August 17, 2022

In The Quantity Ones, I’m reviewing each single #1 single within the historical past of the Billboard Scorching 100, beginning with the chart’s starting, in 1958, and dealing my approach up into the current.

They will’t all be winners. Over the course of a protracted profession, Mariah Carey has racked up extra #1 hits than anybody besides the Beatles, and she or he’s practically caught as much as them. For a good proportion of her profession — a good proportion of her time on this planet — Mariah has had a track sitting on the prime of the Scorching 100. Nowadays, she reliably returns to the highest yearly. It’s been a outstanding run, however all these #1 hits will not be created equal. A few of Mariah’s chart-toppers are immortal, incandescent pop classics, and a few of them barely exist. “Thank God I Discovered You” belongs within the latter class.

In some methods, “Thank God I Discovered You” was Mariah Carey branching out. She’d been making ballads for her whole profession, however she’d recorded most of these ballads with the identical group of collaborators. Walter Afanasieff, the Brazilian-born studio musician who’d began out his producing profession with Mariah, had been Mariah’s go-to ballad man from 1990 on, however she’d stopped working with him by the point she made her 1999 album Rainbow. As a substitute, she turned to different institution figures — Diane Warren, David Foster, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jam and Lewis, particularly, had been key figures within the R&B world since lengthy earlier than Mariah’s profession had begun, and so they’d by no means misplaced relevance. It simply made sense for Mariah to work with the 2 of them.

Jam and Lewis co-wrote and co-produced six of the songs on Mariah’s Rainbow album. She developed a working relationship with the duo rapidly. Mariah would fly into Minneapolis and spend just a few hours within the studio with Jam and Lewis, and so they’d have a few songs achieved by the point she left. In Fred Bronson’s Billboard Ebook Of Quantity One Hits, Jimmy Jam talks about being struck by each Mariah’s depth of data and her readability of imaginative and prescient: “She knew our catalog the other way up. She knew all the things about us and what we’d achieved … She may paint a complete image for us as to what she needed the completed file to sound like.”

One night time, when Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis had been at a Timberwolves sport, Mariah Carey’s assistant referred to as them as much as inform them that Mariah was already on the way in which to Minneapolis. She was getting in at midnight, and she or he needed to move straight to the studio. It’s enjoyable to think about having that type of energy — preserving two of the most important producers on the earth on retainer, able to snap into work mode everytime you’re able to go. Jimmy Jam says that Mariah actually solely had a title for “Thank God I Discovered You.” Together with Jam and Lewis, she discovered the remainder of the track within the studio.

Mariah has by no means stated who she was addressing on “Thank God I Discovered You,” however on the time, she was relationship the Mexican-born singer Luis Miguel. Miguel was (and is) a titanic star within the Spanish-speaking world, however he by no means actually crossed over to American audiences the way in which that so lots of his ’90s friends did. (Miguel by no means fairly made the Billboard Scorching 100.) Miguel and Mariah didn’t keep collectively too lengthy, however she apparently bought a #1 hit out of the connection.

Mariah’s “Thank God I Discovered You” lyrics are pure schmaltz. Again and again, Mariah’s narrator tells this different individual about how comfortable she is now that they’re collectively: “Thank God I discovered you/ I used to be misplaced with out you/ My each want and each dream one way or the other turned actuality.” This isn’t a kind of love songs that acknowledges how relationships may be troublesome, and it’s additionally not a kind of love songs that offers in specifics. As a substitute, it’s Mariah in mush mode. That’s how issues normally went along with her ballads. She would sing about these deep wells of emotion, however the phrases by no means did rather more than outlining these emotions. That was the job of the vocals themselves.

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As with so many Mariah songs, “Thank God I Discovered You” largely exists as a car for the human voice, an excuse for an entire lot of gravity-defying melismatic runs. Within the case of this track, the vocals didn’t simply come from Mariah. After they first put the monitor collectively, Jam, Lewis, and Mariah all agreed that the track wanted male vocals alongside hers. Perhaps they had been hoping to recapture a number of the chart-domination synergy that Mariah had achieved with Boyz II Males on “One Candy Day” just a few years earlier. Jam and Lewis needed former Quantity Ones artists Ok-Ci & JoJo on the monitor with Mariah, however as a result of they had been huge stars on a distinct label, the producers couldn’t get the deal achieved. As a substitute, they discovered Joe.

The singer recognized solely as Joe has by no means actually been a serious star, however he’d already been within the combine for just a few years. Within the Bronson e-book, Jimmy Jam says that Joe bought to sing on “Thank God I Discovered You” largely as a result of Jam and Lewis knew he’d present up for all the assorted promotional duties: “From what we knew about Joe, he was a pleasant man who can be there for the video and performances. That turns into necessary while you do duets, and his label was keen.” That’s not precisely a ringing creative endorsement, however there’s an entire lot {of professional} worth in merely being dependable. Joe was that. He’s at all times been that.

