All hail the Queen of the Red Carpet.
Yes for two years running now, Stacy Keibler has made us all forget she got her start in the WWE and showed up the Oscars as George Clooney’s well behaved escort in the show stopper gown of the night. So far she’s not showing loyalty to any one desginer. Last year she wowed in Marchesa. This year, she went with Naeem Khan. If she manages to keep this up for just a couple of more years (and doesn’t have a bad break up with Clooney), it will make her career.
The Oscars have a hosting problem. Billy Crystal is too dated. Most other comics seem to bomb badly. Why Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman aren’t on tap to host ever year is beyond me. And apparently they’re not smart enough to hire Tina Fey and Amy Poehler either. I’m not going to even dignify Seth MacFarlane’s tragic attempt at hosting the Oscars by posting the opening number. Suffice to say that when the best part of it is MacFarlane singing the I-wish-we-were-as-clever-as-South-Park number “We Saw Your Boobs,” complete with painfully bad homophobic jokes, not even Captain Kirk coming back from the future can save you.
This year billed itself as a tribute to Oscar musicals, and as such I had forlorn hopes that we might get a concert a la the Grammys. Sadly, not so much. The “musical” tribute considered of three songs, only one of which was a show stopper. Naturally, that was J.Hud, who seems to have co-opted “And I Am Telling You I’m not Going” from Jennifer Holliday completely.
Bond themes don’t always hit their mark. It’s hard to live up to the iconic sound of Shirley Bassey on “Goldfinger” or “Diamonds Are Forever.” Paul McCartney and (oddly) Duran Duran both found a way to make it work. But for money, Adele’s new song for the opening of the latest Bond movie finally gives us something close to the Bond themes of old.
You just have to be “ze greatest singer in ze world.”
Now that we’ve had 24 hours of televised shock and horror from the usual suspects, let’s have a moment of real. We watched Whitney die slowly over the last decade. We are all guilty of turning our eyes away and leaving her to rot in the pages of the tabloids. It’s under this cloud that the grammys aired tonight, and there was no segue during the show that was not affected by it. Somehow we found ourselves going from Bruce’s paean to the 99% to a public prayer to Whitney to Bruno Mars’ James Brown nostalgia act in the first 15 minutes. Nearly every artist who came on stage to present mentioned her. That’s why it was so perplexing that they waited to run the J.Hud tribute to her until near the end of the telecast? And that, of all the songs from Whitney’s catalog, they had her do “I Will Always Love You?” There are so many better songs that Whitney did. If they had to do this one, couldn’t they have gone with Dolly?
After the jump, Adele, Bruno Mars, and my favorite song of the night.
21 is the album that will not die.
According to Bilboard, Adele’s 21 just notched its 17th week as the number one album in the country, which ties it with Billy Ray Cyrus’ Some Gave All on the all-time most weeks at number one list. Adele’s next target is the Whitney Houston-centric soundtrack to The Bodyguard, which spent 20 weeks at number one. Considering Adele has a Grammy bump to look forward to, and with her greatest chart-topping challenger Nicki Minaj now sitting out until April, another three weeks on top seems like child’s play.
Once she crosses that threshold, Adele enters into a whole new sales universe. The Bodyguard has the most weeks at number one in the SoundScan era (1991-present), though there are eight other albums that have spent more weeks at the top of the chart. The soundtrack to West Side Story is the official all-time leader, with 54 weeks at the pinnacle in 1962-63. That record, like Cy Young’s all-time wins mark for pitchers, is unlikely to ever be toppled, but it was also set in an era when album sales were an extremely loose science (or, at worst, not a science at all). Should 21 notch 21 weeks at number one (poetic!), it should be considered the record holder in this particular category.
Hold on a second–did I just read that right? “Set Fire To The Rain” is Adele’s third single from 21. Third. Her first single from the album, “Rolling in the Deep,” was released alllllllllllllll the way back in Nov of 2010. In the time it took Adele to release three singles, Katy Perry has spawned six from Teenage Dream and is gearing up for the re-release of said album. Meanwhile Kayne West has released TWO albums (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne) plus a failed clothing line.
Three. That’s it. If her record company was planning on going for the standard five, the album is going to be in the Top Ten until this time next year.
The VMAs are MTV’s last callback to a time when they were the cultural music zeitgeist, the one pop music station everyone under 25 tuned into across the country. Ever since leaving NYC’s Radio City Music Hall and moving out to LA’s JWMarriott hotel, the VMAs have lost a great deal of the personality that made it fun to watch, as well as the sense that you’re watching a trainwreck live in slow motion. Gone are the visually jarring moments where the house LD shoved over to make way for which ever act’s touring LD stepped in. No more do we see the shots of backstage as frantic stage managers try to round-up drugged up pop stars de jour to shove them out bodily on to the stage to squint at their teleprompters. The look may be far more polished, but the heart is gone.
That doesn’t mean the pop stars themselves have gone too. Lady Gaga opened the show with an excerpt from her Freshman Acting 101 Final at NYU. If you really must subject yourself to why Gaga became a pop star and not an actress, you can watch all three acts starting here. Act2 was probably the most interesting, as Gaga attempted (in character) to sexually pressure Britney into making out on stage for the headlines, just one more time. Britney found the strength to say no at the last second, but the whole “Gaga-in-Drag” act obviously made her desperately uncomfortable, which is why the video cuts away. Act3 wrapped up the one-woman show. The best thing you can say about it was that, on a night of wild speculation of how Gaga could top herself costume-change wise, Gaga chose to go the truly unexpected route and do nothing. Continue reading
Yes, I will save the best for last. This mini trend that Amy Winehouse started before she died of singers who can actually sing is my favorite of the last five years. No showboating, no runs or thrills or goaty vibrato. Just a woman with a realistic body belting the hell out of a love song. You can’t beat that. It’s why her album 21 was Number one on the Billboard chart for 12 weeks, a feat not seen since Santana’s Supernatural back in 2000. That was eleven years ago, four years before the advent of iTunes and one of the last years before the music industry nose-dived off a cliff, a descent that still hasn’t found rock bottom. They keep searching for the next big thing, the thing that will revive the industry.
Perhaps they should consider dropping all the gimmicks and going with real vocalists?