Mariah Carey’s E=MC², ranked

Vincent Anthony
9 Min Read

Today, we (the Lambily) celebrate #JusticeForE=MC² because Mariah Carey’s E=MC²  album reached #1 on the iTunes albums charts! Two years ago, the Lambily achieved this feat with #JusticeForGlitter and once again it’s been done for her 11th studio album, 12 years after its release.

However, unlike Glitter, Mariah Carey’s E=MC² was a success when it was released, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart with the highest first week sales total of her career to date. It also spawned her 18th #1 single, “Touch My Body.” Regardless, E=MC² did not receive the same acclaim of its predecessor The Emancipation of Mimi, and being in its shadow, this bright, fun album often gets overlooked.

Today, in celebration of #JusticeForE=MC², I’ve ranked every song on the album from least favorite to most favorite.

Mariah Carey’s E=MC², ranked:

16. “I Stay in Love”

The fourth single from Mariah Carey’s E=MC²  is a heartfelt “ballad with a beat” that is an anthem for unrequited love, but on an album with such a vibrant variety of fun, fresh sounds, “I Stay in Love” stands out least.

15. “Last Kiss”

Similar in sound and message to “I Stay in Love,” this song is another ballad with a beat co-produced by Jermaine Dupri. It’ll set you in your feels for sure with its emotive vocals and lyrics.

14. “Love Story”

Thanks to its gorgeous acoustic performance on MTV during the promo campaign for Mariah Carey’s E=MC² , “Love Story” earns bonus points for its beautiful melody and romantic lyrics.

13. “Bye Bye”

An anthem for Mariah in that she’s singing to her father who passed away a several years prior, but also written in a relatable way for her listeners, “Bye Bye” surely holds a special place in the hearts of many.

12. “4real4real”

This bonus track finds Mimi once again collaborating with longtime friend Da Brat on a sexy mid tempo jam. Like many songs on Mariah Carey’s E=MC², it showcases the fun side of her personality and the creative lingo she uses among friends.

11. “O.O.C.”

This fun bop was co-produced by Swizz Beatz, who she also collaborated with on The Emancipation‘s “Secret Love.” The title comes from another Mariahism and stands for “out of control,” and its a fun bop where Mariah playfully rides the beat and even switches languages in its second verse.

10. “Heat”

Another bonus track, “Heat” was co-produced by and is one of Mariah’s most seething, shady cuts to date. I adore it for its biting lyrics that showcase another, more confrontational side of Mariah. More often vulnerable that cocky, here she shows unabashed confidence and a readiness to fight for what’s hers.

9. “Cruise Control”

Once rumored to be a contender for the album’s lead single, “Cruise Control” features Damien Marley and is a summery, island inspired jam. An interesting and unique feature in Mariah’s catalogue, the song even finds Mariah taking a shot at singing with a Jamaican accent.

8. “Thanx 4 Nothin'”

My personal favorite of the ballads with beats on E=MC², “Thanx 4 Nothin'” has an anthemic quality that makes you want to blast the song and sing-a-long, whether you’ve been hurt or not.

7. “Migrate”

The should-have-been second single from Mariah Carey’s E=MC², “Migrate” features T-Pain who also co-wrote/produced the song with Mariah. This banging uptempo even uses Mariah’s high notes within its instrumental. This club ready track would’ve been the perfect follow up to her 18th #1. She even performed it on Saturday Night Live during her promo tour.

6. “Touch My Body”

What more can I say about her 18th #1 single, “Touch My Body” other than it was smoking hot and a huge success? Well, it’s one of the most fun songs in her catalogue of hits, and I think one of the times when she best showcased her amazingly hilarious personality on a song beloved by the masses.

5. “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time”

Mariah brought out all the punches on E=MC², working with perhaps the most diverse array of producers of any of her albums. Produced by DJ Toomp and featuring T.I. on the remix, “I’ll Be Lovin’ U Long Time” is the perfect summer anthem, and Mariah is flawless in its aptly Hawaiian video.

4. “I’m That Chick”

The better of her two Stargate collaborations for the album, “I’m That Chick” was another lead single contender and even album title. Though it never got single treatment, she did perform it on the promo tour and even on recent tours! The song is the perfect mix of airy Mariah vocals, clever metaphorical lyrics, and a little diva attitude.

3. “For the Record”

This whole top ten has really been a challenge, but this top 3 is downright torture to rank. To be honest, its sort of a toss up and super close three-way tie between them for me, but I had to make the call ultimately to place “For the Record” at #3. In the case of this song, there’s no reason why it falls below the next two, but rather why they rank above it. However, “For the Record” belongs in the top tier of this album first and foremost for its genius lyrics, particularly on the bridge. Mariah shows off literary prowess, using allusions to reference several of her own songs so seamlessly that a non-fan might not even notice.

How Mariah Carey proved her literary prowess via lyrical allusions

2. “I Wish You Well”

This gospel inspired ballad finds Mariah offering us the most Holy diss track every recorded. She addresses a number of people in her life who have hurt her, wishing them well with quotes from the Bible. Intensely personal, “I Wish You Well” showcases what fans like myself love most about her: her vulnerability and willingness to tackle personal topics, not just love songs.

 1. “Side Effects”

Coming in at #1 on my ranking of Mariah Carey’s E=MC² is “Side Effects,” for a multitude of reasons. Essentially, Mariah is a multifaceted artist, and this is such a unique album in her catalogue because of how diverse it is. “Side Effects” best showcases that aspect of her as an artist, and its album, too. Lyrically, “Side Effects” is an extremely personal tale of her time in what she called “Sing Sing,” her marriage to Tommy Mottola. Using vibrant imagery and impeccably vivid storytelling, she takes the listener back to those days to deliver a heartbreakingly honest depiction of her life back then. She does this atop of a gritty, hard-hitting hip-hop beat co-produced by Scott Storch that aptly fits the cold nature of what she’s describing in the track. Vocally, she delivers two of her signatures: rap-style, rhythmic singing and some of her most gut wrenching soulful belting at the end. A well documented lover of hip-hop, “Side Effect” features Young Jeezy on the album version and Busta Rhymes on a remix that was never officially released. Born out of and as a means of triumphing over adversity, hip-hop is the perfect compliment to this song of survival.

Listen to Mariah Carey’s E=MC², ranked:

Click here to listen on Spotify

Click here to listen on YouTube
(includes bonus tracks)

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Vincent is the founder of the magazine and has had a strong passion for popular music since, well, 1997! If it's not obvious, his favorite artists include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, P!nk, and many more. Vincent lives in New York, where he is a high school English teacher, and currently he is pursuing a Master's in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.