- With the Mariah Carey New Year’s Eve debacle still fresh on our minds (not to be confused with a similar but different disaster, the “Mariah Carey Tree Lighting Debacle of ’14”), Mariah has officially crossed over to camp. Equipped with nothing but a faulty recording and a pair of spanks, the delusional diva attempted an old trick that used to work: singing. I’ve observed that in these dreaded live TV moments, some fake singers reflexively turn to a different performing art they may have dabbled in a little. For Ashlee Simpson on SNL, it was a jig. For deeply insecure, but still imperious Mariah, a jig would be grueling and unnecessarily active. Instead, lazy Mariah (who freely admits she skipped soundcheck) opts for a slow walk on the arm of her handsome dancer, sleepily marking the now unnecessary choreography while figuring out who to blame. Toward the end of the number, she partially executes an ambivalent, stiff dip, as if to say, “Hey my lambs, I’m not even going to attempt to sing without the track, but I know you might be expecting something, so I will now bend backwards thirty degrees with assistance.” Because she is an uncompromising professional she felt the need to explain what happened. Because she is a delusional mess, that explanation came via twitter: “Shit Happens…here’s to making more headlines in 2017” —what a trouper.
Reviewing the footage, I was reminded of Mae West in the 1978 film “Sextette,” particularly one brilliant sequence that features a young pre-007 Timothy Dalton reassuring the 78-year-old legend that she is as sexually irresistible as ever. From the look of things, his was a job with long hours. Dalton approaches his task by singing the Captain & Tennille‘s “Love Will Keep Us Together”–naturally. Delusional Mae appears to agree while relating primarily to her props, a bouquet of roses and a three way mirror. This leaves the handsome Dalton to fend for himself while the star can focus bigger challenges than sex, namely walking out of frame and occasionally saying, “Whatever” like Mae West.
Mariah is like Mae West because she also has a magic mirror, her sound guy, and a suitor, her audiences, who are complicit in perpetuating the notion that she can still sing. Together, the sound guy, the audience and the diva have been pulling off this “sleight of voice” trickery since the 1990s, which technically makes Ms. Carey more celebrity magician than singer. Though in a cynical way I am impressed with how long she has been getting away with this, she should have never been regarded as a standard of excellence. Many will defend her because they are invested in the illusion, but personally, I don’t like being duped, especially by someone so arrogant they don’t believe a performance this bad might indicate the need for a serious response. It will be interesting to see whether this fiasco finds its way into Mariah’s World, the star’s “reality” show. I’m betting it doesn’t because it’s the wrong kind of reality, the kind that is based on facts instead of sweet, sweet fantasy.