Mariah Carey's 'Emotions' at 30: Tracks Ranked Worst to Best

Ranking the songs on Mariah Carey's second album 'Emotions.'

9/17/2021 7:10:00 PM

Here's Billboard's ranking of every song on MariahCarey's Emotions

Ranking the songs on Mariah Carey's second album ' Emotions .'

Butterfly, however,Emotionsis a truly special entry in the singer’s catalog, not just because it produced three of her absolute best singles – “Emotions,” “Can’t Let Go,” and “Make It Happen” – but also due to the strength of its deep cuts. In the span of just 10 songs, Mariah effortlessly traverses R&B, disco, gospel and jazz, and does it all with the same keen pop sensibility that would inform her forays into hip-hop and house music.

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In honor of the album’s 30th anniversary,Emotionswill be released on limited edition pink vinyl on October 16 in the U.K., where, like in the U.S., the album originally peaked at No. 4. The release is part of, a partnership with BBC Sounds to celebrate both the LP format and women in music.

To commemorate three decades ofEmotions, we took a look back at Mariah’s too-often overlooked early gem and ranked each of the album’s 10 songs.10. “To Be Around You”“To Be Around You” is one of four tracks onEmotionsco-written and produced by Robert Clivillés and David Cole, who were hot off of a string of hits with C+C Music Factory, including the No. 1 smash “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now).” The song is a bouncy, keyboard-driven throwback inspired by Cheryl Lynn’s 1978 hit “Got to Be Real,” but it pales in comparison to Clivillés and Cole’s other contributions to the album, including the similar-sounding title track, making “To Be Around You” the only song on headtopics.com

Emotionsthat can be genuinely categorized as “filler.”9. “And You Don’t Remember”A solid ballad in its own right, “And You Don’t Remember” is a lush, soulful breakup song that, like “To Be Around You,” suffers only by virtue of being on the same album as a superior track: the similarly gospel-infused “If It’s Over.”

8. “So Blessed”“So Blessed” is a '60s-style torch song in the vein of the Righteous Brothers’ 1965 hit “Unchained Melody,” which had re-entered the top 20 of the Hot 100 one year earlier thanks to the filmGhost. Mariah’s song boasts a similarly timeless pop quality, punctuated by co-writer and producer Walter Afanasieff’s sweeping strings and sparsely plucked electric guitar -- not to mention the singer’s heart-rending vocal performance. It’s a template Mariah would return to on songs such as her 1996 radio hit “Forever.”

7. “You’re So Cold”In 2020, Mariah threw shade at “You’re So Cold,” tellingEllemagazine that it’s “not worth listening to really,” but we respectfully disagree. Reportedly in mind as the album’s lead single before Mariah, Clivillés, and Cole cooked up “Emotions,” “You’re So Cold” is playful, self-indulgent, and over the top – all the things we love about MC. The singer’s voice was arguably at its peak in 1991, and though she would tone down the vocal acrobatics over the course of the next several years, this bombastic bop is an unapologetic lesson in extravagance.

Queen of Christmas Mariah Carey Finally Gets the Holiday Figurine She Deserves6. “Till the End of Time”Supremely understated by Mariah’s standards at the time, and thus easy to overlook, “Till the End of Time” is an elegant, atmospheric ballad that takes its sweet time unfurling over the course of five-and-a-half minutes. Likewise, Mariah’s hushed vocals grow increasingly fervent, reaching a fever pitch during the song’s dramatic bridge. headtopics.com

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5. “The Wind”Set to a composition by jazz pianist Russell Freeman that was originally made popular by Chet Baker in the 1950s, the closing track onEmotionstells the tragic story of a friend who died in a drunk-driving accident. Mariah and Afanasieff spin Freeman’s already plaintive melody into something altogether mournful, introducing the world to the confessional storytelling and breathy vocal style that would become staples in the singer’s music for years to come.

