The 2009 AMAs: Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston Scorch the Stage
The 2009 American Music Awards weren’t exactly must-see TV.
There were a number of tepid performances that seriously underwhelmed (Rihanna, Green
Day), far too many shots of Taylor Hicks patented, pseudo-sincere “Omigosh, I won?”
face via satellite, and I think everyone got sick of that Luke Wilson Verizon
commercial. But it wasn’t all a snooze-fest, here are some of the highs and
lows of what has become the music industry’s (second?) biggest night. –todd williams
Michael Jackson Fans — He Was NOT the Artist of the Year
Michael Jackson should not have won “Artist of the
Year.” I love MJ and Thriller, and his death was a tragic moment in
music history. But the King of Pop is bigger than pity awards, and it would be
hard to justify giving the Artist of the Year award to an artist who hadn’t
released anything new all year. Taylor Swift has been one of the biggest
artists of the year, and if you’re going to argue for anyone else winning,
fine. Just don’t weep like MJ was robbed. He wasn’t.
Timbaland’s Size-Smedium Jacket
Timbaland has gone from being a sorta-paunchy dude who
produced Aaliyah circa the late ’90s–early 2000s, to a Lou Ferrigno-lookin’
bodybuilder circa who produced Nelly Fertado circa 2007. Somebody apparently
forgot to tell Timbo that, if you’re gonna go all Barry Bonds on us, you’ve got
to keep working out. Or else, you get all schlubby and that’s where the
multiplatinum hitmaker is now. It didn’t help that he was dressed like he had
borrowed a jacket from Jermaine Dupri. Shop in the adult men’s section from
now on, Timmy.
J. Lo … Why?
When Jennifer Lopez hit the stage to belt out (figuratively
speaking, of course) her latest melodically-challenged single, the vibe of the
awards show definitely took a turn towards icy. It didn’t help that J. Lo hasn’t
really been relevant as an artist in years, or that she’s never really been
known as a strong singer when performing live (or on record, for that matter).
But the fact that she appeared to bust her a– halfway through the performance
and that no one seemed to know the song she was singing only added to the “WTF?”
factor and added fuel to the still-simmering anti-“Jenny From the Block”
Adam Lambert’s Risque Performance
The “American Idol” runner-up took the stage for a set that
would’ve made Madonna blush. The gothic S&M get up featured what appeared
to be simulated fellatio and a lot of touchy-grabbi-ness with Lambert’s backup
dancers. Lambert seems hell-bent on proving that he’s the anti-Clay Aiken.
And the highlights …
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire
State of Mind’
This song is probably never gonna get old. Regardless of how
many awards shows and NY sporting events you may hear it at, Jay-Z and A-Keys
stirring anthem is always going to get the crowd on its feet. This night was no
exception as everyone from Melissa Etheridge to Seth Greene was seen swaying
and waving to the triumphant ode to the Big Apple. Jay sorta looked like a
waiter in that tuxedo, but — hey, we’ll give him a pass on that.
Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston
Two of the biggest-selling female artists of all-time got the chance to remind everyone why they are who they are. Janet opened the
show with a searing medley of some of her biggest hits — and her latest single, “Make
Me.” While Whitney’s performance of “I Don’t Know My Own Strength” was the
closest the night had to a definitive showstopper.
The genre-bending, overzealously-styled Gaga put on another
one of her dazzlingly over-the-top performances, complete with smashed glass, a
piano solo and some type of tribal headdress. Love her or hate her, she’s
always watch-able. And her tongue-in-cheek glam style is a nod to similar
artists of yesteryear like David Bowie and Queen. She can be an
attention-whore, but at least she’s never boring, and it’s nice to have a little
pomp injected into pop music these days.