"The Voice. The Hits. The Tour." The tagline for Mariah Carey's Adventures of Mimi tour has it exactly right. The Voice! That swooping crane of a voice, the very same that nailed the high E in 1991's "Emotion," which was an actual event in the world of people who care about that sort of thing. The Hits! The arsenal of perfect pop cupcakes, with My Little Pony names such as "Daydream," "Honey," "Dreamlover," "Hero" and "Butterfly," each highly catchy single supplemented by the cheesecake-y-est of videos, unself-conscious diva-glam buffets of hair and thick legs, and unadulterated sparkle. The Tour! Where else could Mariah, the queen of Top 40 queens, shine as brightly as a live performance, featuring real vocals and a boggling number of cleave-focused outfits?
Mariah Carey is like Oz. We know less about her comings and goings than most entertainers who are half as successful. She's had essentially the same personal and musical style for years—seriously, who else rocks the honey-blond ringlets anymore? It's quite possible she lives in a land beyond our own (New Jersey?), pounding away behind some velvet curtain. She's definitely a goer—she's on tour for three months, singing her songs, grinding with the dancers and emphasizing her vibrato with the signature Mariah finger-flutter. And—lest we forget the dark cloud that settled over Barbie's Dream House a while back—when her movie bombed, her label bought out her contract and her appearance on MTV's Total Request Live was deemed c-c-crazy by the press, it shook Mariah's pink pedestal a bit. Of course, it took only a couple of years and some hip-hop to get Mariah thumping inside the collective consciousness again. It's hard to keep a good diva down.
The newest album, The Emancipation of Mimi, speaks to the kind of personal freedom one can achieve after releasing 13 albums about boyfriends. It's also the best-selling album of 2005—every track is quality because girl is sincere. It's comforting to know Mariah is the kind of fairy princess who is just crazy enough to believe.
Mariah Carey with Busta Rhymes at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2500. Sun., 7:30 p.m. $19.50-$129.