Superdiva Mariah Carey, 34, vowed to regain the Associated Press Most Annoying Celebrity title, an honor that has gone to younger performers the last three years. "We owe it to our fans and most of all to the inner me," said Carey, who revealed that she had recently hired a first-person-pronoun coach.
Carey unleashed a career-best annoying year in 2001, a performance that many critics compare favorably to Madonna's and Hillary Clinton's best work. First there was Carey's biopic, Glitter, a movie about a biracial singer that was so bad it inspired Joan Rivers to observe, "the G' is obviously silent." Then came a series of twisted, scary messages in Pig Latin that Carey posted on her Web site. They were followed by the unforgettable sight of Carey in handcuffs being dragged out of a Long Island shopping mall, where she had terrified children by ranting incoherently about Howard Stern. She put the cherry on that psychotic sundae when she was later hospitalized with scratches on her wrists and ankles.
Since then, however, critics claim Carey has been off her feed. "I don't know if it's the jumper-cable treatments or what," said Rivers, "but she's scarcely been more annoying than Gwyneth Paltrow."
Carey's campaign to recapture her former glory will begin with a tacky cover on the February issue of Blender magazine in which Carey's breasts rise up out of a skimpy black bra like twin tsunamis. In a self-serving interview with Blender, Carey declares, "I was lip-synching and getting up people's noses when little sh*ts like Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson were in training bras."
Although Carey will have to compete for exposure with equally vapid stars, the aging superdiva shrewdly gave herself an advantage by adopting a new name-"MiMi," pronounced "me-me" with the accent on both syllables. It debuts in the title of Carey's next album, The Emancipation of Mimi, due in stores in March.
"'Mimi' is a very personal nickname only used by those closest to me," Carey wrote on her Web site. "By revealing it, I'm inviting my fans to be that much closer to me. More important, I'm celebrating the fact that I've grown, that I'm no longer straight-jacketed by my insecurities or compelled to live up to someone else's vision of Mariah Carey."
Carey also plans to unload another guaranteed annoyance-the children's book. This summer she will release MeMe, about a biracial singer who is part human and part publicity photo. "In the book," says Carey, "MeMe is sad because all the people in the world are meanies. Then she, like, saves the world and discovers a non-streaking mascara."
Despite her determination and her still formidable talent for getting on people's last nerve, Carey is a 10-to-1 long shot to reclaim her crown, according to Las Vegas odds makers. "I think the game has passed her by," said one betting parlor executive. "Once you cross the fine line that separates annoying from laughable, it's tough to go back."
Carey, however, remains undaunted. She has doubled her publicity team, fired her mother publicly, bought a new Peek-a-Poo for talk-show appearances, and revived her feud with "that buffalo butt, Jennifer Lopez." Carey also plans to marry at least twice in the coming year.
In related news, U2's world tour, which begins in March, makes Bono the early favorite to win the Associated Press Most Annoying Celebrity title in the male division.