Mariah Carey doesn’t need to know what love is — the Billboard Music Awards just showed her.
On Wednesday evening, the pop diva received the Billboard Icon Award, joining such illustrious company as Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Cher, and Prince. Actress and singer Jennifer Hudson introduced her, calling her “a gold standard in music.”
“Thank you so much for this award, it’s going to look fabulous in my New York apartment,” Carey joked while accepting the honor. She added, “Icon — I really don’t think of myself in that way. I started making music out of a necessity to survive and express myself. I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing. If I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that truly all things are possible with God.… The truth is I’ve dedicated my life to my music, my saving grace, and my fans who are unlike any other entity I’ve ever known.”
She also referenced some of the highs and lows of her career, making a tongue-in-cheek reference to the “few memes” she’s inspired. It was also Carey’s twins’ birthday, and she began her speech giving them a shoutout.
As part of the proceedings, Carey also took to the stage at the MGM Garden Grand Arena in Las Vegas to perform a medley of her greatest hits, flanked by a cadre of male background dancers in shiny gold tuxes. She sang “A No No,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Emotions,” and “We Belong Together” before a gospel choir took to the stage to back her up on “Hero.”
It’s no surprise Carey was selected to receive the Icon Award given her Billboard chart bona fides. Since her debut in 1990, she’s consistently set records. For one, she led the Billboard Hot 100 each year of the 1990s, making her the only artist to ever top the chart in every year of a single decade.
Carey has had 18 total No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the most of any solo artist. Similarly, she’s ruled the Hot 100 chart a total of 79 weeks in the history of her career. That’s the most weeks atop the chart for any artist in history. And that’s not all — six of her albums also hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
She’s also been dubbed the Queen of Christmas, thanks to the global success of “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which has sold more than 16 million copies and is the 10th best-selling single of all time.
How’s that for iconic?