Review: American Music Awards 2009

Published: Monday 23rd Nov 2009 by Sam

{Written immediately following the show}

The American Music Awards 2009 has just come off the air on ABC…and where do I begin?! With a performer-list which read like a who’s-who of the music industry, the show – which took place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles – most definitely hit a home-run in terms of star power. Whether these translated into memorable performances is the question. Read on for That Grape Juice’s 2 pence on tonight’s events…

Kicking off the night with a bang was Janet Jackson, whose 8-minute retrospective medley showed she still has ‘it’. Lacking, however, was the ‘has it – and then some’, which IMO really is essential for Ms. Jackson at this stage of her career. By this I mean though Janet commanded the stage with her trademark vigour and undeniable stage presence, what she displayed was kind of ‘hit’ and ‘miss’ in terms of propelling her back to the status of ‘the best’ in the minds of the masses. She did the damn thing on ‘Miss You Much’ and straight snatched off many a wig with ‘If’ (the breakdown of which never gets old, even after 15 years). However, the rest, particularly ‘Make Me’ didn’t translate as well – with the latter’s choreography really not doing the song any justice. I can’t help but think the chosen songs weren’t as on-the-ball as they could have been. Where was ‘All For You’, ‘Rhythm Nation’, or even ‘Feedback’ (the masses last real memory of la Jan)? Yes, it’s not her fault if some of her moves haven’t aged as well as she has (she looked great, minus the outfit), yet the song choice was in her hands, and as much as I remain a stan fan, in being 100% with you all, she kinda didn’t deliver in the way I thought she would have. Still, I’m sure she’ll bring her A-Game for her new album performances next year. She’s still force, and I have every faith she’ll deliver. On a lighter note, Jermaine Jackson’s botched sing-along to ‘Together Again’ had to be one of the funniest moments of the entire night!

Speaking of funniest moments, Rihanna’s live showing of ‘Madhouse’ and ‘Hard’ certainly had me chuckling, not only because it was the exact same performance I saw her give this Monday here in London, but because it was that bad. When not standing there like a lazy loaf of bread, she moved so sluggishly across the stage, all the while sounding like crap. How folks manage to defend her criminal vocals are well and truly beyond me. Honestly.

Interestingly, a moment many seemed to find much humour in, yet I didn’t, was Jennifer Lopez’ fall during her debut performance of brand new single ‘Louboutins’. If you ask me, Ms. Jenny The Block, J.Lo or whatever she likes to call herself these days, delivered a pretty solid performance – one which actually had me feeling the song a bit more. More than anything, she recovered so well from her fall, that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was part of her choreography. She may not be any kind of vocalist, but she sure knows how to perform. It’s a shame folk will likely only dwell on the negative, when she had a killer stage set-up and danced her derriere off.

Another of the night’s other great performances was Lady GaGa’s premier showing of ‘Bad Romance’ and ‘Speechless’, which though understated, still IMO pushed her further ahead of her contemporaries. Like the fire which lit her piano, GaGa performance was hot, hot, hot. Loved it.

I went to the toilet during the Eminem / 50 Cent performance.

More notable live showings were served up by Shakira and Mary J. Blige, who, if I am to be honest, weren’t at the top (or anywhere near) my most anticipated list prior to the show. However each brought their A-Game, which resulted in a pair of great performances respectively.

The Black Eyed Peas, for as much as I like them, just don’t offer me anything of substance live these days, so I phoned a friend when they came on…and got a bite to eat.

Meanwhile, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ rousing showing of ‘Empire State of Mind’ – despite essentially being the same performance, different show – strangely grabbed me more so than any of the other times I’ve seen them do it. I’m thinking it was Alicia’s soaring vocals on the anthem-esque hook that really got me this time. Speaking of Alicia, Ms. Keys had me fall in love with ‘Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart’ all over again with her performance. Though not the best mover and shaker, she was getting that choreography (anyone else notice the Ciara ‘Promise’ part?) and she took it church with her vocals (and backing arrangements). Phenomenal.

