I don't know about you, but I think the Michael Jackson tribute was spot-on. The performances were heartfelt, the presentation appropriate, the eulogies funny and feisty, and the sentiments well expressed (though I think MLK's daughter Bernice dwelled a little too much on her own family rather than the Jacksons, but that's just my take...) Watch the entire thing here. Perhaps the most touching part of it was when his daughter Paris made that heartbreaking statement about her dad at the end. How wonderful that up until now, Michael's masks and veils, which we all thought were so odd, allowed them to have a childhood free of being hounded by fans and paparazzi, since few knew who they were. As the AP put it:
For all the hasty preparations, hand-wringing over security, breathless media competition to scoop details and soul-wrenching performances, the essence of Michael Jackson’s memorial service came down to 20 poignant, powerful seconds: the moment when 11-year-old Paris-Michael Jackson inched up to the microphone and, in a statement no one saw coming, referred to the late pop superstar as “Daddy.”
... And all at once, Jackson wasn’t the larger-than-life “King of Pop,” or Wacko Jacko the tabloid freak. He was a doting father who had left three adoring young children behind.
Perhaps the second most moving tribute came from Brooke Shields, who explained her lifelong friendship with Jackson, borne out of the common experience of childhood stardom. Having never really thought of Brooke Shields in that light, it was a stark reminder of what a strange, charmed life she, Jackson and other child stars live.
Meeanwhile, here are two pieces of proof that at the end of the day, what Michael Jackson was principally, was a very, very gifted performer. Cheers.
Here's Michael and the Jackson 5, performing "Ben," live (1975):
The mother of all televised dance performances: Michael performing "Billie Jean" at the Motown 25 special, back in 1983 (when I was in junior high school. Damn, I can still remember watching the special with my sister, my brother and my mom, and trying -- and failing -- to do those moves! The next day at school, everybody was trying to do them...)
And last but not least: links to my favorite "version" of Michael (the FINE version!) -- from his best album, in my opinion, "Off the Wall," here are "Rock With You" and my 12-year-old son's new favorite Youtube video: "Don't Stop till You Get Enough" (or as he calls it: the three Michael Jacksons video.) Enjoy!
Vibe Magazine's "Best Rapper Ever" contest makes a mockery of hip-hop (in fairness, commercial hip-hop has been making a mockery of itself since the mid-90s, so I guess all's fair in love and wackness.) The first inkling I got that something was wrong was when people like Cowboy, Cannibus, Trina and MC Hammer (plus someone called Kid Cudl) showed up in the round 1 rankings, while people like Dr. Dre, Common, Mos Def and any member of the Wu Tang Clan did not. It was pretty much downhill from there. Take a look at "Round 2, bracket 1": it pitted Eminem against ... wait for it ... Will Smith. Huh??? Are those two even remotely equivalent? I mean, Will Smith is a great comedic actor and seems like a terrific guy, but how did he even get near that bracket? ...
Throw in Redman vs. Juvenile, Big Daddy Cane vs. Camron (another perplexing match-up) and get this: Grandmaster Melle Mel vs. ... um ... Mase. Seriously. Mase. In other words: it was a facile way to get Eminem to the semifinals (he beat Snoop for the "honor." Why not just put Puffy ... I mean "Diddy" in the finals and blow the whole thing up!? As for the semis? They pit Eminem against Jay Z and Tupac against the Notorious B.I.G. with no real explanation as to the methodology, but with the inexplicable result of eliminating either Biggy or Tupac before the final vote, and elevating the arguably very talented Eminem and Jay Z, neither of whom is Tupac or B.I.G. ... (not to mention the possible result of crowning white rapper Eminem the Greatest of All Time, via a voice vote of college kids and tweens.) Here's a thought, Vibe (the magazine that helped spark the Tupac-Biggie feud that left both men dead, and also contributed to the Miamification and Puffyization of hip-hop): quit now, declare BIG and Tupac the co-champions and get out while you still have some dignity.
No, I really did tell you Adam Lambert could be the new Freddie Mercury. (BTW it's raining in Miami on the Saturday before Memorial Day, which is why I'm here fooling around instead of at the beach. We head to the movies in 15 minutes... Just saying I'm not THAT big a blog nerd...)
Jamie Foxx says he dreamt up the tooootally original concept for his video for the deep, inspirational and complex anthem, "Blame it on the alcohol" ... wait for it ... at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Seriously. Being around so many other celebrities inspired his creativity.
The whole thing came together when they decided to reconcile shortly after the attack. Sources tell us music producer Polow Da Don convinced both Chris and Rihanna to get in the studio and record a love song stat, stressing that timing was important because the heightened emotions would translate powerfully into the music.
