It's been 26 years since Mariah Carey released her eponymous debut. Since then the pop icon has given us 13 albums, scored 18 #1s, and accumulated a fan base that stretches to every corner of the globe. In our latest episode of Set List, the singer unveils the stories behind her biggest hits, and shares the secret to her longevity. "You can't really fake it. You kind of have to love it that much to make something that lasts this long."
Mariah's early career was spent fighting to shed the innocent image dreamed up by her record label. Even her seminal 1995 track "Fantasy"—which featured Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard and assisted her transition into hip-hop—didn't happen without a struggle. "It took a little bit of pushing and pressure with the record company because I don't think they understood why I wanted to do it," she recalls. Mariah continued to strive for artistic control through the '90s, and eventually achieved her dream with "Honey," off her 1997 album Butterfly. "''Honey' really was the image change moment in my career because it wasn't a change for me—that's how I always wanted to be."
Since then, Mariah's iconic presence and inescapable pop-meets-R&B style have continued to evolve and inspire, in spite of those who've second-guess her staying power along the way. "How many comebacks do I have to have?" she laughs.