Mariah Carey burst onto the music scene in 1990 with an eponymously named album that launched four number one singles. An artist becomes eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after his or her first release, meaning Carey could be nominated in 2015 for the Class of 2016. Should she be added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Talent is talent
The best thing about Mariah Carey is she has tremendous singing talent and got the most out of her abilities. With a five-octave vocal range, she could simply sing better than almost anyone else in popular music. The versatility of her powerful voice is remarkable, including her rare ability to hit high-pitched notes that reach the whistle register. She also is a great interpreter of songs and an outstanding songwriter and producer.
Shattering the record book
Carey has a laundry list of professional achievements. Some of those highlights include:
1. First artist to have her first five singles go to number one on the “Billboard Hot 100” chart.
2. Only artist to ever have a number one song in every year of an entire decade, which she accomplished in the 1990s.
3. Eighteen number one hits, the most ever by a solo artist and trailing only the Beatles with 20.
4. “One Sweet Day,” her collaboration with Boyz II Men, is the single with the longest reign at number one, at 16 weeks.
5. First female artist to have a single debut at number one with “Fantasy” in 1995.
6. First artist to debut at number one with both an album, “Daydream,” and the first single from that album, “Fantasy.”
7. World Music Awards honored her as the best-selling recording artist of the 1990s and gave her the Best-Selling Female Artist of the Millennium award.
8. Had the Song of the Decade for 2000-2009 with “We Belong Together,” as announced by “Billboard.” “We Belong Together” is also the song that had the second longest run at number one in U.S. chart history, trailing only the Carey song “One Sweet Day.”
With her marvelous singing voice and intelligent, beautifully constructed songs, Carey has been a major influence on many pop artists who have followed, including Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Leona Lewis and Mary J. Blige.
Is she rock enough?
When Carey becomes eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the only pertinent question will be, “Is she rock enough?” Her achievements in music are at such a high level that only those categorizing her too narrowly could keep her out of the RRHOF. In recent years the doors to the RRHOF have been closing on African American artists and those who sing music now defined as R&B and soul but no longer also classified as rock and roll. It has reached the point where many of the voters seem to think rock and roll only means white guys with guitars. Of course it wasn’t always this way. It should be remembered that Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” was the first female elected to the RRHOF when she joined the second class in 1987. Could she even be elected in today’s hostile atmosphere? In the early years of the RRHOF, Motown artists like Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Four Tops had no problem getting elected. But in recent years even a group with as strong credentials as the Commodores possess are not being elected. Also, on another front, it should be pointed out that Madonna was inducted in 2008 despite being known primarily as a dance music star. It is a no-brainer that Mariah Carey should be elected to the RRHOF, but in the climate we are in today, who knows?
Related article: Should Janet Jackson Be Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
“Mariah Carey – Greatest Hits,” CD, Columbia Records and Sony Music, 2001
“The Billboard Book of Number One Albums,” Craig Rosen, Billboard Books, 1996
“The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 9th Edition,” Joel Whitburn, Billboard Books, 2010
“The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 5th Edition,” Fred Bronson, Billboard Books, 2003