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TGJ Roundtable: 2017 BET Awards Review

Published: Monday 26th Jun 2017 by Sam

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.

Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.

Today’s roundtable topic asks each anchor their thoughts on the…

2017 BET Awards

Sam

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-triggeringSet 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 .

**************

David

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.

**************

Rashad

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.

**************

Joe

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.

Your thoughts?

[Photo credit: Getty]

Comments 30

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  1. prince June 26, 2017

    People are TRIPPIN’. Tamar Braxton was easily the best performance of that night. Her vocals were everything and I don’t think she was lip synching. She’s always been dramatic with her head bops and unneccessary thrusts to slow songs. It’s her way of trying to bEYONCIFY an otherwise Toni Braxton song. She served vocals, a good wig (which doesn’t happen often) and an overall good performance. i JUST WISH I COULD HAVE SAID THE SAME FOR THE SONG’S ACCOMPANYING MUSIC VIDEO. YIKES!!!!

    • DanYiel Iman June 26, 2017

      Unfortunately her big ole wig & muppet type giggle with her high notes ,was she lip singing as well ? 🤷🏽‍♂️

    • Jasmine June 27, 2017

      Tamar was definitely lip-synching and stop being petty by saying people are “trippin” for seeing things you clearly are oblivious to. Are you that insecure and in need of validation for other people to like what you like?

  2. Frank June 26, 2017

    I was in the middle of writing an intense review. All these pop ups are gonna make me ditch this site. ALl my hard thought out writing gone to waste

    • Hmmm.. June 26, 2017

      Same. That pisses me off. At this point I’ll type my comments in my notes amd then cut and paste it here.

    • Caleb June 26, 2017

      For real. It’s a struggle to write a comment on this site!

  3. Sam June 26, 2017

    If i have to hear about the absence of Beyonce and Rihanna again…… Thy are not the be all and end all

  4. pat June 26, 2017

    Tamar DID lipsynch, but a female solo diva moment was SO needed, that I didn’t care.
    Xscape was good. Despite how her runs can go sometimes, LaTocha Scott easily has the best tone quality out of Xscape and can hit all of the notes she hit over 20 years ago.
    \

  5. llawrence June 26, 2017

    Tamar needs to stop she is just making herself a joke. Tamar is not the singer that has the whole package, she can sing and that’s it. Toni stop your sister before she does something that will not be able to come back from. Her video is a mess, is Vince in the picture? somebody needs to save Tamar.

  6. The Empress of Popular Music June 26, 2017

    I agree with everyone but Joe. I hope Joe was being sarcastic in his positivity rather smoking his craack pipe.

  7. I can’t June 26, 2017

    Tamar was definitely lip synching but I also enjoyed listening to it. Her theatrics were unnecessary, strange, and non-impactful. She was either trying to go for something and missed the mark like Sam said, or maybe she kept throwing her head around and her hair in her face to distract from her lip synching. Either way, it wasn’t cute.

  8. #TeamTinashe Stan June 26, 2017

    I agree with Sam.
    This award show was aight but not better than 2015’s award show packed with the Bad Boys Reunion. Last year was MIGHTY boring and lacked star power in the room so much they had to put the camera shots on BlameitOnKev comedian for his reaction. This year had more star power.
    Happy for Remy Ma!

    I wished they had replaced Trey Songz & Chris Brown’s performance as it wasn’t needed and didn’t do anything for me when they could of added in a 2min Prodigy tribute performance and as well have Kehlani perform instead of Trey.
    Ps Trey Songz has been falling off since the BET program 106 & Park was canceled as his label would always have him on there to promote.

    • @ASAPicon June 26, 2017

      Oooh girl I agree with everything you just typed.
      Rare

  9. Mar June 26, 2017

    You can tell that there is a new presence at Bet. The sets alone were a upgrade in years… Money was spent, and labels don’t normally care about sending their artist to award shows with huge budgets anymore. Specially for R&B/Hiphop artist. Last nights format was more soo polish then we’ve seen in years. Reminded me of urban shows from the 80s/90s. Yea there were a few hiccups but it seems that they are trying to clean the show up?

  10. Meme June 26, 2017

    How is it that people out here allowing Remy Ma be a complete hypo. This woman had so much work done to her body but calling people out for but shots? Really? lil Kim did the same thing. I think they’re mad cuz nickis surgery actually look good.

