Live-Blogging The 2008 American Music Awards: Get Ready For The Triumphant Return Of The Medley

noah | November 23, 2008 7:45 am

Good evening, friends! Tonight is the American Music Awards, the annual event where the American public is allowed to pretend like it cares about the music industry as the biz’s most important releases either get pushed out to retail ahead of their street dates or get shoved into a dusty corner of the retailers with which they’ve struck exclusive distribution deals. And as if to underscore the whole “why people don’t care about the music business” ideal,” I’m watching the red carpet show, which apparently has contracted at least partial hostship duties to Nicole “You Know, I’m In The Pussycat Dolls” Scherzinger, who is apparently contractually obligated to flaunt her ass as she conducts awkward interviews with the likes of Steven Tyler and Ne-Yo in hopes that people actually care about her existence and maybe buy a copy of Doll Domination so as to easily conjure up further posterior-related fantasies in the comfort of their own home. Full coverage after the jump!

7:45 p.m. So far in the pre-show, Corbin Bleu has made fun of High School Musical, Ne-Yo and Nicole Scherzinger have told the crowd that they’ll be performing medleys, and Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have both tried really hard to camouflage the fact that they’re relying on canes to get around.

7:46 p.m. The background music this year is all being credited, no doubt so people get reminded that oh, yeah, Beyonce sang that song about putting a ring on it.

7:48 p.m. Natasha Bedingfield: A leather suit and diamonds. There’s something to be said for “bold fashion choices in the face of global economic collapse,” and that something may be, “oh, screw off, chick who wrote the theme for The Hills.”

7:50 p.m. Alicia Keys–so good last year!–is wearing earrings that look like they were fashioned from EPs. She is also promising “three of the most diverse people you’ve seen on one stage at one time” for her performance of “Superwoman,” which is closing out the night and which apparently is part of this year being The Year Of The Woman. And one of those women: Natalie Imbruglia! I thought she’d been in hiding!

7:59 p.m. Nicole Scherzinger is now looking for a job “hosting.” Well, I guess the music thing isn’t working out…

8:00 p.m. Christina Aguilera opens the show with a business-casual take on “Beautiful.”

8:01 p.m. Song No. 2 of the “seven songs in seven minutes” medley is “Keeps Gettin’ Better,” for which Christina has ditched the blazer. Is it me, or does she sound like she quaffed a big glass of milk right before she went onstage?

8:02 p.m. And now it’s time for “Genie In A Bottle,” which has resulted in her adding a skirt to her ensemble. So much fabric crammed into these seven minutes!

8:03 p.m. “Dirrrty” results in the removal of the skirrrty and her ensemble looking suspiciously Madonna-like. Oh, what am I talking about, “suspiciously.”

8:04 p.m. “Ain’t No Other Man” = a top hat and a little lace jackety-thingy! I’m really impressed at whoever did the wardrobe styling for this bit, as they figured out how to conjure up period details with just like, scraps of fabric. Maybe it was the result of a Project Runway challenge? It is in LA right now, even if this season will never be seen because of all that legal wrangling.

8:05 p.m. “Fighter” results in her sorta-awkwardly whipping down the jackety thingy and turning it into an ass-coverer. This outfit, I tell you, is like the Transformers of clothing.

8:06 p.m. Many people in the front row: Not amused.

8:07 p.m. Speaking of not being amused, here’s Jimmy Kimmel!

8:08 p.m. Oh, he said that Chinese Democracy was a “brand old album.” Get it? Christ, another three hours of this…

8:10 p.m. This is apparently “the youngest American Music Awards show ever.” And yet, Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes: All old.

8:11 p.m. Apparently this “year of the woman” idea has been beaten into every presenter from above, as Jamie Foxx is talking about an eight-year-old Destiny’s Child song while sleepwalking through his presentation of the Favorite Soul/R & B Artist category.

8:13 p.m. Rihanna wins. She is wearing a dress that seems to be fashioned from pieced-together dryer sheets.

8:14 p.m. Haha, did you guys know that Lil Wayne has a lot of tattoos? Hahha, you guys! Hilarious!

8:14 p.m. Night Of The Women continues with a performance by New Kids On The Block.