Highlight of the night, hands-down, goes to Whitney Houston who tore the house down with her emotional performance of ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’. The performance was everything – breakfast, lunch and dinner! Nippy’s vocals were the best they’ve been in years, with “The Voice” emanating from Whitney in ways many, myself at a time included, never thought they’d hear from her again. Yes, this was ‘Whitney 2009’, yet one who sits almost effortlessly beside Whitney of 1998 during her ‘My Love Is Your Love’ project. Putting to one side the media hype and hysteria, it legitimately felt like watching the crowning moment of one of the biggest comeback’s of all-time.

All in all, the American Music Awards 2009 delivered more than it didn’t. Great show.

Overall show rating: B+

Tidbit: Adam Lambert…c’mon son! LOL

Taylor winning over Michael Jackson?!  Kanye caused that ish…

Your thoughts?

Comments 28

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  1. BAD ROMANCE November 23, 2009

    Goodness gracious enough of this hate its too much, Rihanna was not THAT bad. I dont even like her (AT ALL, damn sheep) but ur obsession with DRAGGING her down every chance u can is getting weird.. so f****** weird…

    anyways show was s*** only liked GaGa

  2. GetitIn November 23, 2009

    How can you say “its sad people will dwell on the negatives” when thats what your ass does ALL THE TIME with Rihanna?

    This site is so ignorant. You know, I keep hoping you and that other P.O.S. “reporter” you got here finally listen to the comments and just post the info instead of being such a b*tch all the time. Don’t no one come here to read your “witty” (are you are the ONLY one who thinks so) comments. You aint Perez Hilton, nor will you ever be, so please stop trying.

    But obviously, yall ain’t changing nothing, and you just keep posting negative. I think I’m done checking for this site. It ain’t all that anyways. I’ll be over at ConcreteLoop instead of this BS from here on out.

    Peace sukka

  3. MT November 23, 2009

    Why does everyone keep saying Janet lacked energy!?! She couldn’t have moved any sharper, crisper! She was running from one end of the stage to the other during her performance – and was the ONLY performer to do so! Everyone else just stayed on the same center stage! PLUS she DANCED the whole time…

  4. jeffrey November 23, 2009

    First Rihanna Sucked.
    Second Whitney did wayy better in Oprah and please people only feel bad for her.
    Third Taylor Swift sold 5 Million copies of one album more than micheal sold this year so she did deserved that award.

  5. Jay November 23, 2009

    I agree with everyone elses comment this site is becoming a H.A.M from the bloggers to the design. Disappointing.

  6. SnijanaFleur November 23, 2009

    “I [Sam] went to the toilet during the Eminem / 50 Cent performance.”
    “The Black Eyed Peas […] so I phoned a friend when they came on…and got a bite to eat.”
    DEAD 🙂

    You’re on a roll Sam. Keep up the great work.

  7. Yuff November 23, 2009

    Tell them how you really feel, Sam! What a great read!!! In my opinion, Rihanna was terrible. She looked BANGIN’! But, Vocally, she sounded terrible. I dont mind Janet’s Pocahontas get up either as long as she isn’t taking her clothes off! And Make me move sounds nice. It’s very catchy! Just give it a couple plays lol! Gaga’s performance was great. I thought Jlo’s fall had the best comeback -EVER- lol. Man, she fell and played it off so wonderfully that a) you would have blinked if you missed it, or b) you thought it was part of the routine like i did (lol!!!). Maybe it was just me, but I thought Alicia was getting it with her dancing and stuff.. lol for me, it’s rare to see Alicia doin’ it like that and she looked great.

  8. larits November 23, 2009

    Whitney did the damn thang! JLo is back with a fierce performance, loved Alicia n Jay-Z brought NYC to the City of Angels and congrats to Ms Swift who fully deserved the recognition at this awards.

