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I hope Mariah Carey has a comeback

Posted January 6

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Mariah Carey’s disastrous New Year’s Eve performance.

Gathered around our fireplace, my husband and I and a few other couples sipped on Martinelli’s and munched on chocolate treats. Around 11:30 p.m. we turned on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” and saw superstar Mariah Carey hit the stage.

“Is she lip synching?” I watched as Mariah’s mouth moved slightly out of synch with the backing track.

“Yep,” I said. “She’s definitely not singing live.” And then, almost as if we jinxed her, Mariah missed a whole line of her opening "Auld Lang Syne" song. I felt sorry that one of the most successful and idolized female singers of all time felt she couldn’t carry her own show vocally.

And then, disaster. What should have been a smooth transition from one lip-synched song to the next went horribly wrong when just the minus track played, without her backing vocals. Mariah clearly didn’t know what to do. Stumbling around stage, she mentioned she “couldn’t hear” the track in her ear buds, urging the audience to sing instead.

“I’m just trying to be a good sport here,” she said hoarsely, her speaking voice clearly not matching the recorded vocals of her previous song.

Her last song, “Emotions,” started out a little better with the lead vocals back on, and she went on lip-synching and pretending the world hadn’t just caught her faking it. But after a while she gave up on the stunt and began talking over the song, yelling out “Happy New Year!” to the crowd who, according to sweet, always-thinking-on-his-feet Ryan Seacrest, loves Mariah Carey “no matter what she does.”

What she did was back out on a live performance. I wonder what it was that had her so nervous as to forget how to entertain an audience? She has gone on to blame Dick Clark Productions for technical difficulties, no sound check, and even hinting at sabotage. The company responded with this statement (as published by the New York Times):

“To suggest that (Dick Clark Productions), as producer of music shows including the American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and Academy of Country Music Awards, would ever intentionally compromise the success of any artist is defamatory, outrageous and frankly absurd. In very rare instances there are of course technical errors that can occur with live television, however, an initial investigation has indicated that (Dick Clark Productions) had no involvement in the challenges associated with Ms. Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance.”

A spokeswoman for Carey argued back, saying (via USAToday.com), “Unfortunately there was nothing she could do to continue with the performance given the circumstances.”

Except there was. She could have sung live — or at least made some kind of performance out of it instead of talking her way through each song, telling the audience sarcastically how “awesome” that just was. Whatever happens with music not working, ear buds cutting out, feedback from the mics, wrong songs being played, etc., pushing through and performing is Entertaining 101. She should know that — she is an international superstar who has had years of performing on stage.

I think this was an embarrassing “gotcha” moment of Mariah not showing up for sound check and then hoping for everything to come together. I felt terrible for her. I know from personal experience how devastating it is to have to suffer through a bad performance on live television, and I hope her career doesn’t suffer long-term because of it. One bad performance shouldn’t erase decades of incredible ones.

I am crossing my fingers for a comeback.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.

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