The 10 Greatest Mariah Carey Remixes

We've ranked Mariah Carey's 10 best remixes.

The 10 Greatest Mariah Carey Remixes
Photo: Island Def Jam

Last month, Mariah Carey notched her 17th number one hit on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart with “You’re Mine (Eternal),” the most recent single from her 14th album album, Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse, out May 27th. The Queen of the Remix’s latest chart feat puts her in fifth place among the artists with the most number ones on the dance tally (notably, the Top 11 record holders are all female, led by Madonna with a modest 43 chart-toppers). Mariah first reached the apex way back in 1991 with her third single, “Someday,” a track she, if hubby Nick Cannon is to be believed, doesn’t particularly care for anymore. But we do—at least house pioneer Shep Pettibone’s version of the song, which helped coronate the reluctant disco diva’s tenure on the dance chart. It’s one of 10 tracks that comprise our list of Mariah’s greatest remixes. Mimi is the quintessential crossover artist, with a catalogue of hits that bridges the gap between pop, R&B, hip-hop, and dance, and our list likewise spans both her urban and house remixes. Though the so-called elusive chanteuse has shied away from the latter genre in recent years, a quick look at her exhaustive canon and her insistence on recording new vocals for the majority of her remixes proves her commitment to not just the process, but the club audience who has supported her since that little new-jack single did the running man all the way to the throne.

Editor’s Note: Check out our exclusive premiere of a brand new remix of “#Beautiful”! Does it deserve a spot among her best?

10. “My All/Stay Awhile (So So Def Remix)”

Befitting her mixed racial background, Mariah Carey has two modes of nostalgia: covering MOR power ballads from the ’80s sung by white dudes (see George Michael’s “One More Try,” from the forthcoming Me. I Am Mariah) and lifting from more obscure R&B chart hits from the same era. Jermaine Dupri’s remix of the singer’s 1998 single “My All” indulged the latter impulse, seamlessly blending lyrics and hooks from the forlorn AC ballad with that of Loose Ends’ eastern-inflected “Stay a Little While, Child” to form a gooey amalgam of cross-generational, cross-format longing. Sal Cinquemani

9. “Heartbreaker (Remix)”

Including this remix on 1999’s Rainbow was forward-thinking, but fully befitting a fruity album that strained to include every color in the spectrum. I remember spinning this laidback gem on my college radio station and my friend, a vocal performance major, complaining that the song never seemed to actually get started. I countered that the groove never stops. And it still hasn’t. Eric Henderson

8. “I Still Believe (The Kings Mix)”

As if her dedication to the remix hadn’t already been cemented by the late ’90s, Mariah recorded vocals for four entirely different versions of “I Still Believe,” including “The Kings Mix” and “The Eve of Souls Mix,” both of which consist largely of Mimi vamping, trilling, and otherwise adlibbing over perennial collaborator David Morales’s tribal house beats. The former is by far the more bellicose and dramatic of the two tracks, opening with some icy chords straight out of the “I Feel Love” songbook and slowly building into a throbbing bass party whose guest of honor couldn’t be more evident: those pipes. Cinquemani

7. “H.A.T.E.U. (So So Def Remix)”

One of the slowest tracks from the very slow album Memoirs of a Slow Angel, “H.A.T.E.U.” spawned two notably quick remixes. While they both breathe life into the song, I’m not apprehensive about admitting that Jason Nevins’s warm, glowstick-y “Loves U” retrofit is wrong for the song. “I can’t wait to hate you” is the hook, but the counterpoint is key: “Still can’t shake you off.” To that end, breaking up the sentiment with verses from guest rappers and sing-songing the entire sentiment to Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo” make it clear what Mariah really can’t shake off: the ’90s. And we L.O.V.E. her for it. Henderson

6. “Someday (New 12” Jackswing)”

All due respect to Mariah’s loyalty to Morales, but one wishes she would’ve fully explored the wealth of producers available to her back in the ’90s, when she, they, and house music were all at their zenith. You get a taste of that potential listening to what Shep Pettibone did with Mariah’s first dance hit, “Someday.” The sunny song could’ve just as easily been recorded by Amy Grant, but Pettibone somehow finds a few clouds in the sky in both his driving minor-key house redo and this irresistible new jack-lite makeover. One can easily imagine the Tanner family doing hammers to it. Henderson

5. “Can’t Take That Away (Mariah’s Theme) (Morales Revival Triumphant Mix)”

Though she was a full year away from her infamous public breakdown, you could hear the cracks beginning to appear in Sony’s then-seemingly invincible Golden Girl in the spoken intro to Morales’s remix of “Can’t Take That Away.” She seems to be trying to assure herself as much as her fans when she advises, “No matter what they try to do, no matter what they try to say…” Though it powers along at 120 beats per minute for over 10 minutes, there’s something laidback about the track that’s owed to both that soulful, Stevie-esque harmonica and, of course, Mariah’s wearied performance. Cinquemani

4. “Butterfly (Def B Fly Mix)”

And once in a while it’s possible for a remix to stretch a moment of sincerity out in an attempt to, well, “make it last forever.” That Mariah was particularly in tune with the persistently personal nature of “Butterfly” goes without saying. What she and Morales, the muscle behind the majority of her club-bound remixes, did with the jazzy, dubby album interlude was nothing short of plunging into the heart of the material, exploring both the lyric and the groove (not unlike Marvin Gaye with his I Want You sessions) and willing its brilliance out of the cocoon. Henderson

3. “Fantasy (Bad Boy Mix)”

Mariah’s affinity for remixes can, perhaps, be traced back to her storied creative and personal imprisonment by Sony head Tommy Mottola. The singer was allowed to experiment on remixes in ways Thomas and her other handlers were resistant to let her do on her first few albums. Puff Daddy’s remix of 1995’s “Fantasy” replaced Mariah’s original hook with the bridge, which was lifted from Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love,” and yet the track somehow felt, and still feels, more like Mariah Carey than anything else she’s done to date. She may not have yet been fully emancipated, but it’s clear she’d tasted a little bit of freedom. Cinquemani

2. “Dreamlover (Def Club Mix)”

Mariah’s first collaboration with David Morales also marked the first time the singer recorded completely new vocals for a remix. A fun factoid, sure, but it’s prescient because her sultrier new performance of “Dreamlover” represented a total 180 from the peppy, decidedly major-key album version. When she spends a whole 60 seconds riffing on the lyric “Somebody come and take me away,” she isn’t just relishing a good hook; it’s a desperate, impassioned petition for deliverance. Cinquemani

1. “Anytime You Need a Friend (C+C Club Version)”

House can excavate lava flows of feeling from even the coldest, most mechanical of sources. Need convincing? Witness that not just one, but two of the finest moments in early-’90s house (and our easy picks for the top two slots on this list) were extracted from Mariah’s empty Music Box. The album version of “Dreamlover” at least had buoyancy in its wheelhouse, but how Robert Clivillés and David Cole managed to transform the totally insincere sisterhood of “Anytime You Need a Friend” into an 11-minute, organ-and-choir-saturated garage baptismal that, as we previously pointed out in our Mariah retrospective, “had princesses, queens, and guidos all over the tri-state area crying on the dance floor” is alchemy of the highest order. Henderson

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