Mariah Carey made a triumphant (and sparkly) return to the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve stage Sunday night (Dec. 31), and it was beyond evident that the 47-year-old had one goal in mind upon ringing in 2018: Leave the now-infamous NYRE flub in 2017.
As she took the stage before cameras started rolling, Carey — dressed in a crystallized nude gown and elegant white fur coat — laughed off just how freezing it was in Times Square (10 degrees, -7 with windchill, to be exact) by giving eager fans a couple camera-made shots. “Let’s get some poses in while we wait,” she tells the main stage crowd with a half-shivering smile.
Despite clearly feeling the freeze, it was also easy to see that Carey was there to put the naysayers to rest. Once producers counted her into show time, Carey snapped out of her chill and into a roaring rendition of “Vision of Love.” Remaining stationary for the entire performance, Carey belted out every note (with a few minor crackles along the way) and allowed for her voice to shine — and show that she still has plenty of chops without the help of a backing track.
Of course, even an almost flawless Mariah performance wouldn’t be complete without a diva moment. After finishing “Vision of Love,” Carey hinted that a part of her stage setting was missing.
“I just want to take a sip of tea if they’ll let me — they told me there would be tea,” she said. “Oh, it’s a disaster. Okay, well we’ll just have to rough it. I’m going to be just like everybody else with no hot tea.”
Following up the quip with a brief appreciation for those who try to make the world “a more united planet,” Carey once again turned up the vocal valor with a run-filled performance of her angelic hit “Hero,” complete with a backing choir in white robes.
While Carey hit most of her notes and runs flawlessly, fans may have noticed that she toned down some of the more dynamic parts of the songs to cater to her lower register — something that further displayed her efforts to show she really was singing. And judging by the look on her face as the performance came to a close this year as opposed to last, no technical difficulties got in the way this time around. Even when the cameras stopped, Carey was all smiles and gushed “I love you” back to adoring fans.
As the most-hyped part of the four-hour special, Carey’s segment was easily the standout of the night. But it certainly didn’t make the rest of the night any less exciting, as recently reunited country duo Sugarland kicked things off with a medley of their biggest hits including “Stuck Like Glue,” “Baby Girl” and “Something More.” Although they didn’t debut any new material, the pair’s Jennifer Nettles promised that New Year’s Rockin’ Eve was just the beginning of Sugarland shows: “We’ll see you on the road in 2018!”
Camila Cabello only had time for one song during her appearance, but she made sure to make “Havana” a special — and impressive — moment. The 20-year-old worked her way around the stage as she delivered an energetic version of the Pop Songs-topping hit, taking her on-stage charisma beyond the cameras by engaging with fans as she came and went from the platform.
Filling the slot before Carey was Nick Jonas, who made his first Times Square NYRE appearance since 2009 when he and the Jonas Brothers played a medley of their hits. But while Jonas’ brothers were in attendance to watch, he did his own medley this time around starting with the Golden Globe-nominated “Home” — but not before snapping a pic with Ryan Seacrest prior to going live.
Like the rest of his fellow New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2018 performers, Jonas played off being absolutely freezing almost without notice (aside from sneaking on his gloves during the set-closing “Jealous”) and made sure to say hello to fans all around him. As soon as he was done singing, though, Jonas immediately ran for the gray puffy jacket waiting for him side-stage. Cabello, Sugarland and Carey surely made similar moves upon exiting the stage, well deserved after commendable subzero performances — whether they had something to prove or not.