Mariah Carey

Reigns as queen of No. 1s

Jet (US) April 21, 2008. Text by Melody K. Hoffman.

Mariah Carey is hitting even higher notes these days.

Her new hit song, Touch My Body, has reached the top of the charts — bringing her total of No. 1 singles on the Billboard singles chart to 18, overtaking Elvis Presley's record and placing the songbird only behind the Beatles, who have 20.

"I really can never put myself in the category of people who have not only revolutionized music but also changed the world," Carey says about the milestone. "That's a completely different era and time. I'm just really happy and grateful."

With another record-setting 286,000 downloads in its debut week on Billboard's digital songs chart, Touch My Body is the first single off of Carey's new CD, E=MC², which goes on sale this week. A follow-up to her smash comeback CD, Emancipation of Mimi, in 2005, Carey considers E=MC² a continuation of the multi-platinum disc. "Emancipation equals Mariah Carey to the second power," the pop superstar explains.

Though she says she is "no Einstein," Carey, 38, has proven she has the formula for success. She has remained relevant since being crowned best new artist with a Grammy in 1990. Now, after 18 years, nine studio albums and a dark time in her illustrious career, Carey is making history and cementing her legacy as a music icon.

"There has to be peaks and valleys. You can't live life without ups and downs otherwise it would be boring," she says. "When you come out of difficult circumstances you learn from them and understand that's why you went through them. So you can hopefully help other people get through their circumstances."

Music has always been therapeutic and cathartic for Carey. But in 2001, working 21-hour days to make hit albums every year took its toll on her and she suffered what has been reported as an emotional breakdown. Carey then endured scathing reviews of her debut movie Glitter and months later she was dropped from her record label.

However, like a true diva, Carey came out on top. She signed a reported $20-million deal with Universal's Island Def Jam and then gathered three Grammy Awards and sold 10 million records worldwide. Carey admits it's not the platinum success but her faith and music that have been her saving grace.

"A lot of positive things have transpired in my life that I do attribute to having faith and a personal relationship with God... just reading the Word really has helped me," says Carey, whose trademark inspirational songs on E=MC² are Bye Bye and I Wish You Well.

After being in the business so long, a lot of Carey's working relationships have become friendships. Carey is excited to have worked with one of her friends Da Brat for this new project.

"We've done a million remixes together, but this is the first time we've done an R&B song together," Carey says of the smooth and sexy cut, O.O.C. "Collaborating with Brat was probably the most fun I had because she is one of my best friends. She really is an amazing writer. She knows my little idiosyncrasies and my little words so it was cool to have a female perspective too."

Carey also reunited with star music producer Jermaine Dupri. The two won a Grammy for We Belong Together, one of the most-played singles in radio history.

"Jermaine and I write the best together because we really sit there from the inception of the track to the completion and then deal with lyrics and stuff, or sometimes it's simultaneous," Carey explains.

Dupri, the So So Def Productions CEO and Island Records' president of Urban Music, agrees their bond is unique.

"We formed a friendship way, way back when I got a chance to do a record Always Be My Baby. We always kept close from that point on. We speak the same language when we get in the studio. It's not a long process, we both try to get to what we want to get to very fast."

Aside from acting, music has been the focus of Carey's career. However, last year she formed a business partnership with Elizabeth Arden and launched a fragrance line, M by Mariah Carey.

"Just working in the industry at this point, the game has changed so much. In the beginning I would be like, 'why do people need to do all these other extra things and commercials and this and that, they make music," she recalls.

"Honestly, [the fragrance deal] did peak my interest... I realized that you can be as creative as you want to in these ventures... I am going to be doing a lingerie line, probably a shoe line... It would be cool to do these things because it's just utilizing another side of my creativity."

With no signs of slowing down, one can't but help ask the svelte singer when will she settle down and start a family.

"Whenever it's in God's plan for me, that's when it's going to happen," says Carey, who has been divorced from music executive Tommy Mottola for 10 years. "It's not something that I want to push or rush. To bring a child into the world, to me, is the greatest responsibility ever, for a lifetime. It would be lovely if I'm going to do that, to have the father be on the same page as me and understand me as a human being and not just me as an entertainer. Be on the same page as me spiritually too so that the child is not confused. That's my thing."