Real name: Mariah Carey
Birthdate: March 27, 1970
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Carey took much more control over her image and music following her separation from Mottola in 1997, and she introduced elements of hip hop into her album material. Her popularity was in decline when she left Columbia in 2001, and she was dropped by Virgin Records the following year after a highly publicized physical and emotional breakdown, and the poor reception of Glitter; her film and soundtrack project. In 2002, Carey signed with Island Records, and after an unsuccessful period, she returned to the forefront of pop music in 2005.
Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds consulted on the album Music Box, which was released later that year and became Carey's most successful worldwide. It yielded her first UK Singles Chart number-one, a cover of Badfinger's "Without You", as well as the U.S. number-ones "Dreamlover" and "Hero". Billboard magazine proclaimed it as "heart-piercing ... easily the most elemental of Carey's releases, her vocal eurythmics in natural sync with the songs", but TIME magazine lamented Carey's attempt at a mellower work: " seems perfunctory and almost passionless ... Carey could be a pop-soul great; instead she has once again settled for Salieri-like mediocrity". In response to such comments, Carey said, "As soon as you have a big success, a lot of people don't like that. There's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is make music I believe in." Most critics slighted the opening of her subsequent U.S. Music Box Tour.
Carey's tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), contained contributions from producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West and Carey's longtime collaborator, Jermaine Dupri. Carey said it was "very much like a party record... the process of putting on makeup and getting ready to go out... I wanted to make a record that was reflective of that." The Emancipation of Mimi became 2005's best-selling album in the U.S., and The Guardian reviewer defined it as "cool, focused and urban ... the first Mariah Carey tunes in years I wouldn't have to be paid to listen to again". The album earned Carey a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album, and the single "We Belong Together" won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. "We Belong Together" held the Hot 100's number-one position for fourteen weeks (Carey's longest run at the top as a solo lead artist), and "Shake It Off" made Carey the only solo female artist to occupy the Hot 100's top two positions simultaneously. "Don't Forget About Us" became her seventeenth number-one in the U.S., tying her with Elvis Presley for the most number-ones by a solo act according to Billboard magazine's revised methodology (their statistician Joel Whitburn still credits Presley with an eighteenth). The Beatles had twenty number-ones. Carey's singles have, collectively, topped the charts for seventy-seven weeks, which places her ahead of The Beatles (fifty-nine weeks), and behind Presley, who topped the combined charts for seventy-nine weeks. Carey has also had notable success on international charts, though not to the same degree as her native America. Thus far, she has had two number-one singles in Britain, two in Australia, and six in Canada. Carey's highest-charting single in Japan peaked at number-two.