Joseph Lewis Thomas, the son of two preachers, grew up in Georgia and Mississippi, and he bought his begin by recording demos whereas working at a gospel file retailer in New Jersey. (When Joe was born, the #1 track in America was Neil Diamond’s “Track Sung Blue.”) Joe signed with Polygram within the early ’90s. His 1993 debut The whole lot had a few decent-sized R&B hits, and his debut single, the breezy and dancehall-flavored “I’m In Luv,” peaked at #64.

Joe made extra of an impression along with his 1997 sophomore LP All That I Am. A 12 months earlier than the album got here out, Joe’s track “All The Issues (Your Man Received’t Do)” confirmed up on the soundtrack of the Wayans Brothers film Don’t Be A Menace To South Central Whereas Consuming Your Juice In The Hood, and the track peaked at #11. The album went platinum, and Joe went on to sing visitor vocals on a few huge 1998 data. He’s on the hook of Huge Pun’s largest hit “Nonetheless Not A Participant,” which peaked at #24, and he additionally duetted with fellow generically-named R&B singer Case on “Pale Photos,” which went all the way in which to #10. (It’s a 3.)

By 1999, then, Joe was a recognized amount, particularly amongst R&B followers, however he was extra journeyman than star. (That may change, a minimum of for a short time; Joe will seem on this column once more.) When Joe bought the prospect to sing lead alongside Mariah Carey on certainly one of her singles, he was prepared. Within the Bronson e-book, Joe says, “When she referred to as me to come back to the studio, I had no concept I might file at that second, however I couldn’t let the chance slip away.”

Joe isn’t the one visitor on “Thank God I Discovered You.” Jam and Lewis needed some male harmonies on the monitor, too, and there could have been some business concerns at work after they bought 98 Levels to sing these harmonies. 98 Levels are simply my least favourite boy band of the TRL period. 98 Levels had been a bunch of square-jawed Abercrombie-model varieties, together with one barely doofy goateed substitute-teacher-looking man. Whereas contemporaries just like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC introduced the fantastical crowd-pleasing flash, 98 Levels’ entire gross sales pitch was that they had been regular good-looking guys who wore khakis and shit. They had been boring, and I hated them.

The 98 Levels period started in 1996, when just a few Midwestern faculty hunks moved to Los Angeles and began a singing group. One of many 4 guys left to make Christian pop, so de facto frontman Nick Lachey recruited his youthful brother Drew, who seemed mainly precisely like Nick. 98 Levels considered themselves as R&B singers, and so they bought found by sneaking backstage at a Boyz II Males present, simply as Boyz II Males had been found by sneaking backstage to fulfill Bell Biv DeVoe. They signed with Motown, which was an enormous deal to them. However 98 Levels by no means actually made convincing R&B singers. As a substitute, they’d the great fortune to come back alongside simply because the boy-band increase was beginning, which appeared to embarrass the members of the group to no finish. However, their 1997 debut single “Invisible Man” climbed as excessive as #12.

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98 Levels’ sophomore album, 1998’s 98 Levels And Rising, was after they actually hit the zeitgeist. That LP when quadruple platinum, and it spun off a few top-10 hits. The most important of these hits was “As a result of Of You,” a ballad that they recorded with a Swedish songwriting/manufacturing crew, and it peaked at #3. (It’s a 4.) Afterward, they’d attain #2 with 2000’s shameless Spanglish dance-pop monitor “Give Me Simply One Night time (Una Noche).” (That’s one other 4.) Then 98 Levels broke up in 2003, when Nick Lachey and this then-wife Jessica Simpson had been changing into stars within the nascent reality-TV realm. (Simpson’s highest-charting single, her 1999 debut “I Wanna Love You Perpetually,” peaked at #3. It’s yet one more 4.) Lachey has remained within the reality-TV realm ever since; he and his present spouse now host Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum on Netflix.

“Thank God I Discovered You” was the one time that any of these 98 Levels goobers ever sang on a #1 hit. Within the Bronson e-book, Jimmy Jam says, “They needed to do their half rapidly, and to at the present time, the fellows say, ‘Sorry concerning the vocal.’ However they got here in and killed it.” Now: Why would Jimmy Jam point out these apologies if he actually thought that 98 Levels had killed it? To me, these guys simply sound blandly OK on the track, however past a few ad-libs right here and there, none of them ever will get a lead-vocal second. As a substitute, 98 Levels merely do gospel-choir obligation, giving Mariah Carey and Joe area to enter untrammeled overdrive on the leads.

They actually do go loopy on the track. To me, “Thank God I Discovered You” largely seems like an excuse for Mariah Carey’s vocal pyrotechnics. The track has a pretty-enough central hook, but it surely will get misplaced within the melisma deluge. I feel Mariah’s status for oversinging is generally unfair. She was normally cautious to make use of her unimaginable talents in good and deliberate methods, highlighting her songs when she may’ve drowned them out. However on “Thank God I Discovered You,” Mariah and her collaborators blast the vocal runs off into infinity; even the track’s grand and apparent key change barely registers amidst all of the weebles and wobbles. On some degree, Mariah’s efficiency is spectacular. I positively can’t sing like that; virtually no one can. However it’s the vocal equal of a Yngwie Malmsteen solo — an amazing show of approach that by no means actually serves a compelling operate or expresses an identifiable emotion.

