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Topping the Charts: Mariah outsells Elvis

Is Mariah Carey one of the greatest pop artists of all time? asked Ken Levine in Huffingtonpost.com. For most music fans, that

Is Mariah Carey one of the greatest pop artists of all time? asked Ken Levine in Huffingtonpost.com. For most music fans, that’s a laughable proposition, yet “Touch My Body,” the latest single from her album E=MC2, marks 18 no. 1 songs for the pop diva—second only to the Beatles. This means that the woman who gave us Glitter now has more chart-topping hits than Elvis Presley. Not surprisingly, the song that put the nail in the coffin includes such cringe-worthy lyrics as “I’ll hug you tighter than my favorite jeans.”

But as Elvis himself said, 50 million—or in Carey’s case, 61.5 million—fans can’t be wrong, said Jody Rosen in Slate.com. Considering that Carey made her debut less than 20 years ago, she deserves a little respect from all “the haters.” Her voice—“that cyclonic force capable of hurtling unnumbered octaves, shattering crystalware, and inducing musicogenic epileptic seizures in Japanese women”—has influenced countless contemporary pop singers, for good or ill. All this tells us is that no. 1 hits are no longer a signifier of true cultural influence, said Mario Tarradell in The Dallas Morning News. Carey’s recent success is a product of the collapsing music industry and the rise of digital downloads. As one of a dwindling number of big-name acts, she has less competition. Still, if she surpasses the Beatles’ record of 20 no. 1s, I’ll shed a tear.

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