Saturday, November 26, 2005

Recap: American Music Awards

Just finished watching the American Music Awards (AMA)...well, I'm not a big fan of the AMAs because it's like a poorer cousin, smaller scale version of MTV's Video Music Awards (VMA), which is a raucous affair always.

As you might know, the AMAs didn't always take place this early (or late, depending on how you look at it). They used to be held in early to mid January, just before the Grammy Awards, which are traditionally held in mid February. Due to complains of the glut of award shows in the first three months of the year (there are also the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards etc), the AMAs decided to shift their show earlier, thus becoming a November affair.

Alright enough of the backstory and back to the show. Well, Mariah Carey opened the show with her new single, Don't Forget About Us. It opened with a shot of a silver disco orb...for a moment, you would think that Madonna was opening the show with Hung Up, like she did at the recent MTV Europe Music Awards. However, when the orb spun around, it revealed not the muscular Madonna but the pudgy Mariah (sorry Mariah fans...face it, she does not have a good figure and should seriously considering covering up more).

The song was only so-so, the weakest effort of her Mimi album so far. Mariah seemed to have some problems with her monitor and struggled a little with the performance. However, she still managed to pull of her vocal hystrionics towards the end of the song. It's becoming a formula for all of her songs: the first two-thirds are sung plainly and in "normal" range; the last third is for her to showcase her vocal chops and to communicate with the dogs (who can hear sounds greater than 20,000 KHz in frequency).

From one singing queen to two wannabies, we also witnessed performances from teen idols Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff. One is bad enough; two--unforgivable. The two performances by Lohan and Duff were outright terrible and they really brought the standard of the show down by at least 10 notches. They should do some QC before allowing such sub-standards acts to perform.

Lohan's vocals were weak, and she was upstaged by her background singers for most part. Duff was stronger vocally, but her song was just silly. The title was Beat Of My Heart, and the chorus has her singing "beat of my heart" repeatedly. I wonder who wrote the song...surely he/she could have come up with more and better lines than those??

Pharrell Williams (of N.E.R.D and The Neptunes fame) performed Can I Have It Like That with It Girl Gwen Stefani, who was lowered onto stage in an ice-cream hot-air balloon. The song is not as catchy as either of their previous hits, and Gwen's contribution to the song is really minimal and silly. She has only one line: "You got it like that", in response to Williams' "Can I have it like that?". Please, you don't need a superstar just to sing that one line! I can do it too! What a waste of Miss Stefani's talent...

Santana performed I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love with Los Lonely Boys. A smart move. I'm glad he didn't perform I'm Feeling You, the lead single off his latest All That I Am album, together with Michelle Branch. That is not a strong song and it just erodes Santana's credibility.

Santana feels more at home with the Los Lonely Boys, whose sound provides a better fit to Santana's latin roots. He traded solos with the lead guitarist of the Boys and it was a solid performance. Santana even looked quite hip in his sleeveless, black tank top...trying to appeal to the younger generation perhaps?

Besides Santana, there was also a tinge of nostalgia to the show, with performances from Cyndi Lauper, Eurythmics and a live performance via satellite by The Rolling Stones.

Cyndi Lauper performed her hit song Time After Time with a most unlikely ally: Sarah McLachlan. The reworked track is from her latest album, The Body Acoustic, which is a collection of her best known songs with special guests. The performance itself was ok, but it wasn't fab, especially at the ending, where they were trading verses and seemed a bit unsure who was to sing which part.

The performance was also broadcast in black and white for the added touch of nostalgia. Unfortunately, it only made Lauper look worse because her blond hair and pale face combined to make her look if anything, ghastly. Plus, she's catching up on her years now. McLachlan though, looks great.

There were also performances by the All American Rejects and some country stars (Tim McGraw? Brooks And Dunn? Who cares?). In all, it was rather forgettable and there weren't any particular moments of brilliance. For me, the most memorable and valuable part was seeing highlights of the shows from previous years, introduced by Babyface. You got a glimpse of a younger Stevie Wonder singing Superstition, *NSYNC performing Bye Bye Bye, and most of all, twenty-year-old Michael Jackson introducing his sister Janet, who was barely ten years old I believe...and already strutting down the stairs with the poise of a future star.

The awards themselves are not worth mentioning. Yes, Mariah got snubbed again and won only one award. The other big winners (Greeen Day, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kelly Clarkson) all didn't turn up. And it was really Destiny's Child, as only one of them, Kelly Rowland, was present to collect their two awards. Just goes to show how important the AMAs are.

Well, the AMAs went without a hitch, but also without event. You didn't miss much if you didn't catch it. Look out for the Grammies in three months' time. Hope it's better than this.


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