Even the video looks like it’s out of concepts. Rush Hour director Brett Ratner had beforehand collaborated with Mariah Carey on the wildly costly and cartoonish “Heartbreaker” clip. Ratner is no one’s concept of an awesome auteur, however there’s some enjoyable vitality to that “Heartbreaker” video. The clip for “Thank God I Discovered You,” however, is simply Mariah, Joe, and 98 Levels singing the track outdoor at a Minneapolis radio-station present. That’s it. All of them appear comfortable, but it surely’s not precisely a bewitching cinematic imaginative and prescient.

“Thank God I Discovered You” additionally prompted Mariah some authorized complications. Just a few months after the track reached #1, Seth Swirsky and Warryn Campbell sued Mariah for copyright infringement. Swirsky and Campbell claimed that “Thank God I Discovered You” was a ripoff of “One Of These Love Songs,” a monitor that they’d written for the R&B lady group Xscape in 1998. (Xscape’s highest-charting single, 1993’s “Simply Kickin’ It,” peaked at #2. It’s a 5.) A federal court docket dismissed the lawsuit, however then an appeals court docket reversed that call, ruling that the lawsuit may proceed. Mariah finally settled out of court docket.

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Looking back, it’s barely outstanding that “Thank God I Discovered You” made it to #1 in any respect. Typically, big-star collaborations can cruise to the highest simply by being occasions, however Joe and 98 Levels weren’t necessary sufficient that their inclusion on the track certified as an occasion. Rainbow was, at that time, Mariah’s weakest-selling album, however I suppose she’d constructed up sufficient of a status as a business juggernaut that she may trip a boring and forgettable monitor like this one to the highest, even when it solely stayed there for a single week. We may most likely think about that sole week at #1 to be the very finish of Mariah’s imperial period — her first imperial period, anyway.

After “Thank God I Discovered You,” Mariah launched yet another Rainbow single, the Snoop Dogg collab “Crybaby,” and that one stalled out at #28. (Snoop Dogg will finally seem on this column.) Then Mariah lastly bought freed from Columbia Data and signed an enormous new take care of Virgin, a five-album contract price $100 million. Instantly afterwards, Mariah got here out along with her first film. She’d been planning the rags-to-riches musical Glitter for a very long time, and it landed like canine diarrhea on a kitchen flooring. Glitter didn’t even make 1 / 4 of its funds, and it turned its personal type of uncommon cultural consensus second. Nearly everybody appeared to agree that Glitter was horrible. (I’ve by no means seen it. Ought to I watch it? I most likely received’t.)

The Glitter soundtrack turned out to be Mariah’s solely Virgin file. Lead single “Loverboy,” a collaboration with ’80s funkateers Cameo that sampled that group’s 1986 single “Sweet,” really made it to #2. (It’s a 4.) However the Glitter soundtrack simply barely limped to platinum, making it a reasonably gorgeous failure within the context of Mariah’s profession to that time. Across the time that the album and film each got here out, Mariah made a notoriously weird shock look on Complete Request Stay, leaving the normally-unflappable Carson Daly visibly weirded out.

Just a few days after that TRL look, Mariah posted some voice clips on her web site, saying, amongst different issues, that she wasn’t positive if she needs to be making music on the time. Every week later, she was hospitalized for exhaustion, and Virgin purchased out the remainder of her deal. Quickly after, Mariah bought herself a brand new take care of Island. Her 2002 album Charmbracelet did even worse than the Glitter soundtrack; “Via The Rain,” its lead single, peaked at #81. Mariah Carey seemed like she was achieved. She was not. We are going to see Mariah on this column once more.

GRADE: 2/10

BONUS BEATS: Mariah Carey’s remixes are normally elementary elements of her single releases, and I normally speak about these remixes within the physique of those items. However “Thank God I Discovered You” has left mainly no cultural footprint, and I wanted a Bonus Beat, so we’re going to place the remix down right here. For the “Thank God I Discovered You” remix, Mariah and her “Heartbreaker” collaborator DJ Clue mainly made an entire new track, and it was vastly superior to the unique. Mariah re-recorded her vocals, and Clue made a brand new beat by sampling Keith Sweat’s 1988 monitor “Make It Final Perpetually.” (“Make It Final Perpetually” peaked at #59.) Nas got here by means of with a visitor verse, and Mariah made a brand new video for the monitor. Right here it’s:

(As lead artist, Nas’ highest-charting single is 2003’s “I Can,” which peaked at #12. As a visitor, he made it to #5 on Missy Elliott’s “Scorching Boyz” in 1999. “Scorching Boyz” is a 9.)

THE 10S: Blink-182’s string-drenched, soaringly honest pop-punk energy ballad “All The Small Issues” peaked at #6 behind “Thank God I Discovered You.” It’s a ten, my little windmill.

The Quantity Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal The Historical past Of Pop Music is out 11/15 by way of Hachette Books. You’ll be able to pre-order it right here.