Mariah Carey wrote her debut single and first No. 1 hit when she was just 17. Penned while she was in high school with producer-friend Ben Margulies, they recorded it for the young singer's eventual demo tape. After signing a record deal, label execs loved the song and convinced Mimi to alter it a little bit, including a new tempo and additional instrumentation for its release.
If Mariah had her way, "Love Takes Time" would have not been released so early in her career. She wrote it with her "Vision of Love" co-writer Ben Margulies and played it for the label as a taste of what was coming for her second album. When Tommy Mottola (the head of Sony Music, who would later marry Mariah) heard the song, he did everything possible to get it mixed in time for inclusion on Carey's self-titled debut LP—even though she protested.
Because the deadline was so close, some of the earliest versions of Mariah Carey don't have "Love Takes Time" listed on the tracklist even though it's on the CD.
It might have given Mariah a three-peat of No. 1s with her first three singles, but the diva isn't very fond of this 1990 single, according to an interview from her ex-husband Nick Cannon in 2011. It may have been from the new production elements added to the track including replacing the original horns heard on the demo with electric guitar.
Luckily for fans, Mariah will have to perform it again on her new Las Vegas residency where she performs all her No. 1s. Mwahaha!
The single's producer Narada Michael said he hadn't heard Mariah sing until creating this hit with her. Check out his recording experience in a 2003 Billboard interview:
"The first time I heard her sing was in a writing session at the Hit Factory. Mariah is very astute in the studio, very picky. I don't mean to make it sound like a negative; for her, it's a positive...for example, there's a lick on 'I Don't Want to Cry' that I was really happy with, and I think at first she was too. But after she lived with it, she wanted us to fix it...I had to fly the tape to her in New York. She went in the studio, fixed that lick, and added other stuff onto it. She really wanted it to be special."
When "Emotions" topped the chart in 1991, it made Mimi the first and (so far) only artist ever to send their first five singles staright to the chart summit. "I Don't Want to Cry" hitting No. 1 tied the Jackson 5, who also blasted their first four releases to the summit, but, like Mariah does, she surpassed them with one of her danciest tracks to date.
Not only was Mariah's cover of the Jackson 5's former No. 1 hit a last-minute addition to her MTV Unplugged set (she chose it two days before the broadcast, after learning that most artists do a cover for the series), it wasn't even considered as a potential single. After the performance aired, Columbia Records couldn't ignore all the requests coming in to release it as an official single. It went on to top the charts.
Years later, Mariah performed the track at Michael Jackson's funeral.
Any longtime Mariah fan (also known as a Lamb) knows Mariah takes her remixes very seriously. "Dreamlover" was the first time Mariah was given creative control of who she wanted to rework her singles. She reached out to David Morales, who crafted the Def Club Mix of "Dreamlover" (below). He would go on to work with Mimi at nearly every point of her career.
In 1992, Mariah was approached to write a song for Gloria Estefan for the Dustin Hoffman movie Hero. She agreed and wrote the track with longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff with the film's title in mind. When her label heard the song, they decided she couldn't give it away for the movie and lied to the production studio, saying they couldn't come up with anything.
"Hero" was then released as the second single from Carey's 1993 album Music Box.
While "Fantasy" was a hit on its own, its official remix gave it a hip hop edge, replaced its chorus with the bridge and added Puff Daddy and Ol' Dirty Bastard as guest stars. The rework has long been regarded as one of the first major pop tracks to incorporate guest rappers, laying the groundwork for a countless amount of collaborations throughout the years.
You probably already knew that "One Sweet Day" holds the record for most weeks ever at No. 1 with an incredible 16 weeks at the chart summit. But the the initial source of the bittersweet track's subject? That would David Cole, who was a record producer, one half of '90s dance-music duo C+C Music Factory and a close friend of Mariah. Mimi was inspired to start writing the song after Cole passed away due to complications from spinal meningitis brought on by AIDS.
If you needed any more proof of Mariah's lasting influence on younger generations, young girl group Fifth Harmony (a majority of whom were not born when this single dropped in 1996) sample "Always Be My Baby" in their song "Like Mariah," one of the most popular cuts off their 2015 debut, Reflection.
Mariah gave her co-sign to the track: "Love it!!" she wrote on Twitter. "I appreciate and enjoy ya." Listen to it below:
Even though she picked Puff Daddy to produce 1997 single "Honey," the diva banned him from the studio after hearing he was overbearing. Never one to be told what to do, the diva recorded dozens of vocals for him to use on her own. Puff spoke about the experience later, saying:
"A lot of people feel I'm overbearing, so I wasn't allowed in the studio when she did her vocals. I'm trying to work on that, I'm such a perfectionist, sometimes I don't give people the chance to breathe. So I've been banned from a lot of studios. Mariah [recorded] until she thought it was perfect, like a hundred times. She gave me like a hundred tracks to choose from."
In a particularly candid interview on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, Mimi revealed that her label "was very concerned" to feature Jay Z on her 1999 single. "Today, they would beg and plead for anything featuring Jay Z," she went on. "But I was like, 'What are you talking about, it's not a hit?' And it went to No. 1!"
Mariah, ahead of the times...as always.
Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis wanted the "All My Life" duo to duet with Mariah instead of Joe and 98 Degrees, but the plans didn't pan out since K-Ci & JoJo were signed to a competing record label.
After "One Sweet Day" was named Billboard's Song of the Decade of the '90s for its 16-week run at the top of the charts. "We Belong Together" was later named the Song of the Decade for the '00s after spending 14 nonconsecutive weeks at No. 1.
More facts for chart nerds: The week of July 2, 2005, "We Belong Together" was temporarily displaced from No. 1 when Carrie Underwood's American Idol-winning single "Inside Your Heaven" hit the top slot. Had it spent 15 weeks at No. 1, it would be the second-longest run at the chart's peak ever. "We Belong Together" remains tied with other 14-week chart-toppers like Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" and "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.
While it might look like a simple pool scene to the untrained eye, Mariah pays homage to an obscure Marilyn Monroe flick in her "Don't Forget About Us" video. The diva recreated a scene from Something's Got to Give, the unfinished 1962 film that would have been Monroe's last work. Mariah hangs out naked in the pool like the movie icon did. M.C. said this about the tribute:
"It's an homage to her, because I've never seen anyone re-create it. So many people have emulated so many of Marilyn's classic moments, but it's just that I'm a big fan of hers, and I thought it was really pretty at night with the pool. No one could ever be as fabulous as Marilyn was, but it's in honor and homage to her."