8:15 p.m. Um… apparently none of the dress rehearsals involved the backing music. What is up with the mix on this performance? Oh, well. At least Donnie Wahlberg can still rap… and segue into “The Right Stuff!” Yes, we’re back in medley territory, everyone.

8:17 p.m. That synchronized crotch-grab right before “Please Don’t Girl” kicked in sure gave the song a new meaning.

8:17 p.m. Eesh, this medley is really hanging rough. Who on earth is running sound for this performance? Can they be fired before they under-EQ again?

8:18 p.m. Well, at least Jordan hit that high note.

8:19 p.m. Why are people standing up? Are they getting ready to walk out in protest of the lousy sound? That’s the only explanation that makes sense here.

8:22 p.m. We’re back! And somehow the sound running through Jimmy Kimmel’s mic is running OK.

8:23 p.m. Paris Hilton and T-Pain: Somehow, the world has not swallowed itself in a black hole of vapidity. (Also, T-Pain’s speaking voice is really high? Who knew?)

8:24 p.m. Favorite Pop/Rock Male: Chris Brown. Everyone’s standing up again. Don’t people know what an ovation is supposed to mean?

8:25 p.m. Oh, here’s Scott Weiland. His Teleprompter-reading is, uh, more unfortunate than his answers to direct questions.

8:26 p.m. And of course, he introduced Pink’s performance of… “Sober.” Yipes.

8:27 p.m. Pink is overcoming the terrible sound sorta ably.

8:29 p.m. I sort of want to do an interview with someone in charge of mixing performances like these, just to see why musical performances on TV are such a challenge. (See also pretty much any episode of Saturday Night Live this season.) Is it because it’s being mixed for the audience in the venue? I don’t get it.

8:32 p.m. There is something incredibly sad about every Britney Spears promotional appearance these days. A deadness behind her eyes.

8:34 p.m. For a second I thought this music introducing David Cook was actually “Pretend We’re Dead.” Talk about taking that, Corporate America.

8:34 p.m. Hey, look, a rumor that Axl Rose is going to show up! I hope he comes out for “Superwoman.”

8:35 p.m. Taylor Swift’s set seems to be left over from a past performance by Evanescence. She is getting super-emotional.

8:37 p.m. That song was sad.

8:38 p.m. Time for some Dancing With The Stars cross-promotion! Lance Bass, presenting the, uh, Favorite Country Band, Duo, Or Group (We’re Just Trying To Cover Our Bases) Award.

8:38 p.m. Ugh, Rascal Flatts win. Not that I really had a dog in this particular fight, but Rascal Flatts are just so awful.

8:40 p.m. Oh, hey, it’s Ne-Yo! And there’s a giant monster swinging up the horn-heavy arrangement of “Miss Independent” somewhere backstage, apparently.

8:42 p.m. This medley brings up an important point: Wouldn’t Ne-Yo have done a much better James Bond theme than, uh, pretty much anyone else tasked with the job in the past few years?

8:43 p.m. Think about it: He could even use the mic stand as a weapon in the video! Man, this is so great–that bit with the mirror!!–but the sound is eating it all up. Makes me want to see him live ASAP.

8:43 p.m. Now, see, that is what you give an ovation to, crowd. I swear, the grade inflation in society today…

8:47 p.m. Jimmy Kimmel has apparently decided to be on whatever Scott Weiland is on. And here’s Nickelback to present the Favorite Hip-Hop Album Award. Chad Kroeger’s all blown out, you guys! Actually, anyone notice that they’re all looking kinda Rascal Flatts-y these days?

8:48 p.m. Kanye West wins the Favorite Hip-Hop Album Award… for Graduation. 9/11(/07), never forget y’all.

8:49 p.m. “I wake up in the morning thinking about what stereotypes I’m going to break…. It’s our responsibility as musicians to push each other.”

8:50 p.m. He’s calling for a return to ’60s/’70s rock grandeur. Bigger than the Beatles! “I wanna be Elvis!” And–well, let’s just hope his story ends more elegantly.

8:50 p.m. Jesse McCartney has turned into Frankie Muniz.

8:51 p.m. Leona Lewis’ dress: Dominatrix gone Swarovski?

8:54 p.m. I have nothing to say about this song, except that it seems to have been unearthed from a time capsule buried sometime around the release of Emotions.

