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Mariah Melts Down; Madonna Disappoints

 Mariah Carey | Madonna | Michael Jackson   

Message From Mariah: Is She Melting Down?

Mariah Carey is well known for the messages she leaves on her Web site. They consist of phone calls she makes to a fan, who then posts them with her approval.

But this morning, around 2:30 a.m., a new message was posted, then another one a bit later. They're both long, so hang in there. They make it sound like Carey's having problems getting her herself grounded. (The Associated press reported Thursday afternoon that Mariah Carey checked herself into a hospital due to exhaustion. Her spokeswoman said she could not say at which hospital the star was receiving treatment.)

Carey's latest single, "Loverboy," is a bust, and her new album and movie are due August 30th. Based on the response to "Loverboy," she is obviously worried. What she needs is a real support staff of professionals, and I hope she chooses them soon.

Nancy Berry, to whom Mariah refers, runs Virgin Records. She's currently seeking a divorce from husband Ken Berry, the big cheese at EMI, who oversees his ex. 

Message 1: 

"So basically all I really wanna say is I don't know what's going on with life, and I hope all the fans are good and I just want you to know that I'm trying to understand things in life right now and so I really don't feel that I should be doing music right now.

And I just want everyone to understand that, and that's really true so if I don't make music it's not because I don't want to for you fans. And, if I... [sigh] I have two phones in my ear. I'm not sounding defeated because I'm not defeated, I'm just gonna do this for me, and I know that the people who care about me will care about me.

But I just can't trust anybody anymore right now because I don't understand what's going on. So, because I'm desperately trying to get out of this room. And I don't know if that makes any sense to anybody, but the truth is that I'm calling to say that I love you to my fans, I'm not gonna be... are you gonna be... Glitter is gonna be out soon. And you're gonna have that, and I'm gonna be taking some time off. 

I can't reach Nancy Berry so I'd like to say Nancy, I will record and stuff, it's just that I needed some time off but nobody was really giving it to me. And I feel that that's only because of [coughs] the situation that we've been dealing with for awhile and that my managers were a little upset about it and they were trying to press on and get through it, but that didn't work, and so it's nobody's fault really it's just that I got... I worked it into a bad place and I'm not trying to have any bad comments around anybody by telling people's names.

And, well, what I'd like to do is just take a little break or at least get one night of sleep without someone popping up about a video or a thing where all I really want to do is just be me and that's what I should've done in the first place but somebody... I mean people... whatever I allowed myself to be a little bit too paranoid about life. And life is for living so... that's how deep this is.

So if anybody gets this that really cares, just do me a favor, close the record... close the management company down that I own, and I'm gonna lie here and wait for that to happen. Not that anybody cares, it probably sounds ridiculous. But, I can't reach anybody on the phone so actually, that's where we're at. 

So fans I love ya, we're gonna do it again, we're gonna do it, we're gonna make, and if I take a little time off that's cool. And that's all I'm saying, lambs, you know how I love you. And everything's great. Alright? Bye."

Message 2: 

["Crybaby" plays] "Hello? Randalph? Oh, Randalph? OK we'll try this again.

Hey everybody it's Mariah. I'm just trying to let you know that I'm leaving this message because everything's OK. And what we're gonna do is I'm gonna take like a minute off. And then what's gonna happen is... you're gonna see the movie and things of that nature.

So don't think anything's crazy if there's anything bizarre going on with the Internet or any of that stuff. Honestly I'm not paying any attention to any of that. I'm ready to take off my pager. And you know how I am. So what I want to do is to let you know that everything's cool. And that... Hello? Randalph? And that I'm gonna make music for you but right now I need a break so I will, as a human being, take that break. And then I'm going to come back and sing for a minute, after I get my management company put together and after there are some other issues so... OK? So thank you, nothing's wrong, you don't have to do anything to anybody. 

And I know I don't say this that much, but guess what, I don't take care of myself, and I feel that it's a little disguisting that people can't understand that a celebrity is not more important than, and this is not gonna make much sense but, than my friend's little girl and her safety.

That's all I care about basically. And some other personal issues. And honestly this is not for anything other than the fact that I care about my fans. And I'm telling you this, and I would like to walk out of a hotel with some dignity.

