Originally published on So So Gay on 13 May 2015.
Single artist compilation albums are always a tricky beast for fans, since they invariably react with a ‘I can’t believe you didn’t include X, Y and Z’, while also owning said artist’s entire discography and so unlikely to buy the album themselves. Certainly for someone of Mariah’s standing – who’s been warbling around the global music charts since 1990 – she’s got a lot of material to choose from – a trifling 62 official singles, in fact. With this in mind, it’s a little disappointing that Mariah has decided to release a compilation album that is effectively just #1’s 2.0.
It may be an intentional revamp, what with use of ‘#1’ in the title and some similar artwork, but that doesn’t make it any less underwhelming. At least Mariah’s first compilation album came bundled with four new tracks; #1 to Infinity has just the new single ‘Infinity’. To make it a more worthwhile release, she could have at least taken a leaf out of the late, great Whitney’s book, and included a second disc full of Poppers O’Clock remixes of her biggest hits.
Yes, the album highlights just what a phenomenal talent the Biggest Selling Female Artist of All Time is, but beyond ‘Infinity’, this latest collection is a rather lacklustre and pointless effort – as great as all these songs are. Focussing (again) on MC’s greatest musical successes may make for the shrewdest of decisions, however as a creative endeavour it is pedestrian. The chronological ordering works in the material’s favour, but that’s about the best that could be said of this compilation.
Limited by its own concept, this album serves up nothing new for those not already versed in Mariah’s discography. With recent efforts struggling to replicate her halcyon days of the 90s, and to some extent the mid-00s, it means that three whole Mariah albums don’t get a look in on this collection: the oft-forgotten Charmbracelet, the underrated Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel and the recently overlooked Me. I Am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Her music may not be what’s currently ‘hot’ with the fickle general public, but her material has a multitude of interesting moments that could be collated into a more inventive remit than this album presents.
In many ways a frustrating release since a new Mariah album is always a good thing, #1 to Infinity deserves five octaves out of five for its material but perhaps a (generous) three for its concept, bearing in mind the existence of the arguably superior #1’s compilation. Our controversial advice would be to save your money on this collection and go grab yourself a copy of her last studio album instead, which was a much more interesting effort and deserved far greater commercial success than it attained.