Monday, June 29, 2009

BET fails to deliver knock out blow in MJ tribute

My reaction to last night's BET Awards can be summed up in one word: disappointed.

No Chris Brown. No Usher. No 'Thriller.' No 'Billie Jean.' No 'Remember the Time.'

The bases were loaded with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. The count was full (3 balls and 2 strikes) and BET swings and misses. Strike 3! You're out, BET!

Perhaps it's my fault for having high expectations on what was one of the most anticipated television award shows in recent memory. Everyone tuned into the BET Awards to see this "star-studed" Michael Jackson tribute that had been hyped up since the news of his death.

I had my money on Chris Brown moonwalking in an electrifying performance of "Billie Jean." Unfortunately, that did not happen and C-Breezy was no where in sight at the annual awards show. And after watching host Jamie Foxx attempt to moonwalk across the stage, it was clear that Chris Brown's presence was MUCH needed last night.

We didn't even get the next best candidate, Usher, who was out of the country.

Instead of Brown and Usher, we were insulted and overdosed with Jackson-inspired performances from the triple-threat host Jamie Foxx and the hatless Ne-Yo.

Every time you looked up one or the other was on stage. I lost count on how many times they performed. Now, I like Foxx and Ne-Yo, but I was ready to throw a brick through the television when they came out to close the show with "I'll Be There."

Don't get me wrong, they did good, but we deserved something bigger and better. Maybe a celebration song performed by a group of artists -- "Dancing Machine?"..."Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough?"....or how about "Man in the Mirror?"

In my opinion, "I'll Be There" should have been led by someone like Alicia Keys or Mariah Carey, who previously recorded a powerhouse version of the song. A-Keys/Carey could have had a whole group of singers on stage to support them. Each taking a few lines from the song. Artists like Beyonce, Ciara, the absent Mary J. Blige, Ginuwine, Trey Songz, Tyrese, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake -- whoever!

C'mon BET, where was Smokey Robinson? Or how about Stevie Wonder? I know y'all have both of these men on speed dial. Or even Michael's good friend, Diana Ross? James Ingram or El DeBarge would have also sufficed.

I will give BET credit for having Joe Jackson in the crowd, even though he didn't speak. That was left up to Janet Jackson, who made an emotional appearance to thank fans for their support.

I will also give BET credit for pulling off the task of revamping nearly the entire show to accommodate a few MJ tributes, which were scattered throughout the show. Perhaps the tribute would have came across better if all the MJ performances were done one after the other instead of being spread out.

In addition, the tribute songs were also not the uptempo or dance-friendly hits that most of us have come to love and enjoy. The disappointment continued. I wanted to see Ciara bring the crowd to their feet by singing/dancing to "Beat It" or "Scream." Instead she performed one of my least favorite MJ songs, "Heal the World." Whhhhy?

One performance I will applaud is Ne-Yo's rendition of "The Lady in My Life," a ballad off the 1983 Thriller album. Ne-Yo owned this song and I'm sure the King of Pop was smiling down on that performance. Although MJ should have whispered to Ne-Yo: "Put your hat back on." LOL.

The show kicked off with New Edition, including Bobby Brown, dressed like the Jackson 5 as they performed "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save." The five-man group had the choreography together, but the vocals were a train wreck [and that's being nice]. And Bobby Brown looked even bigger than Mike from Day26. It was a nice surprise, but damn...not a good way to start off the show. That was where we needed Chris Brown. Maybe MTV will bring C-Breezy back.

Fifteen-year-old actress Keke Palmer [of Akeelah and the Bee] nearly stole the show singing "Who's Loving You" before introducing Jamie Foxx and T-Pain.

I had no idea she could sing like that!? The only thing that could have topped what she did would have been a surprise performance from En Vogue, who also covered "Who's Loving You." Wow....imagine if they would have came out!?

Beyonce, to my surprise, was not involved with the Michael Jackson tribute. Another injustice. Instead she performed ballads "Ava Maria" and "In the Arms of an Angel." In my opinion that was a poor and lazy decision, considering she is currently on tour performing those songs. The performance was identical to the one she is doing on the tour.

If Beyonce wanted to sing a ballad, she could have sang "Never Can Say Goodbye" or "Gone too Soon." Or in a recent show in Philadelphia she performed "I Can't Help It" in a tribute to MJ. Why didn't she do that at the BET Awards? I'm sure it would have been appreciated more than "Ava Maria."

Overall, the tribute was about a 4 out of 10. The entire show was about 7 out of 10 (Thanks to the O'Jays performance)

Bottom line: BET failed to deliver and I'm sure MTV is already hard at work to produce a much better tribute. (even though MTV will have three months compared to BET's two/three days)


Ralph said...

Good analysis...but trying to book people in a day 1/2 is extremely hard, not to mention rehearsal time...Im sure BET did everything they could, but keep in mind that some folks might have turned down the opportunity for lack of preparation (why?...Im not sure who would trun down that opportunity) Im just gining the network the benefit of the doubt.
But the Drake/Wayne performance w/ the Kids on stage reciting the words - HORRIBLE! We got to do better.

Latiya A said...

The O'Jay's in my opinion owned the show, also Tyrese, JG and Trey Songz did a great job with their tribute. I forgot how good of a singer Tyrese is and Trey surprised me. I wish I could purchase that special I think CBS did for MJ b/c it was much better than BET which has become the go to network since there is no more Soul Train awards or is it? Also I did like Tevin Campbell's performance and the New Jack Swing performance was a 5 out of 10 simply b/c idk what happened to Aaron Hall. Maybe just maybe we'll get a tribute sometime later this year from another network

Miss Marche said...

Agreed with Ralph.... there was only so much time to pull something together. But then I can't figure out why they would hype it up so much. Even during the show, the crawl at the bottom of the screem promised "a finale you won't want to miss!" Visions of Chris Brown danced in my head, but alas, it was not to be.

I hope BET learns that next time, it's best to manage expectations.

Lord Larry said...

The show needed to move faster, and could have, if only Jamie Foxx had moved his ego out of the way. The film clip w/ Martin Lawrence was a WOT. How awkward and time-wasting was walking Beyonce to a seat that wasn't even hers! Jamie made it his showcase --- and thought he was being generous to share the spotlight. BET deserves props for the last minute revisions --- camera work was AWFUL, though --- but now they have to come strong with a REAL tribute. I loved, however, the barely rehearsed "realness" of the Foxx/Ne-yoh duet.