Those Billboard Music Awards

I subjected myself to (most) of another awards show last night. Truth be told, I really am getting to the point where either music is going to get a complete redux, or I’m going to quit watching and just assume that the (music) world has already gone to hell in a hand basket. No, I’m not (entirely) stuck in the 80’s and yes, there is a lot of new music that I love….but none of it ever makes it onto these award shows, and honestly I’m tired of seeing Nicki Minaj’s behind along with the most clever uses for sticky tape (why isn’t THAT a category?!). Alas, I settled back last night and prepared to be disgusted.

I will not lie – my goal was to get through to see Simple Minds perform, and I found myself yelling, “Where is Molly Ringwald and WHEN is Simple Minds coming on so that I can stop watching!?!” periodically. I can’t help it…these shows have just degraded themselves to a point where they’re (almost) becoming unbearable for me.

The show opened with Taylor Swift’s new video for Bad Blood. I didn’t hate it. I liked the badass femme vibe to it (who wouldn’t?), and the song wasn’t horrible. I know the kids love her – I happen to live with one here who has adored her since Day One. I just liked her a little better when she sang and wasn’t completely overproduced to within an inch of her vocal life. She calls it “new” and “change”. I call it auto tune and more interest in selling records than making actual music. It’s a sad fact. I was amused that she included a group of what she calls “Powerful Women” in her video. I think the word “powerful” can mean a lot of different things, and her idea of powerful is apparently, “female celebrity and/or model”.  Food for thought.

I need a new planet. Anybody else?

Chrissy Teigen. To be completely fair, I could have written an entire blog just on her hosting ability, or complete lack thereof. I honestly thought she was higher than a kite when she first appeared on stage, and I’m still not entirely convinced she wasn’t. I just know that she did not show herself off in her best light last night, but then, this is the entertainment industry, and apparently that doesn’t matter as long as you look good – and she’s a model. It’s sad, really.  Her best comment of the night? “I bang a musician.” Classy.

That brings me to Van Halen. Let me just say, if you ever want to see a fan community that has been ripped in half due to personnel changes within a band – Van Halen is your go-to band. Half of their community knows exactly who David Lee Roth is and loves him despite the fact that he’s never been half as much vocalist as showman. The other half is supremely dedicated to Sammy Hagar (and original bassist Michael Anthony)  It seems that when you’re a VH fan, you pick a side and you stick with it until death do you part. It wouldn’t have mattered if sparks had flown out of Eddie’s guitar as he played last night – if you’re a Hagar fan, they sucked and David Lee Roth was terrible. On the other hand, if you loved Van Halen from the start, you might love the showmanship of David Lee Roth enough to excuse his (lack of) vocal talent. Last night Van Halen treated the crowd to Panama, and while I still agree that Roth is mostly flash, and a lot of goof, it got the show started with a bang.

I probably could have changed the channel right then and not missed much. EXCEPT that I was waiting patiently for Simple Minds, and dammit I was going to suffer through the rest to see them.

There were a ton of awards given. Most of them went to One Direction and Taylor Swift. I’m sure you can tell just how much I cared about the actual awards. The problem I find with Billboard…and pretty much all of the award shows, is that the music that lays undiscovered somewhere is usually the best stuff, while the music that floats to the top and is heralded on these award shows isn’t very representative of the brilliance out there. I think it’s been this way since the dawn of award shows. If you watch the show from last night, it wasn’t necessarily as much about real talent and artistry as it is look, bravado, shock and horror.  It takes quite a bit of patience to wade through the ridiculousness in order to find the true gems.

I was amused by Sam Smith’s acceptance speech because he is awaiting surgery and is on 100% vocal rest, so he wrote his speech on cue cards.  I wish they all did that, actually.

One moment in the show that shocked me…because that does occasionally still happen from time to time (thank goodness!), was seeing Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth and Lindsey Stirling’s performance. As most of you should know by now, I’m not a huge fan of Rap…this song, however, is different. It was beautiful and I loved it. Three things that shouldn’t really go together well, but they did. Loved the power, loved the texture, loved the message.

As if the show needed any more lunacy, at some point in the evening, Chris Brown and Pitbull were on the stage. I just have to ask, when are we ever going to learn? Why is it that bad behavior…truly abhorrent, BAD behavior, is always rewarded? I’m not talking about people with drug problems, or even people who have (very sadly) completely come undone  in front of the cameras and spotlights. Sure, some of those things are bad, but this is on a completely different level. A different galaxy of “bad”…if you will. I’m talking about someone who literally beat the crap out of their girlfriend on the way to an awards show. That’s not just “a mistake” that someone should be given a second chance to fix. Abusers shouldn’t have time in the spotlight, and they definitely shouldn’t be given the right to wield a microphone in order to exploit their messages about women. No one is ever going to be able to convince me that Mr. Brown never laid a hand on Rihanna before that beating in the limo…that definitely was not the first time he’d ever hit her, and probably not the first time he’d ever hit a woman period. But yet we’re all going to pretend that it’s OK, that he really did his time, paid his debt to society, to Rihanna…to WOMEN (not)..and that he’s allowed back up on that stage, and people actually applaud for him to be there, including his very misguided fans – some of which openly believe that Rihanna deserved that beating. Newsflash, parents out there…TEACH YOUR GIRLS BETTER. TEACH YOUR BOYS BETTER. It’s gross. It’s demeaning. It makes people who HAVE been hit, abused, etc. feel as though their fight just doesn’t matter…that there’s no one out there fighting for them. We need to do better as humans.  I’m disgusted that this industry doesn’t give a shit, as long as his music sells, the rest just doesn’t matter.  It’s wrong. I will keep giving this soapbox statement every single time I see him up on an awards stage…

That is going to bring me to the best part of my Sunday night. Molly Ringwald, my leader of my (and nearly every other 80s teenage girl on the planet) “club”, stepped onto the stage and marveled over the fact that it’s been 30 years since Breakfast Club was released and Don’t You (Forget About Me) was on the Billboard charts. Yes, I realize that Simple Minds didn’t write the song (I read Mad World, didn’t you?), and I also am aware that this is not one of their best songs. If you came away from last night thinking either or both of those things, you completely missed the point. Despite my needing to wipe back some very happy and nostalgic tears…it was a beautiful, worthy-of-a-time-capsule moment. Yeah, she asked Taylor if she could be in her club, and that was pretty cringeworthy for me because damn it – Molly is still my leader – but aside from that, I smiled, I cheered a little, and I thanked my lucky stars that I grew up in the 80s. We really had the best music.  The video is below (it’s crappy quality – apparently Billboard didn’t care enough about this performance to make sure it was uploaded properly and I couldn’t find any better online this morning)

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of newer bands that I like. Imagine Dragons is one of them…and they performed last night as well. They chose to perform Stand By Me in tribute to blues legend BB King, who died last week in Las Vegas. His guitar, “Lucille”, was actually on display at the show as well. Other bands have done similar things before, choosing to play in tribute to legends, and those performances tend to feel gratuitous and cheesy, but Imagine Dragons did very well and earned some very well-deserved respect. They stripped the song down to bare minimum, and allowed the music to speak for itself.

Kanye West closed the show with a huge pyrotechnic performance that most of the world never heard in it’s entirety because of the language…well done, Kanye. Once again, you never cease to amaze in your choices… With all of the incredible music out there, this is really what sells?

-R

Leave a Reply