Internationally, Mariah Carey’s iconic covers and duets are “#1 to Infinity”

This week marks the release of Mariah Carey’s second #1’s collection: #1 to Infinity. Released to coincide with her Las Vegas Residency, #1 to Infinity features a record-breaking 18 Billboard Hot 100 number one singles as well as new song Infinity. However, just like with her first #1’s collection, there are a few song changes on the international edition. As part of our celebration of Mariah’s 25 years and our #1 to Infinity series, we are also reviewing the International variation. The three song changes are all cover songs, and remind us just how Mariah can take a song and make it her own. Two of the songs are also duets, a testament to Mariah’s star power.

Although she’d had a hand a handful of top 10 hits, it wasn’t until early 1994 that Mariah Carey scored her first #1 hit in the UK with Music Box’s “Without You”. The song was Mariah’s biggest hit here, staying at #1 for four weeks and later being certified Gold. Being a cover, this song relies entirely on Mariah’s vocals, unlike seventeen of her eighteen US Number 1’s which she wrote. The song plays out how any 90s power ballad would, but is beautiful carried by what could be argued as one of Mariah’s best vocal performances. Without drifting into her trademark whistle register, Mariah effortlessly coos and belts in a way that many after her have tried – and still try – to emulate. Accompanied by her background singers during the final choruses, Mariah’s “Without You” really deserves its place in power-ballad history. The songs inclusion on the European release of #1’s to Infinity is no surprise.

Just to show the impact of Mariah’s version, we’ve included a video of Kelly Clarkson’s cover from her days on American Idol, where she closely emulates Mariah’s vocal arrangement. As we noted in our “Vision of Love” reflectionthe original American Idol is a huge fan of Mariah and credits Mariah as one of her biggest influences. In this superb performance, the influence is clear!

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“Endless Love” doesn’t appear on any of Mariah’s studio albums, and it’s not your typical ‘feature’ song either. Originally recorded by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, ‘Love’ was covered by Luther Vandross and Mariah for the former’s cover album Songs. The song is considered to be Mariah’s first high-profile duet, predating “One Sweet Day” and “When You Believe,” and has since been included on her Greatest Hits and Love Songs collections. Upon release, the song topped the charts in New Zealand and was a top 5 hit here in the UK.

1999 brought the release of Mariah’s seventh studio album ‘Rainbow’. Although ‘Butterfly’ is considered to be a sonic turning point in Mariah’s career, Rainbow is the perfect mix of R&B inspired bops and big ballads. Mariah didn’t do things in half-measures. Whilst the lead single (and its main remix) featured raps from hip-hop heavyweights Jay-Z, Da Brat and Missy Elliott, it was a different collaboration that topped the UK charts. Originally appearing as a solo song, “Against All Odds” was released as a single in the latter half of 2000. Although the original didn’t make much of an impact on the charts, the UK release was a duet version of the song with Irish boy band Westlife. The Westlife assisted cut was a European hit, reaching Number 1 in the UK and Ireland. Although Mariah’s vocals weren’t rerecorded for the duet version, the music video shows both artists singing together and hanging out. The “Against All Odds” duet is all about collaborative power. It’s no secret that Mariah was one of the biggest artist on the 90s, but Westlife had amassed 5 UK Number 1’s compared to Mariah’s 1.

As a bonus, we also remember Mariah’s legendary duet with the late Whitney Houston on the Academy Award winning classic “When You Believe,” from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack, which is notably absent from this edition. The duet, while not a #1, was a huge hit internationally and an unforgettable moment in both divas’ catalogues.

Mariah Carey is an artist with #1’s that span decades and countries and this international edition is a testament to that. It would be easy to just commission a compilation album but ‘Infinity’ is more than that; it’s a message to her fans – international and all – for their committed loyalty, just as the first #1’s album was. The international edition shows that Mariah can hold her own whether singing a song she’s written and produced or a timeless cover song.

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