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Mariah Carey Performs with Santa at Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting

Mariah Carey helped kick off the Christmas season, performing at the taping of NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” on Tuesday.

Despite temperatures in the low 30s, Carey rocked a trademark glittering ensemble, with plenty of cleavage.  “Walking to the stage to perform at Rock center. Let the festivities begin! Thx 2 all the lambs who are braving the temps here! LYM!!!,” tweeted Carey to her followers. Carey’s performance also featured an appearance from Santa Claus, to the delight of the freezing crowd.

Carey chose two Christmas songs, her new offering “Christmas Time is in the Air Again” and classic “All I Want For Christmas is You.” While Carey’s voice never faltered, the slower new song didn’t quite match up to the festive exuberance of “All I Want For Christmas is You.” Ever the diva, Carey had a wardrobe change between numbers, changing into silver ballgown.

Indeed, hoisting on sparkly dresses and performing classics has become Carey’s schtick as of late, as she struggles to evolve her music after the tepid sales of her last two albums, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009) and Merry Christmas II You (2010). Performing on the tree lighting certainly maintains her cultural visibility, but her musical identity remains in question, as she has strayed further and further from her R&B roots in recent years.

In addition to singing with Santa at the tree lighting, Carey is likely banking on her American Idol judging gig to boost her profile, the way it did for former judge, Jennifer Lopez. The tree lighting ceremony also featured fellow American judge Randy Jackson, a longtime Carey collaborator.

Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie of NBC’s “Today” served as hosts of the annual Christmas tree lighting, now in its 80th year. Appropriately, the program also featured a Norway Spruce that is approximately 80 feet tall and estimated to be about 80 years old.

The special will air tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC, and will also feature performances from CeeLo Green, Rod Stewart and Victoria Justice.

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