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Mariah Carey: #1s

review by Ren C.

Not Rated

Studio: Sony/Columbia

Running Time: 75 Minutes

Starring Mariah Carey

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Biography, Bonus Video

Specs: 1.33:1 Standard, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English PCM Stereo

I'm almost convinced at this point that the Mariah Carey that debuted in 1990 is not the same Mariah Carey of today. "Mariah Carey-The #1's" is supporting evidence for this argument. This video traces the path of Carey's thirteen number ones, in reverse chronological order, so we see Carey morph from underdressed diva to the sweet, innocent girl with the good voice.

The disc starts out with "Heartbreaker", directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour). This video showcases Carey and her friends taking over a theater lobby for a dance sequence, and beating up Jerry O'Connell. Then, they dress up and pretend that they're in "Grease". An entertaining video, especially with Mariah fighting herself. Probably something that is better seen than explained. For those who care about such things, this is the video with the cartoon Carey, and not Jay-Z. Next up is "My All", directed by Herb Ritts, features a sad Carey floating around on a piece of driftwood. The more Herb Ritts videos I see convince me that they all look basically the same. For reference, I direct you to Madonna's "Cherish" and Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game".

Next, we move on to "Honey", which started the metamorphosis for Carey, which apparently involved losing most of her clothing. Fun storyline here, with Eddie Griffin, and Carey playing a spy agent. Definitely one of the more entertaining videos on the disc.

"Always Be My Baby" features Carey in innocent mode, at sleepaway camp on a swing while she sings that he will always be her baby. Somehow, all of these songs managed to go number one, which is an amazing feat in and of itself. Next is the longest reigning number one single in Billboard history, "One Sweet Day", which Carey performs with Boyz II Men. The video is a "making of the song" type, so no major excitement here, unless you happen to enjoy watching people in the recording studio. "Fantasy" was directed by Carey herself, and is fairly impressive for a first outing. Take not that this is not the original video, but the remix, which becomes readily apparent when we see O.D.B. about two seconds into the song.

"Hero", from a live NBC performance is next, and my goodness, was this song overplayed. Even today, it is hard to listen to without cringing. Carey is in full good girl mode here, looking very sweet and very adorable. This is followed by "Dreamlover" which shows Carey frolicking through the fields with some random dancers. Not a bad video, but not one of the best ever made either. An MTV Unplugged performance of the Jackson Five's "I'll Be There" is next, and Carey makes it her own with some unnecessary high notes. As an aside, it's becoming readily apparent that the newer artists were influenced by Carey. I point you to Christina Aguilera as reference.

"Emotions", from the album of that name, is next, and the video is very, very sepia toned. The video is notable only for that, and the song is notable mainly for having the highest notes that I have ever heard from a human being. "I Don't Wanna Cry" is almost the pinnacle of sweet, innocent Carey, and it is amazing how much she has changed in the last ten years. After this, the disc really starts to annoy me. "Someday" is the next song included, and while I thought it would be the music video, instead we get another performance from MTV Unplugged. I know that a video exists, and a question the logic of putting something on that was different from the version that went to number one on the charts.

This trend continues with "Love Takes Time", which looks to be taken from the same NBC concert that produced the "Hero" video. The difference between these two is that the concert footage was used for "Hero" all along, while "Love Takes Time" had a separate concept video produced. The disc wraps up with "Vision of Love", but instead of the video, we get concert footage that looks to be from around 1997. Not only is it insulting not to have the video, it is even more insulting to have the concert footage be nowhere near the time when the song was first released.

These videos look better than they did on television, as they are clear, and the colors are very vibrant. Overall, they look about as you would expect videos of these varied ages to look when transferred to DVD.

This is one of the areas where the disc shines. There are two tracks included, a stereo and a 5.1, with the 5.1 sounding very good. There are only two songs, "Heartbreaker" and "Honey" where the full effect comes through, but it is very impressive, nonetheless. The music comes across very well throughout.

There are a few extras supplied on this disc, the first of which can be considered the small introductions that Carey gives before each song. While these aren't earth shattering, they are nice to have nonetheless. There is also a text biography included which is nothing more than a Mariah-Carey-patting-herself-on-the-back session. This goes into detail on her number one singles, her multiple awards, and how many times her albums have gone platinum. Nothing all that interesting here.

The other extra is the music video for the "Heartbreaker Remix" featuring Da Brat and Missy Elliott. After seeing this video, a lesser person might call Carey a tramp, but I choose to see this as the next step in her evolution from pop superstar to hip-hop diva. The video is fairly interesting, and is a nice companion to the original "Heartbreaker".

While this is a nice introduction to Carey and her work, the lack of the videos as mentioned above is almost inexcusable. In addition, very few of Carey's videos stand out as being particularly memorable. However, if you are a fan, you might be able to overlook the relative lack of features, and irrelevant concert footage and enjoy this disc. It would be nice if Columbia had wanted to release a concert video; they had just done that. Recommendation to avoid.

(2.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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