I thought about the idea of live-blogging the Soul Train Awards, but then I decided it didn’t make a lot of sense. First of all, the show itself isn’t live-it was recorded several weeks ago. Second of all…I’m lazy. Thirdly, last week’s American Music Awards were so painful that I like the idea of being able to junk this in the event that I’m so turned off by this show that I have to…turn it off.
Not that I think the Soul Train show will be anything close to the travesty that the American Music Awards was. With a performance lineup that includes Cee-Lo Green and Erykah Badu, not to mention tributes to the legendary Anita Baker and Ron Isley, I’m anticipating a damn good show. If only more “A” list R&B artists showed up…then again, R&B is in such a commercial slump, it’s hard to say who is A-List anymore.
For a minute, I thought the Soul Train Music Awards was a goner. The 2007 show was pretty pathetic. Almost none of the winning artists showed up-I seem to remember the likes of Beyonce and John Legend sending taped acceptance speeches. That show’s version of A-list basically consisted of The Isley Brothers and a just-about-to-blow-up Robin Thicke. The BET Awards had basically made a Soul Train ceremony redundant. Thankfully, the company that acquired Soul Train has done a good job reestablishing the brand name and giving it enough cachet that a good amount of R&B royalty will pop up.
For the second straight year, the show is being hosted by Oscar-nominated actors Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Hopefully we don’t have to sit through another Terrence performance like there was last year.
Let’s get busy after the jump.
9:00– R. Kelly is opening the show with “Bump ‘n Grind”. Can we take it back to the time when everyone liked the R-uh and didn’t think he was a creep?
Y’know, when it comes to who invented the modern-day remix as we know it (i.e. a song completely different from the original song), I’d say you have to consider Kells.
On another note-color me shocked that his “Untitled” album from last year was so damn good.
9:02– I’m not sure what the fact that black women (hell, women in general) still seem to love R. Kelly despite the fact that he’s a world class unrepentant perv says, but the audience is on their feet like Michael Jackson came back from the dead and is moonwalking on stage.
9:04– I like this “When a Woman Loves” song (very old-school), but I’ll be damned if I put another penny in Robert Kelly’s pocket (at least until he admits to the things he’s done and commits to some kind of professional help). Thank goodness I know where to go to scoop up a freebie.
9:07– Damn, I look down to answer a text and R. Kelly’s performance has turned into a sock hop. All they need is a soda machine on stage. And Al from “Happy Days”
9:08-Kells just did a combination Little Richard/Ray Charles run on the piano. I gotta give that brother props. Nice job.
Ginuwine is standing up for Kells with his wife Sole. Y’all remember Sole (picture below)? Long time no see!!
9:13– Y’know, Taraji and Terrence are OK, but folks need to step their hosting game up overall. Will and Jada hosted the BET Awards a few years ago. Can we bring them back? ‘Cause Taraji is on stage doing a magic trick. This is the Soul Train Awards, not “Circus of the Stars”!
9:15-Now, Terrence and Taraji are challenging one another to a dance-off. Can we just have Anita and Ron perform for 2 hours?
9:19-Song of the Year Award is being presented by Rudy and Olivia! Keshia Knight-Pulliam and Raven-Symone are on stage. Damn, those Cosby girls grew up well…and Raven’s lost a gang of weight. Tempestt Bledsoe was the Meg Griffin of that show.
9:20-B.O.B. and Bruno Mars beat Sade, Monica, Usher and Alicia Keys and win Song of the Year for “Nothin’ on You” (don’t ask me how, either). Bruno is there, but B.O.B. isn’t. Maybe he’s hanging out in the bathroom with a bag of coke waiting for Bruno?
9:22-They’re really trying to pull off this dance-off thing. This is like watching a car crash. Although one of the dudes dancing with Terrence Howard looks like Alfonso Ribiero after a major diet.
9:28-They pulled Chilli out of mothballs to present Ne-Yo. Hopefully, he does a better job than on the American Music Awards.
Um…hey Ne-Yo. High-water pants, white socks and a tuxedo? Not so original, bruh.
9:30– Same performance as the AMAs, with an obviously smaller production budget (and at about half the time).
9:35-Hey, Terrence: “author” is not pronounced “Arthur”.
9:36-Presenting to Anita Baker. Let’s hurry up and release an album soon, Anita. We need you!
9:38– Mary J. Blige is appearing via videotape. I’d forgotten that she was discovered via a recording of “Caught Up in the Rapture” recorded in a shopping mall studio (remember when they had those?) So in a very real sense, Mary owes her career to Anita.
9:40– Chrisette Michele is performing “Caught Up…”. She’s doing OK, but I think I’d rather hear Mary singing it. Or Anita singing it.