8:57 p.m. Seriously, if Leona Lewis is at the forefront of the New Vanguard Of Pop Stars, the music business is even more screwed than I thought. What about her is interesting, is special at all? At least Kanye has aspects of his personality that are compelling. Shit, at least he has a personality.

8:59 p.m. Oh no, Jimmy Kimmel made the same Elvis/Kanye joke I did :(

9:00 p.m. Billy Ray Cyrus and his plugs take the stage. And, aww, he’s introducing his daughter, who’s just turning 16, but whose speaking voice sounds as seasoned as a Golden GIrl’s.

9:01 p.m. And apparently her attitudes toward the paparazzi are just as seasoned, given the opening “dance” bit of this performance.

9:02 p.m. OMG ON-STAGE SLIDE??? She really does have it all.

9:03 p.m. Oh, these high notes are sort of unfortunate.

9:04 p.m. Favorite Male Country Artist is presented, and Contractually Obligated ABC Cross-Promotion Girl is towering over poor Archie.

9:04 p.m. Brad Paisley wins. Uh, where exactly was Play No. 1?

9:05 p.m. Political jokes by Brad Paisley. Ah, edgy.

9:06 p.m. There’s no way this Tom Cruise Top Gunning Down Hitler flick can be any good at all, right?

9:09 p.m. The Bachelor fills me with such ra–hey, it’s Coldplay! Complete with giggly Chris Martin?

9:10 p.m. Viva La Vida is an album that I have pretty much no problem with. The title track is fun to sing along with in the car. The songs are completely not worthy of being switched off. (Although how much paper is being wasted with this confetti drop, huh?)

9:14 p.m. Richie Sambora and Colbie Caillat… uh, sure. Here’s Favorite Pop/Rock Album!

9:15 p.m. Alicia Keys’ As I Am wins. Wait, she’s nominated in three more categories? We have a lot more show to go here, people.

9:16 p.m. I wish there was a live cam feed so we could see the GIANT LEAFBLOWERS that are no doubt blowing away the confetti right now.

9:22 p.m. I guess the members of the Wu-Tang Clan not being able to name the Jonas Brothers is supposed to be some metacommentary on the fragmentation on music?

9:23 p.m. Terrence Howard! Will he go on a tear about his Iron Man snub? No, he’ll just stick to the script. Ah well.

9:24 p.m. Fact-checking moment: “I Stay In Love” is not a hit.

9:27 p.m. Yeah, I guess that was OK.

9:28 p.m. And now, it’s That Dude Who Deflowered Jessica Simpson and That Lady Who Ruined How I Met Your Mother! Side note: Were people really clamoring for the return of Scrubs? Doesn’t Zach Braff have some overly maudlin “I’m an overeducated white boy” movie to make?

9:29 p.m. Taylor Swift wins Favorite Country Female. She is surprised. She is surprised? OK, this bit of her schtick is starting to get a little Melinda Doolittleish.

9:30 p.m. Daughtry, with lead Daughtry in a very shiny suit, is presenting Favorite Pop/Rock Female.

9:31 p.m. I want Mariah to win if it means Jack McBrayer will accept her award. But alas, the prize goes to Rihanna.

9:33 p.m. Who would buy a Fergie shoe?

9:37 p.m. Dear ABC: Please stop trying to make Private Practice happen. Also stop trying to make The Fray happen. Especially since this dude really can’t do the whole “lower register” thing, and the possibility of people caring about this song without visual aids from Lost is near-nil.

9:42 p.m. And now it’s time for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Male Artist. You will recall there is no “female” counterpart for this particular category, because, well, yeah.

9:42 p.m. Kanye wins. I guess they’re not frisking audience members for cameras.

9:43 p.m. Kanye passes his award along to Lil Wayne! He seems to be a little unclear on the AMAs’ nominating period, but hey, it’s understandable.

9:43 p.m. Ashley Tisdale is here and showing the audience how many times she can say the word “T-Mobile” in 60 seconds.

9:44 p.m. The Jonas Brothers win the Sponsored By A Phone Award, and they are continuing the shiny-suit trend. What is this? Did Jessica McClintock branch out into menswear?

9:46 p.m. The-Dream gives himself a shout-out for writing “Single Ladies.”

9:46 p.m. So as to have a different “feel” than SNL, this version of the song opens with a Copacabana-worthy intro.


