Mariah Carey has had a tumultuous year: She's dealt with rumors of divorce from Nick Cannon, her husband of five years; her most recent studio album failed to perform like the superstar had hoped; and after a string of so-so live performances, many feared that the singer had lost her voice.
On Tuesday evening, Carey's fans and admirers, both young and old, made their way to the Beacon Theater in New York City for her holiday show, "All I Want for Christmas Is You: A Night of Festivity and Joy," the second show of a six-night run that the singer will be performing at the venue. Though the pressure was on, Carey managed to deliver superb vocals and spread Yuletide joy all while reminding fans of her one true love: her music.
The show began around 8:15 p.m. The lights dimmed, and the crowd began to wail in anticipation. Moments later, the red curtain that had been shielding the audience from Carey's radiance lifted, and the superstar was revealed wearing a sleek and sparkling white gown, a massive choir in her wake.
The first song of the night, the holiday standard "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," appeared on her best-selling 1994 Christmas album Merry Christmas. Carey belted through the song effortlessly, and she continued this momentum throughout the night. From there, Carey made her way through "Charlie Brown Christmas," a song from her second holiday album, Merry Christmas II You, released in 2010. She wowed the audience again, exhibiting impeccable breath control while dancing along with her backup dancers. During the hour-and-a-half show, enough merriment filled the building to make even the Grinch smile.
Recently, Carey's live performances have been criticized for falling short of the stratospheric standards the singer set in her heyday. But, as much as it may pain some fans to admit, the '90s are gone. The voice is an organic instrument, and there were moments during Tuesday night's festive concert when Carey adapted her classic songs for the voice she has now, which, though still magnificent in tone and range, had lost some of its luster. This was most noticeable when Carey sang "Joy to the World." While the performance was beautifully sung, Carey didn't tear into it in the way she may have 20 years ago.
When Carey wasn't singing, she was either joking with fans, giggling with backup dancers, or displaying a few of the "diva" quips for which she has become known. She walked the length of the stage several times during the night embracing her fans' outstretched arms and saying how much she appreciated everyone for coming out to the show.
Although Christmas was definitely the theme of the night, Carey snuck in a few non-holiday surprises. She performed two of her classic '90s hits: The crowd erupted when she sang a rousing rendition of "Emotions," lifted from 1991 album of the same name, and she delivered an emotional performance of her song "Hero," which appeared on Music Box, released in 1993.
The last song of the night was "All I Want for Christmas Is You." The modern classic jingle started, and the audience, still reeling from the excitement of singing "Hero," looked to Carey gleefully — it was the moment everyone had been waiting for. The much faulted performance at Rockefeller Center was immediately forgotten. The song went off without a hitch and the audience happily sang along to every word.
On Tuesday night, Carey reminded fans of one critical thing: her talent. Big hair comes and goes, flashy gowns eventually go out of style, but as long as Carey's voice remains, she'll always have a saving grace. So will the rest of us.