The singer’s three-song set began promising enough with “Auld Lang Syne,” but went downhill with “Emotion” and “We Belong Together.” Carey claimed during the latter that she couldn’t hear through her monitors. The situation quickly devolved in front of 1 million revelers and a worldwide television audience on ABC.
Carey took the evening’s performance seriously, rehearsing the night before the show for three hours, according to her representatives. She then rehearsed at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with “no sound issues.”
“She was not ‘winging’ this moment and took it very seriously,” BWR-PR’s Nicole Perna tells Billboard. “A shame that production set her up to fail.”
The rep says Carey alerted production and the stage managers that her ear piece was not working. “They told her it would be fine once she was on stage,” she says. “However, that was not the case and they were again told that her ear piece was not working. Instead of endeavoring to fix the issue so that Mariah could perform, they went live.”
Carey was intent on honoring her commitment and therefore took the stage, essentially “flying blind,” the rep continues. As for singing to a track, “it is not uncommon for artists to sing to track during certain live performances.”
Adds the rep, “Any allegations that she planned to lip sync are just adding insult to injury.”
But a production source paints a different picture, telling Billboard that Carey, “Had ample time to rehearse and chose not to.” The insider adds that Carey used a body double to rehearse in her place earlier on New Year’s Eve day and that, even though the singer did not do a vocal run-through, “all was working” on the technical side.
“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.”
Speaking to the New York Times, audio producer Robert Goldstein of Maryland Sound International, which worked on the event, said, “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.”
Any claim of sabotage for ratings, as TMZ alluded to in a story published New Year’s Day, “Doesn’t make sense,” says the production source, emphasizing that Dick Clark Productions’ foremost concern is the artist. “Why would they risk the reputation of a company that’s been around since 1957?”
Billboard has reached out to Perna and Carey’s manager Stella Bulochnikov for further comment.