9:49 p.m. Queen Latifah is putting her hand up, as is some dorky white lady.

9:50 p.m. One thing that’s nice about this year is that at least a few of the people singing can really freaking wail. No endless “Baby Love” here–oh, wait, they just announced the Pussycat Dolls. Ah, crap.

9:54 p.m. Oh, Christ, this Fray track again? How much money are you getting, ABC?

9:56 p.m. Can you gauge presenters’ relative importance by how network-promotional the people they’re paired with are? What does it mean that Akon is stuck with Someone Else From Dancing With The Stars?

9:57 p.m. Alicia Keys wins Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and she gives a Flavor Flav “Woooowwwww” in celebration. Also, there’s no way that the final performer of the night doesn’t win the final award of the night, right?

9:58 p.m. I’m pretty sure that was the first Obama reference of the evening.

9:59 p.m. Demi Lovato’s presentation style: Awkward eighth-grade president. Which is actually pretty endearing.

9:59 p.m. Instead of bursting through a potentially treacherous glass wall, the Jonas Brothers have decided this year to induce seizures in their audience via bright green lasers.

10:00 p.m. This is harder to look at than that GMail theme that’s designed to emulate an old-school VT100!

10:01 p.m. Why did it take me until just now to realize the Disney/ABC connection here? Blame my immersion in Guns N’ Roses. Also, the lasers.

10:03 p.m. Please discuss the Pussycat Dolls’ performance among yourselves while I fix myself a drink. This song is awful. Also, you just know they are all wearing the trenchcoats for the purposes of FLASHING.

10:04 p.m. Look, they all have names on their stripper poles! And the one in the middle still can’t sing live worth a hip-thrust!

10:05 p.m. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might have to endure Nicole Scherzinger being shoved down America’s throat one more time.

10:06 p.m. I guess Jimmy Iovine’s “influence” means that the Dolls get enough time to incorporate their dance remix. Just what we all needed.

10:07 p.m. “Actress” Ali Landry just called the American Music Awards some sort of hip-superlative. Does that mean the MisShapes are there?

10:12 p.m. Surprise, it’s Justin Timberlake. I mean, who would have thought that someone who made a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend, and the TRL finale the day after that, and who has a new charity single out, would appear at an awards show?

10:13 p.m. A year after being brought in front of the mtvU Woodies’ confused crowd for vague humanitarian-focused reasons, Annie Lennox is being honored by the AMAs for being generally awesome. Can I just say that “No More I Love Yous” is kind of my jam?

10:15 p.m. Ah, a performance! Of “Why,” I believe. This song is also up there.

10:16 p.m. Although she seems to have also sipped from Xtina’s milk stash.

10:17 p.m. This performance would be a lot more powerful without the Career Retrospective Video Medley playing behind it.

10:20 p.m. Lots of applause. Everyone is standing, but the meaning behind that particular gesture has been a bit drained of meaning this evening.

10:21 p.m. Lots of words beginning with “m” in her speech.

10:22 p.m. She’s 53?! This gives me hope for 20 years from now.

10:26 p.m. That scene of Sally Field frowning dejectedly just made me want to watch Soapdish all over again. Come on, everyone! Half an hour to go!

10:28 p.m. It’s an ad for Barbados. Is this part of the reason Rihanna won?

10:28 p.m. Natasha Bedingfield causes me to ask, “Is the 10 p.m. hour filled with performances that were the result of favor-trading or what?”

10:28 p.m. (And I like some of her songs, but come on, a three-song medley of her and two tracks by the Pussycat Dolls?)

10:29 p.m. I guess it could be worse: This awards show could have some sort of Lauren Montag (or whoever) tie-in.

10:30 p.m. “Pocketful Of Sunshine” is such an oddly dreary-sounding song. I like the chorus a lot, but there’s something about the track as a whole that’s just so… rainy. I know, I know, it’s an odd adjective, but close your eyes and see if you don’t conjure up a drizzly image.

10:31 p.m. Was that two songs? Wasn’t it supposed to be three? Did I miss something? Did her brother stop in and do a bar of “Gotta Get Thru This” while I blacked out momentarily?

