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Plus: More enduring rock era classics; Who's better, Mariah or Madonna?; and, a week-by-week analysis of women ruling the Hot 100's top five

Ask Billboard is updated every week. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.

MARIAH MATCHES MADONNA

Hey Gary,

Last week, reader Rich Signorelli brought to our attention that Madonna was that rare veteran act to have reached the top 10 on the Hot 100 with a song from almost every studio album released. As soon as I read that, I knew that something was wrong.

With 18 No. 1s, Mariah Carey has to have scored a top 10 from every album, right?! Well, she came very close. That pesky "Charmbracelet" album stopped Carey's run, with "Through the Rain" hitting only No. 81 in 2002. Also, both of Carey's Christmas albums did not produce a top 10 hit. I don't think, however, that, anyone would argue against the success of "All I Want for Christmas Is You," considering its celebrated annual return.

In fact, Carey has scored not just a top 10, but a top five hit from every non-holiday album except for "Charmbracelet" and 2009's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," from which "Obsessed" just missed, peaking at No. 7.

Let's recap her album-by-album success:

"Mariah Carey," 1990
"Vision of Love," "Love Takes Time," "Someday," "I Don't Wanna Cry"

"Emotions," 1991
"Emotions," "Can't Let Go," "Make It Happen"

"MTV Unplugged," 1992 (live EP)
"I'll Be There"

"Music Box," 1993

"Dreamlover," "Hero," "Without You"

"Daydream," 1995
"Fantasy," "One Sweet Day," "Always Be My Baby"

"Butterfly," 1997
"Honey," "My All"

"#1's," 1998 (best-of album)
"I Still Believe"

"Rainbow," 1999
"Heartbreaker," "Thank God I Found You"

"Glitter," 2001 (soundtrack)
"Loverboy"

"The Emancipation of Mimi," 2005

"We Belong Together," "Shake it Off," "Don't Forget About Us" (the lattermost song was added to the set's deluxe edition)

"E=MC2," 2008
"Touch My Body"

"Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," 2009
"Obsessed"

Carey's astonishing run of top five/10 hits over the past 20-plus years is equally, if not more impressive, than Madonna's!

Thanks,

Steven Duchon
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Hi Steven,

I know enough not to get caught up in a comments section-esque war over who's better - Mariah or Madonna ( both superstars fill up a nice chunk of my iPod!) - but you make a great point that Carey's consistency is certainly in line with Madonna's.

If not for her public troubles, brought on by exhaustion, in the early 2000s, even "Charmbracelet" might have yielded a top 10 in "Through the Rain." I remember being surprised at the time that the ballad charted so poorly, as, quality-wise, I've always thought it's among her best, vocally and in terms of its hook. Image counts for a lot at pop radio, however, and Carey clearly needed time to regain credibility with radio programmers and consumers.

She certainly did that with "Emancipation," as "We Belong Together" went on to become Billboard's top song of 2005 - and re-start her streak of albums producing top 10 hits, a run that's now at three and counting.

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