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Mariah Carey - Heartbreaker

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  • Mariah Carey - Heartbreaker

    15 Years Ago Today, Mariah Carey & Jay Z's 'Heartbreaker' Hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100
    By Elias Leight | October 09, 2014 10:00 AM EDT



    Fifteen years ago today, Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker," featuring a still-hyphenated Jay-Z, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    Aside from being an incredible jam -- and the rare No. 1 hit to include "incessantly" in the chorus -- "Heartbreaker" is an important song in Mimi's career.

    The power of Carey's vocals is well documented and nearly unmatched, but a powerful voice alone doesn't give you 14 No. 1 hits in 10 years. But of all her hits, "Heartbreaker" best demonstrates her ability to keep her ear to the ground, to sense a shifting pop landscape and change with it.


    Throughout the '90s, R&B moved closer to rap in form and content. While many hitmakers resisted rap, Carey played an important role in this transition. Ol' Dirty Bastard showed up on a remix to "Fantasy," Bone Thugs-N-Harmony rapped on her stalled 1998 single "Breakdown," and sampling had always factored into her approach.

    But "Heartbreaker" was the first smash single from Mariah to feature a rapper on its initial release -- her most blatant merger of the two forms to date. She also demonstrated her pop savvy by giving an assist to Jay-Z, who was starting his own climb towards pop domination. Carey graciously took him with her to No. 1; he wouldn't taste top 10 crossover success again until 2001.

    The "Heartbreaker" remix pushed her even further into the world of genre hybridization. She pulled in two rappers, Missy Elliott and Da Brat, and sampled another rap song, remaking the beat from a 1993 track by Snoop Dogg.


    "Heartbreaker" doesn't only stand out in the context of pop trends, though -- it's a different vocal approach for Carey.

    Singers of her caliber often make ballads their bread and butter. And obviously, singing ballads is smart for Carey -- it plays to her strengths to limb out and then keep climbing, to engage in melismatic runs and revel in the extent of her range.

    But what makes "Heartbreaker" surprising in Carey's '90s catalog is its restraint. Rolling Stone compared "Heartbreaker" to "Fantasy" on the grounds that both sampled early '80s New Wave funk -- Stacy Lattisaw's "Attack of the Name Game" and Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love," respectively.

    Carey hits high notes in "Heartbreaker" (that goes without saying), but the song feels closer to Aaliyah's "Rock The Boat," a soft wave of a song that followed in 2001. "Fantasy" is a cheerful, strutting tune, a burst of energy. "Heartbreaker," however, is smooth around the edges -- and tragic in the middle.

    In the big-budget video for "Heartbreaker," Carey tracks down her cheating boyfriend at a movie theater and fights with the other girl he's taking on a date -- also played by Carey. The martial arts battle that takes place between Carey and her evil alter-ego in the movie theater bathroom humorously dramatizes the way she was battling herself for pop dominance at the turn of the century.

    No one touched Carey in the '90s -- she released the majority of her No. 1 singles and put out seven albums during the decade. She would continue to be successful after "Heartbreaker," but part of its lasting impact is the way it defined the model of a supremely successful, highly adaptable star -- a model that still rules the pop scene today.

    Billboard.com

  • #2
    I love this song, both the original and its remix; I think ultimately it's one of my favourites from Mariah.

    That classic bathroom scene in the music video as well...

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    • #3
      One of her best lead singles.

      I love her voice on this.

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      • #4
        this one is so catchyyyyyyyyyy
        last.fm

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mrlemonade
          this one is so catchyyyyyyyyyy
          You better redo that countdown of yours, you seem to like a lot more than 5 of her songs.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by IrishLamb
            Originally posted by mrlemonade
            this one is so catchyyyyyyyyyy
            You better redo that countdown of yours, you seem to like a lot more than 5 of her songs.
            I did add Obsessed later, I might have to add some more eventually this environment is lambifying me
            last.fm

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TheRealest
              One of her best lead singles.

              I love her voice on this.

              Yes yes and yes! It has always been a favorite of mine!

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              • #8
                Came to comment on her vocals again. Some of her best ever are here!

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                • #9
                  Are vocals are ace and show a broad range of different styles and tricks on this!

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                  • #10
                    Her vocals here and on the Desert Storm Remix are both so good, it's crazy how bad her vocals were on the If You Should Ever Be Lonely remix of this song. :-? :-?

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                    • #11
                      This epicness turned 16 today!

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                      • #12
                        this song is just SO good i even have it on my phone
                        last.fm

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                        • #13
                          I prefer Mariah without rappers.

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                          • #14
                            I like this but not as much as Honey or other lead singles built on sample.
                            The video is iconic tho - Bianca rules!!
                            Floped and localed

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                            • #15
                              This is one of the very few singles that I actually like and enjoy from Mariah. Its a great pop song.

                              I also remember its music video back in the day and its pretty much her coolest music video and one of the coolest music videos overall out there (the ending was epic ), which is also remarkable for her as she was always overall weak in the music video field / department.

                              So this was a great release from her.
                              Rock lives forever: Led Zeppelin . Metallica . Pink Floyd . Nirvana . Radiohead . Pearl Jam . Oasis . Iron Maiden . Nine Inch Nails
                              Approved Popstars: Michael Jackson . Madonna . Britney Spears . Beyoncé . Rihanna

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                              • #16
                                One of my absolute favorites of all her singles

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                                • #17
                                  I love it it used to be in heavy rotation on MTV, the video is one of her best too.

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                                  • #18
                                    Nice song and probably her best music video to date, beside Touch My Body.

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                                    • #19
                                      Mariah is underrated in music videos. I mean she has more great music videos than average one's which don't become as popular. Ex: Hero is more popular than Breakdown, Heartbreaker, Honey and It's Like That.
                                      "You and me in a cloud of REVERIE..."

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by turbulent
                                        Mariah is underrated in music videos. I mean she has more great music videos than average one's which don't become as popular. Ex: Hero is more popular than Breakdown, Heartbreaker, Honey and It's Like That.
                                        Hero does not have a bigger video than any of the videos you've mentioned, it's just as big a song as all those singles combined. It always happenes to classic songs, they always score high numbers. 100m on vevo is so close.
                                        My Chart

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                                        • #21
                                          She had great videos for her singles but the big songs like "Hero" and "Without You" (which had live videos) are her signature songs.

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                                          • #22
                                            I can't believe there wasn't a thread for this before!!!!!!
                                            Please Stop the Music

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                                            • #23
                                              Well, everything is always discussed in her main thread that's why.

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                                              • #24
                                                Originally posted by GetBack
                                                Well, everything is always discussed in her main thread that's why.
                                                Music is hardly discussed in the main thread it's all about the condition of her voice and haters
                                                Floped and localed

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                                                • #25
                                                  Originally posted by Gravity
                                                  Originally posted by GetBack
                                                  Well, everything is always discussed in her main thread that's why.
                                                  Music is hardly discussed in the main thread it's all about the condition of her voice and haters
                                                  And the meltdowns over her face,weight,Stella,Mishka,Bryan Tanaka,her eyebrows and all that nonsense...it's a chore trying to maintain your sanity in that place

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