On New Year’s Eve, Mariah Carey arguably challenged Ohio State football for the worst performance of the night. While the football game can’t be disputed, Carey’s reps aren’t ready to accept defeat.
After seemingly forgetting the words to her hit song, “Emotion,” viewers speculated what went wrong. Comments ranging from “she was drunk” to “she’s a washed up has-been” began to surface.
Nicole Perna of BWR-PR, the PR firm that represents Carey, dismissed the notion that Carey didn’t take the performance seriously and was “winging” it. She told Billboard:
“A shame that production set her up to fail.”
Her rep claimed that producers were warned numerous times that Carey’s earpiece was not working and the singer was assured it would be fine by the time she got on stage.
Despite the sound issues, the singer went live anyway because she was intent on fulfilling her commitment. The rep said it isn’t uncommon for singers to use a vocal track but said the lip sync accusations added “insult to injury.”
Carey’s manager, Stella Bulochnikov, touted a similar story, telling the New York Times:
“It is what it is: New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Mariah did them a favor. She was the biggest star there, and they did not have their act together.”
However, a source for Dick Clark Productions claimed that a company that’s been around since 1957 and has produced “Rockin’ Eve” for over 30 years wouldn’t risk its reputation for ratings.
The production company placed the blame directly at the singer’s feet and told Billboard she simply chose not to rehearse (instead sending a body double to rehearsal).
The source called out a contradiction between problems Carey allegedly had and what her dancers were able to do. He said:
“The music was provided by her team, there were no fewer than eight audio monitor wedges in front of her and the dancers had no problem syncing up to the music.”
For years, Maryland Sound International has worked the audio for the event. Robert Goldstein, a veteran audio producer, claimed there were no issues with any of the equipment he oversaw. Goldstein told the New York Times:
“Every monitor and in-ear device worked perfectly. I can’t comment beyond that and don’t know what her nontechnical issue may have been.”
Carey was heard telling the audience, “we can’t hear” during her performance, alluding to the earpiece problems her rep claimed she had. However, the singer’s rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” seemed to go off without a hitch.
The New York Times called the event a “rare meltdown,” but Carey had a similar disastrous performance in 2014, during a Christmas special. She was also slammed for her vocals at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, although her rep claimed she was fighting bronchitis.