Mariah Carey reveals the hardest thing about being Mariah Carey

Though it began with a particularly bumpy takeoff — a gaffe-ridden New Year's Eve performance in which she gave up halfway through — Mariah Carey's 2017 has course-corrected in time for Christmas, her favorite time of the year.

Following a scrapped engagement to Australian billionaire James Packer, the 47-year-old siren is now blissfully involved with 34-year-old dancer Bryan Tanaka. The "All I Want for Christmas" singer also has a new single, appropriately titled "The Star." But it's not about Mariah. The tune is the title song to Columbia Pictures' animated film (in theaters Nov. 17) about the birth of Jesus Christ, told from the point of view of the animals in the manger. (Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Tracy Morgan voice the Wise Men's camels.)

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Carey in a Beverly Hills hotel suite after she performed the song live for the first time — with backing help from Moroccan and Monroe, her 6-year-old twins with ex-husband Nick Cannon — for an audience of Golden Globe voters.

How did the Hollywood Foreign Press receive your song?

The last time I met them was when we were working on the movie Precious with Lee Daniels, and I was with the entire cast of that movie. Today they decorated the ballroom with Christmas trees and lights, and it was like walking into a wonderland. So I was happy that happened — but I am not accustomed to waking up early and putting on a performance. And this was the first time I had performed the song live — with my kids there. But they did a great job. I was so proud.

You’ve won five Grammys but not yet won an Oscar or Golden Globe. 

Actually, the song I sang with Whitney Houston, “When You Believe,” for The Prince of Egypt, won the Oscar for best song. But I am not the writer of that song. They came to me with that song and the idea to work with Whitney. And of course I was overwhelmed and honored because I had always loved her so much. Then we became friends after we sang the song together and did the campaign together. Then it won the Oscar that year.

What are your memories of that recording session with Whitney?

What I remember the most is that we were in two different places location-wise when we recorded it. Afterwards we did a few live performances and we also shot a video for that song. That’s when we started being around each other a lot. That’s when people started thinking there was a feud or something like that. That wasn’t the case at all. I have nothing but fond memories of that time and the fact that the song won an Academy Award and is a faith-based song — which is not dissimilar to “The Star” — I don’t know how to explain it. It’s just something that happened. I do perform “When You Believe” in concert where I sing back and forth with Whitney, who is projected on a screen. And we all miss her. 

You wrote "The Star" with Marc Shaiman. How was that process?

We worked at his studio, and they provided us with a clip from the film where they wanted the song to appear — when the group is traveling to Bethlehem. It was, for me, an unorthodox approach to songwriting. This was the first time I ever wrote to picture. I really enjoyed being able to look at something visual while he is on the piano, and we're going back and forth with the melodies together and writing the lyrics.

Is there any lyric that speaks to you from the song?

“Follow that voice you heard / That no one else believed."

