Mariah Carey

Tues Dec 9

Schnitzer Hall

She has won Grammies. Her phenomenal voice has more range than Paris Hilton. She has guest-starred with everyone in the entire universe who has ever been remotely famous and/or talented, including platinum-pushing artists P-Diddy, Jay-Z, Boyz II Men, Busta Rhymes, Usher, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Ja Rule, Ludacris, Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg, Mystikal, Jadakiss, and Fabolous. She has great hair. And still, all anyone can talk about is that one episode of TRL, where she was pushing the hot-dog cart, handing out Popsicles, and waving gleefully to a stunned-dumb Carson Daly.

Obviously, folks are really into Mariah Carey, Version 2.Crazy.

In 2002, she was one of the first heads to hit the chopping block in the great major-label downsizing, being "released" from her record deal with Virgin for a reported 28 million dollars. In 2001, after the filming of Glitter (one of the greatest bad movies of all time), she checked into the loco-pokey for what her publicist called an "emotional breakdown."

And this is the reason Mariah Carey is one of the greatest pop phenomena of all time. Before, she certainly had a secure home in the canon of R&B/hiphoppy dance hits. But, because of her foibles, she became an icon--a Liza Minelli or a Liz Taylor or even a Michael Jackson, minus the creepy shit. And it's not because people like to see our heroes fail (though there is that). No--the less cynical observer might point out that it's incredibly humanizing to see such a giant talent with massive starpower take a nose-dive down the ski slopes of sanity. Mariah Carey, finally, is just like you and me--one bottle away from a permanent placement program on the Isle of OxyContin. And that, my friends, is a populist hero.