Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by Scott Shetler
Mariah Carey: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Facts
Eligible Since: 2016
Grammy Awards/Nominations: 5/33
Career Top 40 Hits: 35
Essential Tracks: Vision of Love, Love Takes Time, Vanishing, Someday, Emotions, If It’s Over, All I Want for Christmas is You, Always Be My Baby, Petals, We Belong Together
Essential Albums: Mariah Carey (1990), Emotions (1991), Daydream (1995), Butterfly (1997), The Emancipation of Mimi (2005)
A proper music hall of fame cannot exist without the woman who belted out “Vision of Love,” “Hero,” and “Fantasy.” But Mariah Carey is not currently a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She wasn’t eligible until 2016, so her wait hasn’t been a long one so far. Will Mariah someday get the call for induction?
Like Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston, Mariah seems to be falling victim to the Hall’s indifference to pop divas. Sure, Madonna was inducted, and Donna Summer was a posthumous selection after a public uproar following her death, but for the longest time, those were the only real female pop stars (post-1980) in the entire Rock Hall.
Janet and Whitney were finally inducted in recent years, so things may be changing. If that’s the case, Mariah should certainly be next in line.
At his induction ceremony a few years back, Steve Miller ripped the Hall for largely ignoring female artists. He probably wasn’t thinking about Mariah when he made the comments, but his point stands. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebrates all genres of music – rock, jazz, soul, country, hip hop – so straight-up pop divas should not be excluded.
Mariah Carey’s Rock Hall Credentials
Carey’s chart history is nearly unmatched. She’s second all-time in Billboard No. 1 hits, behind only the Beatles(!) Her astounding total of 19 chart-toppers includes “Vision of Love,” “Emotions,” “Dreamlover,” “Always Be My Baby,” and the modern holiday classic, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Her duet with Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day,” set a then-record by spending 16 weeks at No. 1.
For a full decade, Carey pumped out smash hits like a machine. I’m still partial to the gorgeous ballad from her self-titled debut, “Love Takes Time”; the early dance-pop hit “Someday”; the gospel-influenced “Anytime You Need a Friend”; and the simple ballad “My All,” where she really lets loose vocally.
Carey changed her sound over the years, incorporating more R&B and hip hop in the late ‘90s and 2000s. When she did have a chart slump, she roared back with the exquisite “We Belong Together” and further chart-toppers “Don’t Forget About Us” and “Touch My Body.” Her ability and willingness to adapt are qualities that not every artist in the Rock Hall has, so they bolster her case for induction.
Another thing Mariah has going for her is that she penned her own songs. Aside from a few remakes – the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There,” most notably – Carey wrote or co-wrote all of her songs over the years. As an institution that respects singer-songwriters, the Rock Hall should be impressed by that level of creativity and self-reliance.
And of course, Carey could do things vocally that virtually no other singers could. Like hitting those insanely high notes in “Emotions” with her whistle register. Even those Rock Hall voters who have extremely high standards for vocalists should be able to acknowledge that Mariah was one of the very best.
Her early albums, especially, contained numerous potential chart-toppers that were never even released as singles. You can put together a very strong playlist of Carey’s lesser-known album tracks. Start with “Vanishing” and “Prisoner” from her debut, “And You Don’t Remember” and “If It’s Over” from Emotions, “Never Forget You” from Music Box, and “Melt Away” from Daydream.
The Case Against Mariah Carey
Mariah’s chart accomplishments are nearly unprecedented, and it’s hard to criticize her voice or her songwriting. So there really is no logical argument against the Best New Artist Grammy winner earning Rock Hall induction, unless voters decide that she’s not “rock” enough.
It’s interesting that Carey never recorded any songs that could be described as “rock.” Even her pop diva contemporaries occasionally branched out into hard rock. Janet had a big hit with the scorching “Black Cat,” among several guitar-heavy tracks in her catalogue. Whitney’s “Queen of the Night” was powered by an electric guitar riff.
It’s cool to imagine what a Mariah rock song might’ve sounded like, but she never went there. At least not publicly. She did record that secret alternative rock album in the mid-90s, but it didn’t see the light of day. Check out Mariah’s fascinating memoir to learn more about that story.
But her lack of hard rock songs shouldn’t matter. As we’ve seen over the years, lots of artists who don’t fit the traditional definition of “rock” have been inducted, from the Bee Gees to N.W.A to Madonna. The genre should be irrelevant; the quality of the music should be the only factor that matters.
Some of Carey’s albums aren’t as strong as the others – Charmbracelet and Glitter, most notably. But no artist has a perfect track record. She had way more hits than misses during her career.
For years, one valid criticism of Carey was that she didn’t have a signature song. “Hero” sounds like it was intended to be a signature song, but it never became that, perhaps because it was too sappy. Same goes for “One Sweet Day,” which had its record chart run and then was largely forgotten and to this day gets very little radio airplay.
But with the recent chart resurgence of holiday music, “All I Want for Christmas is You” now finds a home at the top of the charts every year, and it’s become her signature track. There’s no doubt that song will still be getting played during the holiday season 100 years from now.
The Verdict: Will Mariah Carey Ever Get Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
On one hand, Carey seems like a lock to earn eventual Rock Hall induction given her historic chart success. On the other hand… we’re talking about an institution that never bothered inducting pop legends like Barbra Streisand and Dionne Warwick. If Streisand’s decades-long track record isn’t deemed worthy, will the Rock Hall ever come around to an artist like Mariah?
