November 24, 2008 by

My Rantings About the American Music Awards


Categories: music, Rantings, whine-and-opine

Last night, I did something beneath me…

I watched a music awards show on TV.

It was the American Music Awards. (Okay, so nothing else was on. Sue me.)

Anyhow, just some opinions about some of the highlights of the night:
  • Kanye West, in typical uber-narcissistic fashion, preached about how he wanted to be the next Elvis, instead of thanking anyone for his award. He followed this up by turning in one of the most boring performances of the night. (He, no doubt, believed his performance to be flawless.)
  • Jonas Brothers showed a lot of stage presence but also demonstrated the weakness of their young voices in a live performance.
  • Coldplay, known for their great live shows, actually performed below their normal standard. (Oh, well, everyone has a bad night now and then.)
  • Beyonce shook a lot of booty and had several near misses in the “wardrobe malfunction” department, while singing a song about wedding rings, for probably the most flashy performance of the night. (no pun intended)
  • Old New Kids on the Block sang a medley of their greatest hits…no comment needed. 🙂
  • Alicia Keys’ performance was great–right up until the 2nd verse when Queen Latifah got up and began rapping about Barack Obama. Followed by…an opera singer?? The “superwoman” theme was cool and all, but…come on???
  • Some of the performances that sucked less than the others…Sarah McLachlan (surprise duet with Pink); Taylor Swift; The Fray; and Christina Aguilara, who opened the show with a medley (the only one of the young blonde divas that can actually sing).
The hands-down, show-stopping performance of the night? Annie Lennox. Singing alone with a piano, with no flashy set, no pyrotechnics, no sexy dancers. Brought down the house.

So…can anyone tell me why the one amazing performace in a 3-hour music awards show was by a woman in her 50s who topped the charts over 20 years ago?

No, this isn’t about musical style, and I’m not dating myself. I actually listen to some of my kid’s music, and like it. But when a 53-year-old woman with a piano can outclass production numbers that probably cost millions to produce…this is saying something. This is about performance, execution, and raw talent. Why don’t they make ’em like this anymore?

I don’t think it’s because we don’t have talented people these days, because we do. But something is getting lost in the translation.

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

5 Responses to My Rantings About the American Music Awards

  1. Sarah

    Perhaps it’s the difference between an artist and a performer. An artist creates for the sheer joy of creating. Performers make commercial products misnamed “art” or “music” in which they hope to exploit their talents for some profit (whether fame, or money, or both).

    Annie Lennox is an artist. It’s great when artists can make a living by doing what they are passionate about (in this case, creating music as a form of artistic communication). It’s less interesting when it’s something different entirely: a commercial performance.

  2. Jeff McQ

    No question about the artistry of Annie Lennox–and no doubt that passion enhances a performance. I tend to blur the lines a bit, though, between artistry and performance, because I think there are great artists that are great performers…and there are even some we would classify more as “entertainers” that can actually, um, entertain–people whose stage presence and skill command attention without the *need* for all the hype, even if it exists. Bono and U2 use lots of special effects in their shows, but Bono doesn’t need them or rely on them; he’s a consummate performer, IMHO. He commands the attention of the audience when he performs.(He’s also an artist.)

    I guess I’m lamenting that among the newer generations there don’t seem to be the standouts, people with the “it” factor, like a Bono or an Annie Lennox or a (gasp!) Tina Turner. They probably exist, but they are overmarketed and prostituted to the point that their performance factor never develops.


  3. euphrony

    I agree. Today’s musicians have been weaned on the milk of musical touch-ups and finely crafted images. Who knows, maybe under the fluff there are some genuine artists out there? But you can’t tell because the fluff is never peeled away.

    It’s like seeing a supermodel on the street – sure, she looks good but without all the makeup, lighting, etc. she just doesn’t look spectacular. Maybe that’s why I like to hear demos of songs, or stuff like the unplugged versions of Clapton – you get to really see the artist and experience their genius (or lack thereof).

  4. Seth Ward

    Annie is just awesome. Kanye isn’t an artistic pimple on her butt.

    This is the generation of cover songs. Honestly, its really getting old.

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