From as far back as I can remember, music award shows were by far my favorite programs to watch. You have no idea the lengths I’d go to, at a young age, to convince my parents to let me stay awake to watch them…
We’re talking all music award shows from VMA’s (by far my favorite) to Grammy’s to American Music Awards, even Billboard Music and beyond. I just had to watch them. Most times, I’d spend the day of a music award show consumed by thinking about the performances to come that evening. It’s sad.
In the past, it seemed musicians were all about putting on the best overall performance imaginable. Today, it seems like everyone is just banking on a quick gimmick.
I promise, this won’t be a VMA’s rant part 2, but the idea of gimmick performances was quite apparent last night at the 2007 American Music Awards. I have to admit, I wasn’t really excited for last night’s show when I saw the performance line up. Naturally, I tuned in and hoped for the best.
The show opened with Fergie. Not only opened, but Fergie went on to perform a (lengthy) medley of about 4-5 songs, only to be followed by Will.i.am. Ugh. I guess since Will.i.am is the
genius man behind Fergie’s success it’s only appropriate he gets his own solo, right? So after about 2 minutes of Will.i.am singing rapidly talking about something unrecognizable, Nicole Scherzinger appears on stage. Yes, Nicole as in lead from the Pussycat dolls, only to coo and purrr her way through yet another horrible song product from Will.i.am.
Thankfully, after a (long) ten minutes the opening act was over — and I figured we can settle into the rest of the show. I was wrong. Performer after performer took to the stage, each one more disappointing than the other. Yes, even you Maroon 5! It was sad. The only saving grace from the first hour was watching one of the Jonas Brothers (some Disney act..) fall while walking through a glass door/prop. Ever the trooper, he got up, dusted himself off and managed to sing (off key) through the rest of the song.
Next up, Chris Brown. Alright, so I’m
slightly very anti-Chris Brown to begin with. For the record, he’s been dubbed the “next” Michael Jackson. This is bothersome to me. Michael Jackson, even though he’s crazy (all geniuses are crazy!), did something to be considered the “King of Pop.” First, as part of the Jackson 5, Michael led his group of brothers to become one of the biggest influences in pop music, mixing soul, R&B and even disco sounds into their repertoire. Michael eventually broke away from the group and had an extremely successful solo career. He redefined the music industry and what it meant to be a performer, entertainer, and musician all rolled into one. He broke down color barriers in the music industry and has become a pop culture mainstay.
Chris Brown, however, has become famous for impersonating Michael Jackson. Alright, he’s not the first “artist” to become famous for imitating MJ (hi ,Justin Timberlake!), but he’s the first to actually play it up. Maybe he’s paying homage to his idol, which is fine, but show some range! The MJ schtick is tired — and quite frankly I’m over it. And I realize I’m not in the demographic Chris Brown is trying to appeal to and I realize young girls will always go for that young, teenage male star, but still at some point you need to be your own man.
So Chris Brown lip-synced to his chart topping “Kiss, Kiss” song while using recycled moves straight out of Michael Jackson’s dance book. He ended his performance by being raised by harness, along with 2 other dances, and “danced” upside down on a platform positioned maybe 30 feet in the air. It was anti-climatic to say the least and as far as gimmicks go, it was pretty unnecessary.
Perhaps the only highlight of the entire awards show was Alicia Keys performance. Alicia took the stage in her trademark style, seated behind a grand piano, and led her band into her current single “No One.” While entering into the first chorus, fog horns sounded, Alicia rose from the piano, and her band segued into a reggae version of “No One.” She was joined on stage by Junior Reid, Chaka Demus, and Beenie Man, who each performed a solos.
Special guests aside, Ms. Keys even worked in some (rare) choreography and performed a dance breakdown with her backup dancers. Ever the consummate professional, Alicia showed the other acts how it’s done, with or without gimmicks, and stole the show.
It’s artists like Alicia that give me hope for the future of music, but I have to admit, music awards shows have lost their luster and seem completely out of touch.