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Mariah Carey: Around The World

review by Ren C.

Not Rated

Studio: Sony/Columbia

Running Time: 60 Minutes

Starring Mariah Carey

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Biography, Discography, Promotional Videos

Specs: 1.33:1 Standard, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles

Being certified as the top selling female act of the 1990's, Mariah Carey has long since proven her validity as an artist. In 1998, she released the album "#1's", containing each of the twelve number one singles that she had attained to that point. This program focuses on that period, which included the release of that album, and a concert tour that quite literally took Carey around the world.

Part concert video, and part travelogue, throughout the course of the program, Carey is shown in Australia, Japan, Hawaii and New York. This program was originally shown on network television in 1998, and as such is a bit limited in what it manages to accomplish. Setting out to be a concert documentary, a travelogue, and a history of Mariah Carey, it ultimately accomplishes none of these things. Very few songs are included in their entirety, and those that are suffer from jump cutting between lines of the song. This has the disturbing effect of completely changing Carey's hairstyle, and outfits, such as they are.

The program begins with the intro to "Butterfly", and from here; we cut from concert to concert to see truncated performances of "Emotions", "Fantasy", "Dreamlover" and "My All." Keep in mind that all this is accomplished over the span of about six and a half minutes. We are then spirited away to brief clips of Carey cavorting with her fans in Japan and New York. While in New York, Carey takes the opportunity to chat with Brenda K. Starr, the original performer of "I Still Believe", and the artist responsible for taking Carey under her wing and ultimately launching her career. Watching these interviews, and Carey with her fans, it looks to me like she has become a little too wrapped up in her whole diva image, as the interview with Starr is basically spent with Carey fishing for compliments. This is followed up with Carey performing "I Still Believe" which is actually a fairly captivating performance.

From here, we cut to Carey talking with Trey Lorenz, who duets with her on the song "I'll Be There", originally made popular in the 70s by the Jackson Five. They talk about how difficult it is for them to get through the song because of how close they are, and a brief clip is shown of them performing the song. Then, it's off to Australia, as Carey goes swimming with the dolphins in Perth. This is the type of footage that leaves you wanting more, and wishing that more time were spent on Carey sightseeing rather than the fairly average concert footage that was provided. Carey also drags some fans onto stage for a very bizarre segment where she tries Vegemite and drinks Foster's beer. This would be somewhat similar to if someone came to our country and thought that we lived solely on apple pie and Coca-Cola. Then, Carey decides to sing "Hopelessly Devoted To You", but at least has the common courtesy to invite Olivia Newton-John onstage to sing with her. Of course, that doesn't preclude Carey from trying to completely overshadow John with lots of unnecessary high notes. That's a common occurrence throughout the program, for those of you that were wondering.

Back to New York we go for the "#1's" fan appreciation party, which very considerately shows those outside that weren't allowed in. A brief performance of "Whenever You Call" with Brian McKnight takes place here, which actually sounds quite good. The program wraps up with performances of "Honey" and "Hero", which I think sounds sappier every time I hear it. That's it. Over the course of forty-five minutes, Carey "performs" ten songs, interacts with her fans, and basks in the aura of her own fame. This really wasn't a case of being left wanting for more, just a case of being disappointed with what I did get.

I should also point out that although the running time listed is sixty minutes, that is only if you include the running time of the four "bonus" videos, which for some odd reason are listed as chapter stops on the case, but appear on the bonus menu on the disc.

As I stated, the program originally was a network special on Fox, I believe, and looks perfectly adequate on this disc. For concert footage and footage of that nature, it is pretty much on par with what I would expect it to be, especially considering it was shot for network television. In a few places, the colors definitely looked oversaturated, however, with people turning almost a bizarre red color.

I definitely have a few issues with this audio mix. While the 5.1 surround track was, for the most part, very good, and definitely appreciated, there were a few areas where it dropped in volume for no apparent reason before coming back. My other major problem with this mix was that the audience was mixed down throughout almost the entire presentation. If this is a concert video, I want to hear the crowd. True, I don't want them to overshadow the artist, but I also don't want it to sound like the artist is performing for a crowd of mutes. It is almost surreal at some places where we cut to the apparently enthusiastic audience, and get no sound from hands clapping.

A fairly light collection of features, but Columbia gets points for effort. Included here is the standard "pat myself on the back" biography for Carey, a discography which shows album name, cover, track listing, and year of release, and four additional music videos.

The videos included here are "Butterfly", "Breakdown" featuring Krayzie Bone and Wish Bone, "The Roof" and "My All". These videos represent the majority of Carey's video output from the album "Butterfly", with "Honey" being the only video missing. While none of the videos are groundbreaking, it is nice to have them included. Having said that, the videos sound great, with the 5.1 track being taken full advantage of. "Butterfly" especially sounded like never before, with bass coming through that I never knew was there.

My major nit-pick with these videos is that they disabled most of the buttons on my remote. For some reason, pressing the menu button no longer took me back to the menu. The only way to get back to the menu, apart from restarting the disc, was to chapter skip back to the menu. A very bizarre and annoying feature.

Well, it is nice to see more concert specials like this one on DVD. Having said that, this definitely had the feel of a one-hour network special, with nothing being given time to develop or grow, and most of the songs being cut short. The audio and video are nothing extraordinary, and the features are barely existent. Recommendation to avoid.

(2.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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