ItsNotYouItsMe "Back To The Future" Edition Salutes 15 Jaw-Astounding Mariah Carey Performances!

ItsNotYouItsMe "Back To The Future" Edition salutes 15 jaw-astounding Mariah Carey performances all for your splendid delight!

"Mariah Carey is one of the most gifted and influential R&B singers of her generation. Though she’s best known for her multi-octave range and full-blast style, she is actually a versatile performer with total command over her incredible voice. Here are some of Carey’s finest performances, from the early days of her career up to the recent past.

“America the Beautiful”

In June 1990, Mariah Carey was not yet the world-renowned vocalist, songwriter and record-breaking diva she is now. She would release her self-titled debut album that month, and her single “Vision of Love” would top the charts several weeks later. Just one week prior to her album’s release, Carey would turn heads with this gorgeous, moving rendition of “America the Beautiful” at the NBA Finals. Hitting a whistle tone in the final moments, even the players are struck with awe by the incredible talent of a burgeoning young star.

"Vision of Love"

Carey rocketed to fame with “Vision of Love,” the first single from her debut album, in 1990. Looking back on this clip from her first appearance on Saturday Night Live, it’s easy to see why she was basically an overnight success – she sings the tune with serene confidence, as if she’s already been a star for years.

“Can’t Let Go”

Carey’s performance of the ballad “Can’t Let Go” on this episode of Soul Train from 1991 is so flawless that many viewers probably assumed she was lip-synching. Check out the back-up singers as she gets started – you can sense their fear of messing up in the presence of a singer of her caliber.


By the time Carey took the stage at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, she had risen to the ranks of one of the best-selling musicians in the business. That swagger comes through in her performance of “Emotions,” one of her most jubilant early hits.

“I’ll Be There”

Carey is arguably one of the few singers to top a vocal performance by Michael Jackson. Her rendition of the Jackson 5 ballad “I’ll Be There” from her MTV Unplugged special is smooth, elegant and big-hearted.


Carey’s upbeat tunes in the early Nineties were an ideal showcase for a bright, optimistic quality in her voice. Though she can belt the hell out of a ballad, her voice resonates more deeply when she’s conveying giddy infatuation, as in this rendition of “Dreamlover” from the Arsenio Hall Show in 1993.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Carey celebrated the release of her first holiday album, 1994’s Merry Christmas, with a fundraiser at New York’s historic St. John the Divine cathedral. The song still had a month before it reached its chart peak, but the moment predicted decades of continued success for the single, which has become a rare modern Christmas track to become a part of the holiday canon. In front of the massive stained glass windows and accompanied by a brilliant choir, Carey’s delightful performance fills the holy space with love and joy. It’s festive, dahing.


Carey was an arena-packing star by the mid-Nineties. In this clip from her 1996 Daydream World Tour, the singer delivers an impeccable vocal performance while serving as the center of an elaborate production featuring dancers and an enormous stage.


“Honey” marks the start of a new direction for Carey, with the singer wholeheartedly embracing the luxurious sound of late-Nineties mainstream hip-hop and moving away from vocal bombast. She’s still showing off her incredible range but producing a lighter, softer sound.


The Late Show With David Letterman has always been the spot for some of Mariah’s most memorable performances, and this was no different. Performing the title track from her seminal 1997 album, Butterfly, Mariah soared through the notoriously difficult ballad with ease, proving that wasn’t it just studio wizardry behind the melismatic song.

“When You Believe”

This 1998 Oprah appearance marked the first time that Mariah performed with Whitney Houston. For years, the two singers had been pitted against each other, fueling rumors of a long-simmering rivalry. But when the two duetted on The Prince of Egypt single, “When You Believe,” they immediately put the rumors to rest. The song would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song, with the two singers performing together again on the Oscar stage. In 2016, Mariah performed the song on her Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour. This time though, Mariah sang solo, paying tribute to her friend — and duet partner — who had passed four years earlier.


An under-appreciated ballad from her equally under-appreciated Glitter soundtrack, “Reflections” was performed for the first and only time by Carey during this CBS A Home For The Holidays special. The primetime special served to raise awareness about adoption and foster care, and though Mariah didn’t experience either in her life, the lyrics behind the sparse, piano-driven song couldn’t have been more fitting. “Did you really care at all for me?” she sings. By the end of the performance, Mariah is visibly emotional and there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

“Through the Rain”

The 2003 American Music Awards marked one of Mariah’s first awards show performances post-Glitter “breakdown.” With childhood photos and newspaper headlines displayed on a screen behind her, Mariah delivered a powerful performance of her comeback single “Through the Rain” backed by a string orchestra and gospel choir. Though the single underperformed on the charts, this performance proved that Mariah had made her way out of the storm and was back and better than ever.

“We Belong Together”/”Fly Like a Bird”

Mariah was the most-nominated female artist at the 2006 Grammy Awards, thanks to The Emancipation of Mimi. This LP earned both critical and commercial acclaim following disappointing sales of her previous album, Charmbracelet. She received the only standing ovation of the night for this medley, which kicked off with a spirited rendition of “We Belong Together.” The song earned two Grammys wins for Mariah, while Mimi won the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. On music’s biggest stage in front of her peers and fans, Mariah’s comeback was finally complete


Only Carey would have an in-home wind machine for a performance in the middle of a pandemic. Thankfully, it was a comfortingly familiar display of diva attitude from her as she paid tribute to the frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic while self-isolating for the Live at Home special. She belted her 1993 ballad with remote help from a pianist, hitting every throaty note with passion and reverence for the people she was hoping to reach with the performance." -

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