Oh my god, Mariah Carey, what happened?!

Vincent Anthony
10 Min Read

What happened, Mariah?!

I’m certain that thought is going through the minds of many people who watched Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance just before the ball dropped. I’m also certain that the majority of the people who clicked this based on the headline are probably hoping to read a scathing piece ridiculing Mariah for her performance. But that’s not what this is going to be; sorry to disappoint you if so, but I do hope you keep reading.

I’ll be honest, I was horrified as I watched it. Indeed, it was an embarrassment for Mariah; there’s no doubt about that. What happened? Essentially, there was an error with her ear monitors and Mariah couldn’t hear what was going on. If she had attempted to sing, she would’ve sounded a mess because she couldn’t hear herself or the band, and would not know which part in the song the instrumental was at. But, okay, it was a horrible mistake; can we move on? This is not Ashlee Simpson at Saturday Night Live. Mariah Carey is not a new artist; she has proven her talent for over 25 years. Yes, she’s had some bad performances, but the good outweighs the bad. No, she can’t sing like the 90s anymore, but she can still sing – quite well. Are you the same as you were when you were 20 years younger? Probably not.

The Response

What is most troubling about the public’s response to this event, as with other similar events experienced by other celebrities of Mariah’s stature, is that it is so overwhelmingly negative and hateful. I mean, I can’t say I am too surprised: the negativity and hate are coming from the same country that elected Donald Trump to be its President. However, in the wake of the death of so many icons this year, like Prince and George Michael, I would think that people would be a bit more forgiving of the fact that our aging legends like Mariah Carey are, well, only human.

Instead of ridiculing Mariah Carey for this, instead of saying “rest in peace” to her career and writing her off for good, how about showing her some love instead? Why not thank her for her pioneering innovations that changed and shaped the sound of R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, and Holiday music forever? I know it’s human nature for people to be so engulfed in negativity and controversy and take the good things for granted, but really, we need to be more cognizant of this.

When Mariah Carey gives a great performance, it won’t go viral unless it’s mind-blowingly out of this world. To be frank, the chances of that happening are slim to none for a multitude of reasons. However, undoubtedly, this performance will go viral because people love to laugh at the expense of others. Instead of spreading love to Mariah, who is probably horrified and ashamed by this, why do people choose to spread disdain for her?

But She’s Still Got It

The main point of her naysayers will be something to the effect of “hah-hah Mariah Carey sucks, she can’t sing anymore, give it up and retire.” Yet, this is a complete and utter lie, and I’m here to tell you why. Now, it’s no secret that I adore Mariah Carey. I have been enamored with her since the age of five, in 1995, when she released the Daydream album. I grew up on her music, so, sure, I am a little biased in her favor, but I can be objective. But, I am also very familiar with her vocals and her ways, and I know when she’s lip-syncing, and I know when she’s singing live.

In December 2016, I attended her Christmas shows at the Beacon Theater five times, bringing my three-year total up to 16 Christmas shows. Last summer, I attended her Las Vegas shows three times. This summer, I went to the Essence Music Festival to see her live, as well. I provide these receipts not to brag, but to qualify myself as someone who is quite experienced with Mariah Carey, the live performer.

Yes, she lip-syncs; just about every live performer does for one reason or another, and I am not going to get into that because really, bits of lip-syncing are irrelevant when the artist still delivers live vocals. About 90%, if not more, of Mariah’s concerts, feature live vocals, which is more than can be said for most of her peers. And, quite frankly, those live vocals have been damn good, especially over the last several years.

The Receipts

Tonight, the song in question was “Emotions.” It was heartbreaking to see it happen with this song in particular, because “Emotions” is one of the songs Mariah always sings live and always slays it. Here’s a clip of her singing the intro to the song from July 2016 at the Essence Music Festival, for reference:


Need more? Here’s the “Emotions” intro live in Cape Town, South Africa, from April 2016:

Perfect? No, but who is? Regardless, she sounded great and slayed. In Las Vegas, she provides several vocal moments that were a complete and total slay. Fellow Lamb @FadedCrystal on Twitter was kind enough to put together a thread full of great vocal moments on Twitter. Scroll through, listen, and get your life. If you still think she can’t sing after watching these videos, then you are either deaf or a hater:


Still, need more? @MyLoveGoesMimi was kind enough to remind us of this slayage from Vegas this year, in June. “Thank God I Found You” is a song that Mariah hadn’t performed in ages, until the #1 to Infinity show which began in 2015. For the show, she remixed it into a stripped-down piano and vocal snippet which she completely bodies:

At the Beacon Theatre this December, Mariah delivered several great vocal moments, but perhaps the standout was this particular “Joy to the World” intro, which I was fortunate enough to capture on video and post to our social media channels. Relive it here:

Finally, YouTuber MariahxLambily made this great compilation video of some of Mariah’s best live vocal moments from 2016. Yet, of course, this video has less than 4,000 views at the time of writing. I can’t begin to imagine how many the NYE mess will have. But, I suppose that is the nature of the media beast. It’s just a shame.


In short, yes, Mariah Carey can still sing. No, she’s not a perfect performer or human being. But, we should still show her love and respect. She proved herself long ago. This is a woman with a golden heart who wants nothing more than to spread love and light in the world. This is a woman whose songwriting has touched millions of people and has positively affected the lives and hearts of her fans. She does not deserve to be treated this way, no matter how many messy performances she might give. We’ve all had bad days at work, but just imagine how it must feel with millions of people watching. She will make it through the rain like she always does, and no matter what they say… there is a light that forever shines in Mariah; they can try, but they can’t take that away from her.

As if we didn’t have enough good reason to say goodbye to 2016, consider this our last straw. There were a few good moments though; check out our list of the Best, 19 “97” Albums and Best Singles of 2016 before bidding the year adieu.

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Vincent is the founder of the magazine and has had a strong passion for popular music since, well, 1997! If it's not obvious, his favorite artists include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, P!nk, and many more. Vincent lives in New York, where he is a high school English teacher, and currently he is pursuing a Master's in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.