9:41-Now Tamia is doing “Giving You the Best That I Got”. Now THIS is real singing. Sorry everyone that performed on the AMAs (except Pink).
9:44– Faith Evans is singing “No One in the World”. Can someone please tell her to make a jazz album? Someone should also tell her that the two-tone hair is not the move. Someone should also tell her that she’s much better performing with nuance in her voice than she is when belting.
Oh well, can’t fault someone for catching the spirit.
Rachelle Ferrell (where has SHE been?) and Kem are now performing “Been So Long”. This song is straight-up baby making music. If I was actually getting ass these days, I’d have to pull out my copy of “Rapture”.
9:46– There’s some serious jazz vocal improv going on with this performance…unfortunately, Rachelle and Kem cut it short. Fortunately, though, they were replaced by Lalah Hathaway, who’s performing “Angel”. Man, this is SO good…I’m gushing like a maniac, but it’s true!
9:49-Where’d they find Dionne Farris? Holy shit!! She hasn’t aged in fifteen years!! She hasn’t grown hair in fifteen years, apparently, either.
Someone on Twitter asked where they found Dionne Farris, and someone else replied “under a penny with a hole in it”. #DEAD
9:50-Why are Ray J and Janelle Monae next to one another in the audience? Talk about an odd couple.
9:51– A live band, with real singers. That’s the way it should be done-for Anita, and for everyone.
9:52-Anita can start a second career as a preacher.
Random Thought: If Anita Baker and Michael McDonald made a record together, do you think you’d be able to tell who would be singing what part?
9:54-And, it’s not over! El DeBarge comes out singing “Sweet Love”. That brother is sharp as a bed of nails, all the time. Michigan is in the house!
9:59-Eric Benet is going off in his falsetto right now. Holy shit.
Has BET always been in the live sitcom game? Because this new show they’re putting out looks kinda lame.
10:00-Two of the random dudes from this show (it’s called “Let’s Stay Together”) are announcing Best New Artist. Nominees are Melanie Fiona, B.o.B., Nicki Minaj, Dondria and Wale. Melanie Fiona wins and acts surprised that she won. Come on, girl. We know you know you won the award before they announced the damn category.
10:06-Mo’nique is looking good now that she’s slimmed down a bit. I just bought “Precious” on DVD but am almost afraid to watch it. Subject matter hits a little close to home in some ways. I’m sure I’m gonna bawl like a baby once I do watch it.
10:07-Kim Fields & Elise Neal are presenting Erykah Badu. I have had a crush on Tootie/Regine for thirty years now.
If they had to bind Janet’s breasts when she was a child TV star, can you imagine what they had to do to poor Kim Fields? That woman could feed a third-world nation with that bosom.
10:09-Um…Erykah is a fantastic visual artist, yes (as well as a great musician)…but…I don’t get this staging. Nor do I understand what she has on her arms. I love “Window Seat”, though!
10:12-Excellent stripped-down performance by E. Badu. And she kept her clothes on.
OK, some dude is doing a terrible Don Cornelius impression right now.
10:18-Why is Wolf Blitzer on stage right now?
10:19– Wolf Blitzer grew up in Buffalo? Do you think he rolled with Rick James back in the day?
10:20-Doug E. Fresh is on stage now and he’s teaching Wolf Blitzer how to do the Dougie. I try to stay away from faddy dance songs, but I didn’t realize “Teach Me How to Dougie” was referring to Doug E. Fresh. He had some pretty slick dance moves.
Nevertheless, this is all kinds of wrong.
10:21-Just Blaze, Biz Markie and Kid Capri are presenting the Best Hip-Hop Song of the Year award. Nominees are Big Boi, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Eminem and Drake and T.I. Wait…”Find Your Love” is hip-hop? How do they figure? Eminem wins, but of course he’s not there to accept. Wolf Blitzer accepts on Em’s behalf. This is just really, really weird.
10:26-They got Cleveland Brown on the show to announce Cee-Lo Green. Cute touch. Harry Allen (the Media Assassin) just asked on Twitter if “The Cleveland Show” was the best black show on network TV. Um…isn’t “The Cleveland Show” the ONLY black show on network TV?
10:27-Um…Cee-Lo? Is that a nightgown??
10:28-“Forget You” just doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way that “Fuck You” does. Maybe he can perform the real version of the song on the Cinemax version of the Soul Train Awards or something like that. Or he could’ve sang the real version and they could’ve bleeped him out like they do on every other award show.
10:31-Damn. Cee-Lo’s backup dancers are dressed as Vegas showgirls and they’re dancing to “Apache”! I can’t hear that song anymore without thinking of Will and Carlton, though.
