American Music Awards: God, Country and a Fallen Jonas Brother
I watched so Malitz didn't have to.
Play-by-play inside includes random notes, observations and Celine Dion insults.
8 p.m.: Hey, Fergie, Beyonce called - she wants her look back! Miz Ferguson is opening the show in a spangly silver demi-dress, accompanied by will.i.am, who is wearing a top hat for some reason. Fergie's doing a medley that includes her pseudo-ballad, "Big Girls Don't Cry." This particular girl apparently doesn't sing in tune, either. Never, ever thought I'd say this, but I'd much rather hear "My Humps" right about now. Or maybe get waterboarded.
8:06: Now will.i.am is back, sans top hat, performing his slinky electo-pop jam, "Heartbreaker," surrounded by mannequins and models and backed by a female band whose members are wearing silver hooded jumpsuits on loan from Grace Jones. Love the "Looking For a Perfect Beat" break, during which will gets.in.touch with his inner-Boogaloo Shrimp.
8:09: Nicole Scherzinger, whose debut album keeps getting delayed, performs the horribly tepid "Baby Love" with will.i.am, who has apparently been adopted by AMAs creator Dick Clark. Scherzinger tries to set a record for the highest vocal note ever unleashed on live television and fails spectacularly. She was introduced as "the beautiful and talented ..." One out of two ain't bad, right?
8:13: Some big names included in the list of performers and presenters. But ... Solange Knowles? Must have been a package deal, since big Beyonce is here for "a special appearance." As opposed to the just-something-to-do-on-Sunday-night appearances everybody else is making? If I'm the Jonas Brothers, I'm incensed right about now.
8:14: Hey, Jimmy Kimmel has found work! He's already making jokes about not having written jokes because of the writers' strike. He just got the jowly dude from Rascal Flatts to do a couple of lines from Soulja Boy's "Crank Dat." Funny. And now he has Kellie Pickler and Jordin Sparks on stage trying to doing the Soulja Boy dance with him. And now, here's Soulja Boy himself. And now, I'm wishing this was a no-host show.
8:17: Carrie Underwood is wearing a dress made of paper mache! Looks like it, anyway. She presents Favorite Breakthrough Artist to Daughtry. The band, not the man. Chris Daughtry just gave the night's first shout out to Clive Davis. He'll be thanked more than God tonight. You just watch.
8:24: James Blunt is presenting. This is good - means he won't be performing, too. Country-pop boy band Rascal Flatts wins Favorite Country Band/Duo/Group. They thank God "for the gift of music." Take that, Clive! (Of course, they also thank their bus driver.)
8:27: Avril Lavigne's day-glo pink microphone stand sorta matches the pink streak in her hair. They sell microphone stands at Hot Topic now? The song itself, "Hot," overstates its own case. Big night for bad music so far.
8:30: "There's a place in your heart/Nobody's been/Take me there," the big dude from Rascal Flatts sings. I liked him better when he was doing the Soulja Boy song. Especially since he's having some of the same pitch problems that plagued the CMAs duet with Jamie Foxx two weeks ago.
8:39: The arpeggiated guitar pattern that opens Maroon 5's "Won't Go Home Without You" is a total "Every Breath You Take" rip-off. But this song is pretty good. There, I said it. Also, isn't Adam Levine more likeable ever since he appeared in Samberg's Ahmadinejad video on SNL?
8:44: Alien-voiced Akon bests computer-voiced T-Pain for Favorite Soul/R&B Male, then invites T-Pain on stage and says he deserves the award because he works so hard ... and suddenly, T-Pain is touching the trophy and taking over the microphone. Funny.
8:50: The squealing starts even before the Jonas Brothers are announced. Some of the group's fans are allowed to rush the stage. The Brother in the white suit trips during his entrance but plays it off like a pro. A couple of girls rush the stage. I still don't get it.
8:54: Justin Timberlake wins Favorite Pop/Rock Male but isn't there to accept. Kid Rock fake-punches Jimmy Kimmel. Duran Duran is coming up. This is falling apart, quickly.
9:01: "High School Musical 2" wins Favorite Soundtrack Album. God is thanked. God 2, Clive 1.
9:02: Rihanna doing "Umbrella" with a string quartet! Now it's grown to an orchestra! What's the over/under on the number of Grammy nominations she's going to rake in next month? If it's less than six, then I'm taking the over. Ne-Yo is here to do "Hate That I Love You" with her.
9:13: Carrie Underwood wins Favorite Country Female - and thanks "all the people that are in my entourage." Great, populist message, Carrie!
9:14: Sugarland gives "Irreplaceable" the country treatment! Mandolin! Squeezebox! High harmonies! And here comes Beyonce! Jennifer Nettles can definitely sing - but B crushes her as they trade lines down the stretch. This worked way better than you'd expect. Not that you'd ever expect this treatment.
9:19: Whose bright idea was it to put Lyfe Jennings and Kirk Franklin on stage together? Jennings looks like he has two feet on Franklin. Throw it to the high post! Daughtry wins Favorite Adult Contemporary. Bet that's not the category they were really hoping to win. So. Very. Rock. N. Roll. Somebody in the band thanks Duran Duran. God 2, Clive 1, Simon Lebon 1.
