By the summer of 1993, the public had come to know Mariah Carey as the most successful new diva in the pop world. The brown-eyed, curly-haired singer’s glass-shattering voice and talent for writing hit songs was quickly setting the standard for ‘90s pop superstardom.
With two multi-Platinum albums already behind her, fans and music critics eagerly awaited the arrival of Carey’s third studio album, Music Box. While Carey’s previous studio effort, 1991’s Emotions, leaned on R&B, soul and gospel influences for inspiration, Music Box took a slightly different approach, focusing its attention toward more pop, radio-friendly confections. Lyrically, many of the songs depict Mariah as a hopeless romantic, while others (e.g. “Hero”) preach self-sufficiency.
Despite receiving some harsh reviews from music critics, who claimed that Music Box lacked emotion and substantial writing, the 10-track LP became Carey’s first to be certified Diamond by the RIAA, selling over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and spawned two No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, “Dreamlover” and “Hero.” The diva’s fifth studio project, Daydream, would mostly follow in the Music Boxmold, to even greater success and favorable reviews praising Carey’s songwriting skill. Mimi would eventually return to her R&B roots with 1997’s Butterfly, but the blockbuster success of Music Box and Daydream ultimately helped the Long Island native become the top-selling artist of the ‘90s.
To celebrate Music Box’s 25th anniversary this Friday (Aug. 31), we ranked all the tracks on the now-iconic LP.
Following a massively successful album would be a daunting task for most artists. But in 2008, musical icon Mariah Carey eagerly accepted the challenge when she released the long-awaited E=MC².
The 14-track LP felt like a continuation of The Emancipation of Mimi, which was dubbed as Carey’s comeback album. Earning a whopping 10 Grammy Award nominations, TEOMwas a pivotal career moment, and it went on to produce the smash hits, “We Belong Together” and “Don’t Forget About Us.” Selling an upwards of 10 million copies worldwide, MC silenced naysayers and proved that she was capable of achieving commercial success after experiencing a mini career slump in the early 2000s.
As acts like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift started to hit their prime respectively, critics foolishly pondered Carey’s lasting power when E=MC² arrived on this day in 2008, claiming that it offered no new feels from its predecessor. During that time, R&B became stagnant and was experiencing somewhat of an identity crisis, but Carey working with people like The-Dream helped keep the genre fresh. The album was also another step in her journey to creative freedom.
“Basically, I’m freer on this album than I’ve ever been. Some of the songs on the last album were cool but maybe not quite as neat as this album,” Carey told The Sun’s “Something for the Weekend,” explaining the album’s physics-inspired title, which can also be seen as a not-so-subtle nod to the singer-songwriter’s musical genius. In a separate interview, she said, “This album is so much about fun and freedom and just the continuation of me feeling emancipated … people ask me all the time, ‘How do you stay relevant? How do you stay current? How do you make music that people continue to respond to?’ You just keep being real, keep being you, stay true to who you were from the beginning.”