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Monday, December 22, 2008


Bev talks about the AMA Awards and a real cracker for a Christmas Stocking.

This month, Bev begins by explaining why she found certain facets of this years’s AMA Awards quite AMAzing…. And ends with a suggestion for a real cracker for that Christmas Stocking!

Having missed the first few seconds of this year’s American Music Association awards as the show aired on M-Net, I have no idea who the host was, nor do I much care, since for me he had absolutely no personality whatsoever! However, some of the performances were pretty AMAzing, in particular the opening sequence by Christina Aguilera, then about halfway through that by up-and-coming recording artist Leona Lewis, quoted as being Britain’s hottest export (who’s been tipped by Simon Cowell as likely to rival the success of the likes of Whitney Houston!) and who I understand has VERY recently visited SA to shoot a new music video! In the final performance, where Alicia Keys was joined by Queen Latifah in her delivery of her hit Superwoman (whose addition of a Hip-Hop element rather spoiled the number for me) came the GREATEST delight of the entire show, the entry onto the stage of an opera singer, no less, forming a highly unique threesome to end the ceremony on (for me at least) a high note! So intrigued was I that I immediately e-mailed Musica (the sponsors, in collaboration with Dick Clark Productions) to see if they could assist with the surname of the talented Kathleen, and was delighted to receive a reply within 24 hours (what service!) which informed me that it’s Battle, and I shall be investigating HER further very shortly.

Yet another AMAzing thing to me the limited number of contestants in some categories! However, there were some pleasant surprises, such as the talented and demure-looking Taylor Swift, with a charming performance of her latest single Fearless which hit No 1 spot on iTunes less than a month after its release. (Not so lucky in love is this pretty girl, though, for boyfriend, Joe Jonas - of teen heart-throb group The Jonas Brothers - broke up with her by way of a 27 second cellphone call, I’ve just read!) Another surprise (perhaps shock might even apply here) was how suave the artist Ne-Yo looked in his slick black-and-white ensemble - such a change from the casual gear most Rap and Hip-Hop performers seem to prefer, their hideous mis-match of colours normally topped off with a baseball cap worn either sideways or backwards! One of these was Kanye West, who seemed to feel it was the responsibility of musical performers to keep pushing the boundaries, concluding with the comment I want to be Elvis!

Billy Ray Cyrus (he of Achey Breaky Heart fame several years back – who also played the lead in the TV mini-series Doc where he exhibited fine acting skills) was obviously highly delighted to introduce his daughter, Miley, who was incidentally celebrating her 16th birthday – and we saw her blow out the Sweet Sixteen candles to prove it! - who has topped the charts three times recently, starred in a movie rated No. 1 at the box office, and in her energetic and somewhat raunchy song, she demonstrated some moves reminiscent of Kylie Minogue’s on-stage style. This gal will doubtless go down in history better known as Hannah Montanna, with a product range far outshining that of Barbie.

A pleasant surprise was seeing Colbie Caillat chosen as a co-presenter of one award category, having had a rapid rise to fame with just one hit single, the charming piece simply titled Bubbly from her album Coco - but I was just a tad disappointed that she chose to wear an exceptionally short frock which for me rather destroyed that fresh-faced girl-next-door image that came across in a documentary screened on her recently on TV.

Mariah Carey was honoured with a special award for having surpassed two historical musical achievements but as she performed her piece of the evening – filled as it was with her myriad of what I call trills - it struck me forcibly how much weaker these artists would come across without the terrifically talented musicians who back ‘em! A case in point recently was Lionel Richie when interviewed on Carte Blanche and Devi Sankaree Govender begged him to sing Endless Love to her. The charm was still there, but the voice lacked some of its lustre without the backing of an orchestra. (And I have to say, I take my hat off to Devi for having the chutzpah to join in, emulating the Diana Ross bits, though that particular exposé journalist would be well advised to stick to her day job, in my opinion!)

The female star of three High School Musical movies was the presenter for an innovative new category, that of the Team Mobile Breakthrough Award which enables viewers to TEXT in their choice, and this was won by the EXTREMELY young (so much so I don’t think their voices have quite broken yet!) Jonas Brothers, the three youthful lads who’ve attracted so much publicity about their Chastity Pledge, and I can’t say I was all that impressed with THEIR performance (a highly energetic one, with good harmonies) but they come across as really sweet when interviewed and it’s easy to understand their appeal to the female teeny-bopper brigade.

Multi-talented Beyoncé performed her hit Single Ladies with all the energetic gyrations she’s famous for, which made me ponder on what’s become of genuine femininity and whether it exists at all any more… However, let’s give the girl her due: she has an AMAzing voice, not to mention the body, and face, to go along with it. Yet she informs interviewers when NOT on stage she’s actually quite shy!

However, it was without a doubt Alicia Keys’ year, scooping a multitude of awards, and accepting them with grace and charm, touching in one of her speeches on the celebration of the diversity of musical talent honoured this year.

The Surprise Guest Presenter of the night was Justin Timberlake (who has certainly come a long, long way since his Mickey Mouse Club days!) and the Merit Award went to 53-year-old legendary performer, Annie Lennox, who I’ve always found rather androgynous-looking, though I give her great credit for the depth of her lyrics, not to mention the long list of her Humanitarian Awards, and she received a standing ovation as she rose from her piano stool, delivering a most heartfelt speech of thanks.

One of my favourite contemporary songwriters is Natasha Bedingfield, who performed her philosophical Unwritten as part of a medley which included Pocketful of Sunshine but I was left, rather sadly, with the impression that she comes across far better in a recording studio than in live performance.

The ubiquitous Rihanna kept popping up but thankfully that awful Umbrella song (el-la, el-la) was so LAST year, dahling that we were spared THAT in favour of her insights into Rehab.

Another AMAzing fact: Kanye West seems to be considered by his peers as a pretty humble fellow - but when he commenced his hip-hop number Heartless it had me reaching for the Fast Forward button, ever so thankful I was watching a recorded version of the previous night’s broadcast!

In closing, let’s fast forward to my find of the month which will certainly put a real cracker in the Christmas stocking of someone you love. I’ve previously mentioned the delightful soprano Natasha Marsh and her first album Amour but she’s now released an eponymous one and although disappointingly there are a few duplications of tracks, there ARE some stunning new ones, so if you have someone special in your life who cherishes really GOOD music, this is the one I’d suggest from a whole host of new releases flooding the market in time for the Festive Season… about which, more NEXT time! - Bev Pulé