There's an old saying that goes something like this: 50 million people can't be wrong. But you know what? Yes they can.
Just look at the fan-nominated contenders for 2007's American Music Awards for proof of fans', um, wrongness. Sure, the Grammy judges get it wrong a lot of time too; they're still trying to live down that Milli Vanilli scandal, or that time when they bestowed the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance award upon Jethro Tull. But really now, just look who won some of the AMAs this year...THIS is the best that the public (who, for the first time in AMA history, elected the winners via online voting) could come up with?
Like, take Nickelback (please!), who won for Favorite Pop/Rock Group. Really, Nickelback??? C'mon now, whether you love or hate Nickelback (guess which verb applies to me?), are Nickelback seriously the BEST group out there? I've never met a single person who's openly admitted that Nickelback is his/her favorite band. But maybe the anonymity of Internet voting can explain this victory.
And what about Daughtry winning the Breakthrough Artist category? What exactly did Chris Daughtry break through...a sheet of single-ply tissue paper? Because that's about how easy it must've been for him to succeed, what with the Clive Davis-wielded power of American Idol behind him. At least his fellow Breakthrough nominee, Robin Thicke, had the challenge of being a Wonder Bread-white man in the world of R&B. (And let's face it, having Alan "Growing Pains" Thicke as one's dad is not as much of a music-biz foot in the door as performing weekly on TV's most-watched reality show.) Really, the only challenges Chris Daughtry has faced are a) trying to convince the public that Daughtry is a BAND and not a prefab assemblage of hired hacks, and b) trying to sound ever-so-slightly different from the aforementioned Nickelback. I'm not sure he's done too good job at either task (though he did keep dragging his faceless bandmates onstage for his AMA acceptance speeches). But anyway, Chris made up for his Idol defeat by winning a whopping three awards at the AMAs nonetheless--though I'm uncertain that, as a self-proclaimed rocker, he should be too thrilled about winning an award in the decidedly unhip Adult Contemporary category. But I guess the people have spoken.
Anyway, I could type blog after blog after blog filled with alternate lists of my personal "favorites" that I would've loved to nominate via write-in vote. But it's time to stop hatin' and start appreciatin'. So I'll move on and convey congratulations to some of the more worthy winners at this year's AMAs. First, huzzah that veterans Bone Thugs-N-Harmony won for Favorite Hip-Hop Group over newbies Pretty Ricky and Shop Boyz, 10 years after they received their first AMA. And congrats to sexyback-bringin' Justin Timberlake, who won two trophies, for Favorite Pop/Rock Artist and (Robin Thicke must be jealous) for Favorite Soul/R&B Album. And finally, kudos to Akon for giving his award away to his fellow nominee, vocoder maestro T-Pain, who he thought deserved it more. It was a rare demonstration of humility for Akon--hey, maybe his "Sorry" song was from the heart, after all.
And now let's move on to the performances, which we'll all remember long after we forget who won what. First off, emcee Jimmy Kimmel did the best job he could, despite the fact that the current writers' strike prevented him from covering "topical content" in his monologue. Jimmy fared a bit better than Ellen DeGeneres did recently on a writer-less episode of Ellen, on which she was basically reduced to playing parlor games with her studio audience; however; Jimmy doing the Soulja Boy dance with Kellie Pickler and Jordin Sparks really wasn't that much better. (And actually, a game of charades with Beyonce and, say, Simon LeBon might've been interesting.) Damn, first the strike jeopardizes the future of Cavemen, and now this! Hope that strike mess gets resolved soon.
Anyway, thank gawd the writers' strike took place after the still-topical VMAs scuffle between Tommy Lee and Kid Rock, so that material was still fair game: Kid Rock spoofed the fight with Kimmel on the AMAs show, and it was a fairly funny pre-scripted moment. Even Celine Dion got in on the act, proving she actually has a sense of humor. And surely that skit must count towards Kid's community service, right?
As for the actual musical performance highlights this year, a 10-minute medley by Will.I.Am, this year's Favorite Female Artist winner Fergie, and Nicole Scherzinger was a stylish ceremony-opener (the Dutchess hit a few bum notes, but viewers were probably too busy staring at her actual bum to notice). Yet I have to get something off my chest that's been bugging me ever since I first heard "Fergalicious." Here goes: "Tasty" is spelled T-A-S-T-Y, okay? Not T-A-S-T-E-Y. There's no "e" in it! Fergie and Will.I.Am might win AMAs, but they're obviously not going to win any spelling bees anytime soon. All right, I feel better now...moving on...
The Jonas Brothers were hella cute. (Oh, if I was only a couple decades younger...) With their white suits and skinny ties and moussed-to-perfection hairdos and gaggles of screaming pre-pubescent fans and three matching surnames, the Jonases are today's Duran Duran. And hey, speaking of Duran Duran (who, by the way, one of the nameless Daughtry guys actually thanked in an acceptance speech)...the original Fab Five performed too, looking impressively well-preserved (Kevin Jonas ain't got nothin' on John Taylor) and sounding amazingly current thanks to their recent Timbaland-helmed makeover. They performed their solid new single, "Falling Down" (co-written by Timbaland protégé Justin Timberlake), plus one song chosen by the voters at home. Surprise--the American public picked "Hungry Like The Wolf." What, did you think they were going to choose D2's cover of "911 Is A Joke" or something?
Rihanna's anorexically thin voice was greatly upstaged by her backing orchestra, her duet partner Ne-Yo, her gold flapper headband, and her huge Tyra Banks fivehead beneath said headband. But she won for Favorite Female R&B Artist anyway, beating out her frequent rival Beyonce, who only took home the pompously titled International Artist Of Excellence Award this year. (Wonder if Rihanna and Beyonce got into a catfight in the parking lot after the show? That'd be even more exciting than the VMAs Kid Rock/Tommy Lee throwdown.) But international superstar Beyonce still continued to conquer the planet by taking on yet another musical genre: country. Yes, the B'Day girl teamed up with Sugarland at the 2007 AMAs for a bluegrass version of (the Ne-Yo-penned) "Irreplaceable," and you know what? It actually worked. Let's just see Rihanna try to do a country remake of "Shut Up And Drive" next year.
Chris Brown, who almost singlefootedly rescued the VMAs from utter mediocrity just a couple months ago, also worked it--turning in another watercooler-chatter performance of "Kiss Kiss" that, with its blacklit art direction and mid-air suspension, seemed directly inspired by the movie TRON. Which means it was incredibly cool, of course (TRON = COOL). Meanwhile, Mary J. Blige seemed to be channeling The Matrix in her black bodysuit, Bono shades, and dominatrix boots...and she rocked it, too.
So, did the right artists win? Guess that depends on whether the artists you voted for won or not. But for the majority of voters, the answer is obviously yes. And for those of who disagree with the outcome, like me--well, we can always rock the AMA vote next year.