Ke$ha’s redemption

A major reason I watch the Billboard Music Awards is because it’s the perfect indicator of how out of touch I am with contemporary pop music.

Each year, the detachment grows. Eight years ago I could have probably guessed every song that was on the Billboard Hot 100 at any given time without looking.

In the years that followed, I tried my best to stay in the loop just because I enjoyed keeping up to date with pop culture.

Now I don’t even care anymore. Pop music has evolved in a way I never saw coming, and it’s totally left me behind.

Until yesterday, I thought Fetty Wap was an item on the Taco Bell menu. Turns out, however, he’s a rapper. I’d mock him more, but I also learned that he has glaucoma and it cost him one of his eyes. So you’re cool, Fetty. Or is it Mr. Wap? Either way, I’ll leave you be.

Kesha Billboard.jpg

And while the festivities at last night’s awards show got off the worst foot possible with a hideous Britney Spears lip-synced medley, the show was actually sprinkled with a few poignant and enjoyable performances.

Lukas Graham impressed me with his live rendition of 7 years. I’ve never actively listened to that song, but I’ve somehow heard it at least 20 times. And yet, he sounded really good live.

But the show clearly belonged to Celine Dion, who was honored with the Icon Award, and delivered a powerful performance of Queen’s The Show Must Go On, an appropriate choice considering that her husband, Rene Angelil, died just four months ago.

Celine doesn’t get enough love for having one of the best voices in the world. And yeah, I’ll admit it, I keep My Heart Will Go On on my iPod at all times, because you just never know when you’re going to want to listen to it. You just never know. So I play it safe.

Celine Dion Billboard.jpg

Arguably the biggest surprise of the night was when Ke$ha — the mastermind behind Tik Tok and We R Who We R, who has been caught up in a whirlwind lawsuit of alleged abuse from her producer, a case that’s gotten so much media attention that it actually earned my sympathy — performed a solemn, stripped down version of Bob Dylan’s It AIn’t Me Babe.

And let’s be real — the performance wasn’t anything extraordinary. But it was an organic, honest and raw performance from a girl singing from her heart. And that’s all you can ask for in music. She ditched the Auto-Tune, and showed the world she has a capable singing voice.

Last time I apologized out of sympathy. This time, I apologize out of sincerity. So much so that I will hereby drop the money sign from your name, Kesha. That’s how much you’ve won me over. Nicely done.

And finally, the show was wrapped by a tribute to Prince in a way that tributes should be donesimple and genuine.

There was no Lady Gaga busting out nine different David Bowie songs in five minutes. Rather, it was Madonna singing Nothing Compares 2 U, and then joined by Stevie Wonder for a duet of Purple Rain, two of the late musician’s most recognizable songs. Another job well done.

So despite having to tolerate Ludacris, who has the personality of an unsharpened No. 2 pencil, as host of the show, I actually .. enjoyed … watching the Billboard Music Awards this year. At least some of it.

Mainly because Fetty Wap really caught my eye this year.

Had to.

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Goodnight, sweet Prince

It’s amazing how sometimes it takes death to ground us.

At least in my lifetime, I can safely say that there has been no more divisive, polarizing event than the 2016 presidential election. And it’s totally backwards for that to be the case when you consider that democracy, and participation in government, is supposed to be a uniting cause.

It’s been sad to see what it’s done to people. It’s created lines into how see one another.

But then someone dies and the world kind of stands still for a minute. And that’s what happened this early afternoon, when rock icon and musical innovator Prince died suddenly. A cause of death is still unknown.

Prince

Even if you didn’t know Prince’s music, you knew him for his style. His swagger. His Superbowl halftime performance. And the way he could leave even the most famous people in the world starstruck.

When you’re known in life by a single name, you know you’ve made it. Unless you’re Solange. She’s just the worst.

Like all major celebrity deaths, it’s another reminder of our mortality. Life spares no one. Not even the legends.

It’s a reminder we’ve received all too often in 2016. We’re not even through April, and yet, there’s a laundry list of famous people who have died, bookended (as of now) by the most significant in David Bowie and Prince.

Death is always sad. And Prince died way too young, at 57. But he left a major impact on this world that will outlive us all. And that should serve as reminder to all of us to make our own impact.

It’s not too late.

Find your purple rain. And yes, this is the first — and last time — I will pen a blog post in another color, in tribute to the Artist Formerly Known as … you get it. 

One last thing before I go. I felt inspired earlier today to craft up a little poem in dedication to all those celebrities who have passed on this year. I’ll share it with y’all, because, well, that’s what this blog is for. Sharing is caring. 

I promise the rhymes are a little more sophisticated than that in the poem.

Enjoy. 

2016 started like it was any other year,
The confetti rained down amid champagne and beer.
Not yet did we know how many celebrities would leave us,
Leaving a void so empty and a feeling so grievous

Barely one week into January with the weather still snowy,
We said goodbye to the Spaceman David Bowie.
Just like that; we lost a transcendent musical commodity,
As he drifted above to form one last space oddity.

Not one week later while we were still agape,
Life took another – the one and only Severus Snape.
Playing the villain is where Alan Rickman shined;
A generation of Harry Potter fans he’s now left behind.

Shortly after that we said sayonara
To the rock genius who penned Hotel California
Eagles songs flow through the ears so light and breezy,
Thank you Glenn Frey, and please, take it easy.

But the Grim Reaper still hadn’t played his final coda,
And now The Godfather won’t be the same without Abe Vigoda.
Dave Mirra brought cycling to a much larger audience,
And Harper Lee taught us the meaning of tolerance.

The producer of the Beatles, George Martin, met his end,
But we’ll always get by with a little help from his friends.
After that it was Keith Emerson’s time to depart,
Come inside, his next show’s about to start.

On Thursday nights we couldn’t wait to come home,
To watch our favorite TV mom, Marie Barone.
Doris Roberts, thank you for making us laugh,
And tell Peter Boyle hi on our behalf.

And yet, all of this sadness could never leave us prepared,
For the death of an innovator to whom nobody compared.
So for Prince, let’s for a minute forget about this world full of strife
And say “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”