Both Rihanna and Chris agreed and snuck in a couple of "late night" sessions that we're told were "very, very emotional ... the feeling in the room was pure love." Clearly, love hurts.
The song had been written for Rihanna before "the incident," but the producer felt it was even better-er now.
Meanwhile, can we next expect a new single from "Bebe Brown" and his ex? Yeah, the gospel singer has been booked for domestic violence, too.
TMZ unleashes the pictures that could end Chris Brown's career, at least for the forseeable future. E! News reports the LAPD has launched an internal investigation and somebody could be in big trouble over the photo, if it turns out to be the real deal. And there's this:
A law-enforcement source close to the Brown investigation tells E! News that the leaked photo was one taken by a detective when officers first arrived at the Hancock Park scene of the alleged attack.
"There was another set taken at the hospital where the swelling is even worse," the source said.
Per the source, the fight began when Rihanna intercepted an incoming text message to Brown's cell phone from another woman. She later told police that this wasn't the first time Brown had been physically abusive.
But this time, the source said, "she may have thrown the first punch."
The insider also tells us that, within 48 hours of Brown's arrest, "a tabloid" offered "over a hundred grand" for a police photo of Rihanna.
"Internal Affairs is up in their butts over the leaks," the source said, adding that, even earlier today, LAPD staffers were being warned about leaking info. "They're threatening to administer polygraphs."
Brown has apologized (without getting specific about what transpired,) but that hasn't stopped the endless media whupping, although per E!, the media may be the least of his troubles:
At the request of the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, the R&B star is being investigated for a variety of felonies, including domestic violence, assault resulting in great bodily injury and—based on specific allegations made by Rihanna—even attempted murder, a source close to the L.A. Police Department's investigation tells E! News.
But as they build their case, the source says, prosecutors fear that making any serious felony charges stick could prove difficult in a case where there are no direct witnesses other than Rihanna and Brown.
Lingering questions from last night's Grammy Awards:
Is Rihanna the "unnnamed woman" Chris Brown was arrested for throttling, and is that why BOTH of them failed to show for the awards, rather than just him? Signs point to yes... and it gets worse, according to TMZ:
TMZ has confirmed Rihanna is the named alleged victim in the Chris Brown case and the allegation is that she was assaulted with a deadly weapon.
Law enforcement sources tell us the crime report calls the incident assault with a deadly weapon -- we do not yet know the nature of the weapon.
The crime report gives the victim's name as Robyn Fenty -- that's Rihanna's real name.
Another Q: what's with the Brit phenom M.I.A. performing on her freaking due date? And that polka dot outfit! WTF was that all about??? (BTW one of the funniest moments of the night was when the camera caught our friend M.I.A. scratching the bejeezus out of her wig ... er ... hair ... during the nominations for best new artist. Adele was chewing gum. She won.)
Worse, what the HELL was up with Kanye West's HAIR??? Was he trying to channel Rockwell from the 1980s with that mullet or what? I sure hope that was for a part in a movie...
And while we're on the hip hop tip, how in the name of God did the turtle-like Lil Wayne beat Jay Z (and Nas, for that matter) out of one Grammy, let alone THREE???
Jay Z had one of the best performances of the night, both with the "Rap pack" and with Chris Martin of Coldplay. Another good collaboration: Justin Timberlake and both Al Green and T.I.
All in all, I disagree with those who called it a horrible show, though it was a bit all over the place. But again, I could have done without the polka dot belly.
UPDATE: Chris Brown has been dropped as a spokesman for Doublemint Gum pending the outcome of the investiga... oh, hell, he's not getting that back.
Meanwhile, TMZ has updated their reporting to say that despite the police report, there was no weapon involved in the alleged assault, but that according to the law, a deadly weapon doesn't necessarily have to be a gun or knife (there may be an umbrella involved..) And get this:
One law enforcement source who has been dead-on so far claims Rihanna suffered contusions and bite marks.
Not since Soul II Soul took over my musical youth have I seen so many British acts rocking the U.S. charts! I hadn't realized that I was sharing my taste for British pop with like, the whole freaking world, or at least, with the Grammy voters. On the show tonight, there were no fewer than half a dozen British acts up for awards, performing, etc., including:
Sir Paul McCartney (who just about everyone bigged up onstage) Coldplay (who won everything Robert Plant didn't get) Robert Plant (who has a hit duet album with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss) Adele (still chasing pavements ... great song btw) Keith Urban (Okay, he's Australian, but close enough!) Duffy (who won for something given off camera, apparently) RadioHead (who just performed)
... and I know I'm forgetting others. So far, it's been a very British night (which the UK papers have of course noticed,) and a very eclectic one. I have to say I'm enjoying the show more than I thought I might, back when I was dubious about watching for fear of three hours of Miley Cyrus-level entertainment... Oh, and speaking of "chasing pavements"...
