Mariah Carey’s performance during this year’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special was so terrible that many are claiming there could be no more fitting end to the notoriously toxic year that was 2016.
However, Mariah’s team is refusing to let the pop diva fall prey to the jaws of the unlucky year without giving up a bit of a fight — even if they’re forced to blame the entire incident on conspiracies.
Although Mariah sent out a lighthearted (albeit chagrined) tweet following the performance, saying “Sh*t happens,” Carey’s manager, Stella Bulochnikov, was quick to claim that the whole debacle was an act of intentional sabotage by Dick Clark Productions, the production team behind the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show. The manager claims that Carey’s ear pieces were malfunctioning throughout the rehearsal and the performance, which ultimately led to chaos when Mimi was unable to hear her backing track.
“We told (the stage managers) that the in-ears were not working 10 minutes before the performance,” Bulochnikov said in a statement to Billboard. “They then changed the battery pack, and they were still not working on the frequency four minutes before the show. We let them know again, and they just kept counting her down and reassuring her that they will work as soon as they go live, which never happened.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Bulochnikov explained that, once Mariah went onstage with the malfunctioning ear pieces, she was forced to take them out:
She pulls them out of the ear because if the artist keeps them in their ears then all she hears is silence. 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 that point, there’s no way to recover.
Bulochnikov says that after the disastrous performance, she called Mark Shimmel, the producer and head of talent management, and engaged in a rather frank phone conversation:
This is a verbatim conversation. I asked, “What happened?” He said, “I just talked to my guys and I confirmed her in-ears didn’t work. Couldn’t she just wing it?” I’m like, “What are you talking about ‘winging it’? Are you on glue?” He’s like, “What do you want me to do?” I said, “I want you to cut the West Coast feed.” He calls me back and says, “We can’t do it.” So I’m like, “You would prefer to air a show with technical glitches so you can have a viral moment rather than protect the integrity of your show and Dick Clark Productions?” He said, “We just won’t do it. Do you want to do a joint statement?” And I said, “No, I want you to go f— yourself.” And that was it.
For what it’s worth, Dick Clark Productions says that it did not play any part in Mariah’s unsatisfactory performance, and is denying any blame.
“To suggest that DCP… 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,” Dick Clark Productions said in a statement. “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.”
Bulochnikov is sticking to her guns, though, claiming that the entire production company had its heart set on creating a “viral moment” out of Carey’s misfortune.
“They wanted a viral moment at any expense. And that’s not a company with integrity for 50-something years. That’s not who Dick Clark was. He loved artists.”
As for accusations that Carey was trying to lip-sync her way through the performance? Bulochnikov says that the situation was a bit more nuanced.
“It’s not lip-syncing. Lip-syncing is when people don’t sing at all,” she tells Entertainment Weekly. “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. What Mariah was doing was singing to tracks.”
So, was the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve performance simply an inept performance on Carey’s part (perish the thought!), or were there a myriad of technical glitches that contributed to the worst performance of the year?
We’ll never truly know, but my guess is: probably a little bit of both.