NEW YORK • Mariah Carey suffered a performance train wreck in Times Square on New Year's Eve as malfunctions left her at a loss vocally during her hit song Emotions, struggling to reach notes and to sync the lyrics and music.
The trouble continued when she gave up on another of her bestknown numbers, We Belong Together, while a recording of the song continued to play, a confirmation that she had been lip-synching.
But on Sunday, a dispute erupted between her representatives and producers of ABC's Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest, on which she was performing.
Carey's manager, Ms Stella Bulochnikov, charged that the show's producers had been aware of technical problems, but did not fix them - and chose to continue showing Carey's messy performance "to get ratings".
"I will never know the truth, but I do know that we told them three times that her mike pack was not working and it was a disastrous production," Ms Bulochnikov told Us Weekly on Sunday.
"I'm certainly not calling the FBI to investigate. It is what it is: New Year's Eve in Times Square. Mariah did them a favour. She was the biggest star there and they did not have their act together."
Dick Clark Productions, which produced the show, said in a statement that Carey's performance woes had nothing to do with the production and that any suggestion that the company "would 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," the statement said, adding that an initial investigation suggested that the production company "had no involvement in the challenges associated with Ms Carey's New Year's Eve performance".
Veteran audio producer Robert Goldstein of Maryland Sound International, a company that has worked on the Times Square event for years, also said in an e-mail that there had been no malfunctions with the sound equipment he oversaw.
"Every monitor and in-ear device worked perfectly," he said. "I can't comment beyond that and don't know what her non-technical issue may have been."
It was a rare meltdown on national television by Carey, a pop phenomenon in the 1990s who won five Grammys out of 34 nominations over the years. The final pre-midnight act on the ABC show, she had just finished Auld Lang Syne when her star turn began to spiral out of control.
"We can't hear," she said in the opening seconds of her 1991 hit Emotions after she sashayed down the stage before more than one million people who had gathered to watch the ball drop in New York.
Standing still with her left hand on her hip while music played, Carey told the audience that there had not been a proper sound check before her performance.
"We'll just sing," she said, and noted proudly of her song: "It went to No. 1."
But she could not manage the notes that followed and either forgot the lyrics or did not want to deliver a subpar performance.
"We're missing some of these vocals, but it is what it is," she said. "Let the audience sing."
ABC quickly cut to shots of the crowd as she tried to perform some of her choreography. She continued suggesting fixes from the stage and, at one point, seemed to defend herself. "I'm trying to be a good sport here," she said.
When the number ended, the crowd cheered her on. "That was", she said, pausing for effect, "amazing."
She seemed to recover with her 2005 hit We Belong Together, but there appeared to be another malfunction.
She dropped her hand-held microphone to her side and the song went on playing, revealing that she might have been only lip-synching.
"It just don't get any better," she said, and then left the stage.
Twitter erupted in response. Several tweets compared her to the disgraced pop duo Milli Vanilli, who lost their Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990 when it emerged they had never sung on their records.
The cause of Sunday's problem was not immediately clear. After the performance, Carey posted "S**t happens" on Twitter with an "upset" emoji, adding, "Have a happy and healthy new year everybody! Here's to making more headlines in 2017".
Her spokesman said there was no lip-synching.
"It is not uncommon for artists to sing to track during certain live performances," Ms Nicole Perna said in a statement. Carey's earpiece was not working before or during the performance and technicians could not fix it, but she took the stage anyway "essentially flying blind" so she could honour a commitment, Ms Perna added.
An ABC spokesman on Sunday said the network would not comment on the problems with Carey's performance.