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Why Mariah Carey Matters

Why Mariah Carey Matters

Andrew Chen
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The first book to critically examine the legacy of pop superstar Mariah Carey.

When it comes to Mariah Carey, star power is never in doubt. She has sold hundreds of millions of albums and cut more chart-topping hits than any other solo artist--ever. And she has that extraordinary five-octave vocal range. But there is more to her legacy than eye-popping numbers.

Why Mariah Carey Matters examines the creative evolution and complicated biography of a true diva, making the case that, despite her celebrity, Carey's musicianship and influence are insufficiently appreciated. A pioneering songwriter and producer, Carey pairs her vocal gifts with intimate lyrics and richly layered sonic details. In the mid-1990s, she perfected a blend of pop, hip-hop, and R&B with songs such as "Fantasy" and "Honey" and drew from her turbulent life to create the introspective masterpiece Butterfly. Andrew Chan looks beyond Carey's glamorous persona to explore her experience as a mixed-race woman in show business, her adventurous forays into house music and gospel, and her appeal to multiple generations of queer audiences. He also reckons with the transcendent ideal of the voice that Carey represents, showing how this international icon taught artists around the world to sing with soul-shaking intensity and a spirit of innovation.

Table of Contents:

  1. A Call to Worship
  2. What a Voice Means
  3. Other Sounds, Other Realms
  4. Out of the Chrysalis
  5. Between Laughter and Lament
  6. Back at Number 1
  7. A Timeless Diva Through Time
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. Notes


Andrew Chan writes regularly about music, film, and books for 4Columns. His work has also been published by the Criterion Collection, Film Comment, NPR, the New Yorker, and Reverse Shot.


  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (September 12, 2023)
  • Language: English
  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1477325077
  • ISBN-13: 9781477325070
  • Item Weight: 1.47 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches


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