Next week, Mariah Carey will launch her Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace, followed by the release of a new album, #1 to Infinity, a quasi-update of the chart-obsessed singer’s 1998 collection #1’s. The new compilation will include all 18 of Mariah’s #1 singles, plus a new song called “Infinity.” She recently returned to Sony Music, this time signing a deal with Epic Records, now headed by L.A. Reid, who, as head of Island Def Jam, helped Mariah stage a comeback with The Emancipation of Mimi in 2005. But it’s unlikely the pair will hit the top of the charts again, at least not with this track. All of Mimi’s tricks and ticks are present and accounted for: whistle notes, sudden shifts from chest to head voice, verses sung in double-time, and product placement that’s, to quote the lyrics, “corny like Fritos.” But while the pre-chorus is strong, the non-hook that follows amounts to nothing more than Mariah breathily cooing the single’s title, drawing it out into at least 20 inexplicable syllables. The string-and-brass-laden production is a welcome throwback to Mariah’s early ballads, but like on 2013’s “Almost Home,” its primary function seems to be to mask the singer’s ailing voice. The state of that famous instrument is most apparent near song’s end when she emphasizes the otherwise silent “a” in the nearly indecipherable word “dream” in order to more easily sing it. “Infinity” will likely be better remembered for its lyrical content, which seems to be aimed at ex-hubby Nick Cannon, whom Mariah divorced last year. “Why you tryin’ play like you’re so grown/Everything you own, boy, you still owe,” she quips, before literally getting the last (raspy) laugh.
Mariah’s Las Vegas residency kicks off on May 6, while #1 to Infinity drops on May 18.