I enjoyed the 2005 BET Awards. It was fun, entertaining, and full of intentional (and unintentional) surprises.
Here are my thoughts on this year’s show:
-BET pulled an MTV Video Music Awards-like opening stunt by somehow reuniting The Fugees on national TV for the first time in years. Unfortunately, the performance wasn’t as good as it could’ve been. It was nice to see the three of them together again. Frankly, I was happy to see that Pras hadn’t disappeared off the face of the Earth. Lauryn Hill looked a little off during the performance and didn’t sound all that good. However, I was amazed that she was able to perform for the 10+ minutes that she did without freaking out as she did in recent performances. Just when you think things might be okay for her, she backs out of the show’s closing performance, one that was hyped by the announcer a few times as one “you will not forget.” I guess that’s true…we won’t forget it because there was nothing to forget.
-I enjoyed Will & Jada as hosts. I liked how both of them weren’t shy about poking fun at themselves. They looked they enjoyed hosting and they always looked comfortable. Their entrance, an homage to the classic Eddie Murphy comedy Coming To America, was great, right down to them walking on money instead of rose petals. I also liked their reunions with castmates from their past (Jada with the ladies of the film Set It Off, Will with most of the cast of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air). All in all, they did a very nice job. I bet Will will be receiving some calls to host another awards show (the Oscars, perhaps?) in the future.
-The moment of the night clearly belonged to Terrence Howard. The look on his face as Beyoncé did a lapdance for him during Destiny’s Child’s performance of “Cater 2 U” was great. I could imagine his thoughts: “Oh my God! I’m the luckiest man in America!”
-Even though Missy lip-synched her performance of “Lose Control,” it was an incredibly high-energy performance. I want that juke remix of “Lose Control” on my computer right now.
-The Game put in a pretty nice mostly solo performance. There were no disses of 50 Cent or G-Unit to be found, no random shouts of “G-U-Not!” or anything like that. The violins were a nice touch as was Mary J. Blige appearing to sing part of her “Hate It Or Love It” remix.
-Stevie Wonder went to work (as he always seems to) during the awards with three performances. His appearance with John Legend was a nice melding of old and new. His show-ending performance of his classic “Happy Birthday To You” for BET’s 25th anniversary was nice. However, if I was drinking something, I would have spit it out during his own solo performance. I mean…Stevie Wonder actually danced! It’s one thing for Stevie to rock back and forth. We all have seen him do that, but for him to actually dance onstage is damn near a miracle (thank goodness for the two dancers next to him). I wonder how long it took him to learn that.
-When Mariah Carey performed “We Belong Together,” I was pulling for her to make it through. Her voice sounded strained and that song is one that looks incredibly difficult to sing live. Somehow, she worked her way through it, like the pro she is. Her performance was sort of a breath of fresh air as it had no theatrics, fireworks, or crazy lighting tricks.
-I think the biggest surprise performance-wise had to be Sheila E. and her all-female band appearing during T.I.’s performance. Out of all the people to pop out and help T.I. with “Bring ‘Em Out,” I never imagined it would be Sheila E.
-I wonder if anyone will think Omarion’s performance was in bad taste given that soldiers are in Iraq dying and many soldiers are African-American. I didn’t take it seriously, but I know there will probably be someone out there who did.
-The Jackson family was very smart to send Tito Jackson to the BET Awards to thank BET and Michael Jackson’s fans. Tito is one of the few Jacksons who didn’t get plastic surgery or try to lighten his skintone. While he may be the butt of some jokes, I respect him for being the most well-adjusted of the Jackson siblings.
-No disrespect to Toni Braxton or Faith Evans but…wasn’t anyone else available for Gladys Knight’s tribute? I like both these artists but they were not at their best during the tribute. When Gladys performed, she proved exactly why she has lasted as long as she has.
-The award for most Source Awards-like performance goes to Mike Jones and his cast of many. Not only did one guy have a pimp cup with a straw onstage but that same person also decided to throw a huge stack of dollar bills in the air. I loved the surprised look on people’s faces as they picked up the money.
-Where was Ghostface Killah at during the Wu-Tang Clan’s tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bastard?
-I felt like I was watching Def Poetry when Teena Marie did her tribute to Rick James. I don’t know if she rehearsed that or if it was spur of the moment, but it was something different and a fitting tribute to such a creative person as Rick James.
-Michael Jordan must have sorted through Charles Barkley’s old suits for the one he wore to the awards. Pinstripes are nice but not on a dark brownish orangeish color suit
-For the first time in recent weeks, Tom Cruise made a public appearance that was actually restrained. It’s funny that it was, at all places, at the BET Awards.
-It shows just how much Robert Johnson is the face of BET when he announces his successor on his network’s awards show. I wish Debra Lee, the eventual chairperson and CEO of BET, the very best. I hope she can take the channel to places that Bob Johnson never did.
-For my final comment, I want to mention the one element of the BET Awards that I couldn’t stand. What I am referring to is the ads that were pasted at various places during the pre-show and the awards show itself. Ads were placed in various empty spots, most notably directly above the stage in the middle and on the side. The ads were similar to the ads used for some baseball broadcasts where only the audience at home sees them. Ads for CD releases and movies were pasted in those spots (in a wide shot) when the show went to (or came back from) commercial breaks. If this is the future of advertising in a TiVo world, I don’t like it.