Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!
Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!
Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.
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Today’s roundtable topic asks each anchor their thoughts on the…
2017 BET Awards
For me, this year’s show didn’t pack the fireworks that traditionally make the BET Awards as popping as usual. However, it did feature moments – though sparse – that were memorable.
New Edition, far and away, were the night’s MVP’s. Their Lifetime Achievement segment was electricity defined. They still have “it” in abundance and the tie-in with the cast of their biopic made the music biz geek in me jump with joy. It was the perfect synchronisation and felt like a full circle moment six months on from the mass watched movie. Epic.
Elsewhere, Bruno Mars is officially the most dependable male performer of this era. Though I would have much preferred if he performed ’24k Magic’ or ‘Chunky,’ he proved with his showing of ‘Perm,’ that he’s equipped to slay regardless of the song choice.
The Xscape medley was exquisite and has yours truly buzzed for all that’s to come.
Everything else was a of a mixed bag.
Sans Big Sean, it didn’t feel like (m)any of the Rap performers even tried. Similarly, the once promising Trey Songz showed his regression for all to see.
While warming that Tamar Braxton “booked” such a big stage, ‘My Man’ (as much as I enjoy the song) didn’t match the enormity of the platform. With all the wig shaking and theatrics, she was clearly searching for a moment and it just didn’t materialize. Still, her pre-record was lit. *Reminds self to rip audio to iPod*
Mary J. Blige
looked great, but has sounded better. Her song choice grated somewhat too. ‘Thick Of It’
would have fared better; especially if paired with that Kendu-triggering
‘Set Me Free’
intro. Because ‘Love Yourself’
just isn’t the wave.
The Remy Ma win for Best Female Hip-Hop was as obvious as the sun’s rising. Indeed, between ‘Shether’ and Nicki Minaj‘s announcement that she wouldn’t be attending, it’s safe to say we all saw it coming. Still, it provided a “moment” and – in breaking Onika’s 7 year winning streak – symbolically pointed to a changing of the tide. Not just in that category but arguably for the show in general.
Clocking in at a longer than usual 4 hours, the Awards seemed keener than ever to spotlight new names; case in point the main stage slots for the likes of SZA and Khalid. Producers also did away with the explicit focus on what’s topping the charts by inviting seasoned stage serenaders like Maxwell to do their thing. As well as acts that “need” the platform like Tamar. A refreshing move given how most shows simply mirror whatever is hot on the radio.
With the absence of heavy hitters such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and countless others, it was always going to be an uphill battle for this year’s show. And I’m not convinced it made it to the mountain top – or even came close.
What it did do well though is sow the seeds for an updated award show format that isn’t dominated by popularity politics. Which ultimately is a good thing, especially if the concept is allowed to blossom in the years ahead.
Ps. I realised I never touched on Leslie Jones‘ hosting, which pretty much says it all re that .
Last night’s show stood as the first since exec Stephen Hill‘s departure so I, like many, expected major changes to the spectacle.
On a positive front, Remy Ma’s win, the New Edition tribute and the focus on Urban music’s “new” wave of stars (see SZA) stood as three of the night’s many highlights for me.
That being said, there were a number of performances which felt more filler than they did thriller, lacking the trending-topic generating moments the likes of Ciara, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj have delivered in the past.
As for the Xscape reunion?
It was an awesome reminder of the group’s impact, talent (and on all tips) superiority over their predecessors, who arguably lack the vocal prowess and professional polish the group showcased – even with a few unfortunate hiccups from Kandi Burruss.
In short, I enjoyed the show but don’t think it was as good as last year’s.
A score out of 10? 6.
Easily the worst BET Awards to date.
First thing’s first: Leslie Jones, girl, no. Just no. And, hopefully never again. The new acts, while appreciated as it’s always cool to highlight up-and-coming talents, seemed awkwardly placed and scattered throughout the show as time-fillers. Trey Songz, Chris Brown, Xscape, Mary J. Blige, and Maxwell – the more seasoned acts – left a bit to be desired for varying reasons.
If Bruno Mars was the bait to pull viewers having him kick off the show actually worked to its detriment because he set the bar way too high for the acts that followed. An overall boring affair, I, like Bruno, found there were times throughout it was hard to stay awake. In fact, on the performance front, the only standouts besides him were the epic New Edition performance (which almost saved the show by its lonesome) and Tamar Braxton’s dramatic, yet engaging performance. It was just an overall miss, which is surprising given that the BET Awards ALWAYS bring it.
P.S. – While I cannot help but appreciate BET for paying homage to George Michael, a caucasian artist long praised in the Black community for his soulfulness, El Debarge was not the best pick for his tribute. There were literally times where Debarge’s voice sounded like he was saying “meow meow meow” or, dare I say it, sounded like someone was crumpling foil. No bueno.
The BET Awards this year could have been renamed “the gift that keeps on giving.” Put simply, the ceremony was phenomenal.
First thing is first, you can never go wrong when you book Bruno Mars to kick-off a show.
I felt very elated seeing Solange and SZA finally getting the recognition they deserve; the girls felt, looked and were treated like rock stars.
On the throwback front, the uncles and aunties showed up and showed out! New Edition’s presence on the BET stage felt like the most natural thing and clearly the audience enjoyed, while the ladies of Xscape reminded the world that they weren’t flash in the pan or just reality TV celebrities but bonafide powerhouses. How refreshing seeing Kandi and Tiny celebrated for their tremendous talent once again.
Trey Songz forgettable performance was eclipsed by Chris Brown’s stellar showing, Khalid is really one to watch and that was made official at yesterday night’s event; and of course Maxwell remains the master of crooning.
A shout out to the creative directors who have blatantly upped the ante with the visuals and the staging. Long gone it seems are the days where rappers came armed with nothing but their hype man: Big Sean, French Montana, Kendrick Lamar, Future and Migos served vivid and edgy visuals.
The VMA’s ought to watch out: the BET Awards are slowly but surely becoming THE definitive music awards show ceremony for the millennials.
Do you agree with our picks? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and your thoughts on the 2017 BET Awards.
[Photo credit: Getty]