Going into the Billboard Music Awards, we know three things for sure, right? 1. Taylor Swift is going to be adorkable. (And you are going to hate that. You always do.) 2. At least half a dozen times, I’m going to have to ask Google to identify an act that, because I’m a nerd who’s well past puberty, I’ve never heard of. (How am I supposed to tell Macklemore from Ryan Lewis when I still struggle with telling Hall from Oates?) And 3. the whole massive recording industry back-slap will be followed by a TVLine Top 10 countdown of the ceremony’s best and worst. In fact – what a coincidence – here it is:
FALL PREVIEW | 2013 Renewal Scorecard: What’s Coming Back? What Got Axed?
10. WORST TRACY MORGAN IMPERSONATION | None of us would be surprised, would we, if the scandal-magnet host had been told to play it safe. But it’s a huge shock that he seems to have actually listened. Whether introducing Wayne Newton as “my daddy” or engaging in a dance-off with Psy, he gives off an air of Tracy Lite. Not unpleasant, exactly, just not… you know, him.
9. BEST LIGHTSHOW | For their lively rendition of “Better Dig Two,” The Band Perry awesomely recycles the lasers from Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” video. J.Lo and Pitbull later risk blacking out the whole joint by switching on every light, strobe and laser in it for “Live It Up.” But Selena Gomez still takes the prize. C’mon, how could she not? She mock-Bollywoods her way through “Come and Get It” surrounded by Joel McHale’s (and my!) favorite home-shopping item… flameless candles!
PHOTOS & VIDEO | Fall Preview 2013: Your Guide to What’s New
8. ODDEST STAGING | Though Taylor Swift’s performance of “22” ends in a madcap mob scene in center stage, it starts – and goes all the way through the first chorus – backstage. Fine for us watching at home, sure, but presumably kind of a yawn for the actual audience. At least the serial dater scores a point by telling fans as she accepts her Artist of the Year statuette, “You are the longest and best relationship I’ve ever had.”
7. BEST BRAWL | Say what you will about Chris Brown (and you can, will and, if you ask me, should), but his moves during the Jacko-esque “Fine China” are impressive. Plus, since the number includes a ninja battle, I figure there’s a 50/50 chance he won’t end the evening throwing beer bottles at presenter Kid Rock for cracking, “Let’s give it up for people lip-synching under prerecorded music.” .
6. BIGGEST TEASE | After whetting our appetite for Madonna with a clip package of the Top Touring Artist in action, she… doesn’t perform. Instead, Her Madgesty – styled like a cross between Patsy Stone and Vanity 6 – grumbles about the height of her mic (“They obviously think I’m shorter than I am; I’m not happy about that”), hides behind sunglasses that even she calls “pretentious” and, finally removing her glasses, uses Will.I.Am as her gofer.
FALL TV GRID | What’s on When? And Versus What?
5. BEST A-HA ‘MOMENT’ | Literally, a-ha, the 1980s act! At the end of Pitbull and Christina Aguilera’s “Feel This Moment” (complete with the Voice judge tapping her mic like she’s tapping out a pinch of salt), the duo throw the spotlight to Morten Harket to sing a little of “Take On Me,” his New Wave classic that their hit samples. (Finally, the kids’ turn to ask, “Who is that?”)
4. WORST DRESSED | Justin Bieber is young, fit and can buy his own department store. So there’s no excuse for his showing up to sing “Take You” in a leather jacket that’s missing a sleeve and a pair of leather pants so baggy, they look like a miniskirt pulled over hip boots. (Maybe that’s why Miley Cyrus looks so disgusted when she announces his victory as Top Male Artist?) Later, before telling us in his Milestone Award acceptance speech that he “should be taken seriously,” he finds a second jacket sleeve to perform “That Power” with Will.I.Am. But not only is he still wearing skirttrousers, he’s got the Black Eyed Pea wearing ’em, too. (Is this the parachute pants of the ’10s?)
3. BIGGEST LAWSUIT WAITING TO HAPPEN | After getting lost in his own lightshow at the start of his passionate performance of “Adorn,” Miguel decides to make sure we’re paying attention toward the end by hurling himself across the stage… and landing directly on a member of the audience! Ouch – to the extreme! (Backstage passes for life, anyone?)
2. RAUNCHIEST NUMBER | Good thing Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Wayne’s “High School” hook-up gets saved for near the end of the show. Even if you consider her crotch-grabbing kid-friendly, the lap dance she gives her fellow rapper – and the ample screen time given to her ample posterior – definitely aren’t. (Oh, and yes, the wife-beater and pajama bottoms Lil’ Wayne wears do have me rethinking Justin Bieber’s Worst Dressed designation. Then again, Lil’ Wayne’s never been a fashion plate, has he?
1. THE BEST OF THE BEST | You’ll debate amongst yourselves which performances you think stand out, but for my money, the winners are Bruno Mars (on the retrofantastic “Treasure”), Kacey Musgraves (low-key but spot-on on “Merry-Go-Round”) and Icon Award recipient Prince, who reinterprets “Let’s Go Crazy” as a kind of psychedelic Jimi Hendrix jam and mixes it in with new tune “Fix Ur Life Up.” (We’ll talk about that fro he stole from The Golden Girls’ Sophia some other time… )
Okay, your turn. What did you think of the show? What did I miss – or dis that I shouldn’t have? (Admit it, Beliebers, wouldn’t you rather see Justin in… pants?) The comments section below would be a swell place to leave your comments.