By now, much of the civilized world, even if unaware of existential threats to the survival of the species, has heard of singer Mariah Carey’s flubbed New Year’s Eve “event” in Times Square. USA Today explains:
Oh, the drama.
2017 is definitely starting off with fireworks for Mariah Carey and Dick Clark Productions. And not the good kind.
After Carey’s camp came to her defense early Sunday, blaming technical difficulties on producers, the production company issued its own statement:
‘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 (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,’ the statement said.
‘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.”
The New Year’s Eve Rockin’ Eve performance rocked social media when Carey couldn’t seem to keep up with a prerecorded track.
After stumbling through one song, the show’s headliner stopped singing We Belong Together after another mishap when she lowered the microphone from her mouth, but vocals kept playing.
‘It just doesn’t get any better,’ she told the crowd and left the stage.
Hmmm. I wonder what went wrong? Try this:
The AP also reported that a person familiar with the production of the show who asked for anonymity to speak about the incident said all of the other performers, including Gloria Estefan, rehearsed onsite for their sets but Carey had a stand-in for her rehearsal even though she was there, atypical for the show’s performers.
Full Disclosure: I’ve performed all over America, in Canada and elsewhere with amplified shows. I’ve been a singer, instrumentalist and tech support. There’s no real controversy here, apparently just unprofessional conduct. I’ll keep it short, but keep in mind I’m addressing performers dependent upon amplification.
Pros carry their own equipment, particularly gear like earpiece monitors. In any case, they have tech staff that prepares such items and ensures everything is working properly before the headliner steps onstage. At the very least, techies coordinate with anyone else involved in producing the show. They know there is no such thing as being too prepared, and always–always–have a tech rehearsal and a music rehearsal before shows. This is necessary not only to ensure the gear is working, but to check for radio frequency interference, which is always a potential problem.
They–and/or their tech people–also check before the act goes onstage to be certain everything is working, and if they’re smart, they also have backups to essential systems, ready to be run onstage in an instant if necessary.
If a headliner takes the stage with faulty gear, it’s their fault, or that of their tech people. Halls, and producers like those involved in Times Square, do not provide personal gear like earphone monitors for obvious reasons. In this case, the sound reinforcement gear was obviously working, as was Carey’s wireless microphone. The problem was apparently a non-functional or intermittent earphone monitor. Obviously, her tech crew didn’t have a replacement, or perhaps she didn’t have her own tech people present. In either case, she was unprepared.
According to USA Today, Carey reportedly did not do a full rehearsal; others did. They did not have problems; she did. Anyone that tours can attest to the fact that a casual attitude toward rehearsal virtually always causes problems in performance.
Keep in mind too I’m taking Carey’s apparent complaint as the sole issue. However, watching video, it’s clear there were also on-stage monitors present. Her accompanying dancers seemed to hit every mark and had no difficulty staying on beat. This would inevitably seem to suggest they could clearly hear the music Carey claimed to be unable to hear. It’s possible Carey simply screwed up and wasn’t sufficiently focused. She certainly didn’t demonstrate the ability of professionals to cover, and recover from, mistakes. That’s one advantage professionals have over neophytes: everyone makes mistakes; pros cover them better.
Some have raised a stink about Carey’s lip-synching. Get over it. As long as it’s actually Carey singing–and it apparently was–and as long as it’s being done as a necessity of the occasion–and it apparently was–it’s no big deal. No one was paying for Carey’s performance; no fraud was involved. Is live better? Of course, but that’s not really the issue here.
Is there anything about which to be upset? Apparently, Carey did not take the performance–and the audience–seriously. Perhaps she has come to believe that anytime she takes a stage it is an event, not a performance, and audiences should be grateful for her mere presence.
What’s the difference? A performance takes attention to detail–as much rehearsal as required, iin-depth personal preparation and honest appreciation of the audience. An event is a star vehicle, an opportunity for adulation. Performers get to perform because audiences are willing to give their time and money to make performances possible. Carey’s behavior seems to indicate she thought herself an event, and when things didn’t go perfectly, she didn’t think she owed the audience anything. Exit diva, stage right.
There has been no apology to the audience, no recognition that the performer has primary responsibility for the success of any performance. Blaming others is not a smart move. True professionals are gracious, understanding people, people easy to work with. Divas are in another–much lower–class entirely.
If Dick Clark Productions is smart, Mariah Carey won’t be involved in any future New Years Eve productions. She won’t be involved in any of their future productions.
Mariah Carey does, from what I’ve been able to tell, have genuine talent as a singer and musician. But as the world learned at the beginning of 2017, she has something to learn about being a performer.