Friday, November 02, 2007

Amy Winehouse and the rest of the MTV Europe Awards

The Bad: Ummmm ... the entire show, actually. The whole thing crept by like some never-ending joke that I -- and more importantly, the Munich audience -- weren't getting. There were no show-stealing, kitchen-sink performances like the ones that Kanye West can put on with regularity. The endless string of bar scenes hosted by the Foo Fighters were the very definition of a time filler. Sitting at home, I enjoyed Snoop's mini-monologues, but almost everything he said was met with a flat response, with the exception of the "how you doin' Europe"-type exclamations that prodded the audience to cheer. After a while, I got the feeling that the muted response was because most of the people in attendance didn't understand his accent.

The program directors made a major mis-step with some of the guests and talent, in that they didn't seem to have a clue what the Munich crowd wanted to see. When Paul van Dyk gets zero reaction, and local boy Boris Becker gets 1/3 the reaction of Nelly Furtado, then you've booked the wrong people. Getting the right local or national acts onto the show should be childs play. One of the most intriguing things about the EMA's being held in a different country every year is that you get to see the superstar reactions for national heroes that we (people who don't live in those countries) haven't heard of. A few years ago, Rammstein played the EMA's in Frankfurt and the crowd rewrote the book on "going apeshit". Where was this year's Rammstein?

The Good:
1. Snoop's lederhosen. Everything Snoop wore.

2. The raised awards podium overlooking the entire arena.

3. The magician in the bar (the only redeeming quality of those bar scenes).

4. Amy Winehouse. OMG Amy Winehouse. Between Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse, there was bound to be some kind of drug and alcohol-induced meltdown. Well, Doherty was well-behaved. Amy Winehouse made Britney Spears' appearance at the MTV Awards look like tea and crumpets at the Ritz.

The problem with scoring Amy Winehouse as a last-minute addition to an awards show was made brilliantly clear -- booking her the week before the show doesn't give her handlers enough time to sober her up. First, she accepted an award in front of a crowd that adored her. Obviously zonked on some wild paranoia-inducing stuff, she slowly and deliberatively walked to the mic, eyes peering around her as if preparing herself to be ambushed at any moment. She stood in front of the mic for a few moments, soaking in the cheers inasmuch as anyone so doped up could possibly soak in anything other than the rapidly-chattering voices racing through her head, sputtered a quiet "thank you", and slowly turned around to leave. Boos were clearly audible.

Part of me (0.00001%) still held out hope that it was all simply a case of nerves. The next hour did nothing to improve her condition, and only five seconds into her performance of "Back To Black", her background singers and her band were doing their best to not laugh on stage. Their professionalism stood in obviously contrast to Winehouse's out-of-tune, incomprehensible warbling. Considering that her band knew exactly where they were (performing on the MTV Europe Awards in front of one billion people) and Winehouse didn't have a clue if she was in Munich, Mumbai, or the women's bathroom in the bar where she snorted drugs the previous night, the contrast was hardly surprising.

At times, she tried to dance, or at least perform various motions that were vaguely synchronized to the music. She could barely coordinate herself enough to place her hand on her hip and keep it there. She looked down for nearly the entire performance. When she wasn't doing that, she was blankly staring into space toward nothing in particular, her head slightly cocked to one side, Her hairdo was piled high over her head and almost appeared to be weighing her down. Her caked-on makeup made her look much older than her 24 years.

I'm listing this under "the Good" because it was the only truly memorable happening of the night, the only appearance that we'll still remember once next year's show rolls around. I suppose I enjoyed all this in the same sense that I'd enjoy any other celebrity train wreck, but it's too bad that Amy Winehouse has been trying so damned hard to unravel her life in public over the past few months.

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