Posts tagged ‘keith urban’

February 2, 2010

Pink, Men in Grey and the True Colors of The Grammy Awards 2010

“Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself/ Will it ever get better than tonight?”

Despite what the beautifully dressed, off key and exuberantly delusional Taylor Swift would like you to believe, when you’re 80 and you think back to the 2010 Grammy Awards, you will think back, not to her tedious pubescent musing on the cynically titled CD “Fearless,”  but to that lyric  from the authentically fearless “Funhouse” CD and you will  definitely think Pink.

She tore the roof off of the place last night at the Grammys, singing “Glitter in the Air.”  It was a performance that will go down in Grammy history as iconic. Click here if you missed it.

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She appeared resplendently clad as if an all white Byzantine Madonna, later stripping down to a sheer glittery white catsuit and floated alternately angelically, aerobically and Busby Berkeley-like above the crowd, all the while throwing down the gauntlet to every singer and “performance artist” by excelling at both.

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She was a much needed  leave-you-breathless-breath-of-jaw-dropping-bravura in a  high stakes game of showmanship that favored the  histrionic (Earth Song Michael Jackson tribute) , mawkish ( Andrea Bocelli and Mary J Blige), soporific (Dave Mathews Band), gratuitous (Bon Jovi) , sophomoric (Taylor Swift, embarrassingly out of tune), profane (Eminem et al) and  the merely interesting on paper (Lady Gaga and Elton John). Only the muscular performance by the night’s big winner, Beyonce, and the sweetly rendered harmonies of Lady Antebellum, whose comparatively very low key performance has reportedly immediately spiked sales of “Need you Now,” came even remotely close to matching the thrill of Pink.

It was definitely ladies night  during the televised portion of the ceremony which may have left many of the guys singing the blues but also  of note  this year was the  surprising number of guys who rated  on the red carpet by trading the black tux for the grey suit or dinner jacket.  Among  those who favored the chic alternative of various shades, patterns and textures of grey instead of black included Dave Matthews, Mario Lopez, Lionel Richie,  Josh Dumel, Carlos Santana, Russel Brand and “Jersey Shore” caricature Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.

Below is a gallery of the ones who really pulled it off.

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John Legend wore his with a v-neck sweater and tie.

Keith Urban wore it showcasing his signature “heavage.”

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Rapper Common looked so dapper in plaid with a red pindot evening scarf and  country singer Billy Currington rocked the 3 piece charcoal number.

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Grammy winner David Guetta went for an artful military vibe while Justin Guarini looked smashing in a grey tuxedo over a graphic t shirt.

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Critical darlings and  Grammy winners Kings of Leon split the difference.

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Gradually, so did the guys from Green Day.

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The Jonas Brothers looked better than ever  but it’s  Joe’s grey dinner jacket that nails the look.

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Linkin Park manged to navigate the fine line between corporate and cool.

To recap: Men in grey were rocking the red carpet and Pink was flying high while “Glitter was in the air.” Oh, and hey Taylor, sweetie, before you take yourself too seriously, do you happen to remember the 1983 Album of the Year? No? It was Toto IV by Toto.

Color me Barbara, but I think I’ve said enough, no?

November 28, 2009

If lovin’ you is wrong

If you’re disappointed with Levi Johnson, who recently proved in Playgirl that he’s got as much  to offer between his legs as between his ears, then maybe you should shift your attention from Ricky Holly/NoWood to somebody who deserves it: Billy Currington.

He’s the country singer/songwriter whose current single “(God is great, beer is good and) People are Crazy is about as pithy as it gets.

Pithy, not pissy. Pissy would be Adam Lambert, who is blaming everything from Out magazine to  homophobia for the mismanagement of his career. It takes some balls going between and betwix there –all rogue/ all victim/all the time–and puts him on the fast track to  be the Sarah Palin of the gay/music world.

Apart from his instantly hummable songs which would sound right at home on a George Strait CD, what distinguishes Mr Currington  is his membership in the growing crop of  hunky country crooners who flaunt their big guns and gym toned bods and who, with studied nonchalance, look like they stepped out of the pages of Details magazine.

Call them countrymetrosexuals. Yes, I just made that term up, truthiness be told, and, no, it’s not an oxymoron. Tim McGraw and  Keith Urban are the most conspicuous of the breed. Red state or blue state, redneck or blue blood, it turns out the girls go crazy for a sharp un/dressed man.

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Mr. Currington must be doing something right because he’s become a fixture on the list of men who use their bodies as much as they use their voices to build a music career  and, as a result, also a fixture at the top of the charts. His video for the song “Must be doin’ somethin’ right” shows him completely comfortable with using his  “On the Waterfront” sexuality, pushing the envelope about as far as any mainstream  white male singer has since Chris Isaak‘s “Wicked Game” video.

And push he does. Unlike in “Wicked Game”, where the camera mostly devours and fetishizes Helena Christiansen as she shows off her body for (the male gaze and) Mr Isaak, in ” Must be doin’ something right,” the camera devours Mr Currington’s buff bod which is being shown off for the female gaze.

