Question: Which female superstar has the most chart-topping hits on the Billboard Hot 100 over the course of her career? If you thought it was Madonna, that's a good guess, but it's wrong. Mariah Carey has in fact ascended to the top of that chart 18 times in her career (including on her first five singles and most recently in 2008 with "Touch My Body"). While she began as a pop star with some soul leanings, she arrived at a turning point in her career on this day in 1997, when she released her sixth album Butterfly.
Back then, Diddy was in the midst of destroying the boundaries between pop music, hip-hop and R&B. When you combine that with the fact that Carey was dealing with her divorce from Tommy Mottola, Butterfly deviated profoundly from her established sound and dove deep into the contemporary R&B bag of tricks. With the help of the likes of Diddy, Missy Elliott, the Trackmasters and a handful of other hitmakers, Butterfly proved to be a good gambit, as it ended up selling over five million copies in the United States alone, spawned a handful of classic singles (including the chart-topping "My All," which was the one that pushed her past Madonna on the list of career number one songs) and buoyed an extremely successful (though grueling) world tour. In fact, Carey even said herself that she considers Butterfly her magnum opus, and she probably isn't wrong.
The centerpiece of Butterfly was "Honey," a groovy Diddy-assisted track that also found its way to the top of the charts. Much was made of the video, which was a huge, expensive cinematic undertaking that also exposed the world to a freer, sexier Carey (that shot of her taking her dress off in the pool became instantly iconic). Interesting side note: "Honey" was nominated for Best Female Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards but lost the Moonman to ... Madonna. Guess you can't win'em all.
--Kyle Anderson, MTV Newsroom
Watch the "Honey" video on MTV Newsroom's "Wake-Up Video"