10:32 p.m. Speaking of dreary, here’s Rihanna… performing “Rehab”… with an eyepatch on? I guess this is her attempt to out-accessorize Sasha Fierce’s Krugerhand.

10:33 p.m. I like how her backup singers are wearing the Little Dom Peep outfits Ri-Ri wore during her “Umbrella” phase. Hey, everybody, it’s important to recycle!

10:35 p.m. Well, that’s over, and I think that one of the biggest singles artist of the past year just got less airtime than Nicole Scherzaface And Her Band Of Roving Bimbos. Total Doll Domination SoundScans to date: 166,767!

10:39 p.m. Motley Crue! Vince Neil would like to remind you just who his band is! Tommy Lee is also wearing a shiny suit! Mick Mars is standing up all by himself!

10:40 p.m. Daughtry wins the Favorite Pop/Rock Duo Or Group. The satin quotient of the clothes on this stage is making my eyes bleed.

10:42 p.m. Seriously, the amount of gold satin covering Tommy Lee could fashion three or four prom dresses.

10:42 p.m. Kanye West is now performing in Tron II: The Red LED District.

10:44 p.m. I like the fake calliopes on this song still. And I really like how Kanye is so, so into this performance. Jumping into every note! Spitting out the vitriol!

10:46 p.m. And now, Sarah McLachlan. If she sings the song from the ASPCA ads, I’ll have a real reason to cry tonight, instead of just one that’s lamenting the Pussycat Dolls’ existence.

10:47 p.m. Oh no :(

10:47 p.m. Pink is harmonizing nicely. At least the producers decided against showing the sad puppies and kittens behind them.

10:48 p.m. I really love Pink’s voice. Sarah’s lilt is playing against her gruffness in a pretty incredible way.

10:50 p.m. That was lovely. Seriously. Simple and moving and well-performed.

10:53 p.m. Toxic Twins time. Joe Perry is walking with a cane.

10:54 p.m. These two are also toxic when it comes to reading a TelePrompTer.

10:54 p.m. Artist Of The Year: Chris Brown? Really?

10:55 p.m. He would have given it to Coldplay! Everyone’s so generous tonight!

10:55 p.m. Faceless announcer on Alicia Keys: “She’s been called ‘a genius’ and ‘brilliant.'” By Clive Davis.

10:57 p.m. “For my first surprise, here’s the woman I was sitting next to all night!”

10:58 p.m. And now… Kathleen Battle. Well, a soprano wasn’t exactly the big finish I was expecting, but hey, music in America takes all kinds, right?

10:59 p.m. Alicia and the Queen are impressed. (As am I, I guess. Although I liked last year’s reggae bit better.)

11:00 p.m. And… the big finish! Everyone’s hugging! Jimmy Kimmel is making a dumb joke! All of the other winners are being chyroned on the screen–holy crap, that Alvin & The Chipmunks soundtrack beat out Mamma Mia!? Oh, America. Oh, American Music Awards.

The complete list of winners, in case you want to see whose street teams successfully stuffed the e-ballot boxes: POP/ROCK MUSIC Favorite Male Artist: Chris Brown Favorite Female Artist: Rihanna Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Daughtry Favorite Album: Alicia Keys, As I Am

COUNTRY MUSIC Favorite Male Artist: Brad Paisley Favorite Female Artist: Taylor Swift Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Rascal Flatts Favorite Album: Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride

RAP/HIP-HOP MUSIC Favorite Male Artist: Kanye West Favorite Band, Duo or Group: Three 6 Mafia Favorite Album: Kanye West, Graduation

SOUL/RHYTHM & BLUES Favorite Male Artist: Chris Brown Favorite Female Artist: Mary J Blige Favorite Album: Alicia Keys, As I Am

T-MOBILE BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST Breakthrough Artist: Jonas Brothers

INSPIRATIONAL Favorite Artist: Third Day

ALTERNATIVE ROCK MUSIC Favorite Artist: Linkin Park

ADULT CONTEMPORARY MUSIC Favorite Artist: Jordin “Only 18” Sparks

SOUNDTRACKS Favorite Album: Alvin & The Chipmunks

LATIN MUSIC Favorite Artist: Enrique Iglesias

ARTIST OF THE YEAR Artist of the Year: Chris Brown

And my unofficial award: BEST THING ABOUT THE NIGHT: Ne-Yo, duh.