Notice: Mariah Carey Still Has More No. 1 Singles Than Elvis

Categories: Chart Check

mariah april 5.jpg
Photo by Marco Torres
Mariah Carey at the then-Verizon Wireless Theater, February 2010
Four years ago this week, Mariah Carey made music history by scoring the 18th No. 1 single of her career. Think about that for a second: If you're reading this, Mariah Carey has recorded more No. 1 singles than women you've had sex with (a lot more). What makes the feat even more incredible is that she beat the record for a solo artist set by a true pop music titan -- the King of rock and roll himself, Elvis Presley.

Well, probably, anyway. Elvis recorded a bunch of early singles before the Billboard "Hot 100" era, and most of them were double-sided 45s that contained two smash hits.

Some hardcore fans argue hard that Elvis only had 14 No. 1s, some say 17 and some say 18, depending on the friendless loser you're arguing with. Simply put, it was a different time, one that's hard to compare to Mariah's heyday.

Still, though: 18. That ain't bad. As far as the Associated Press was concerned, the Diva took down the King. Or did she?

Is there really any non-hilarious comparison to be made between the careers of these two top hitmakers? In 1956, Elvis drastically changed the course of popular culture all over the world. In 1994, Mariah drastically changed her hairstyle. Can it be seriously argued that Ms. Mimi is the bigger, better chart-topper?

Let's find out, shall we? We won't try to match up every hit each artist had -- that would be stupid, and we ain't got that kind of time. Instead, let's just compare the highlights to find out which hitmaker really reigns supreme.


Their First Time -- "Vision of Love" vs. "Heartbreak Hotel": A comparison between the two artists' first No. 1 hits is pretty much a slam-dunk win for the King. Not that "Vision of Love" was a bad introduction for Mariah, mind -- a smash-hit chart-topper on your first try out of the gate is pretty awesome. "Vision" featured everything that people love about her: A smooth R&B beat, her inhuman range and spandex clothes in the video.


But come on. Without "Heartbreak Hotel," "Vision of Love" would have never existed and Mariah would have never made it out of church. Singers are still getting laid by covering this song more than 50 years after it hit No. 1. "Heartbreak Hotel" sits at the head table at reunions of classic rock and roll records, and it's as well-known in Shanghai, China, as Memphis, Tennessee. Tally one for the King, and let's move on.

Score: Mariah 0, Elvis 1


The Comebacks -- "We Belong Together" vs. "Suspicious Minds": This matchup is more interesting. Both artists' careers stretch over decades, and they weren't always on top. In 2005, Mariah looked like she might be done after her movie megaflop Glitter and a bout of debilitating "exhaustion." Behind the Music was licking its chops.


But psyche! "We Belong Together" became her first No. 1 single in five years and spent 14 weeks at the top of the chart, netting her two Grammys. It was one of the biggest smashes of her career, a great song featuring superlative emoting that's ideal for singing along to on the radio.

"Suspicious Minds" was... a good Elvis song. Sure, it was a major milestone in his career. It was his first No. 1 in seven years, sealing his comeback from Hollywood hell. But it only spent one lousy week at the top of the charts, and it's got none of the paradigm-shifting spark of his early tunes. I'm giving this one to Mariah.

Score: Mariah 1, Elvis 1


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30 comments
True
True

What The HellYou cant compare a no talented Signer like Madonna who can not sing live and have to pre recorded her shows to the greatest singer and performer Elvis Presley it is a big fat joke as for Mariah Carey with the most number one thing When Elvis was on earth there was no such thing called Internet where you can buy music whitout moving your ass you can do it with a mouse click its easy.She will never be close to Presley records sales in my book friends!

andy
andy

Elvis Presley has been headlining world and European concert tours from 1997 until most recently in 2012. For an entertainer who died in 1977 that is quite an astonishing achievement! Come back to me when another artist achieves this because i very much doubt they ever will.

Kenneth del Rosario
Kenneth del Rosario

/ I am hardcore Mariah Carey fan (a lambie lamb, dahhhhlings). It's so obvious that Mariah ain't no Elvis. But, like the article said, nobody is. Same like nobody else is Mariah. But let's remember that Mariah is still a very much active recording artist. In fact, she is due to release a new album this year. She is bound to set and/or break more records (which she probably set herself) haha ... :)

NilsAndersson
NilsAndersson

Elvis has 90 gold 52 platinum 25 multi platinum album and 16 gold E.P.(Extended Play) ALBUMS 10 platinum 2 multi platinum.

53 gold singles 27 platinum 7 multi platinum singles.

The King of gold.Mariah Carey far down.

Janet Davies
Janet Davies

I totally agree with Brian Quinn, Elvis was involved in all sorts of music, so an all rounder, yet Mariah  NO, so Elvis in my opinion wins hands down, will Mariah still be remembered 35 years after her passing away! I think not, so that says to me that Elvis wins! Janet Davies Falmouth Cornwall

Mcopple
Mcopple

yes she still will be remembered...she came out in 1990 and over 20 years later, we are still talking about her...so now what?