Mariah Carey Moves Management From Roc Nation to Range Media4. “If It’s Over”The story goes that Carole King encouraged Mariah to record a cover of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” a song King co-wrote for Aretha Franklin in 1967. But Mariah had a better idea, and the pair sat down to compose an original song for

Emotionstogether. Backed by a live rhythm section, Hammond organ and gospel harmonies that nod directly to Franklin’s iconic hit, Mariah delivers one of her most textured and nuanced vocals, putting to rest any speculation at the time about her soul bona fides.

3. “Make It Happen”The third and final single fromEmotionsis an autobiographical anthem that finds Mariah recounting her rise from lowly backup singer, when she supposedly had “no proper shoes” on her feet, to multiplatinum superstar with an entire wardrobe designed solely for her high heels. Based on a groove lifted from Alicia Myers’s 1981 single “I Want to Thank You,” “Make It Happen” (which peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100) incorporates subtle gospel flourishes and inspirational lyrics that transform what could have been a run-of-the-mill rag-to-riches tale into something universal, galvanizing and irresistibly danceable. headtopics.com

2. “Can’t Let Go”The second single fromEmotions, “Can’t Let Go,” stalled at No. 2 on the Hot 100, breaking Mariah’s streak of chart-toppers, and it ranks as runner-up on this list, too. The song’s ascending melodic hook is a variation on Keith Sweat’s 1988 single “Make It Last Forever,” but make no mistake – “Can’t Let Go” is very much a Mariah Carey song, and it’s one of her best slow jams in a career full of them. The synth-heavy ballad’s minor chords and despondent verses lend it a moody atmosphere, with Mariah’s airy, textured vocals breathtakingly paired with Afanasieff’s minimalist collage of Synclavier drum programming.

1. “Emotions”With Mariah taking more creative control than she had on her debut,Emotionsmakes plentiful nods to her early influences. So it’s no coincidence that the album’s three best tracks, all wisely released as singles, feature prominently placed musical references to the past. In fact, “Emotions” took such obvious inspiration from The Emotions’ “Best of My Love,” which topped both the Hot 100 and R&B singles chart in 1977, that

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Billboard’s then-editor Larry Flick name-checked the disco classic in his review in 1991.Like “Best of My Love,” “Emotions” is deliriously joyous, riding a wave of dopamine so potent that Mariah can barely articulate how she feels, settling for ecstatic sighs, sultry moans and, of course, those euphoric whistle notes. When she does find the words to say how she feels, it’s simple and direct – she feels “good” and “nice” and “satisfied.” Whatever her emotions, though, it’s impossible for the listener not to feel them, too.

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MariahCarey Just curious as to which song you all thing should be least favorite from Emotions30 MariahCarey This ranking is NOT IT AllAboutMariah1 MariahCarey I love the entire album. 🎶❤ Emotions30 MariahCarey 'worst' MariahCarey This list is disgusting trash MariahCarey Worst? It doesn’t exist. Delete this

MariahCarey “To Be Around You” the WORST? Chile I’m not even finna read this whole list bc that’s a gorgeous girl right there. MariahCarey Can't Let Go deserved to be 1! Just sayin' MariahCarey Mariah is a legend! MariahCarey The Music Industry. Thank you Billboard MariahCarey She is the greatest vocalist of our time and I doubt anyone can come close to these vocal feats. Whoever listens to this album will check it. Emotions is a vocal masterpiece. Iconic album!

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MariahCarey 'Emotions' is one of the best Abums of all time! Emotions30 MariahCarey There’s no bad songs beloved ! They are all amazing 👑♥️ MariahCarey “To Be Around You” the worst song and filler? MariahCarey Not ranked but dis song is mint! 🎧⬇️ MonBazoo BlakMusic BlakAce

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It Took 430 Hours to Make Carey Mulligan’s ‘Revenge Barbie’ Met Gala LookHow the Promising Young Woman star chose her bubblegum pink Valentino haute couture gown. Absolutely Stunning Bravo👏👏👏🎈🎈👏👏😘😘😘😘😘❤️ And yet people bash this look because they say it is “basic.” Ha! This is far from basic. People are so ignorant to the topic of detail, fit, time and perfection. This was stunning!