The fallout over Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance on ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest continues.
During the program, Carey’s live TV showcase -- a performance of “Auld Lang Syne,” “Emotions” and “We Belong Together” -- was plagued by technical difficulties, leaving the singer stranded on stage as it was revealed she was lip synching. The singer played it off, joking with the audience as ABC cut to shots of the crowd.
An eyewitness in Times Square tells ET that it was clear something was wrong: "She just stood there and didn't even try to play it off," adding that "everyone in the media section just looked at each other and started cringing."
Following the performance, Carey tweeted that “sh*t happens,” while her reps told ET “there unfortunately was nothing she could do to continue with the performance given the circumstances.” At the time Dick Clark Productions and ABC had no comment.
But what should have been a standout event to welcome in the New Year has turned into a headache for all those involved as the two sides address accusations of sabotage.
According to a source close to Carey, the singer was having trouble with her inner earpiece, an issue she made aware to production. But Carey was told to go on.
“Mariah noticed something was wrong,” Stella Bulochnikov, Carey’s manager, tells ET. “She told the stage manager. They changed the mic pack out twice for her inner ear. And they told her that the frequency was off but that it would be on when she got on the stage.”
While unable to hear host Ryan Seacrest during their interview, production assured the singer that everything would be fine during the performance. However, as soon as “Emotions” started, Carey could be heard on TV saying “we can’t hear” as she attempted to sing the hit song. By the time she got to “We Belong Together,” Carey was out of sync with the music and lyrics, eventually dropping her handheld microphone to her side as the song continued to play.
The moment left Seacrest in shock. “[He] didn’t know what to do,” a source close to production for New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest tells ET, claiming that Carey refused to do sound check.
“She’s Mariah Carey. She did everything she needed to do at rehearsals,” Bulochnikov says. “Everything was fine at rehearsals.”
While a source close to Carey says it’s not uncommon for artists to sing to a track during certain live performances, allegations of lip synching are insulting.
“I don't think Mariah was deliberately set up to fail but they had major technical glitches,” Bulochnikov says. “And their decision not to cut to commercial or cut the performance out of the west coast feed is in a way sabotaging as they wanted a viral moment.”
While Dick Clark Productions initially had no comment, it issued a response on Sunday.
“As the premier producer of live television events for nearly 50 years, we pride ourselves on our reputation and long-standing relationships with artists,” a statement from Dick Clark Productions reads. “To suggest that Dick Clark Productions, as producer of music shows including the American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and Academy of Country Music Awards, 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 Dick Clark Productions had no involvement in the challenges associated with Ms. Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance,” Dick Clark Productions’ statement continues, defending the production against accusations of deliberate sabotage. “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.”
However, this is where the two camps remain squarely divided.
“Dick Clark Productions should have made every effort to create a more professional and less chaotic atmosphere for an artist of Mariah's stature,” Carey’s manager says. “They were not prepared her. And she did not have her own technical team for this performance.”
As for Carey, while a source close to ET said she was upset, she’s shifted focus to upcoming commitments. The singer is scheduled to headline the Dubai Jazz Festival and to tour with Lionel Richie, starting in March.