How complete is Mariah Carey's comeback? Not only has The Emancipation of Mimi sold more than 2 million copies since its release last month (it's currently No. 3 on the Billboard album chart), but the album's ballad ''We Belong Together'' has set a record as her 16th song to top the Billboard Top 100 singles chart. That makes her the most successful female singles artist ever, and the third most-successful singles artist of all time, behind only Elvis (18 No. 1 singles) and the Beatles (20 chart-toppers). Her label, Island Def Jam, claims the ballad has reached an audience of 157 million (by whatever measure the industry uses to measure the impact of singles these days), which would make it the biggest song in the label's history.
''I don't know that it's sunken in yet,'' Carey told the Associated Press on Thursday, a day after label chief Antonio ''L.A.'' Reid threw her a ''Sweet Sixteen'' party at Jay-Z's 40-40 club in New York to celebrate her achievement. ''I look at this moment as an incredible blessing. It's part of my struggle,'' said Carey, noting how far she's come since her megaflop Glitter four years ago. ''It's made me a stronger person and made me appreciate this.''