9:27: Josh Groban introduces Celine Dion and says "she's got an edgy attitude now because her new song is called 'Taking Chances.'" Celine's idea of edgy includes a ton of body glitter, a flapper-fringe dress and a strummy mid-tempo power ballad penned Kara DioGuardi and ex-Eurhythmic David Stewart. Have Celine's legs always been this long?
9:31: Who let Lenny Kravitz in? He hasn't really mattered since the clock struck Y2K, and yet he's on this show, performing a buzzing new rock ballad by the name of "I'll Be Waiting." Wake me when his funk album finally comes out.
9:36: Sean Kingston, who hasn't really mattered since I got tired of hearing "Beautiful Girls," helps present the Favorite Soul/R&B Album award to Justin Timberlake, who isn't there.
9:44: Chris Brown interpretive-dances his song "Kiss Kiss" with a vocal assist from T-Pain. Brown is a dancing machine (he even dances upside-down, suspsended in air by an elaborate system of cables); but he can't lip-synch worth a damn. So why is he even bothering to pretend with the headset mic?
9:48: Carrie Underwood wins the T-Mobile Text-In Award. She really is the prom queen! "Holy cow - that's all I have to say," she says before saying some more. Carrie 2, God 2, Clive 1, Simon Lebon 1.
9:56: Daughtry wins Favorite Pop/Rock Album over Timberlake and Linkin Park. This is the biggest night for "American Idol" since Peter Noone performed "There's a Kind of Hush" on the show.
9:58: Alicia Keys, who seems to have rinsed her eyes with glitter, shrieks her way through "No One," which suddenly shifts into something totally reggaefied, with a lyrical assist from Junior Reid. Then come Chaka Demus and Pliers for the raggamuffin "Murder She Wrote" as Keys and her dancers launch into a routine. Then out comes Beenie Man. Then the whole things resets to "No One." Not sure what her song has to do with Jamaica, but it was pretty great of Keys to bring these artists out for a nationally televised performance.
10:07: Duran Duran performs "Falling Down," a dreary, plodding song co-written with Timberlake. Too bad he's not actually here tonight; it'd be great to get a reaction shot as the song unfolds. The crowd sits through it, though, if only because we've all been assured that we'll hear an actual Duran Duran hit next. As voted on by the American public, that song is ... 1997's "Electric Barbarella." Kidding; it's "Hungry Like a Wolf."
10:14: Slash is wearing will.i.am's top hat. He's also smoking a cigarette. He and Scott Weiland present the Favorite Country Album award to Carrie Underwood for "Some Hearts." Seriously, is Fuller, Cowell and Seacrest the accounting firm that's auditing the voting? Carrie thanks Clive Davis. Carrie 3, God 2, Clive 2. (Simon Lebon has been disqualified for "Falling Down.")
10:16: Usher recognizes "the loss of Kanye West's mother," then presents some sort of special international award of awesomeness to Beyonce. Alas, the video montage does not include footage of her falling down the stairs on her recent solo tour. She thanks Usher, the American Music Awards, her fans, Kelly and Michelle, her manager, her label, her dad. No mention of Jay-Z. No Hova sighting, either: B's date tonight is Daddy Knowles.
10:27: Sure looks like Mary J. Blige is "singing" with the help of a track on her new tune, "Just Fine." But she's not dancing like Chris Brown. Whatup? Great thigh-high boots, though. And she is doing some of the vocals for herself.
10:31: Kid Rock isn't wearing a shirt. Just an unzipped leather jacket. Favorite R&B/Hip-Hop Band/Duo/Group goes to Bone Thugs N Harmony. Thank-yous go to the Lord Almighty and Jimmy Iovine, among others. Carrie 3, God 3, Clive 2, Jimmy Iovine 1.
10:34: The Old Navy Fashion Report? Can't be long before the Cracker Barrel Craft Services Rundown.
10:38: Queen Latifah is trying to add a touch of class to the show by performing the big, brassy, churchy "I Know Where I've Been." Not a great vocal, but you've gotta like the intent.
10:43: Barbados-born Rihanna wins Favorite Soul/R&B Female. Says she "can appreciate" Alicia Keys's performance. Thanks Jay-Z, L.A. Reid and her publicist.
10:48: Daughtry performs an acoustic version of "Home." The song is a total outlier: Anybody expecting more of the same on the self-titled album by the band that takes its singer's last name is going to be horribly disappointed by all the atonal post-grunge rockers. Also, Chris Daughtry is seated on a stool, which means he can't show off the singer's squat that he helped to popularize on "Idol."
10:53: Gene Simmons? Seriously? Favorite Pop/Rock Female goes to Fergie. Beyonce is no doubt regretting that she showed up for this show, havin. Fergie is so excited that she'd probably pee her pants, if only she was wearing some.
10:57: The show is over! Early! Final tally: Three-way tie between God, Carrie Underwood and Daughtry, with three apiece. Clive gets two, one more than the Rascal Flatts bus driver. And Malitz gets to do this next time.
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