    • I HATE WHITE n BLACK BIT..,,,HES June 26, 2017

      B**** you shut it down with your comment…. she does have plastic surgery you hit the nail right on the head…..im omw to IG to post that comment….you riiiiiiiiight

    • CZeal June 26, 2017

      #FACTS

  11. Jeezy June 26, 2017

    My major issue with Tamar lip syncing was that it was quite clear she didn’t need to. I guess she felt she needed a perfect moment but all it did was give her more room to be extra since she didn’t have to execute the actual vocal and that spoiled the performance for me. All we needed was that wig to detach and it would have been perfect!

    I was pissed because watching clips of her actually sing it live on the mini tour shes on made me very excited to see it on TV. Celine and Beyonce have pre recorded many a TV performance but they tend to execute it extremely well. Tamar bordered on Mariah bad last night!

  12. RealNegro June 26, 2017

    Predicting that SZA is the Next breakout star!

  13. I HATE WHITE n BLACK BIT..,,,HES June 26, 2017

    Fuc. Racist white b**** loving TGJ…..mad. Tamar has blonde hair……trying to make her look like a fool in the pic with the hair wild……..JEALOUS. BLACK girl blonde hair……..FUC YOU tgj

  14. Achooo! June 26, 2017

    Everybody performance were pre recorded live vocals during sound check. That’s is why many performers had the mic too close to their mouths and BET had constant far away camera angles so you couldn’t clock it. I clock every camera trick during that awards. Overall the awards were good with my favorite being Xcscape, Tamar Braxton and Bruno Mars

    • Jasmine June 27, 2017

      “Everyone” did not lip-synch. Only those that wanted to lip-synch did.

  15. @ASAPicon June 26, 2017

    TAMAR SLAYED, SZA SLAYED, NEW EDITION SLAYED, that new fish JESSIE REYEZ SLAYED, XSCAPE SLAYED!

    I just wish Solange would have performed a medley of her album, I was disappointed at that. But overall the show was good, I thought I would hate it.

    Sidebar, How does Chris Brown keep securing stages in 2017? like…

  16. @ASAPicon June 26, 2017

    I hate to say it, I even liked Futer and Kendricks performance.
    Oh and I loved the Quavo led singles performances with migos

  17. MiOpynion June 26, 2017

    Tamar and Luke James were the best of the night

  18. Kaz June 26, 2017

    TAMAR was definitely the highlight of the night…and gave the best performance. She looked amazing and that wig was laid. Props!

    • Jasmine June 27, 2017

      I disagree. I dont think there was a “highlight” of the night and the host was boring.

  19. AmbeRussell June 26, 2017

    Bruno was a great opener. The crowd was kinda dead BC perm isn’t a single, so I would have done that, that’s how I like and Versace on the floor.
    French was a surprise with the set and kid dancers.
    Chris NEEDS to a hit when he performs on these shows. Idk the song so i didn’t care. This goes to show how important music shows are for up in coming and established acts who are fall off a bit.
    Trey was dead.
    Tamar, like u said, TRIED to make a moment and over showed the song.
    Mary has been better and again, a good performance wasted by a song that isn’t popping. Compared that to 2006 when she did enough crying to this. Better setup here, but the song isn’t a mega hit.
    Future mask theme was nice, but I would have prefer a Kendrick solo performance and him murk the stage. And the performance show these club songs are weak live.
    DJ khaled should have done the new song, even w/o rihanna.
    And new edition in all white with the preteen and adult cast members was great and even better with the ralphs singing together.
    Xscape did well too, just a bit of a sing off at times.

  20. cocobutta June 27, 2017

    Thank goodness I saw the backstage live SLAYAGE Tamar gave with the My Man vocals because as good as pre record was I would have preferred maybe a mixture with live (though maybe she did as when she’s on it’s that damn good).
    She was an ALMOST but the wigtation of it all is where her A turned into a B.

    Bruno is fab. Liked French Montana. LOVED rawness of Xscape and they will slay even more soon. NEW EDITION FKD IT UP IN A GRRREAT WAY!

  21. nonlagma trade August 18, 2017

    Thanks for helping out, good information. “In case of dissension, never dare to judge till you’ve heard the other side.” by Euripides.

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