love Carey writes about, this sweetly swaying sing-along just doesn’t grow old. It’s part of us, indefinitely.
#1 to Infinity is out May 18. Performances of Mariah Carey's Vegas residency start on May 6.