  9. IH8SAM&TRENT November 23, 2009

    sam really REALLY gets to me when he talks about Janet like that..
    he’s a hypocrite in everything he writes..

    one minute ur admitting her moves will age… then u sayin she lacked energy and didnt bring her A-game

    i think Janet was AWESOME … i expected less after seeing the “Make Me” video.. i assumed she’d give a more chilled back performance.. but she was clearly making an effort with her moves.. she hit them.. on point.. i dont know what you want from her.. she’s a grown ass woman.. who could’ve retired ages ago… she’s out doing her thing… hella great for her age.. on point.. and u have the audacity to critique her as if she suppose to be moving at the speed of light.. sam STFU and take a seat man. ur such an asshole.
    u seriously need to re-adjust your attitude,because you judge everybody so differently.. janet posts a HOT HOT choreographed performance.. and it isnt all that.
    Beyonce could open her legs and dip to the floor… and then she’s the queen of the got dayumn world!.

    you and trent have to be the most irritating bloggers i’ve ever come across.
    they should give you some sort of training to run a blog, because you 2 are offending so much readers & in general people with some of the s*** you write.
    I also wish , wish, wish, Rihanna would run into you one day and slap the s*** out of you.
    cause i dont know why the hell u at her show, when u cant stand her…damn shame
    U need to work it out..

    & P.S.. Whitney’s performance…. good.. but not that great. you clearly got a little over excited.

  10. Stephanie November 23, 2009

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned Timbaland??

    I can’t (really!) be the only one looking forward to his new CD

  11. GeeMan November 23, 2009

    Sam good review but Janet did her damn thing. Whitney did a nice job but imo she gave a better performance on Mama Oprah”s show. Jlo that song does nothing for me.

  12. Sundaie November 23, 2009

    Great review,keep up the good work love your site

  13. stx November 23, 2009

    rihanna was good. she did good enough, considering nobody else was all that good. The person I enjoyed the most was Mary, and Jayz and Alicia with New york. Also Lady Gagas, first half of her performance bad romance. Everything else was just bland

  14. MrRihannaFenty November 23, 2009

    Sam, you and your other little stupid reporter are just full of sh*t yo. Seriously. Why bash Rihanna the way you do? Why the hell were you at her concert if you dont like her? I think I know what your doing. Im pretty sure you’re a rihanna fan and you secretly listen to her great music, because I used to bash Beyonce, but deep inside I knew she was a great singer/performer. And now I’ve accepted that Rihanna is #1 in my life, and Beyonce is #3 right after Gaga. So you need to own up to it and admit that you secretly love rihanna, and stop coming off rude, jealous, and ignorant.

    rihanna did amazingly well at the AMA’s. She performed two of her best songs off the album, but i was hoping to hear her sing “Russian Roulette”. Her outfit was on point. Her vocals were good, 9/10. But heck, if I was rihanna, i wouldn’t have taken that award show seriously. It was like a big ole’ party. Just go and perform to have some fun and entertain some people while making money.

    Rihanna got an A- from LA Times, the same rating Whitney Houston recieved. They both had the highest ratings of the night. That speaks for something. She on the level as a legend. Plus, her album is getting some amazing reviews. 80/100 is pretty darn amazing. When will YOUR faves do it?!?

  15. The Truth November 23, 2009

    Rihanna SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give it up dumb stans! She’s a walking S***! She can’t sing, dance, perform, or nothing. She is a STUDIO/AUTOTUNE GIMMICK!

    Janet killed it. It’s a shame a woman over 40 can slay these younger wannabes out here. smh

    J. Lo same as Janet! So what she fell. She’s a reall dancer. Whoopie she fell, she hoped right back up and kept going. I guess she’s the ONLY singer to fall on stage….

    Whitney did AWESOME!

    A.Keys flawless as usual

    Lady GaGa my FAVORITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! People HATE on her because she is competition and TRUE talent!!

    Carrie did good.

    MJB did good.

    Everybody else….ehhh

    Overall show- C

    Would have been better if they had more real performers/ singers like Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx, Leona Lewis, Chrisette Michelle, and a FEW others……..RiYAWNa and Adam should have NEVER graced the stage. It’s a shame how TERRIBLE the industry is nowadays!

  16. MT November 23, 2009

    Leona was there, she should’ve performed. Not “Happy” tho… something like “Cant breathe” or something… she would’ve shut it down vocally.

