The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mariah in form, thanks to J. Lo

Washington, Aug. 8: Mariah Carey strutted to the stage of Merriweather Post Pavilion, Washington DC, like a boxer on the way to a pay-per-view brawl.

Surrounded by bodyguards, she walked down an aisle and past a few hundred gaping fans, a spotlight following her every step. She looked tanned, fit and ready to throttle a few ballads until they begged for mercy.

The source of this bravado' Hard to know, but by the zero-sum logic of divadom, Mariah is having a fabulous week.

Her main competitor, J. Lo, is reeling from the cinematic stinker Gigli, which has been befouling theatres since the weekend. The reviews and box office are bad enough to rival Glitter, the cinematic star vehicle that Carey crashed two years ago. Before she could wobble from the debris, Virgin, her label at the time, announced that it would rather pay her a $28 million kiss-off fee than release another of her albums. Then there was a semi-coherent cameo on MTV’s Total Request Live and Carey was soon under what the tabloids tastefully called “psychiatric care.”

But this five-octave beauty wasn’t the best-selling female artist of the Nineties for nothing. Signed to a new label and back on tour, Carey on Tuesday night was once again a bombshell coquette with a supernaturally supple voice and a smile that says: “All this, for me'” At moments she leaned too heavily on a large cast of backup singers and dancers, who occasionally made the performance seem like a summer stock musical. But whatever the cause — steely professionalism, newfound confidence, Gigli — Carey looked and sounded radiant.

The crowd was ardent but underwhelming. The lawn was virtually empty and there were dozens of empty seats in the amphitheatre. Mediocre sales of her last album, Charmbracelet, might have something to do with it, too. Just over 1 million copies have been sold, a fraction of her most popular work.

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