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Today’s roundtable topic is the…
2016 BET Awards Review
Many felt the lead-up to this year’s BET Awards was somewhat lo-fi. A stance I didn’t necessarily disagree with. But boy oh boy was it the calm before the storm.
In what must be the best-kept secret in recent award show memory, the Beyonce performance was as genuine a surprise as a surprise can get in today’s social media age.
Mrs. Carter is clearly at a point where she’s not only playing the game on her own terms, she’s revising the rules along the way. I say all of this to say that the expectation now with Bey is to not expect anything at all. Be that promo, radio pandering, Spotify links, or award show performances – especially a day away from the start of a tour across the pond.
Put simply, she continues to bring a brand of excitement that her Pop peers are unable to generate.
As for the performance itself, it served spectacle, grandeur, and vocals. There is a part of yours truly that still longs for the showgirl Bey who went all out with the choreography (each and every time). But she still beasted and bodied. The slayage was real.
Elsewhere, Jesse Williams ministered to my spirit (and millions more) with his impassioned speech about racial equality. It was a historic moment and delivered potent truths on a platter. Here’s hoping the masses feast on it and digest its nutrients beyond the current news cycle.
The much-touted Prince tributes delivered on their promoted promise. Indeed, I can totally envision the Purple One giving an approving nod to the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Maxwell, and Janelle Monae. Many a highlight.
More polarising showings came courtesy of Usher and Alicia Keys. In Mr Raymond’s case, ’No Limit’ is a bop and was slickly performed as such. My only gripe was that he didn’t use pre-recorded vocals for the verses. The juxtaposition between the clean chorus (which he lipped) and winded verses (which he did not) irked because it would have been an altogether more impactful showing had he prioritized the performative elements. We all know he can sing already.
Similarly with Ms. Keys, her solo rendition of ‘In Common’ was cool conceptually (see: playing all instruments herself). But award shows provide a platform for artists to show up and show out. And with the song not moving the needle at radio or retail, her stripped back showing felt like a missed opportunity. Like, last night’s performance should have swapped places with her showy showing at The Voice last month.
All in all, BET continue to prove themselves at the forefront of the award show pack. Last night was entertaining, resonating, and rich in memorable moments.
Going into this year’s show I wasn’t sure if it its line-up was strong enough to match earlier ceremonies.
Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about.
For, even away from Beyonce’s thrilling performance, the show was dominated by thriving household names of colour and – thanks to media’s renewed embracing of diversity– was a reminder that said names (even those who didn’t host or perform) are making major moves on mainstream platforms.
This is undoubtedly one of the reasons Viacom made the decision to air the ceremony across six of its networks.
What viewers saw when they tuned into these networks? An entertaining show steeped in social consciousness.
The obvious highlight of the night was Beyonce’s surprise performance of ‘Freedom‘ with help from Kendrick Lamar which offered fans many a “moment” by way of choreography, the rapper’s fresh lyrics and the song’s ties to the moving speech made by Humanitarian Award recipient Jesse Williams.
Unfortunately, Erykah Badu‘s part in her Prince tribute didn’t quite do it for me and, as many will agree, was carried by Bilal‘s channelling of the ‘Purple’ one and the force that is The Roots.
However, this may be because ‘The Ballad of Dorothy Parker’ isn’t one of the icon’s more recognisable numbers so that’s important to bare in mind.
On Usher’s performance? The guy is a legend and will always be one of Pop’s strongest performers. However, the last two years have seen him perform at several award shows. Why are said showings so forgettable?
His performance style is stale and repetitive and last night’s showing was no different. At this point, if he hopes to enjoy success with his new album ‘Flawed‘, it’s important that he hires a brand new team of creatives to inject his brand with fresh concepts.
To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s show and hope next year will fare just as well.
I always find it funny how often people reference the “BET Awards” in a joking manner, as if to imply by association alone it is “ghetto” or “sub-par,” when it continuously (as proven yet again last night) is a yearly LEADER of award shows. By comparison, no other award show has such a lit audience and talented group of performers from start to finish. Even with some of the performances that I wish I hadn’t seen (Desiigner, Desiigner, and Desiigner), memorable moments from Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, the ever-talented Alicia Keys, and many more made up for the show’s lack.
The idea of tribute performances to Prince sprinkled throughout the show was excellent and each of them served as the night’s highlights. Bilal and Jennifer Hudson absolutely stole the show without question and Janelle Monae and Sheila E. respectively brought the house down.
My only gripes were the lack of “umph” in Maxwell’s showing and the absence of ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ and ‘Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ renditions. Alas, maybe the Grammys will cover that.
All in all, great show BET. I expected nothing less.
I strongly believe BET has just delivered its most powerful BET Awards ceremony in a very long time. And the reaction that multiple segments of the show are getting on social media re-affirms this.
First off, they didn’t disappoint when it came to their Prince tribute or should I say tributes. Many a vocal wonder was on deck to honor the Purple One: Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Tori Kelly, The Roots, Jennifer Hudson, Bilal, Maxwell, Stevie Wonder and of course Sheila E. They all killed it in their own right with Miss E. – the closest collaborator to Prince of the bunch – elevating the spectacle to the next level. It was wholly refreshing to have a spread out tribute instead of one big segment. A note other shows may want to draw on in the future.
Usher’s “comeback” performance was commendable albeit a little uneventful to my taste. But fortunately it was leaps and bounds over Bryson Tiller and musical twins Future and Desiigner’s offerings which are still dripping amateurism, especially the latter.
I know with certitude that I’m not the only one of the opinion that the true star of the show was the #BlackLivesMatter movement which was embodied by a fiery Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar and an oh-so-eloquent Jesse Williams.
Queen Bey with the help of King Kunta lit the stage with their lyrics and seismic stage presence. Williams’ wowed when insisting that the tide needs to turn NOW – and not “over time” – when it comes to US Civil Rights and Black people.
Ironically, it is tragic events like Prince’s passing, #OscarsSoWhite, and police brutality still being so rife which made this show so poignant.
Hopefully next year, we’ll be able to watch an entertaining show that celebrates how things have evolved for the best.
Do you agree with our points? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and 2016 BET Awards!