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Michael and the BET Awards

Posted by Matthew Gilbert  June 28, 2009 10:59 PM

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What do you get when you cross a Michael Jackson tribute with the BET Awards? Tonight, you got a disjointed event that, alas, didn’t quite evoke the spirit of the late King of Pop, despite a last-minute appearance by his sister Janet.

The annual BET ceremony, which honors black singers, actors, and athletes, happened to fall a few days after Jackson’s death. So the stage was set for an emotional tribute to the man without whose video work BET arguably might not exist. But promises by BET for an impromptu, deeply felt night faded as the show teetered between the usual overly lit, overcrowded, overtly self-promotional awards-show fare and too many knee-jerk nods to Jackson. And the complicated presence in the audience of Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, did not appear to stir the Shrine Auditorium.

There were moments, to be sure, at the beginning and the end, when the almost four-hour event had the potential to be moving. Host Jamie Foxx began with a good-humored reenactment of Jackson’s moves from the “Beat It” video, dressed in a red-leather jacket and a white glove. Throughout the night, he and other performers including Keri Hilson sampled Jackson’s iconic clothing -- an ongoing series of fashion winks. And Foxx’s early words about Jackson were clearly from the heart: “We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else.”

New Edition brought potential to the opening of the show, too, with an enjoyably sloppy Jackson 5 medley. They didn’t make magic of “ABC” and “The Love You Save,” but they suggested that the night would be loose enough to allow genuine moments to sneak into the cavernous hall.

Much later, Janet Jackson’s sudden appearance onstage before the finale was powerful. “To you, Michael is an icon,” she said in her brief remarks. “To us, Michael is family. He will forever live in all of our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love.” After she left the stage, Foxx and Ne-Yo sang a sweet, poignant duet of “I’ll Be There.”

But BET clearly didn’t have enough advance time to perfect the balance between the homage and the already planned ceremony. The thanks and appreciation for Jackson from almost all the winners sat awkwardly with performances such as “God in Me” by Mary Mary and “Ave Maria” and “Angel” by a wind-blown Beyonce, who was wearing a translucent, insect-like Scarlett O’Hara dress.

Without a doubt, though, the musicians who want to more thoroughly celebrate Jackson will have many, many, MANY more opportunities in the coming days, weeks, months, years, and, yes, decades.

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2 comments so far...
  1. I was very disappointed with the BET Awards last night. I can even say embarrassed at the presentation. I believe they should have continued with the scheduled program and just dedicated the last hour or half hour to Michael. It was not organized, it looked last minute put together, many awkward and embarrassing moments thru out the entire show. First of all New Edition ! Please they don't even have a voice anymore. Horrible.!! Jamie, my man, you really looked lost. There was so much expected and what a let down. It was a "plug Jamie Foxx show". Disrespectful!! The announcement of the winners without even letting you know who were the nominees, unconcieveable!! Zoe Saldana, how dare you disrespect an elderly and elegant actress by calling her out that she is in the bathroom, tacky!! And on the red carpet..... what the hell was those kids jumping around singing the jerk song with skinny jeans that was obviously little kids size. I can dealy with the butt hanging out with a long tee shirt, but what the hell was that ??

    And Don Cornelius, Please !!!!!! I don't know if its that he's old or was drunk or both!
    He was confused,sluggish and disoriented. The Ojays had to get up or he would not have finished. Didn't even have the umph to say "peace, love and soul". What a damn shame.

    Beyonce......... i didn't get it! You should have sung "Halo" with picture of Michael in the back. You looked ridiculous !! And your hater of a husband need to just stick to business that does not include "singing/ rapping /hating".

    Highlights of the evening: Ne-Yo exquisite performance honoring the King of Pop by not only sounding like him so eloquently but not wearing his hat!! Your a gentlemen Ne-Yo, old school style. Much love for you!!

    I don't know but to me a tribute would have been having Usher, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and Justin Timberlake do a dancing tribute of course with singing! Now that would have been RAW !!

    Janet's appearance was touching! It took her to come and give thanks with such pain in her face, voice and heart! While old Papa Joe trying to look "cool" with the entourage that accompanied him.

    Please BET, don't bother to repeat it..... It really was not worth watching!!

    Posted by Nancy Pellecier June 29, 09 12:18 PM
  1. Very nice site!

    Posted by Pharme520 September 17, 09 01:49 PM

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