It seems unlikely that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can ignore Mariah Carey forever. It may take several more years for voters to get past the idea that she isn’t “rock” enough, but the prediction here is that she does eventually earn induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2021, Warwick earned her first Rock Hall nomination, and so did Mary J. Blige, in somewhat of a surprise. So it’s possible that those two are ahead of Carey in the eyes of Hall voters. That means Mariah might have to wait longer than expected. But she should be inducted sometime before 2030.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Mariah Carey
Odds of Getting Inducted Next Year: 15%
Odds of Getting Inducted in the Next Five Years: 50%
Odds of Getting Inducted Eventually: 80%
Do you think Mariah Carey will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday? Leave a comment and let us know!
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5 thoughts on “Will Mariah Carey Ever Get Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”
Why does everything about Mariah Carey’s legacy start “chart stats” as the reason why she should be in the Rock Hall? This woman spent her entire career selling her singles for 49 cents to get them to #1. That is nothing to brag about. In order for her to compete on the same level as Madonna, Janet and Whitney.
What is her legacy outside of her 49 cent #1 singles?
Her videos didn’t create any influence the way Madonna, Janet Jackson, Beyonce’s did.
Her albums were never influential. Only ONE finally made the Rolling Stone 500 All-Time Greatest Albums list.
She’s not known for her touring stats or performances.
In fact, she even struggled to sell out 3,000 seats for an entire tour… 19 #1’s though? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Advocate_Tour
So, she should be in the Rock Hall because she had 19 #1 songs she sold for 49 cents?
You raise some good points, although the exaggerations are a bit extreme. Most of Mariah’s #1 hits were legitimate. A small handful (3-5) were the result of chart manipulation. That’s a practice that has always gone on, and is still going on today, unfortunately, because Billboard allows it. I hate the practice of chart manipulation, but it doesn’t change the fact that Mariah had about 15 legitimate #1 hits, which is still a stunning total. She never struggled to compete with Madonna, Janet and Whitney – she was more commercially successful than all of them from 1990 through 1997, and again in the mid-2000s.
The claim that she has no legacy is simply not true. There’s a direct lineage from Mariah to Christina Aguilera to Ariana Grande and other young pop divas. Through them, pop music today is still being shaped by Mariah’s influence. She has one of the great voices of all time, and the most noteworthy Christmas song of the past 50 years. Both are significant accomplishments and will remain so when people look back decades from now.
Very few female acts can actually challenge Mariah’s musical influence i, While most of Madonna’s influence was just about being controversial and gimmicky, not always pure musical influence.There’s so many acts claiming Mariah’s influence on them ! From French R&B singers Amel Bent to Australian Pixie Lott, british artist Jade Ewen claims that Mariah is her biggest inspiration and influence. Deceased Selena, along Anastacia, Lara Fabian, Idina Menzel, Regine Velasquez and Shania Twain have all stated that Mariah has significantly influenced them ,making of Mariah one of few artists influenting their contemporaries and even some of their predecessors.
Beyoncé , Christina, Kelly Clarkson have stated that they become singer because of Mariah, Brazilian superstar Anitta names Mariah as her biggest influence and the inspiration of her album Kisses , Bruno Mars cited Mariah as the inspiration for his album 24 k Magic, Jessica Simpson has her christmas album heavily influenced by Mariah’s, same for Michael Bolton, etc.
Even Pitbull has cited Mariah ‘s Hero as a strong inspiration in his personal life and helped him pursue his music career. But more than just a particular album, Mariah’s whole music ans style influences the music of countless artists more than people could ever know .Mariah’s Hip Hop / Pop collaboration has inspired much more artists than any other genre. Nearly every mainstream music artists have to do hip hop/ pop or R&B collabs. By the late ’90s, urban music had become pop(ular) music, and Mariah Carey was a big reason why. After being seen as a pop princess for the first half of the ’90s, by the end of the decade Mariah had taken her music in a more urban direction. Mariah has said it was clear music was heading in that direction, and she hopped on the front of that train. Jody Rosen of Slate said the hybridization of styles in music was “an inevitability” but also something Carey “saw earlier than others.” Music critic Amy Linden wrote it as, “For better or worse, Mariah’s five-octave, pop/R&B stylings set the diva standard
@irina1296 At “Hip Hop Honors,” DJ Khaled called her “the queen of the remix.” Dupri, her frequent collaborator, said in a tribute video that she was “the innovator of the sound that you basically hear now.” Damon Dash, who co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records with Jay-Z, said that “everybody that likes rap, likes Mariah.”
“I don’t even look at her like outside of our culture, she’s in it,” he added. “Mariah’s hip-hop.”
The greater influence of combining the two genres of Pop and Hip-Hop goes beyond the formula of a Rap/Sung collaboration and ventures into a journey of creating a more inclusive society. Hip-Hop beats have infected the pop music of today. Pop songs appear like they are often created with the intention of having a beat that allows for the potential Hip-Hop remix — an example being 7 Rings by Ariana Grande and featuring 2 Chainz. To go beyond Western music, K-Pop groups are comprised of both rappers and singers, and given the way K-Pop groups have been manufactured for perfection, this emblem of musical perfection is an example that further confirms Mariah’s advanced innovation and creative vision. Through her music, Mariah has made our world a little more open and accepting of other cultures — no matter how much it may seem like those cultures are in opposition to each other.Mariah
A case can be made for ‘You Need Me’. Sounds rock to me.