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Mariah Carey launches tour at MSG on New Year's Eve

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2009 file

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2009 file photo, Mariah Carey performs on the NBC "Today" television program in New York. Credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew

In her big hit "Obsessed," Mariah Carey wondered, "Why you so obsessed with me?"

Well, as Mimi launches her "Angels Advocate" tour Thursday nightat Madison Square Garden to celebrate New Year's Eve, we have a few reasons:

THE VOICE. Yeah, the four-octave range isn't quite what it used to be, but that's only a normal part of the aging process, not to mention the years of stress she has put on it with those high-pitched notes. What Carey is left with these days is a bit huskier, more soulful and (usually) still on target.

>>VIDEO: Click here to watch the diva perform in Vegas

THE ATTITUDE. Few divas would even consider trying an Eminem takedown the way Carey did in "Obsessed." The fact that she handled it so effortlessly is a testament to her cleverness and her feisty Long Island roots. Throw in her brave performance in "Precious," and she becomes far tougher than her ballads would suggest.

THE SECRECY. Carey isn't one of those overexposed stars. She is selective with her interviews, and she hasn't really toured all that often. (The 19-city "Angels Advocate" tour is her first in three years.) That gives her concerts and personal appearances more of a special-event feel.

THE COMEBACK. Carey's stumbles at the beginning of the decade, with "Glitter" and a very public exit from her EMI contract, have only made her return in recent years with the commercial smash "The Emancipation of Mimi" and the critical praise for "E=MC2" all the more powerful. It also adds a layer of believability to her songs about overcoming personal struggles that wasn't always there.

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THE FUTURE. Her recent "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" sales haven't matched her recent successes. (According to Nielsen SoundScan, she hasn't broken the 350,000 mark since its release in September.) However, the new tour and the remix of her new single "H.A.T.E.U.," featuring Big Boi and Gucci Mane, could change that. If we've learned anything about the Greenlawn native, it's that you can never count her out.

WHO Mariah Carey

WHEN | WHERE 9 p.m. Thursday, Madison Square Garden, 4 Penn Plaza, Manhattan

INFO $65.75-$175.75; 631-888-9000, thegarden.com

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