Beyond Bravo

What *Really* Happened During Mariah Carey's New Year's Eve Performance?

There's a lot of drama over who's to blame for the live TV gaffe.

Mariah Carey's sloppy performance during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest was basically the cherry on the top of a year that many considered to be less-than-stellar, to put it mildly. After the singer belted out "Auld Lang Syne" at the top of the performance, which took place just minutes before midnight in New York City, it became clear that she was experiencing some sort of issue. As the backing tracks for her hit songs "Emotions" and "We Belong Together" played, the elusive chanteuse barely sang along and seemed visibly perturbed as she complained about the performance onstage.

Then the real fun began, as members of Mariah's team and Dick Clark Productions each defended their part in the performance in the press.

BWR-PR's Nicole Perna told Billboard that production and stage managers had Mariah go onstage even after she alerted them that her ear piece was not working, telling her that "it would be fine once she was on stage." “She was not ‘winging’ this moment and took it very seriously,” Nicole told Billboard. “A shame that production set her up to fail.”

A production source told Billboard that Mariah chose not to rehearse and used a body double to rehearse in her place earlier in the day. The source also said that "all was working" on the technical side. Audio producer Robert Goldstein of Maryland Sound International, a company that has worked on the event for years, told The New York Times in an email that "every monitor and in-ear device worked perfectly" among the sound equipment he oversaw. 

Dick Clark Productions issued a statement on the incident Sunday evening, refuting claims made by Mariah's camp, as reported by Billboard:  

"As the premier producer of live television events for nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing relationships with artists. To suggest that dcp, 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 dcp had no involvement in the challenges associated with Ms. Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance. We want to be clear that we have the utmost respect for Ms. Carey as an artist and acknowledge her tremendous accomplishments in the industry."

Mariah's manager, Stella Bulochnikov, then gave an in-depth interview with Entertainment Weekly on Monday explaining what the singer's team believed happened during the performance. She said that Mariah did show up to rehearsal and did a sound check as a dancer stood in for her for the musical number. The singer said "the sound was coming in choppy," which continued when she did an interview with Ryan Seacrest at about 10:35 p.m. in Times Square. Mariah then got new ears and a mic pack at about 11:20 p.m. "We told both stage managers — remember this is not our production team, we’re out-sourcing our team which we never do — we told them the mic pack is not working. She can’t hear it, it’s faint. They brought her a new one, and that one didn’t work either, the mic pack was dead. They changed the battery pack. She said she still couldn’t hear. The second stage manager said, 'It doesn’t work here in the tent, it will work on the stage.' She said, 'Great, let’s go to the stage,'" the singer's rep told EW.  

She then said that Mariah still couldn't hear anything in her ears but was told she would hear when they went live. "So, right when it goes live, she can’t hear anything. The ears are dead. They’re dead. So she pulls them out of the ear because if the artist keeps them in their ears then all she hears is silence," she explained. "Once she pulled them off her ear she was hoping to hear her music, but because of the circumstances — there’s noise from Times Square and the music is reverberating from the buildings — all she hears is chaos. She can’t hear her music. It’s a madhouse. At the point, there’s no way to recover."

Mariah's manager then said that she called Dick Clark Productions' Mark Shimmel after the show, and he confirmed that the in-ears didn't work. She also said he declined her request to cut the West Coast feed and offered to make a joint statement, which she declined. Billboard reported that "a source on the DCP side denies that this conversation ever happened." 

As for viewers accusing Mariah of planning to lip-sync the performance, her rep refuted those claims. "No. It’s not lip-syncing. Lip-syncing is when people don’t sing at all. This is what people should understand. Every artist sings to a track, especially in circumstances like that when it’s really loud and impossible to have a great musical performance. You’re not singing at the Philharmonic. Every artist who goes out there sings to tracks" she explained to EW. "What Mariah was doing was singing to tracks. What you heard on the second song, 'Emotions,' was her going to sing it live. That’s why you heard no vocals. It’s a song she sings every other day." 

Mariah's manager went on to say that they should have cut to commercial when the singer pulled her ears out. "That says to me they wanted a viral moment at any expense," she said. "And that’s not a company with integrity for 50-something years. That’s not who Dick Clark was. He loved artists." 

However, the singer's rep said that Mariah wasn't that upset over the chaotic performance. "She’s just ignoring it," she said. "She’s got so many more important things to do." 

EW reports that "Dick Clark Productions didn't have any immediate additional comment." 

As for Mariah, she stayed positive and got a little cheeky on Twitter following the incident. "Sh** happens  Have a happy and healthy new year everybody!" she tweeted early Sunday morning. "Here's to making more headlines in 2017." 

Here's to hopefully some more Mariah performances that are memorable (for a good reason) this year. 

While we wait to see what 2017 has in store for Mimi, relive her most recent, fabulous visit to Watch What Happens Live, below.

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