33 PHOTOS
Mariah Carey out and about in 2017
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Mariah Carey out and about in 2017
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Mariah Carey attends the AHF World AIDS DAY Concert and 30th Anniversary Celebration featuring Mariah Carey and DJ Khaled at the Shrine Auditorium on November 30, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Mariah Carey performs onstage during the AHF World AIDS DAY Concert and 30th Anniversary Celebration featuring Mariah Carey and DJ Khaled at the Shrine Auditorium on November 30, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mariah Carey is honored with Hand and Footprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mariah Carey is honored with Hand and Footprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Mariah Carey Hand And Footprint Ceremony at TCL Chinese Theatre on November 1, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Mariah Carey attends V Magazine honors Karl Lagerfeld after party at Le Bain on October 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Mariah Carey at a dinner honoring Karl Lagerfeld on October 23, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Mariah Carey performs onstage during VH1 Hip Hop Honors: The 90s Game Changers at Paramount Studios on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Maury Phillips/Getty Images)
BELLEVUE, WA - SEPTEMBER 06: Global Icon Mariah Carey Announces Mariah Carey Christmas Factory During The Grand Opening Of Sugar Factory American Brasserie on September 6, 2017 in Bellevue, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for Sugar Factory American Brasserie)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka perform in Concert - New York, New York at Madison Square Garden on August 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for imPRint)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 17: Singer Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka are seen out on August 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - AUGUST 10: Mariah Carey and her children Moroccan and Monroe attend the Mariah Carey concert after party at Sugar Factory American Brasserie on Ocean Drive on August 10, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sugar Factory American Brasserie)
CORRECTION - US Singer Mariah Carey speaks at a press conference to announce an agreement with Israeli cosmetics brand Premier Dead Sea, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on June 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by JACK GUEZ has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Dead Sea] instead of [Red Sea]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 24: Singer Mariah Carey leaves the Plaza Athenee Dorchester Collection Hotel on Avenue Montaigne on June 24, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 25: Mariah Carey is seen on May 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 20: Mariah Carey is seen at 'Catch' on May 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG008/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 13: (L-R) Monroe Cannon, Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey and Moroccan Scott Cannon attend the Moroccan Scott Cannon and Monroe Cannon Party on Mary 13 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 13: Singer Mariah Carey attends the Moroccan Scott Cannon and Monroe Cannon Party on Mary 13 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04: Mariah Carey attends Mishka Bulochnikov's 14th Birthday Celebration at Tao Los Angeles on May 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey attends the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 30: (L-R) Monroe Cannon, Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey, and Moroccan Cannon pose with Disney characters at Disneyland on April 30, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: (L-R) Monroe Cannon, TV personality Nick Cannon, Moroccan Scott Cannon and singer Mariah Carey arrives at the Nickelodeon's 2017 Kids' Choice Awards at USC Galen Center on March 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11: Recording artist/singer Mariah Carey (L) and Moroccan Cannon arrive at the Nickelodeon's 2017 Kids' Choice Awards at USC Galen Center on March 11, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Mariah Carey attends the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Mariah Carey attends the 2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 26, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Mariah Carey and Bryan Tanaka are seen on February 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by gotpap/Star Max/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Mariah Carey is seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on February 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG017/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Mariah Carey is seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on February 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Mariah Carey (L) and Bryan Tanaka attend a basketball game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on February 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 04: Actress/singer Mariah Carey arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'The LEGO Batman Movie' at Regency Village Theatre on February 4, 2017 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 04: (L-R) Gerrick Kennedy, Mariah Carey and guest attend a private party at Catch for Mariah Carey's New Single 'I Don't' ft YG at Catch LA on February 4, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 04: Singer Mariah Carey attends a private party at Catch for Mariah Carey's New Single 'I Don't' ft YG at Catch LA on February 4, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
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So now they seem to call you "the Queen of Christmas."

"They." I don't know who "they" are. That is not my appellation.

You're not thrilled with that title.

It's not that I'm not thrilled. I just don't think I deserve it. I'm just a person who likes Christmas, OK? Who happened to write some songs.

Tell me about your childhood and what Christmas meant to you as young Mariah.

What are you trying to insinuate? As “little” Mariah, I think you meant.

Of course, of course, my apologies. Tell me about your childhood and what Christmas meant to you.

I've always loved Christmas. Even though we didn't have a lot of material things, like money, my mom would always make it festive. She would wrap up, like, some fruit and sign the card from the dog or the cat. Just to have something to open up. Because I grew up in New York, sometimes we had snow at Christmas. Now I try to create this magical moment with Christmas where Santa Claus comes, and it's in Aspen.

What's the hardest thing about being Mariah Carey?

Darling, is there anything easy? No, I don't mean that. Can you take a guess?

If I had to, I would say it's got to be all the scrutiny you get from the media.

Of course it is. But I guess I feel like this is something I have wanted to do for my whole life. If that comes with it, you take the good with the bad and you just have to be well balanced and handle anything that comes along. It's up to me to decide what to focus on. Yeah, we all take knocks from people in the media. I'm not the only one who does, so I'm not going to belabor that point. I'm just going to keep being myself and keep pushing.

It’s hard to be a woman in the music industry. You probably had to deal with a lot of sleazy guys on your way to stardom. Does all the stuff coming out now regarding sexual harassment bring anything up for you?

First, I have to say everybody is being very courageous in these circumstances and so it’s a tip of the hat to them. They are brave. And yeah, these are some very strong women and it’s something to be admired. Of course, we hope things change and we hope that people don’t have to go through these things anymore. Does it bring up anything from my own life? Yeah. But I’m not going to make it all about me. I throw my support toward those women who have come forward. And in an earnest way, from my heart. 

What do you want for Christmas this year?

Peace and harmony. Can we have that?

I don't know. Can we?

Let's hope for the best. 

12 PHOTOS
Mariah Carey flaunts curves in LBD
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Mariah Carey flaunts curves in LBD
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey attends the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey attends the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey attends the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey and L.A. Reid attend the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey and L.A. Reid attend the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: (L-R) Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey and Floyd Mayweather attend the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: (L-R) Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey and Floyd Mayweather attend the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Stella Bulochnikov and Mariah Carey attend the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 01: Mariah Carey and Joey Arbagey attend the MC Records Launch Party, a joint venture with Epic Records at CATCH LA on May 1, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02: Mariah Carey is seen on May 02, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02: Mariah Carey is seen on May 02, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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