In her long, celebrated career, Mariah Carey has sold more than 200 million albums, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. But along with all of that great success, she's also experienced heartbreak and failure. We're taking a look back at some of Mimi's most memorable highs and lows of the last three decades, starting with… her spectacular career debut. The New York native had just turned 21 when she released her self-titled first album in June 1990. With four consecutive No. 1 singles including "Vision of Love" — which she performed on "Saturday Night Live" that October (she's seen rehearsing for it here) — and "Love Takes Time," Mariah firmly established herself as a musical powerhouse. Keep reading for more…
Less than a year after the release of her first album, Mariah Carey won her first two Grammys in 1991 — including one for Best New Artist.
Mariah Carey looked like a princess in a Vera Wang gown with a 27-foot train as she married her boss — Sony exec Tommy Mottola — in June 1993. On the guest list: Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen and Robert DeNiro.
RELATED: Celebrity engagement rings revealed
With the 1995 release of her fifth studio album "Daydream" — which featured one of her most well-known hits, "Fantasy" — Mariah Carey found even more success and critical acclaim as she began to infuse her previously adult contemporary sound with more hip-hop and R&B flavors. But her new creative direction led to clashes with her husband Tommy Mottola — who was also the head of her label.
Mariah Carey's clashes with husband and label boss Tommy Mottola finally came to a head personally and professionally and they split in 1997. But she had a little help moving on emotionally thanks to a new, albeit short-term love: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
In the aftermath of her heartbreak, Mariah Carey released her sixth studio album, "Butterfly," in September 1997. It did more than well, spawning several memorable tunes including "Honey" and that single's epic Bond-girl inspired video — and it also signaled Mariah's independence and rebirth and launched what's become the diva's signature symbol to this day: the butterfly.
Early in her career, Mariah Carey was often compared to — and pitted against — fellow vocal powerhouse Whitney Houston. The two divas showed they had a sense of humor about their alleged feud when they wore identical brown Vera Wang gowns to present at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1998. Later that year, they released the duet "When You Believe" from "The Prince of Egypt" animated film, then performed it at the 1999 Academy Awards. "There was always this supposed rivalry in the beginning," an emotional Mariah explained on "Good Morning America" after Whitney's death in 2012, "and then we did the duet and became friends."
After a decade of enormous success, Mariah Carey's career inevitably started to wane following the release of her seventh studio album, "Rainbow," in November 1999. Despite spawning hit singles including "Heartbreaker," the album marked the lowest sales of her career as she continued to battle with Sony, the label where her ex-husband was still a top exec.
Mariah Carey's three-year relationship with Latin-music heartthrob Luis Miguel came to an end in the spring of 2001 — but that wasn't the only thing that left Mariah reeling that year. Read on to see what else happened in the wake of her heartbreak…
Mariah Carey was caught in a downward spiral in the summer of 2001. In May, she threw a salt shaker at her "Wise Girls" co-star Mira Sorvino on the film's set, then wrestled the Oscar winner to the ground. That July, she made headlines for a bizarre and cringe-worthy appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in which she stripped down in front of host Carson Daly and handed out ice cream. Days later, after posting rambling messages on her website, Mariah checked into a hospital to seek treatment for what her rep described as "an emotional and physical breakdown." Mariah later explained to Paper magazine, "I didn't have the right support system around me at the time."
On the heels of her emotional breakdown, Mariah Carey got more bad news in September 2001 when her movie "Glitter" tanked at the box office, forever tarnishing her silver-screen debut as a colossal flop.
Just as Mariah Carey started to heal and rebuild, her strength was tested again in 2002. Although she had several high points that year — she signed a $24 million deal with Island Records, launched her own label called MonarC, and received good reviews for her role in "Wise Girls" (although the film itself was panned) — there were new lows too: Her father Alfred Carey died from cancer that July. Thankfully, after decades of estrangement, Mariah had recently reconciled with him and was by his side in his final days.
