Friday, July 02, 2010

Chris Brown's Tribute To MJ At The BET Awards 2010

The BET Awards took place last Sunday, two days after the 1-year anniversary of MJ's death, and naturally, the highlight of the show was Chris Brown's tribute to MJ.

While the performance itself was noteworthy, there has been quite a lot of discussion in the past few days about whether Chris was faking the tears, and whether he was using the occasion to his own advantage, to win back some sympathy after his incident with Rihanna last year.

Here's the full performance if you haven't seen it yet:

Well, to me, he seemed genuinely overwhelmed by emotion and broke down as a result. But it was more due to the message of the song, Man In The Mirror, ("take a look at yourself and make the change"), rather than an outpouring of grief for MJ's passing.

I don't think he intended to take advantage of the occasion for his own benefit, but it happened more as an act of repentance. I feel that he has learned his lesson and people should stop being so cynical about it. Just to be clear, I'm not a Chris Brown fan, but that's what I feel.

As for the performance itself, I must say it was quite good, even though he didn't execute it exactly 100% like MJ did. It was not a carbon copy of MJ's performance. Perhaps he didn't want to do it 100% like MJ, but wanted to inject some of his personal style to it, which is fine.

The opening segment of The Way You Make Me Feel with the silhouette behind the curtain/screen is a direct reference to MJ's 1988 performance at the Grammy Awards. Here's the clip:

That is one of my favourite MJ live performances ever. The movements were so sharp and he created such beautiful shapes with his body. And together with the music, everything was just perfect.

Chris Brown then went to do the Remember The Time dance segment, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Mainly because I love the routine, and also due to the fact that MJ had never performed it live before. Well, he was supposed to, during the 1993 Soul Train Awards, but he apparently sprained his ankle and ended up performing (lip-synching) it on a golden wheelchair.

Here's the 1993 Soul Train Awards performance:

Actually MJ did rehearse it for the Dangerous Tour, but disappointingly, it didn't make the final setlist. Here's a rare look at him rehearsing. This proves that he sang live, and sounded darn good too!

Next, the lights dimmed and Chris Brown disappeared to do a costume change while six backup dancers took centrestage for Smooth Criminal. It was the best moment of the entire tribute as I was pleasantly surprised to see the different parts of the costume light up, giving the routine a fresh spin. The lights accentuated the distinct hand and leg movements, and you can see exactly how intricate and beautiful the choreography is. (The dancers were not totally in sync though)

But I think they probably got the idea of lighting up the costume after watching the This Is It DVD, where MJ's designer Zaldy explains in one of the bonus features of the DVD that the costume for Billie Jean was supposed to light up as MJ danced. I can't find a clip on YouTube but it's on the DVD.

As for Chris Brown's take on Billie Jean, I know I'm hard to please, but it's not perfect. For example, when MJ thrusted his hips up and down, only his hips moved while the upper body remained mostly still. Whereas Chris Brown moved his entire upper body up and down together with his hips, so it looked like he was trying to sit down on an invisible chair and stand up again. Not as sleek.

Watch the 1:23 mark of this clip to see what I mean, and compare it against Chris Brown's take.

Having said so much, I must emphasise that I enjoyed the performance as a whole overall. There were surprises, there were routines that I liked and there was the excitement factor. I wouldn't be too hard on Chris Brown because really, there's only one Michael Jackson. R.I.P. Michael!



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