In a sign of the massive upheaval within the record business since the introduction of the iPod and iTunes, the record label with the most British nominees is not a big company, such as EMI, but a small independent outfit named XL Recordings. Its artists include Adele and MIA, and the label was also chosen by Radiohead to release the CD of In Rainbows.
Love that! MTV is liveblogging and has great pics. BTW the audio quality is TERRIBLE!!!! Not cute, CBS.
BTW, from what I could hear via the muffled audio, JHud did a great performance, and beat Al Green and Boyz II Men for best R&B album. Good for her!
I've always had a little bit of trouble with Christmas. Having lost my mother, who made Christmas so much fun for us as kids, when I was 17, I learned to hate the holiday, until I had kids of my own. Every year, I work hard to make it as special for them as it was for me growing up, and to hide the fact that the holiday still makes me tremendously sad (and stressed.)
Even without personal tragedy (and I have several friends who are celebrating their first Christmas without a loved one who died this year, not to mention all of the families of U.S. troops who are in the same situation, and Iraqis too...) Christmas is bundled with contradictions. It's purportedly a religious holiday, but the date it's celebrated was cribbed by the early Christian church, directly from the pagan calendar (not to mention the fact that Jesus was mostly probably born in June.) In a way, Christmas is probably best celebrated the way Macy's intended, as a secular holiday that's about Santa, happy children, and the last magical thing most of us will ever believe in.
That said, there are three Christmas songs I really love: "This Christmas" by Donny Hathaway, which is just a quality R&B song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," and "I'll be Home for Christmas" (Michael Buble has a great version) even though that particular song always makes me cry. If I had to add a fourth, it would be John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" which was written a few days before Halloween in 1971 by John Lennon snd Yoko Ono in their New York hotel room, as a protest against the Vietnam War. Some trivia about the song from SongFacts:
John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote this in their New York City hotel room and recorded it during the evening of October 28 and into the morning of the 29th, 1971 at the Record Plant in New York. It was released in the US for Christmas, but didn't chart. The next year, it was released in the UK, where it did much better.
John and Yoko spent a lot of time in the late '60s and early '70s working to promote peace. In 1969, they put up billboard advertisements in major cities around the world that said, "War is over! (If you want it)." Two years later this slogan became the basis for this song when Lennon decided to make a Christmas record with an anti-war message.
The children's voices are the Harlem Community Choir, who were brought in to sing on this track. They are credited on the single along with Yoko and The Plastic Ono Band.
Lennon and Ono produced this with the help of Phil Spector. Spector had worked on some of the later Beatles songs and also produced Lennon's "Instant Karma." It was not Spector's first foray into Christmas music: he spent the summer of 1963 putting together A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, featuring artists like The Ronettes and Darlene Love. Unfortunately, the album was released on November 22, 1963, which was the same day US president John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the album was pulled from the market.
... Lennon was shot and killed less than 3 weeks before Christmas in 1980. This was re-released in the UK on December 20th of that year.
And here are the lyrics:
So this is Christmas And what have you done Another year over And a new one just begun Ans so this is Christmas I hope you have fun The near and the dear one The old and the young
A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let's hope it's a good one Without any fear And so this is Christmas For weak and for strong For rich and the poor ones The world is so wrong And so happy Christmas For black and for white For yellow and red ones Let's stop all the fight A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let's hope it's a good one Without any fear And so this is Christmas And what have we done Another year over And a new one just begun Ans so this is Christmas I hope you have fun The near and the dear one The old and the young A very merry Christmas And a happy New Year Let's hope it's a good one Without any fear War is over over If you want it War is over Now...
And here's the original song:
To all of those who are missing loved ones this Christmas, I wish you comfort, peace, and the joy of a season full of intended, and unintended, blessings.
Guess who will be rocking the mike, and the vote, for Barack Obama on Sunday? (If you guessed Beyonce's snotty sister's baby's uncle-in-law, you're on track...!) The celebs have been pouring it on for Obama over the last few weeks, with Tyler Perry, Forrest Whitaker, Cynthia Nixon (from Sex in the City), local baller Alonzo Mourning and out-of-towner Patrick Ewing just some of the celebs passing through. Let's guess who's getting the cool kids' vote this year... (by the way, no swearing, Jigga! Fox News is watching...!)