  17. Jaz November 23, 2009

    Sam review well done. My thoughts EXACTLY. Don’t let these naysayers get to you, the truth IS the truth whether they like it or not. Whitney’s performance was STELLAR other faves of the night were Jay z & Alicia, Lady Gaga & Janet…and I agree Janet seemed reserved probably exhausted but overall she did great. The rest were well the rest.

  18. wtf November 24, 2009

    ok my review…

    Sam i have to both agree and disagree on janet…first she sang songs that people hardly remember which you are right about and which werent even her popular hits.. he dancing was beyond subpar..i am not taking jabs at her weight or anything but i think shedding a few pounds before she came on stage would have helped..she did try and keep up with her dancers but was lacking a lot…her vocals also did not do much for and to be honest jermajesty not knowing words to her song was the highlight regarding her performance for me…

    rihanna, she was one of the worst performances for the night..not only was her intro dare i say not TV friendly for the audience but she is one hella lazy performer which i agree with you..her vocals did not suck that bad compared to the nokia but her set looked too familiar..there was nothing original but a lot of stealing…she stole that laser lighting idea for her clothes from gaga when she had a her costume with her b****** on fire and she spinning wheel reminded of someone elses performance but just cant remember at the moment…she needs to understand that she is not a rock star and that someone lied to her…

    jlo actually had me on my feet…he boxer costume was not the business…i thought she would come in some hot costume and be danching her ass of in some L’s….she actually had me liking the song and she did not sound that bad..her dancing though was lacking and the old jlo is no longer there..maybe she will improve with time as she has not been dancing in while…we will see…

    gaga, no words but the best…she actually moved better than the so called dancers that night..props to her and that is why she is reiging right now…ps, did anyone check jigga’s reaction to her performance?? i sensed some hating there…

    EM and fiddy were ok..stop hating sam….and the drake bit??? i thought he was there in the audience…

    Shakira i actually liked…her and her girls were on point with the dancing..i liked it…cant remember how she sounded coz i was concentrating on the dancing…

    mary was mary…

    A and jay brought it…jay better thank his illuminati god that he had alicia on that track coz she brought it…she makes the song..jay is jay but alicia brings it..she sanggg last night…the set was cool but did not like him keeping his hands in his pocket…felt is was kinda rude…perez was killing me though….

    Alicia on her own sucked..her vocals and everything were on point but did not understand the set, dancing or that guy all over the show…looked weird…she is THICK though…swizz is working with something there coz i was like damn ma…she needs to lay off the tights though..

    whitney no offense sam but sucked…she was talking through her performance and i was like wtf?? whitney i need to hear you sannngg..and the sweating??? bless her heart though…

    adam= the worst for the night…what was up with the screaming??? he had me running to go fetch my ear plugs..he sounded a mess…and the crotch grabbin + kisses???

    B.E.P= sreaming and of the worst as well….

    overrall= c-…too many perfomances and ended getting boring!!!

  19. wtf November 24, 2009

    oh i forgot tim, he sounded like he had a chicken bone stuck in his non-existant was a good performance though..i liked the song..

  20. B November 24, 2009

    Janet’s performance was on fire. Watch it AGAIN and u’ll see. She’s the kind of performer that people expect so much from that if what we don’t see happen the way we want to happen, we (not me) then criticize her for it. Whereas if it had been someone else, everyone would’ve said it was the hottest s*** of the night (which it was). But Janet was really gettin it. The real problem for me was the camera angles. It was like they didn’t know where to go. She’d be in the middle of the stage and the camera would be in the face of one of her backup dancers. They’re great and all, but no one really wants to see them. I have a friend who works for ABC and he agreed that the camera angles were bad, which can make the performance look like it was lacking when it really wasn’t.

  21. Lady J November 24, 2009

    Janet: I thought Jan did well! I think it may have been tough for her to perform. This is only her second performance since MJ’s death. I bet she was feeling his spirit all in that place. You could tell during together again she was about to cry. I really was expecting her to do Rhythm Nation.

