Even if she carries on as if she’s living in her personal version of Candyland, Mariah Carey is acutely aware of the world around her, and more importantly, what the people who inhabit it make of whatever she’s doing at the time. So it was no coincidence when she took to Instagram to upload a video of herself singing with the caption, “Cleaning and warming up my voice.” Mariah was proving a point: that she can still hit those high notes that sound as if she is trying to start a conversation with a dolphin.
Her efforts are admirable, though those few seconds of high notes could not drown out the numerous headlines that have depicted Mariah as someone who not only can’t sing the way she used to, but can’t even remember the lyrics to her biggest hits. Just this week, there are reports of Mariah slashing ticket prices as a result of lackluster sales. The damage is done and the end result is apparent: “The Elusive Chanteuse Show” will be a blemish on her permanent record and viewed with the same disappointment as the late Whitney Houston’s last tour.
It comes on the heels of other bad news for Mariah Carey – sluggish sales for the superior album, Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse, and a pending divorce from husband, Nick Cannon.
2014 has not been the kindest to Mariah, but when it comes to her voice and its future, I reject the idea that all hope is lost.
Mariah may never be able to sing on the level she did at her peak, she can still sing – sing well in certain cases – and still has much to offer as a vocalist.
It’s evident even on this so-so tour she’s currently on. Though everyone has been shared the most abysmal performances, Mariah has since improved. Last week, she performed “My All” in Singapore and didn’t sound like she needed to make the kind of deal with Ariana Grande that Ursula, The Sea Witch once made with Ariel to stay afloat.
There are other examples proving Mariah is still a capable singer, including her impromptu performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this time last year. And in 2012, Mariah Carey did another impromptu performance at the Carlyle Jazz Club. As much as Mariah is known for her high notes, her lower register is just as impressive, and more importantly, as strong as ever other strengths start to fail her.
And even in failure, there is opportunity for Mariah. As wrong as it is for pop stars to be tossed aside the second they reach a certain age, Mariah is no ordinary pop singer. For an artist of her caliber, here is a chance to display an entirely different side of herself. If Lady Gaga can go off and do a jazz album with Tony Bennett as she seeks another strategy after the commercial failure of ARTPOP, why not Mariah? She’s more knowledgeable about the genre than Gaga is and would probably be rewarded handsomely for it both critically and commercially. After that, she can continue to go contemporary only with songs more accepting of her voice where it is now – think tracks like “Babydoll” and “The Roof.” Or you know, “Hood Mariah,” which is grossly under appreciated by the masses.
Such a move would require Mariah to truly embrace maturation, though. I imagine one of the reasons people have been particularly hard on Mariah’s voice no longer being as consistent an instrument as it once was is rooted in her always trying to convey perfection. From her pristine image at the beginning of her career to her unwavering allegiance to Adobe to craft the perfect images for an album cover – even if said images bear no resemblance to the person anymore.
But perfection has always had its limits, and after a while, seems futile. Mariah should angle to be exactly who she is at this moment. It can’t be any worse than what’s happening to her now.