So, that being said, you guys know how random my message is anyway, so I love ya, and we're gonna do it again OK? And there's nothing to be upset about, we still win, if you win spiritually you win anyway. OK, I hope this message gets to them, no I pray, actually let me say something, just hold on. Anyways... [cuts off]"

Madonna Is Not Ready For Her Close-Up 

Madonna opened her series of shows last night at Madison Square Garden completely unlike a virgin. Nothing seemed really new or even exciting. It was a mixed bag, performed in front of a largely celebrity-free crowd. Spotted in the area near the stage were Katie Couric, Gwen Stefani, Beck, and some lesser lights. Clearly the news that the famous would have to pay $250 a seat did not attract those who are used to freebies. 

This reporter, however, and a few others, did get free seats, albeit the $128 rear-of-the-house ones. Would I have paid the same amount to see the show? It's a question I've been wrestling with all night. Rarely have I been to a concert by a superstar in which the collection of songs meant less to me. And for Madonna to be boring — well, that's a story I never thought I'd live to tell. 

There's no denying Madonna's magnetism, determination and inventiveness. When she reached her saturation point around the time of Truth or Dare in 1991, she could do no wrong. She managed to pull herself up by the bootstraps from Detroit and become the single biggest celebrity since Liz Taylor

But Madonna has actually made a lot of music, and I'll bet the folks who go to the "Drowned World" tour would like to hear some of it. Unfortunately, they won't. What you do get is the ADD version of Madonna, splintered among several cultures, saddled with busy stage work and choreography that seems better suited to Spinal Tap

But I don't want to be a Grumpy Old Guy here. There were some terrific moments in the under two hour show. In particular: the psychedelic "Beautiful Stranger" from Austin Powers; "Don't Tell Me," done cowboy-style, was like a breath of fresh air by the time it was performed; "La Isla Bonita" featured a Spanish dancer and truly inspired lighting that showed Madonna off at her best, and "Holiday," one of her very first hits, was performed with a sense of humor and joy that were missing from the other songs. 

What can you do about a show in which there are sections divided into punk, country and western, geisha and Spanish? During the punk part, Madonna — now 43 and worth tens of millions of dollars — continually used the "f" word and gave the audience the finger. I didn't know how to take this. Shouldn't we be giving her the finger? Who's she mad at? The audience that made her so rich? The Establishment (capital E) that provided the means for her wealth? I was little confused. 

Elsewhere in the show, Madonna performed some kind of tribute to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and also some Kabuki (I think). She also had a Dolly Parton section, which was the only time she addressed the audience, but in a parody of Dolly's voice. How odd. 

Indeed, Madonna didn't really speak to the audience and never introduced any of the performers or band members. This made the large supporting cast seem superfluous. It was also hard to determine what, if any, musicians were involved in the show since they were almost completely hidden from view. Much of the music seemed pre-programmed anyway, and that may have been the problem. 

Strangely disconcerting as well were the videos and the video screens. I don't know who directed the cameras, but not once during the show was Madonna given a close-up. Considering that fashion is her strong suit, you'd think we'd really see her on those screens. But her face was largely obscured, or the pullbacks were so wide it was hard to make her out. There were so many people on stage, with Madonna not at the center of the action, that this great performer was actually lost a couple of times in the crowd. 

When acrobatic dancers were hanging from pulleys on either side, one person whispered, "They look like the dead chickens in the window of a Chinese restaurant." 

Would I pay $128 to hear and see Madonna perform her hits plus some new stuff? You betcha. In the end, though, not for this. 

Let's give her the benefit of the doubt, though. Madonna returned to the U.S. with some problems at hand. For one thing, her record company, Maverick, is about to be folded into Warner Bros. Many execs have been pink-slipped and the label, which thrived on Alannis Morissette for some time, has stopped producing hits. Maybe her mind is somewhere else other than performing. I just hope she comes to her senses soon. I miss the real Madonna. 

Will Michael Rock Our World Soon? 

Michael Jackson's first single from Invincible is called "Rock My World." It was supposed to be released to radio on July 30. Then it got moved to August 6. Now no one associated with Jackson seems sure about what's happening with the record. 

Yesterday, message-posters on velvetrope.com got into a debate about whether or not there was a sample of "Rock My World" on the Internet. That fight is raging right now. What does seem clear is that all of this is Invincible is still under construction. That doesn't leave much time for Sony to take orders, make the CDs and jewel cases, and get the thing into stores for September 25.

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