I watched the American Music Awards last night. I love awards shows. The stilted cue card reads. The bad jokes (though Jimmy Kimmel's Kevin Federline "no-hit wonder" joke did make me laugh). The bad "performances" — made so much the better when the camera switches back to the audience to catch those shocked/bored looks frozen on celebrity faces.
Still, one of the reasons I watch these things is that I'm not intimately connected with the pop music scene and you just never know what'll turn up. Sure, these particular awards are based on record sales and a fan survey (hey, you didn't ask me) so the results will tend toward the least common denominator — the category that had Nickelback, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a third bland band comes to mind. But then Sean Paul won the award for best male pop/rock artist. I had heard of — but never heard — the dancehall singer Sean Paul, and now I'm interested. There was also a punkish rock band that I liked but somehow managed to miss the name.
I know, I know...there's this whole concept of "American Music", the true roots of our music, that's just not represented here. But the amazing thing is that even the watered-down genres like country do have their roots in Americana, rock, soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, blues, country, pop. Or, more historically accurate: blues, jazz, country, soul, rock, funk, pop.
All of these genres are represented in Charles Xavier's The Xman Cometh. Xavier, a true music polymath (music and video production, percussion, leader of several avant garde jazz outfits), has put together a group of compositions that manage to touch on all of the afore-mentioned genres. That alone might not be such a big deal if the album was a disjointed mess. It's not. In fact, "cohesive" is the right word.