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Mariah Carey: A History of Grammies

Mariah Carey Grammies

Every year, the Grammy Awards honors the music industry with its coveted gramophone statuettes. While these awards have no impact on an artist’s ability to create great music, they serve as an accolade that provides a sense of clout and recognition within the industry.

Mariah has earned a total of 34 nominations and is well-known for being snubbed for winning only 5 Grammy awards throughout her career. While she was “sort of” nominated this year for Best Remixed Recording for her Terry Hunter remixed version of “Workin’ Hard”, she was honored this year with the Recording Academy’s Global Impact Award. We suppose this could be considered her 6th award? It is to us.

While being honored at the 2024 event by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Babyface, Tori Kelly, Yolanda Adams, and Busta Rhymes, Mariah took to the stage to receive the award. “Is this like a real Grammy?” she asked, holding the glass cube. “I haven’t seen one in sooooo long,” she joked as thoughts of her notorious Daydream era snubs went through our minds. More on that later.

Since Mariah was in town, she later appeared at one of the most star-studded, glamorous Grammy ceremonies we’ve seen in a while. She was the surprise opening host of the ceremony to present the award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

Further presenters and performers of the evening included Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, U2, Lionel Richie, Tracy Chapman, Lenny Kravitz, and Celine Dion, underlining the A-list event that this award show was destined to become. This glamourous star-studded event garnered 16.9 million viewers, up 34% from last year’s ceremony.

As Mariah presented the nominees dressed in Laura Basci and Versace shoes, she high-pitch emphasised that all nominees were women, eventually handing the award to Miley Cyrus for “Flowers”. While we’ve read some less-than-kind words from Cyrus towards Carey after meeting her during the performance of “Just Stand Up” for the Artists Stand Up to Cancer ceremony, we’re happy to put that behind us when Miley spent her entire acceptance speech fan-girling over Mariah.

You’ve got to stay here with me” Cyrus pleaded, while Mariah sweetly obliged. “This MC is gonna stand by this MC for this – this is just too iconic” she started. She told how she nearly missed the Awards due to traffic and rain: “I could’ve missed the award that’s fine, but not Mariah Carey”. She praised Carey’s Hollywood Bowl performance and told a Butterfly story ending that “This song “Flowers” is my Butterfly”. 

However, while accepting Mariah with a standing ovation, the Grammys haven’t always shown love to Mariah Carey in the past. With 34 nominations to 5 wins, she seems to be Meryl’s musical equivalent (21 Oscar nominations to 3 wins).

1991 – The Birth of a Legend

Mariah’s initial 5 nominations date back to 1991. This was also her debut performance at the Grammies with “Vision of Love”. Despite not winning the Song of the Year for “Vision of Love” and Album of the Year for her self-titled album “Mariah Carey”, she did secure two wins: Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for “Vision of Love”, presented by Debbie Gibson and Vanilla Ice, and Best New Artist. Vanilla Ice bows down to present this award to a newcomer who we already knew was destined to become a Queen.

Her shy acceptance speeches were a collection of “thank yous” to God and all surrounding her during the beginning of her career.

Following these initial successes, seven more nominations followed over the years, from hits like “Emotions” to the timeless anthem “Hero”. However, it was during the Daydream era that Mariah truly captivated audiences and critics alike.

Mariah Carey Grammies 1991

1996 – The Daydream Debacle

As Tommy Mottola revealed in his autobiography, Mariah and Tommy traveled to Los Angeles for the Grammys in February 1996, confident and excited to see Mariah win multiple awards due to the success of her Daydream album. With 6 nominations, the album had already made Billboard history.

The team arranged a collaboration with Boyz II Men for the opening show at the Shrine auditorium, performing “One Sweet Day”. The song had broken Elvis’ and The Beatles’ record for most weeks at #1, and the song’s message touched both Mariah and Boyz II Men, due to recent losses they had both suffered. The nominees for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals included Mariah and was considered a definite win.

Tommy Mottola was disappointed when the Grammys award for Best Pop Collaboration went to another band, rather than the collaboration Mariah had with Boyz II Men. He tried to stay calm and encouraged her by reminding her that she still had more categories they could win. However, their next nomination, for “Fantasy” in the Pop Vocal category, was lost to Annie Lennox’s song, “No More I Love You’s”. Mariah was heavily invested in the song and wanted to earn hip-hop credibility.

Mariah Carey Boyz II Men perform 1996 Grammies One Sweet Day

Mottola reflects that at the Oscars, major box-office hits can lose to small independent films. People love supporting underdogs. However, it seemed like something else was going on at the Grammys. Mariah’s success could be seen as a threat to other artists and producers, which could lead to a backlash against Mariah. Members of NARAS cast their Grammy ballots. However, the voters are biased, since they are constantly competing with each other. They want to be recognized for their creativity, achieve higher chart positions, and sell more records.

The Grammy voters appeared to be sending a message to Mariah, indicating they had the power to bring her down if she became too successful. Mariah felt increasingly tense as the losers were announced for the third, fourth, and fifth categories. The cameras panned to Tommy and Mariah’s faces to see their reactions. Tommy was aware he would eventually be blamed, as he was the face of the big machine that had propelled Mariah to the top spot.

As the Grammy Awards came to a close, Alanis Morissette was given the award for Album of the Year for “Jagged Little Pill”. Mariah was left embarrassed and angry as they returned to the Beverly Hills Hotel. At the after-party, the relationship between the two grew further apart, with Tommy quietly asking to remove the playback of the Grammy broadcast on the monitors and replace it with videos of their artists. The company had 7 Grammy winners and a celebration was in order, but Tommy still felt terrible for Mariah’s public humiliation and anger. The divide between them continued to widen.

6 nominations, zero wins. For Daydream. This was the Grammy snub.

2006 – The Emancipation Era

Mariah Carey We Belong Together Fly Like a Bird Grammy perform

While multiple nominations continued, from “Butterfly” to “When You Believe”, no wins were in sight. Despite a career already boasting over 100 million records sold at the time, and 2 Grammys in 1991, Mariah remained without further recognition from the prestigious awards ceremony.

However, The Emancipation era appeared to be Mariah’s lucky star wherever she went. With 8 nominations, including Song of the Year for “We Belong Together” and Album of the Year, Mariah graced the audience with an epic performance of a Fly Like a Bird / We Belong Together Medley. With a standing ovation, Teri Hatcher wrapped up that performance with a big “ooo, I feel like we’ve all just been saved”. Mariah took home three statuettes that evening – Best Contemporary R&B Album, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

When interviewed about how she felt about losing once again in the categories of “Song and Album of the Year”, she replied, “Of course, I would’ve liked to have won those awards. Who wouldn’t? But I have these three, and I can only feel blessed”.

She has publicly dismissed the Grammys on multiple occasions, but we’re happy she took the high road and graced the stage with her presence. Although when it comes to shade, we know Mariah couldn’t help herself because she hasn’t seen one in “sooooooo long”.

Here is a full list of Mariah Carey’s Grammy nominations and wins throughout the years:

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