10:36-This show obviously ran over, seeing as they only gave Tank and Eric Benet about 45 seconds each to perform after the edit.
10:37-Fonsworth Bentley is still alive? Unfortunately, Sid McCoy, the voice of Soul Train, is not. Rest in peace, Mr. McCoy.
Damn, joke deflated.
10:41-SWV is still together? Damn, this show feels like a family reunion. They’re introducing Jazmine Sullivan. Random question: does anyone else notice that Jazmine kinda favors Cheryl Lynn?
10:42-The same Alfonso Ribiero-looking cat that was dancing with Terrence Howard is now dancing for Jazmine. I guess it pays to be versatile.
10:44-These cut-aways are awful. They need to get a better editor/director.
10:48-I’m not sure what the Centric Awards is, but the nominees are Jesse Boykins III (who?), Dondria, Dwele, Corinne Bailey Rae and Janelle Monae. Did they create this award just so Janelle could win it? I’m still confused.
10:50-Janelle’s from Kansas? My sister lived there for a while and told me that there actually are black folks there, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
10:51-Janelle’s speech just made me want to listen to her album again (actually, that’s not totally true…I’ve been giving “The ArchAndroid” a few listens already this weekend. I fear I was a little too hard on it initially…had to wait for the hype to die down. Still overrated though.)
10:52-Ginuwine and Melanie Fiona are presenting Bruno Mars. This kid is the real deal. He and Ne-Yo are quite similar from a songwriting as well as a vocal standpoint. Hopefully dude lays off the booger sugar, though.
10:55-There hasn’t been a bad performance on this show yet. I’m quite impressed.
(I’m not sure why there was such a long break here. It’s not like I even got up from my seat)
11:05-Can someone please remind me why Steve Harvey is popular again?
11:06-Ron Isley’s eyebrows need to make a record of their own. Or at least star in a sitcom.
11:09-I almost didn’t recognize Keyshia Cole. She’s having a bad hair day, and poor thing is trying her best with “Voyage to Atlantis”. Not sure that she’s the best person to be singing this song, though.
She started badly, but recovered quite well.
11:11-Bilal (please buy his album) is doing “That Lady”. Hey, I just thought of something. How could anyone besides Ernie Isley not play that guitar solo? There must be some serious fraternal issue going on for him not to be here.
Did Bilal just have a Peter Brady voice crack? Or was that intentional. ‘Cause with Bilal, you can never quite be sure.
11:12-Tank’s singing “For the Love of You”. I guess they’re making up for cutting him off earlier. He just hit one of Isley’s signature vocal riffs. And every chick in the audience is singing along.
11:14-El is back, and singing “At Your Best (At Your Love)”. Half the audience is going “The Isley Brothers sang this? I thought this was an Aaliyah song!”
11:16-Eric Benet does a bit of “Footsteps in the Dark” and then introduces Freddie Jackson, Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson (Phil Dunphy’s favorite singer). Time for the grown folks to take everyone to school.
Peabo was quite wise to shave his head. That brother’s hairline was ridiculous, especially in the late Eighties. People with big foreheads (like myself) were never meant for high-top fades.
11:18-I actually met Freddie seven or eight years ago. Nice guy, but I have to say that the singing of love songs and weight issues weren’t the only things he had in common with Luther. How YOU doin’?
11:20-Fifty years in the game, and I think this is the first real honor Isley’s gotten besides the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. How can this be?
11:22-El DeBarge, Ron Isley and Jazmine Sullivan ALL have new albums out this Tuesday. Please go out and support real SOUL music.
11:25-Ron’s doing “Contagious” with R. Kelly and Chante Moore. They needed to turn this song into a soap opera. BET, don’t say I never gave you any ideas.
Y’know-Ron’s last line on “Contagious” before the last chorus is “I think I need to leave this place/’Cause I’m about to catch a case”. Seeing as he JUST got out of jail, I’m wondering how he’s gonna handle that during the performance.
11:26-He did not just make light of getting locked up (he changed “catch a case” into “catch another case”? Sigh…people, we need to do better.
11:27-Oh shit. Him and Cee-Lo are about to do “Shout”. Church!!! Did y’all even know that The Isley Brothers recorded “Shout”? Or “Twist & Shout”? No, it’s not a damn Beatles song.
…and the show is over. The Soul Train Awards may not get the best ratings in the world, but it’s the most entertaining awards show I’ve seen in quite some time. The production may not have been as glitzy, but in the end, I don’t watch music award shows to see shit exploding, I watch to see great performances. And the folks on this show delivered!
As always, in parting, I wish you love, peace, and SOOOOOOOOOOOOUL!