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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 13:54 GMT
What next for Mariah?
Mariah Carey has sold 120 million albums worldwide
Mariah Carey has sold 120 million albums worldwide
After being the biggest-selling female singer of the 1990s, Mariah Carey's career is now in limbo after being officially dropped by record company Virgin.

As with most artists who spend a number of years at the top, the fall has come and she now has stark choices to try to kick-start her career.

Virgin signed a reported $100m (£70m) deal with the singer - the biggest in recording history - but paid her a golden handshake of $28m (£19m) less than nine months later.

She is now seen as a risk by record companies
She is now seen as a risk by record companies
Her first album for the label, Glitter, sold just two million copies worldwide - compared with the 120 million she had shifted in the previous decade.

There have already been reports that she has started writing songs for her next album - but she must first find a record company to release it.

Before the Virgin deal, she was seen as a bankable star - but now she is now seen as a huge risk.

With so much success over the last 12 years, though, it is likely that one of the major record companies will take a chance on being able to get her back on form.

But they will not be prepared to gamble so many millions on Carey, and would be likely to offer her a shorter deal, for one or two albums, in case the next releases flop too.

Young producers

No record companies have been mentioned as possible saviours for the singer, though.

She could also take a leaf from the books of other stars who have struggled to stay at the top and reinvent her sound.

Madonna successfully kept the crown as queen of pop by employing young dance music producers like Mirwais and William Orbit, while U2 used Howie B and Paul Oakenfold.

Michael Jackson fared less well when he enlisted Rodney Jerkins to give his latest album, Invincible, a more modern, urban sound.

Carey could decide to turn her back on music and pursue an acting career after filming her first two movie roles.

Carey's first film role was in Glitter
Carey's first film role was in Glitter
Ominously for any hopes of a career as a film star, the first role, in Glitter, was roundly panned by critics and reportedly laughed at by her own fans during a preview screening.

The New York Times said she was "simply inadequate as an actress" - but The Los Angeles Times gave her a ray of hope, saying she gave a "capable" performance.

Her second feature, Wise Girls, in which she plays a waitress alongside Mira Sorvino, was recently given its world première at the Sundance Film Festival.

Carey was also in the headlines last year after suffering an emotional and physical breakdown, with reports that she had attempted suicide.

The pressure of making the album and films was blamed, but she has now returned to the spotlight with a string of TV and public appearances.

Carey launched her career in 1990
Carey launched her career in 1990
The star was raised by her mother, a former opera singer and began singing at the age of four.

She began to write songs while she was at school and soon after graduation broke into the recording industry, making her debut on Columbia Records in 1990.

1993's album Music Box sold 20 million copies, establishing her as one of the music world's biggest stars.

She has signalled her intention to claw back that past glory, saying she is determined not to let press stop her working.

"If I was gun-shy I'd be home hiding under the covers," she said at the Sundance Film Festival.

"I'm a fighter. I have been since I was a kid."

See also:

23 Jan 02 | Music
EMI drops Mariah Carey
07 Sep 01 | Reviews
Mariah Carey: Your views
07 Sep 01 | Reviews
Glitter fails to shine
02 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Mariah Carey in psychiatric care
27 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Mariah Carey wows the stars
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