Throughout her 25 year career, Mariah Carey has amassed a total of 18 number one singles; a feat matched by Elvis Presley and only beaten by The Beatles. This 25th anniversary also marks the start of Mariah Carey’s residency in Las Vegas, as well as her start on a new record label, after moving from Def Jam to Epic Records. Between all these accomplishments and her fresh start, it’s only natural that a compilation album would mark the occasion. As such, Mariah took it upon herself to look back at her 1998 compilation album, #1’s, and update it with her latest number one achievements. #1 to Infinity is the resulting collection.
#1 to Infinity bears a strong resemblance to #1’s, and with good reason. All 13 of her previous number one singles return, with the five that followed after 1998 finding their way onto the album. Heartbreaker, Thank God I Found You, Don’t Forget About Us, Touch My Body and her biggest hit We Belong Together all found their way into the collection, with her latest single and the only new song on the album Infinity closing the tracklist.
As a collection of her hits, it does a good job of showing off Carey’s true strengths. The album is a decent split between R&B tracks and ballads, all following a similar formula to each other. The ballads are often sweeping and carried by Carey’s powerful voice, and the R&B tracks, while showing their age after twenty or so years, are all catchy with interesting hooks. It’s no surprise that she managed to top the charts so much in the past.
Perhaps the biggest problem it faces as a collection is the differing production values. Considering the songs featured are from her entire 25 year career, the beginning of the album really shows its age. This is only made worse when it gets to We Belong Together, where her more modern, smooth R&B sound clashes with all of the ballads and the more upbeat songs from earlier on the album. While it couldn’t really be avoided given the album’s concept, it’s a little jarring.
To the credit of both the compilation and her career, none of the songs are downright terrible though. Even barring classics such as Touch My Body and Emotions, the lone new song Infinity shows Mariah’s still got some life left in her career. It’s mix of a grand string arrangement and an R&B beat makes it the best of both her ballads and R&B songs from earlier on the album, making it a perfect closer for the album, and possibly even one of the most enjoyable songs on the collection.
While there’s no real reason to own this album over #1’s, which shares about a third of its tracklist with this album, it’s still a good marker for Mariah’s career at the current time. She’s already lead a more successful career than many singers could ever hope for, and while 19 tracks all in similar styles can be a bit of a chore to listen to in one sitting, #1 to Infinity is a great summary of her career so far before it enters its next chapter.