    Rihanna: Her vocals weren’t as bad as they have been in the past. I didn’t find my self cringing every second. However the girl has no stage presence what so ever. That head banging every now in then doesn’t count. I’m surprised Def Jam hasn’t really worked on that with her. When artists lack commanding vocals or dance moves they need to work 100x harder on stage presence. If she just wants walk around in high fashion then become a damn model.

    Mary: Loved her enough said!

    Whit: I thought she did better vocally on Oprah but I really felt the raw emotion during the performance. I love when the cam shot to Reba MacIntire (Love HER) during Whit’s performance. She was in tears

    Kelly Clarkson: She could be as big as Aretha and the b**** could still blow! Fat Kelly, skinny Kelly, in between Kelly i don’t care as long as she gives me those powerhouse vocals!

    J.Lo: Best recovery every. I would have never caught that if folks on the net hadn’t pointed it out. Still a pro!

    GaGa: understated performance for her. Loved it and speechless is the jam. She is the only one that does justice to the legacy grace jones built!

    Adam Lambert: Umm…………………….. no comment.

    Who the hell is Gloriana? This random ass country group winning awards just baffled me!

    Here’s the thing if you are so irritated with this blog and Sam quit coming plain and simple. Or skip any posts that she is mentioned in. For example, I absolutely loathe Faux….I mean Fox News Channel. Can’t stand the channel and all their so called “journalist” . So I don’t watch. I can’t stand Rachel Ray’s “I sound like I smoke 5 packs a day” ass so I don’t watch her show on Food Network. All you folks complaining must be masochists to keep coming back and hear Sam and Trent say the same things over and over about her. So go over to RiNN aka Rihanna daily to get your 24/7 fix and K.I.M… Keep It Moving!

  22. Deedee November 24, 2009

    I agree with you on some points, I’ve seen Janet perform a little sharper before, and though I’m not crazy about some of the digs at Rihanna, she did not sound good. You know who else didn’t sound good, Whitney, I’m sorry but it’s true. I think people were so caught up in the emotion of the performance that they excused her vocals. Overall, Lady Gaga did the best to me.

  23. Jay November 24, 2009

    Hey Jeffrey, quite being a hater! You know damn well Whitney did her thing and it was much better than Oprah. People like you are just in denial…you must be a lamb!

  24. Jay November 24, 2009

    DeeDee , are you kidding me with Lady Gaga being the best performer? You say people are so caught up with the emotional aspect of Whitney’s performance, well you must be caught up with the spectacle of Lady Gagas that you fail to recognize who had the better vocals. Whitney hands down! Now sit down and quite being a hater!

  25. Richard November 24, 2009

    Go on Sam. Tell em. Rihanna is serving up s*** now. Shame I was a massive router for her before she became Defjam’s cash cow.
    I suspect half her chevvvvy audience won’t care much for her rocky winging LP. Although if she releases Te Amo, I’d buy that. Always loved it so it was a good move to include it.

    Well…. GaGa put on a show as usual…. liked the glass smashing.

    Some performers were a bit ermmm….

    BEP’s are good with some of there stuff, but see this electro stuff, doesn’t sound the same live.. luckily Fergie carries them…


    Go Adam is all I can say, I do love how media have tried to brush it under the rug with re-broadcast around the world…. f***** half wits!

    Sam, hope you were being sincere saying go on my son.

    He is showing em it can be the boys gettin it on… i mean there is love for when Madonna and Britney do it…. Why not the boys too.

  26. Turner November 24, 2009

    @ JAY: In my opinion, I enjoyed Gaga’s performance the best. That does not translate into her singing better than Whitney. I am a Whitney Houston fan who was disappointed in her performance. She does not need you to defend her to the point where you’re personally addressing people and calling them haters when you don’t even know if they’re fans or not.

  27. Jayceon November 24, 2009

    I’m amazed at how many people have NOT mentioned Kelly Clarkson. That girl proved at this years awards that she can out sing over 90% of the people in the industry. Big or small, the girl has some true mothaeffin talent!!! I can’t wait to see what she brings in the future.

  28. Joe November 30, 2009

    Janet killed it… and the comment about her songs she sung that was big hits… WOW!!! are you serious… those were the hits that help her with her DIAMOND Albums… you must be crazy!!!

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