Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
Carey has said that from childhood she has been influenced by R&B and soul musicians such as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. Her music contains strong influences of gospel music, she attends an Episcopal church and her favorite gospel singers include The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar and Edwin Hawkins. When Carey incorporated hip-hop into her sound, speculation arose that she was making an attempt to take advantage of the genre's popularity, but she told Newsweek, "People just don't understand. I grew up with this music". She has expressed appreciation for rappers such as The Sugarhill Gang, Eric B. & Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G. and Mobb Deep, with whom she collaborated on the single "The Roof (Back in Time)" (1998).Mariah Carey possesses a five-octave vocal range, and was ranked first in a 2003 MTV and Blender magazine countdown of the 22 Greatest Voices in Music, as voted by fans and readers in an online poll. Carey said of the poll, "What it really means is voice of the MTV generation. Of course, it's an enormous compliment, but I don't feel that way about myself." She also placed second in Cove magazine's list of "The 100 Outstanding Pop Vocalists".Voice experts praise Carey's vocal technique, like Stephen Holden who said, "[s]he can deliver very accurate staccatos as well as tricky melismas, and she possesses a beautiful and solid trill in upper register". Jeanette Lo Vetri states, "Carey is really a great technician. The staccatos are pin point, executed with amazing speed and control, the legato is a marvel of smoothness, she is the supreme mistress of melismas, she always keeps a neutral larynx position— except sometimes in her lower register— and she glides effortlessly from bottom to top and vice versa." Malcolm Walker adds her vocal lines are "very well led, especially in piano register." Carey's output makes use of electronic instruments such as drum machines, keyboards and synthesizers. Many of her songs contain piano music, and she was given piano lessons when she was six years old. Carey said that she cannot read sheet music and prefers to collaborate with a pianist when composing her material, but feels that it is easier to experiment with faster and less conventional melodies and chord progressions using this technique. Some of her arrangements have been inspired by the work of musicians such as Stevie Wonder, a soul pianist to whom Carey once referred as "the genius of the [twentieth] century", but she has said, "My voice is my instrument; it always has been." Carey began commissioning remixes of her material early in her career and helped to spearhead the practice of recording entirely new vocals for remixes. Disc jockey David Morales has collaborated with Carey several times, starting with "Dreamlover" (1993), which popularized the tradition of remixing R&B songs into house records, and which Slant magazine named one of the greatest dance songs of all time. From "Fantasy" (1995) onward, Carey enlisted both hip hop and house producers to re-imagine her album compositions. Entertainment Weekly included two remixes of "Fantasy" on a list of Carey's greatest recordings compiled in 2005: a National Dance Music Award-winning remix produced by Morales, and a Sean Combs production featuring rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard. The latter has been credited with popularizing the R&B/hip hop collaboration trend that has continued into the 2000s through artists such as Ashanti and Beyoncé. Combs said that Carey "knows the importance of mixes, so you feel like you're with an artist who appreciates your work—an artist who wants to come up with something with you". She continues to consult on remixes by producers such as Morales, Jermaine Dupri, Junior Vasquez and DJ Clue, and guest performers contribute frequently to them.
Carey's vocal style and singing ability have significantly impacted popular and contemporary music. Music critic G. Brown from The Denver Post wrote, "For better or worse, Mariah Carey's five-octave range and melismatic style have influenced a generation of pop singers." According to Rolling Stone, "Her mastery of melisma, the fluttering strings of notes that decorate songs like "Vision of Love," inspired the entire American Idol vocal school, for better or worse, and virtually every other female R&B singer since the Nineties." Beyoncé Knowles credits Carey's singing and her song "Vision of Love" as influencing her to begin practicing vocal "runs" as a child, as well as helping her pursue a career as a musician. Carey is also credited for introducing R&B and hip hop into mainstream pop culture, and for popularizing rap as a featuring act through her post-1995 songs. Sasha Frere-Jones, editor of The New Yorker commented, "It became standard for R&B/hip-hop stars like Missy Elliott and Beyoncé, to combine melodies with rapped verses. And young white pop stars—including Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and Christina Aguilera—have spent much of the past ten years making pop music that is unmistakably R&B." Jody Rosen of Slate Magazine wrote of Carey's influence in music saying "Carey is the most influential vocal stylist of the last two decades, the person who made rococo melismatic singing—the trick of embroidering syllables with multiple no-o-o-o-o-o-tes—the ubiquitous pop style." Rosen further commented on Carey's proof of influence saying "Exhibit A is American Idol, which has often played out as a clash of melisma-mad Mariah wannabes. And, today, nearly 20 years after Carey's debut, major labels continue to bet the farm on young stars such as the winner of Britain's X Factor show, Leona Lewis, with her Generation Next gloss on Mariah's big voice and big hair." Judnick Mayard, writer of TheFader, wrote that in regarding of R&B and hip hop collaboration, "The champion of this movement is Mariah Carey.". Mayard also expressed that "To this day ODB and Mariah may still be the best and most random hip hop collaboration of all time", citing that due to the record "Fantasy", "R&B and Hip Hop were the best of step siblings." New York Magazine's editor Roger Deckker said that in regarding Carey as an influential artist in music, he commented that "Whitney Houston may have introduced melisma (the vocally acrobatic style of lending a word an extra syllable or twenty) to the charts, but it was Mariah—with her jaw-dropping range—who made it into America’s default sound." Deckker also added that "Every time you turn on American Idol, you are watching her children". According to Pier Dominguez, author of Christina Aguilera: a star is made : the unauthorized biography, Aguilera has stated how she loved listening to Whitney Houston, but it was Carey who had the biggest influence on her vocal styling. Carey's carefully choreographed image of a grown woman's image struck a chord on Aguilera. Her influence on Aguilera also grew from the fact that both were of mixed heritage. Philip Brasor, editor of "The Japan Times", expressed how Carey's vocal and melismatic style even influenced Asian singers. He wrote regarding Japanese superstar Utada Hikaru, "Utada sang what she heard, from the diaphragm and with her own take on the kind of melisma that became de rigueur in American pop after the ascendance of Mariah Carey."