Barbie-pink dress. Stunt cleavage. The kind of Disney-lashed eyes that make her look like her mother was shot by hunters in the woods. Every good diva needs as many personae as they have lawyers, and tonight, the message is loud, clear and stretched over eight octaves: here’s Mariah, at home in your bed whether as sleepover pal, sex bomb or cuddly toy.
Something for every taste. All bases covered in sentiment and lip gloss. Forget Geri‘s hamfisted schizoid pose, or Kylie‘s steely postmodernism – Carey‘s classy suggestiveness makes them look multi-faceted like Mike Yarwood. She grins. She blinks. She coos. “I love you too,” she says.
So you still don’t feel the need to read her innermost thoughts, but since her last British performance eight years ago, Mariah has edged ever so slightly closer to the realm of the interesting. No longer just the girl-next-door in an entirely different real estate bracket, she broke up with her husband-Svengali Tommy Mottola, developed new affiliations with Puff Daddy and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and by all accounts learnt to have a good time. The music might still be aural air freshener – the fabulously lachrymose ‘Petals’, ‘Crybaby’, savaged at the edges by Snoop, and ‘Sweet Fantasy’, with ODB leering down from the video screen like a vulture in a budgie’s cage, being notable exceptions – but there’s a certain compulsive allure in watching pure [I]Singin’ In The Rain[/I] showbiz glitz make a stiletto-heeled stab at credibility.
For all her hip-hop affiliations, her crowd-pleasing forays, she could no more keep it real than she would know how to buy a pint of milk at the corner shop. She drags fans onstage to eat fish and chips, keeps asking the audience what they think of her sparkly, could-feed-a-small-nation-for-a-year ‘ensembles’, even – with borderline lunacy – stages a boxing match between herself and her ‘evil twin’ Bianca. Yet we can get ‘the common touch’ on the tube home – now’s the time to see exactly what the altered ego can do.
Yes, it’s a show. Yes, it goes on. Yes, we’re crossing off the days in blood until Godspeed! arrive – but sometimes, you know, you just want to forget the apocalypse and see some nice dresses. That, in all its shallow, vapid, evil glory, is entertainment. That’s Mariah.