Mariah Carey’s voice box was an unassailable, unrelenting, and undisputable force at the peak of her career in the ‘90s.
Acclaimed for her five-octave vocal range and signature use of whistle-register, this Songbird Supreme – a title given by the Guinness World Records – has inspired countless vocalists around the world: From wannabe singers belting out “Through The Rain” on competitions to teenage girls humming “Always Be My Baby” into hairbrush.
In recent years, however, countless videos of Mariah failing and struggling to hit vocal acrobatics have flooded the internet. Has the star lost her X-Factor?
Well, not in Manila over the weekend during which fans were treated to a Mariah show as part of her “The Butterfly” Asian tour. The show had all the vocal calisthenics the diva is known for and done so confidently too.
She opened the show with a medley of “Fly Away,” “Honey,” “Shake It Off,” and “Make It Happen.” Even then it was clear the Elusive Chanteuse remains in the palace of vocal royalty.
As expected, Mariah sauntered off stage for several costume changes, taking at least 10 minutes to switch from a sparkly fringe sequin, followed by a sleek sheer gold sheath capped with a white-silver long gown accented by a feather train.
While at it, she was flanked by nimble back up dancers and singers. Of course, the “Butterfly” was definitely meant to showcase Mariah as the all-encompassing entertainer, but the backups are also worthy of praise. Added to the set list were “Fantasy,” “Always Be My Baby,” “Vision Of Love,” “Beautiful,” “It’s Like That,” and “My All.”
Mariah hollered: “It’s nice to be back here” and “Mabuhay, Manila!” She also talked about her new album then sang her latest song, “With You.”
The trademark adlibs, riffs and runs were found in “Emotion.” Fans went wild everytime she went for full whistling glory. However, Mariah seemed rigid with such exuberant songs. We wanted her to be more out of control and flexible rather than just walking here and there onstage.
Going back to her vocal performance, the 48-years-old American singer brought her longtime backup and musical director on stage. They performed “One Sweet Day,” which Mariah originally recorded with R&B vocal group Boyz II Men.
She followed with “Can’t Let Go,” which is a “fan favorite,” she said. The song peaked at No.2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1992. Mariah’s 2018 rendition was in mid-tempo and showcased her low notes as if it were art.
The singer-songwriter was obviously delighted to have more flexibility with the setlist, touching on routine blends Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” with her own party-ish track “Heartbreaker” from her seventh studio album “Rainbow.”
Though Mariah brought only one lucky fan onstage during “Touch My Body,” it was marked moment. When she began humming her 2005 smash hit, “We Belong Together,” a gay man next to me stood up, live streamed himself, and sang: “Boy come back baby please because we belong together.” Mascara got streaky, you bet.
For her final song, Mariah did “Hero.” Regarded as one of her most inspirational and personal ballads, it’s about looking inside to find strength.
So that in time, we “find the way.”
Being the diva of her stature, Mariah always has the last say.