This week saw Mariah Carey presented with the Icon honor at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards.
And deservingly so.
Few careers can rival the colossal heights Mimi’s has ascended to.
With over 200 million (pure) records sold and 18 #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 (which she reminds us “is difficult to get. Not everybody has that”), the legendary chanteuse has blazed a trail and etched her name in the history books. On many a page.
When examining her treasure chest of brilliance, classics such as ‘Hero’ and ‘We Belong Together’ – for many – shine brightest.
However, here at That Grape Juice, we see no time more opportune than the present to delve into some of the diva’s more obscure gems.
Join us below as we countdown TGJ’s Top Underrated Mariah Carey Bops…
7) Migrate 
Renown for belting ballads in ballgowns, Ms. Carey also has the unrivalled ability to deliver on a club jam with equal effectiveness.
Case in point this T-Pain assisted classic.
Lifted from ‘E=MC2,’ this Danja production screamed single and to-date has us wondering what the trajectory of the album could have been had this dropped as intended after chart-topper ‘Touch My Body.’ In its place, the syrupy ‘Bye Bye’ was carted out in a fairly contrived attempt at pulling in the Pop crowd and muffled her momentum.
Grating, as this slaps with the kind of ferocity that demands attention from the masses.
6) Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme) 
Empowerment anthems are firmly established as a cornerstone of Carey’s catalogue.
And while many make-up her list of 18 #1’s, a few have slipped under the radar – like ‘Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme).’
Housed on the ‘Rainbow’ album, the song arrived amidst stormy tides for the singer and her then-label.
But that couldn’t quell the rousing, soul-shaking quality embedded in the uplifting cut – which was co-penned by Diane Warren and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
Sure, its accompanying video is a dipped in mozzarella, but would it be Mariah if it wasn’t…just a bit?
5) Camouflage 
While Carey’s 2014 effort ‘Me. I Am…Mariah. The Elusive Chanteuse’ arrived during an odd window, the project remains one of the songbird’s most criminally underrated. Though, the difference in vocal clarity varied from song-to-song, some jams – a la ‘Camouflage’ – stood tall. Not just on the LP, but up against some of her most celebrated material.
A piano ballad that put Carey’s vocals at the forefront, it also – by proxy – reminded of her potent pen game as she wails about internal insecurity after a love gone wrong.
4) For The Record 
Carey’s colossal comeback with the ‘Emancipation Of Mimi’ was largely powered by mega-smash ‘We Belong Together’ and re-cemented by ‘Don’t Forget About Us’ on the project’s Platinum Edition re-release. Both songs hit #1 and, in doing so, established a new musical blueprint for Mimi: the hand-clap ballad. Or, as we like to call ’em around here, “Ballads That Bop.”
Oft helmed by Jermaine Dupri and/or Bryan-Michael Cox, such sound and subject matter (see: lovelorn) would be terrain the trio would revisit often – with varying results. That said, ‘For The Record’ from ‘Emancipation’ follow-up ‘E=MC2’ remains one of their most compelling takes on the tried and true formula. Particularly as the violin added a fresh dimension production-wise. In trademark form, Carey’s climatic whistle served as both a seal and exclamation mark to the song’s lyrics.
The lack of live performance to date somewhat adds to the track’s legend.
3) My Saving Grace 
If Mariah’s emotional acceptance speech at the BBMAs resonated, this ‘Charmbracelet’ number is its musical equivalent.
The autobiographical anthem expresses thanks to the Most High and earthy supporters, while unpacking a narrative rooted in peaks and troughs, uncertain identity, and eventual triumph.
Recorded after a period of professional and personal hardships (see: ‘Glitter’ and public breakdown the year prior), this hit home because as clearly reflective as it is of Mariah’s predicament, it’s also universal in its relate-ability.
2) The Roof 
Label conflicts at the time clipped the commercial wings of this ‘Butterfly’ blazer.
But chart issues withstanding, this deeply personal number showcased how impactful the combination Mariah’s songwriting ability and the voice that mobilises it are.
The definition of immersive, the singer paints a vivid picture of a rooftop romance that lingers in the minds of the protagonists as much as it does in the minds of the listener.
Raw and resonating R&B, this would sit comfortably on Carey’s most recent LP ‘Caution’ without sounding dusty or dated. Much like her, it’s timeless.
1) Melt Away 
Mimi’s music has always boasted a certain soulfulness, but most Lambs would agree that it wasn’t until 1997’s ‘Butterfly’ that she jumped head-first into R&B as her key driver artistically.
Prior to then, such soulful sonics manifested in the form of momentary flashes.
One of the most enduring is ‘Melt Away.’ Housed on the solid block of beauty that is the ‘Daydream’ album.
From Carey’s stylised delivery, to the butter-smooth production and vocal stacking, the song – in three minutes and forty eight seconds – captures the nostalgia of the 90s R&B scene. And remains one of the premiere glimpses into the versatility that still lives within one of music’s most gifted Icons!