It may have been a low for Mariah Carey, but it was a high for gossip columnists when in 2002, the singer and rapper Eminem kicked off what would turn into an epic feud. Slim Shady confirmed they'd once dated, telling Rolling Stone, "There's truth to that. But on the whole personal level, I'm not really feeling it. I just don't like her as a person." Mariah, however, denied a romance, telling Larry King, "I hung out with him, I spoke to him on the phone. I think I was probably with him a total of four times. And I don't consider that dating somebody."
Mariah Carey's 2002 appearance on "MTV Cribs" is now considered a classic. Dressed in a tank top and sweats, Mariah took viewers on a tour of her New York City penthouse where she showed off her enormous closet, shoe room and full beauty salon, then did the stair machine in her home gym (in four-inch heels, natch) before taking a bath wearing a towel. Mariah was unapologetic about all the decadence, telling MTV's cameras, "I worked hard for this mess."
In 2005, Mariah Carey was back on top professionally thanks to her hugely successful comeback album "The Emancipation of Mimi," which was the best-selling album of the year with megahits including "We Belong Together." A tour followed, and the following year, she won three Grammys for her work, ending a 15-year gramophone dry spell.
While shooting the video for "Bye Bye," a single from her 11th studio album "E=MC²," Mariah Carey fell for comedian Nick Cannon, who played her love interest in the clip. Less than two months later, she married him in a secret ceremony at her home in the Bahamas on April 30, 2008.
Mariah Carey reignited her long-running feud with Eminem in 2009 when she played a character who looked suspiciously like the rapper in the video for her song "Obsessed." Eminem responded with a diss track of his own called "The Warning."
In 2009, Mariah Carey drew raves not only for her performance as a welfare caseworker in "Precious," but for her willingness to undergo a shockingly unglamorous makeunder for the role. "This is so ugly, man, I don't know what to do," Mariah admitted to Oprah Winfrey that year.
After suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon finally became parents when Mariah gave birth via C-section to twins Moroccan and Monroe — nicknamed "Dem Babies" — on their third wedding anniversary, April 30, 2011. "Now my wife wanted to make sure that when the babies came out, that they came out not only to a Mariah Carey song, but a live performance from Mariah Carey — her Madison Square [Garden] performance of 'Fantasy' — so they came out to a round of applause," Nick later told Gayle King. After the birth, Nick and Mariah renewed their vows in the hospital with the Rev. Al Sharpton presiding.
Six months after giving birth to "Dem Babies" in 2011, Mariah Carey revealed her amazing 70-pound weight loss on the cover of Us Weekly. After losing 40 pounds of water weight soon after giving birth, she says she dropped 30 more while on a 1,500-calorie-a-day Jenny Craig meal plan and three-times-a-week workouts. "I'm proud of how hard I worked to get my body back," she told Us. "I had to do this for me."
In 2012, Mariah Carey signed on as a judge for the 12th season of "American Idol." Once the show started taping, her clashes with fellow new judge Nicki Minaj made headlines — especially when they almost came to blows in Charlotte, North Carolina. "I told them I'm not f—–' putting up with her f—–' highness over there," Nicki said during the fight that was caught on tape, while Mariah moaned, "I can't see my kids because you decided to act like a little crazy b—- and go all around the stage." Both divas left after just one season. "Honestly, I hated it," Mariah told radio personality Angie Martinez of her "Idol" experience. "It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan."
After five years of lavish vow renewals everywhere from the Maldives to Paris to Disneyland, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon raised eyebrows when they failed to make a spectacle of their love when their sixth anniversary rolled around in April 2014. That August, Nick confirmed what tabloids had been speculating for months. "There is trouble in paradise," the "America's Got Talent" host told "The Insider." "We have been living in separate houses for a few months."
