While New Year’s Eve is usually celebrated around the globe, there wasn’t much joy for Mariah Carey at her Times Square performance last year.
The pop icon was performing as part of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest when her 1991 hit Emotions started. Carey began singing but stopped, telling her backup dancers to "just walk me down" the stairs. "We can't hear" she said. Throughout the rest of the cringeworthy moment, the singer walked around the stage and alternated between attempting to sing and explaining what was happening; all of which was on live TV.
After her performance, Fairfax Media reported that the singer report had blamed technical issues with an earpiece for her inability to hear and complete a planned three-song set. Carey's spokeswoman Nicole Perna was subsequently quoted by Billboard magazine as saying that producers had "set her up to fail."
Entertainment website E-Online.com reported Carey as having stated "We didn't have a check for this song"……………"So we'll just say, it went to number one, and that's what it is, OK?"
The website also quoted another entertainment media outlet, TMZ as saying that they had been told that Carey's camp insisted to producers 10 minutes before the performance, that the artist's earpiece was malfunctioning and she couldn't go out there with that piece of equipment. She had claimed that the producers had sent her out to perform anyway.
However, the producers fired back, blasting the accusation that they were to blame for Carey’s performance problems during the telecast. Dick Clark Productions (DCP) who produced the show, issued a statement challenging Carey's claims and suggested that DCP would never intentionally compromise the success of any artist and that any inference of such is “defamatory, outrageous and frankly absurd.”
DCP did acknowledge very rare instances where technical errors can occur with live television, but the initial investigation found that DCP were not behind the challenges associated with the singer’s performance and that there had been no rehearsal of some songs.
We may never know the real reason for the mishap, but it does reinforce the need for operational readiness testing and contingency planning. These are both concepts that are important for the continuity of live performance; and to ensure that an organisation, project, or production, is resilient to unforeseen problems.