Mariah Carey is an icon. Officially.
Carey received the Billboard Icon Award last night at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards, rightfully claiming her place among a pop pantheon that includes Celine Dion, Cher, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, and Prince.
Let us never forget that, among her many achievements, Carey has had 18 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, more than any other solo artist.
Jennifer Hudson introduced the elusive chanteuse at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, calling her “a gold standard in music.”
“Icon—I really don’t think of myself in that way,” said Carey in her acceptance speech, noting the “ups and downs” and “memes” in her career. “I started making music out of a necessity to survive and to express myself. I just wanted to create something so I could feel worthy of existing.”
“I guess I’ve always felt like an outsider, someone who doesn’t quite belong anywhere,” she continued. “I still feel like that lost interracial child who had a lot of nerve to believe I could succeed at anything at all in this world.”
“The truth is I’ve dedicated my life to my music, my saving grace, and to my fans who are unlike any other entity I’ve ever known,” Carey concluded. “To anyone who’s ever told me that a song I wrote helped save your life, I thank you, because you saved mine.”
The Queen of Christmas also took the stage to perform a medley of her greatest hits, including “A No No,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Emotions,” “We Belong Together,” and “Hero.”
The Billboard Music Awards were hosted for the second year in a row by Kelly Clarkson, who performed her single “Broken & Beautiful.”
Madonna and Maluma performed their new collaboration, “Medellín,” incorporating augmented reality using motion capture technology. Pansexual icon Brendon Urie also joined Taylor Swift, feeling their post-Easter pastel fantasy to perform “Me!”
Ariana Grande, Ciara, and Paula Abdul also straight-up slayed the stage.
Watch Mariah’s highlights from the Billboard Music Awards below.