As her marriage to Nick Cannon continued to crumble, Mariah Carey's work suffered. On Dec. 3, she failed to show up to pre-tape her performance at the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony because she was reportedly on a phone call with her lawyer discussing details of the split. (She did, however, make up for it with a live performance on the special the following night.) But then a few weeks later, she broke down in tears and held her shoe during an emotionally fraught holiday performance at New York City's Beacon Theater that was also marred by technical difficulties.
The fairytale is over: In January 2015, it was revealed that Nick Cannon had secretly filed divorce papers to end his marriage to Mariah Carey on Dec. 12, 2014. The former couple agreed to share custody of twins Moroccan and Monroe, who are now splitting their time between Mom's Tribeca penthouse in New York City, and Dad's new home in the grassy green suburbs of New Jersey. "My kids kind of get to experience both worlds," Nick told Us Weekly. "They get Manhattan and a little bit of Jersey."
In January 2015, Mariah Carey became the latest superstar to announce a Las Vegas residency. She launched the show "Number 1 to Infinity" on May 6, 2015. But the months leading up to its debut were plagued by professional problems for the diva. First, she struggled to lip sync some of her biggest hits while performing as part of the 2015 Jazz and Blues Festival in Jamaica on Jan. 30. That April, she was accused of Photoshopping the cover of her "#1 to Infinity" album. And finally in May, Mariah outraged fans when, just a week into her residency, she canceled several shows while allegedly battling bronchitis.
Mariah Carey and billionaire businessman James Packer were first linked in June 2015. They made their red carpet debut the following September, moved in together in November and got engaged in January 2016.
In October 2016, rumors that there was trouble in paradise for Mariah Carey and fiance James Packer first surfaced. The duo reportedly split over issues involving their prenup and a mysterious incident that went down while they were vacationing in Greece. Things turned nasty fast: In the wake of the breakup, the diva reportedly demanded $50 million from her ex as restitution for moving from New York to Los Angeles for him and for financial promises he made to her. Mariah, who was reportedly blindsided by the breakup, also refused to return the $7.5 million engagement ring James gave her.
In March 2016, Mariah Carey inked a deal to star in an E! reality TV show. On Dec. 4, 2016, "Mariah's World" debuted to mixed reviews. In addition to chronicling her life behind the scenes at her Las Vegas residency and on the European leg of her "The Sweet Sweet Fantasy" tour, the docu-series also pulled back the curtain on her budding relationship with backup dancer Bryan Tanaka.
In early December 2016, Mariah Carey was romantically linked Bryan Tanaka. The backup dancer, who was prominently featured on "Mariah's World," vacationed with the diva over the holidays and by the end of the year, they were officially an item.
Mariah Carey made headlines on New Year's Eve 2016 when she flubbed her live performance during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest," singing just a few lines and lamenting, "We can't hear, but I'll just get through the moment," while walking around the stage as her backup dancers stuck to their choreography. In the wake of the embarrassment, the diva — who was accused of lip syncing — blamed Dick Clark Productions for the technical difficulties that ruined her performance. But the production company has maintained that it were not responsible for the alleged issues. Not long after, Mariah fired her creative director. Yikes!
Mariah Carey was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001. But, she opened up about it in April 2018. In a chat with People magazine, Mariah said, "Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn't do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music."
In April 2018, TMZ reported that Mariah Carey's ex-manager Stella Bulochnikov Stolper (seen here with her in December 2016) was threatening to sue, claiming she'd repeatedly been sexually harassed by the diva, whom she alleged was always naked in front of her, and was owed millions in commissions after they parted ways in late 2017. Stella's camp also accused Mariah of having a substance abuse problem and failing to take her medication for bipolar disorder. A rep for Mariah told TMZ the star would "defend against [a lawsuit] vigorously and successfully." In January 2019, E! News reported that the women had settled the case, though the terms were not made public. Days later, Mariah filed a lawsuit against former executive assistant Lianna Azarian, whom she fired in November 2017. The diva claimed Lianna tried to blackmail her with secretly recorded videos showing the singer in "embarassing" and "intimate" situations.