Chris
Chris

Its true, Elvis has a 112 #1 hits around the world, more than any other artist.

Yes, but she is still able to record new songs and say how she promotes herself.  Elvis cannot record new songs or say how he wants to promote.  So after she is no longer on this earth to record songs, then the timer begins.

Angel
Angel

I know "One Sweet Day" spent 16 weeks at #1 but I can't help feeling "Without You" was the bigger hit, just because it had massive international success that OSD didn't quite achieve. WY in my opinion beats "All shook up". For similar reason, I disagree ASU is Elvis' biggest hit, I would say  "It's Now or Never", lol but regardless: Mariah 2, Elvis 1

In 1994 Mariah drastically changed her hairstyle.......errm she just straightened it. However that same year she recorded and WROTE (unlike Elvis who didn't write anything in his entire discography....just saying) one of the biggest Christmas songs of all time "All I Want For Christmas Is You", a classic which regains popularity every Christmas. It is undeniably a holiday standard and arguably Mariah's biggest hit. Mariah 2, Elvis 0

Apart from what I think were the "Big Ones", the other comparisons were good. Now although I think Mariah is misunderstood and underrated (especially as a songwriter), Elvis is still clearly the bigger icon. Elvis 3, Mariah 2

But to be honest, it's pretty difficult to compare the two. Mariah and Elvis are quite different artists - Elvis Presley could be compared more easily to Michael Jackson. Mariah Carey compared to Whitney Houston perhaps. Interesting article nonetheless.

Reginmn
Reginmn

Can we please discuss the degree to which "Payola" was part of the landscape in getting records played during the Elvis era. After 1991 ALL record sales and airplay were were measured by Soundscan, arguably, a much more difficult system to dupe. Granted, deep discounts affording artist greater debuts during the 90s were part of the scene during this era. Can we agree to give Mariah her due as a major recording artist of our modern age, while also celebrating Elvis for the hips that changed the world!

sirenoblanco77
sirenoblanco77

This article is not only biased towards Elvis Presley but sexist as well. I mean yeah we all know this legendary performer changed and revolutionized the Music Industry during his time but so did Mariah Carey. She is the reason why the majority of the singers/performers sing the way they do today especially in the Soul/Pop/R&B genre. Mariah is without a doubt technically one of the GREATEST VOCALIST OF ALL TIME something you CAN'T say about Mr. Presley. And at the end you CAN'T compare two legends because they're unique and special in their own ways. But still MC has more number ones & its on her way to beat the Beatles. :) 

Angel
Angel

Although I'm a fan of both and everyone is comparing the #1s of Elvis, Mariah and the Beatles, I have closely observed the career of Rihanna and she is catching up like wildfire. She just started in 2005 and already has 11 number ones. When she amounts to 21 #1s in the year 2020 I wonder how people will react since she's not exactly considered one of the greats.

Leroy Larsen
Leroy Larsen

Okay I have a bone to pick with you because it's 2012 and Mariah Carey came out in 1990 and if you look at the artist today a lot of them came up by Mariah Carey so yes she did bring up a youth unlike what you said!!!!  ALL SO PUTTING ALL SHOOK UP OVER A ONE SWEET DAY!!!!  NOPE!!!  ONE SWEET DAY BROKE A RECORD FOR MOST WEEKS AT #1 16!  Still the longest running #1 single today.  1995-96!  It's 2012!!!  So what you had it would be MARIAH CAREY 3 Elvis 2!  This isn't coming from some idiot who doesn't know ELVIS!  My Dad, my Uncle and my whole family are Elvis fans.  My Uncle Vernon Larsen sings ELVIS!

D-taylor2011
D-taylor2011

this article is biased towards elvis. It conveniently forgets to mention how mariah has also drastically influenced popular music 1990 and on. 

Both are legitimate singer/songwriters and equally great. But when it comes to vocal technical prowess, Mariah wins hands down, without a shadow of a doubt. That in itself should be acknowledged in these comparisons, along with the fact that she is a FEMALE in the industry. After divorcing her first husbad, the odds were against her. But she pushed through adversity, and, technically speaking, the post-divorce portion of her career turned out to be more successful than the 'early Mariah' portion.

taddyd1
taddyd1

Mariah's  post Tommy period is NOT more successful commercially and don't forget the her relationship with him (the CEO of the largest recording co.) only helped in that area.Artistic success of course is a matter of opinion. Technical prowess in singing is not singly a matter of hitting whistle notes, which are far out of her normal range as well ( she can not hit all the notes between her chest voice and e amazng whistle notes). Tone, control, phrasing, ability to tell a story within a singer's normal range are the most important factors. PS I like Mariah much more than Elvis, personally.

Paul
Paul

Elvis had a 2 and a half octave voice-some vocal experts said he was affectively a bass, tenor and baritone all rolled into one. Not many rock singers have that type range not ability to sing virtually all types music, country, blues, rock, pop, ballads, and even light opera. You obviously have not heard him sing much more than Hound Dog, he was much much more than that vocally.

