Mariah Carey's Live 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center' Performance Draws Mixed Reviews

Mariah Carey performs at the 2014 World Music Awards
Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Mariah Carey performs at the 2014 World Music Awards at Sporting Club in Monaco, Monte Carlo, on 27 May 2014. 

Plus: Matt Lauer and his co-hosts acknowledge the Eric Garner grand jury decision and nearby protests during the tree-lighting special.

There are a lot of classic Christmas songs, but Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is easily the biggest holiday hit of the past two decades. So it only makes sense that, on the track's 20th anniversary, Carey would kick off NBC's annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center special.

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Carey was set to record her performance Tuesday night, but she reportedly missed the scheduled show taping and had to do it live Wednesday night (Dec. 3) instead. Watch her show opener here:

When Carey performs the song, she's held up to the standard of a studio vocal recorded 20 years ago, so on a few occasions, she opted to sing lower runs than what was on the sky-high original. She did go for it on the two biggest notes at the end, and Twitter lit up after the performance -- with some jumping on the rocky performance, and other jumping to her defense. Here's a sampling of the snap judgments:

Additionally, the Concourse posted video of her isolated, unedited vocal track during the live performance, calling it "awful." That's up for debate, but you can hear Carey's voice cracking at a few points. 

Carey wasn't the night's only performer: She was followed up by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett performing a very jazzy version of "Winter Wonderland," with their now-signature mid-song banter. A cappella stars Pentatonix sang "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," from their brand-new Christmas album, while Prince Royce brought "Jingle Bell Rock." Idina Menzel surprisingly didn't whip up a holiday-themed version of her Frozen hit by turning "Let It Go" into "Let It Snow," instead singing "Holly Jolly Christmas." Trisha Yearwood had the final performance of the night, before the massive tree was lit up.

While the show was taped on Tuesday, Today show anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales were live in Rockefeller Center to host the show, hours after the controversial grand jury decision not to bring charges in the death of Eric Garner. While no protesters made it into the live shots, the hosts acknowledged nearby protests and the day's decision near the end of the special. "We hope it will be a healthy and joyous and a peaceful holiday season for everyone," Lauer said.