When you watch this video  you will be struck by how rare this display of male sexuality is in music videos while the female equivalent is almost obligatory for most female superstars, no matter their race, genre or, in Mariah‘s case, age. (Susan Boyle, beware.)

After his preposterous over the top gay underground visual extravaganzaon the American Music Awards was roundly criticized, Mr Lambert fired back that there was a double standard being applied to him because he was gay , pointing to  Madonna and Brittney Spears as examples of performers who have used overtly sexual imagery in their performances, including a same sex kiss for instance, without having to face the wrath of the censors.

He’s only partly right. Yes, conspicuous (and caricatured) displays of gay male sexuality  on network television (but not cable) make America uncomfortable in  2009. So do “wardrobe malfunctions.” Just ask Janet Jackson. But he’s fundamentally  doing somethin’ wrong when he refuses to factor in that America is just now becoming comfortable with routinely fetishizing the male anatomy for the consumption of the female viewer, with (who would have guessed) countrymetrosexuals leading the way.

(See also the ads for Emporio Armani underwear featuring David Beckham.)

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It’s going to take some time before America embraces Mr. Lambert kissing male keyboardists let alone orally sodomizing dancers onstage. In the meantime, Adam, if you want to entertain us, start by keeping it in your pants and  record a few good songs and an album that doesn’t get panned by critics.

It worked for  Tim and Keith and Billy.

November 23, 2009

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN SING: Live Like You’re Dying at the American Music Awards

Last night’s American Music Awards was such a train wreck of unfulfilled expectations that you could hardly blame one for thinking that the Obama administration, not Dick Clark Productions, must have been responsible for it.

I say that (only partly) because I’m not exactly sure that Dick Clark is even still alive. But when dead people who released no music this year win 5 awards (Michael Jackson), being alive was kinda beside the point at this spectacle.

So, for the most part, was singing live.

Things got off to an ominous start when Paula Abdul welcomed the audience into a dead microphone.

Then out came Janet Jackson who is apparently so grief stricken over Michael’s  death that she was inspired/used it as an opportunity to revive her decade long moribund career by dropping 20 pounds and a new greatest hits CD so she could lip synch and show off dance moves so dated that they’re in clear danger of being eligible for a revival.

Later in the show Jeniffer Lopez took pretty much the same route considering her career has been on life support  since “Waiting for Tonight,” which in 1999 turned out to be the anthem for ushering in the new Millennium. Last night she sang about leaving an uncooperative lover as she puts on impossibly expensive and vertiginous red soled  killer heels (Louboutins). Only  problem: she fell flat on her fabled asset while attempting her Katie Holmes-like dance moves and this morning she’s suffering  from a bruised ego (if not also a hip).

The highly cloying Taylor Swift who won 4 awards last night was on hand only via satelite from London where she was rehearsing for a concert at Wembley Arena. Keeping her off stage was perhaps the smartest move the producers could have made, considering she undeservedly (again) won the evening’s biggest award. Now the smartest thing she should do is call Debbie Gibson for career advice. And swiftly, as she’s at about minute 13 on her fame trajectory.

In the battle of the country divas, Keith Urban won handily over Carrie Underwood because he’s prettier and he showed more cleavage.  But he also fared better because he  didn’t scream his trite lyrics  and his performance didn’t look as if someone had shaken a  snow globe so that the awkward  moving Ms Underwood could appear as if she was engaging/engaged in some sort of dance number.

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And herein lies the problem with much of last night’s telecast.  Most of the performers were overreaching for visual images instead of connecting to an audience– as if the overwrought visuals could possibly make up for  poorly written songs, the inability to carry a tune or just sheer lack of stage presence.

That’s what music videos are for.

The  performers who acquitted themselves with any dignity were the ones who actually sang.  By that I mean live and into their working microphones, most notably  Kelly Clarkson, Jay Z with Alicia Keys and Whitney Houston.
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Coincidentally these were the 3 performances which brought down the house before the kitchy  and already overexposed Adam Lambert failed and, let’s be very clear, failed miserably to blow the roof off the place, as had been hyped.

Ms Clarkson got a much deserved standing ovation for her performance of “Already Gone,” a song essentially about knowing when to cut your losses. And boy does she.  She came, she sang, she conquered. How a singer this good and this smart wasn’t the big winner last night is beyond me.  Although she didn’t sound as perfectly heartbreaking as she did on VH1 Divas 2009 , she performed early enough in the show that by the time Jay Z came on to imperially command the room with “Empire State of Mind,” an ode to New York City as much as to his own undeniable artistic empire, she had already set the standard for the evening.

And by the time Whitney Houston came out in a glorious Kaufman Franco white gown, with beatific white stage lighting and a bad wig, it was a good thing Ms Clarkson was already gone. There’s just no denying that Ms Houston has irreparably damaged her voice with years and years of drug abuse but last night  in a gut wrenching confessional that lasted  a few fleeting minutes she managed to  use the detritus to her advantage in “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength,” a song  about hard won lessons from your own resurrection.

That performance, at once delusional and pathetic but emotionally raw and brutally honest, brought to mind both Billie Holiday and Marianne Faithfull, women with drug ravaged voices which remain powerfully alive because they wear their heart on their sleeve and not because they wear us down with visual pyrotechnics.