Chavz5150
Chavz5150

drastically influenced? apart from body glitter, where exactly is this lasting impact you speak of?  I'm not trying to be harsh, just realistic

Billy
Billy

"Is there really any non-hilarious comparison to be made between the careers of these two top hitmakers? In 1956, Elvis drastically changed the course of popular culture all over the world. In 1994, Mariah drastically changed her hairstyle." Can you be any more sexist?

Paul
Paul

Number one singles today-do not have to sell a lot of records they just need to get airplay.In Elvis's day the top reason you got number ones was how many records you sold.The Billboard criteria is different today, the chart changed names and now many Elvis songs do not count as #1s because of this and as was mentioned many double sided hits.Elvis fought the system to sell records, parents hated him, networks hated him, establishment hated him-there were no Rock catagories for Grammys, few stations for a time would even play his records-yet he still sold huge, still sells huge.I do have a problem with the writers comment concerning Elvis fans...."....depending on the friendless loser you're arguing with..."That is very presumptious and mean spirited of the writer to think Elvis fans are "friendless" and "losers" it also betrays his true biased thoughts upon this subject.  KPM

taddyd1
taddyd1

The Billboard Hot 100 critera then,and now, is :  50% sales and 50% airplay. There are just a lot less sales of singles now (but downloading is changing that), so lower sales count more. @91b58aa4e43e9ab7c777e5a5f420d24b:disqus 250 K = Gold now. So old school artists  get screwed in the # of Gold totals.

Back in the Elvis and Beatles era Black artists got screwed because they would sell a million or more and only make #11 or #22 because their records could not garner sufficient airplay from (white) top 40 DJs.  In 1969 Aretha sold a million copies of "Call Me" which only reached  #11  on the Hot 100 while the Stones had the #1 hit that week with a non-gold record. Several million sellers by James Brown only reached the Top 20 on the Hot 100!

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

Just a little joke mocking music geeks (like me) all too willing to waste breath arguing how many "real" #1s Elvis had.  Point is, he had a lot by anybody's standard.  

Brian Quinn
Brian Quinn

No competition. Elvis remains the Greatest Singer/Entertainer who ever lived. Elvis sang in virtually every musical genre available to him whereas Mariah Carey did not. Elvis has sold over 1.1 Billion records Worldwide and has more No.1's Worldwide than any other singer or group.He remains the most photographed and impersonated person ever. Elvis was truly one of a kind and we will NEVER see his like again.

James Green
James Green

Madonna(who i hate) and Celine Dion(who i do like) own the international charts, Madonna especially with her generic, derivative pop has those Europeans salivating.

Paul
Paul

Well actually Diana, Princess of Wales was and still remains the most photographed person in history of anything. And I would argue that Elvis doesn't have the most no1 songs globally. You are clearly an Elvis fan with a bull in a china shop biased response. Both are incredible artists and have contributed endless amounts to music, and have both changed music and made it what it is today.

Chavez5150
Chavez5150

 I have a hard time believing Diana was or is the most photographed in history.  How many books have been printed showing all these photos?  And she's gone, a great time to cash in.  As for most #1s globally, I'd guess Elvis way before Mariah and hands down world album sales, even the Beatles will never catch Elvis.  I like Mariah, she has a fantastic allbeit at times annoying voice, but Elvis will always have a lasting and tangible impact on music and culture, Mariah will become a footnote.  C'mon man, you really don't think there is a close comparison here do you?

NilsAndersson
NilsAndersson

Elvis has 90 gold 52 platinum 25 multi platinum album and 16 gold E.P.(Extended Play) ALBUMS 10 platinum 2 multi platinum.

53 gold singles 27 platinum 7 multi platinum singles.

The King of gold.Mariah Carey far down.

Tonym2010
Tonym2010

the fact of the matter is Elvis stoled his music ideas from black artist that weren't allowed to show their face in public. nothing he did was original. he copied his moves and music around the Jim Crow era. everbody knows that, well except for those that still claim they spot him at wal-mart

Brian Quinn
Brian Quinn

Elvis Presley was the Greatest Singer/Entertainer of All-Time. He was the whole package - he had the talent, the voice, the looks, the charisma, the moves, the stage act and was extremely humble with it. He could also sing in virtually every musical genre available to him. Of course Elvis was much more than a mere entertainer but was quite an historical figure. It was he alone who broke down social and cultural barriers in 1950's U.S.A. making it easier for all entertainers who followed in his footsteps and thereby paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr., whom Elvis greatly admired. Today, Elvis' voice and image are everywhere in popular culture from CD's and DVD's to downloads and books; from motion picture films to TV soap operas; from cartoons to stage plays. He remains the template by which success is measured in the music business and he will never be replaced. Mariah Carey has an excellent voice but does not have that extra magic which makes a Legend. Elvis had it and in droves. Everyone who met him liked him. He did not insist on being called The King as Michael Jackson did and his humility is what endears him to the public some 35 years after his untimely death.

Truly 'sui generis'.

Dromedary
Dromedary

I'm a Mariah carey fan, and  usually I don't like  this kind of comparisons, but that one is really cool. That's  interesting and delicately. 

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