|Mariah Carey and the stage set up for her ABC Christmas Special|
2)O Little Town Of Bethlehem / Little Drummer Boy Medley
3)Oh holy night.
4)Here Comes Santa Claus/ Housetop Celebration
5)Charlie Brown Christmas
6)When Christmas Comes:
7)O Joy to the World
8)Christmas time is in the air again:
9)O Come All Ye Faithful/Hallelujah Chorus
Mariah Carey's Christmas Special extravaganza aired on the ABC Network yesterday- much to my excitement- and contained material from both Merry Christmas ii you and Merry Christmas.
The show was clearly a high budget affair, with a stage that was decorated beautifully with trees, lights and plenty of glitter. The production also featured a live band, a strings section, a choir and occasional dancers, as well guest appearances from Randy Jackson and her mother, Patricia Carey.
There was some trepidation from me in viewing these performances because, as commented on in my review of Merry Christmas ii you, I had suspicions that some of the vocals on the album may have been enhanced with studio magic, especially when compared to the voice found on her last album Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel. However, not ready to 100% believe that little voice of doubt in the back of my head, I deferred a conclusive opinion until I'd heard Mariah attempt to sing the songs live.
Videos and Reviews From Mariah Carey's ABC Christmas Special 2010:
Oh Santa:Best performance of Oh Santa yet. Surprisingly the whistle at 1.49, which i thought was auto-tuned on the album due to its odd trajectory up and down the scale and tinny quality, may not have been so. She sings it almost exactly the same here but changes it a bit by stopping it on an earlier note to allow her to catch her breath.
O Little Town Of Bethlehem / Little Drummer Boy Medley: The crowd rose to their feet after this rousing rendition, but surely those belts were too pristine to be live, right? At 2.53 is an example of why this performance is making me waver when trying to decide if this was lipped or not. Much of the vocal is clearly live but sounds so in keeping with the tone and texture of the the belt that leads up to it-which I suspect is lipped- that I don't quite know what to think .
Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)/Housetop Celebration:Randy Jackson joined Mariah on stage for my least liked song on the album. Performance was vocally on point and the crowd seemed to enjoy it, getting up to dance. The hamming up of her actions on certain parts screams "lipped".
Charlie Brown Christmas: Just Mariah and no backing vocals to fall back on or blend into.Fully live, fully awesome. Perfect example of the improvement in texture and quality of Mariah's whisper register.
When Christmas Comes:"It's Christmas right?" love the contrast at 1.52 between Mariah's low, thick, alto speaking voice and the light, bright, whistle note that follows. The belts are lipped but Mariah gets a "get out of jail free" card for this since it contains a lot of high and sustained belts that could have exhausted her voice mid-way through the show.
O Joy to the World: Loved the arrangement and the vocals were strong and almost effortless, but you can see they were live with mistakes such as 1.55 where the note didn't quite make it out. My favourite performance of the song after her BET performance a few years back.
Christmas time is in the air again: A live performance that is virtually a copy of the studio version.The high noted "time" at 2.25 going off key for a split second is for anyone who doesn't think it is.
Patricia Carey's voice was stunning, and she made singing looking effortless-especially in contrast to Mariah, who was making some odd faces in the introduction as she navigated her voice- but you'd expect no less from a retired opera singer.Mariah and Mother need to record an album together.Nuff said.
Conclusion:This ABC special proved something important. It wasn't that she could hit practically ever note, but more the improvement of the quality of the live voice that was doing the hitting. It sounds well
But there were still suspicions in the back of my mind that parts of the vocals had been pre-recorded. For every small crack in the voice and off note that showed it was live, there was a high E or F that was so strong and consistent that it couldn't have possibly been live if going on recent performances.
Live or not, the most important thing is that Mariah Carey convinced me that the vocals on the Merry Christmas ii you album were all hers, and unaided by studio wizardry.