Billboard music awards: Using gifts to do good.


I don’t watch TV.  A couple years ago someone stole my TV and I didn’t notice it was gone.

I do work hard to be intentional with my time, spending it with purpose, on things of real value.  The little TV I do watch is recorded so I can fast forward to the relevant parts.  Imagine my surprise when, while accidentally touching down in live television-land Pog* and I discovered the Billboard awards were on.

Generally, we’re both intense music-lovers and have high expectations of artists, using their talents to make the world a better place.  We were simultaneously appalled, entertained, and amused by what we saw between fast-forwards as you’ll see:

(Enter LMFAO)

Me: “Is this LMFAO?”

Pog: “Is that a dancing bear?”

Me: “Is that a dancing zebra? Oh lord, no. Oh wow.”

Pog: “That’s it, I need concert tickets. I laughed out loud.”

(Enter Kelly Clarkson)

Pog: “You want to watch Kelly clarkson?”

Me: “Wait, just wait…”

(Cue climax in music)

Me: “Oh… Well, see… I was hoping this moment would be better than what it is.”

(While fast-forwarding through awards for best social artist)

Me: “Eminem, Shakira, Rihanna, Lady Gaga… Justin Beiber!?!? What?!?!  That was awesome in fast motion.  They have nothing to do with each other.  That’s like showing Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Black Eyed Peas, Aerosmith… And the award goes to Taylor Swift.”

(Enter The Wanton)

Me: “The Wanton?  Thats so British.”

(After watching half the performance)

Me: “Wait, pause. I’m going to reenact this. Pose… Slow walk. Pose, slow walk. That’s it. That’s their entire performance.”

Pog: “Wait. Is there more? There’s gotta be more.”

(Watching on fast-forward)

Me: “I think he jumped.  Yeah, that’s it.”

(Enter Wiz Khalifa, momentarily catching the tail-end of an award)

Me: “What’s a Wiz Khalifa? Oh!  He’s like a Dr. Seuss character.

(Listening to his acceptance speech)

Me: “Yes, praise God! Wait, is that a cannabis leaf around his neck?”

(Enter Brandi)

Me: “Oh how cute! It’s like a natural weave.”

Pog: “HA!!! Is that… Like jumbo shrimp?”

(Enter Chris Brown)

Me: “Is that a bike?”

Pog: “Why is he on a scooter? Who is this?”

Me: “I don’t know. Lord help us.”

Pog:  “He’s a grown-a$$ed man, why is he in a fun-house?”

Me: “And why does he look so angry?  Is that cheetah print fur on his collar?  He’s like Little Scruffy, all aggressive and amusing.”

Pog: “Yeah, there’s so much going on right now.  I’m confused.

Me: “And that bandanna is much more mammy than gangsta.  Are those dancing astronaut skulls?”

Pog: “It’s just so confusing.”

(Enter Natasha Bedingfield, with Donna Summer tribute)

We watched, impressed, until they interrupted the tribute montage with advertisements.

Me:  “Sigh.”

(Enter Taylor Swift)

Me: “Oh lord. They just cut to commercial during the Donna Summer tribute, please tell me they’re not honoring this child.”

(Enter Linkin Park)
Pog: “I still can’t believe all music sounds the same nowadays, the beat is the same (he pounds his fist, mimicking a house beat) Doosh. Doosh. Doosh.  Doosh.

(As he stops, Linkin Park begins to play, Doosh. Doosh. Doosh. Doosh.)

Me:  “Well, finally someone’s really singing.”

(Enter Justin Beiber)

Me: “Oh! It’s the Central Avenue chalk circle.”

(Cue deep, rhythmic bass line)

Pog: “The mid-adolescent white boy comes out with the bass?!?!?!”

Me: “It’s cause we’re old.”

(Enter Carrie Underwood)

Pog: “Who’s that?”

Me: “Big red dress number two.  Also known as Carrie Underwood.”

Pog: “Absolutely not.”

(While fast-forwarding)

Me:  “That was so strange.  There was all this wind represented and not seen.”

Pog: “Wait, so let me get this straight.  So for the real dope beats I have to go to Justin Beiber. For the real dope singing I have to go to Linkin Park? I don’t know babe, this world is not for us.”

(Enter Katy Perry)

We watched in stunned silence until aerial artists began performing oddly lewd movements on stage.

Me: “Oh, sweet baby Jesus in the manger. What?”

Pog: “Are those two guys?”

Me: “That’s a guy and a girl, but still.”

Pog: “What are they doing?”

(Enter, as introduced, Ceelo Green and the Goodie Mob)

Pog:  “It’s bone thugs… It’s not bone thugs.  Goodie Mob.”

We watched in stunned silence, awestruck by the incredible dancer, Saddened by everything else.

Pog: “Wow.  Just… Wow.  There’s nothing more disrespectful than… Wow.”

Me: “Lauryn Hill and the Fugees?”

Pog: “Yeah.”

Me: “He’s creepy.”

Pog: “I mean.  Soulfood. Who’s that creepin in my window. Pow. And they’re backup singers?”

Next came the upswing of the show, with Usher literally doing magic tricks while singing minimally (albeit well) and dancing all over the place.

This was followed up by John Legend and Jordin Sparks, who each sang beautiful tributes to the late music legend, Whitney Houston.

We debated the merits of making an iconic song your own, versus attempting to mimic the original artist’s performance and not quite meeting their standard.  I fell asleep minutes later so can’t comment on the rest of the show.  Hopefully it improved.

All in all, it was a startling look into how random and purpose-free the popular music scene is, and into what folks are choosing to market.  Fortunately and unfortunately, the right marketing can sell anything, so I refuse to believe fans are setting the standards for music nowadays.

I’m blessed to know and work with many talented musicians, who truly work with the intent to uplift humanity and better the world.  So when I see purpose-less work celebrated, it underscores how important it is to change the face of the entertainment industry.

Yesterday’s show was a great reminder that everyone has a different gift and none of them are random.  Know what talents you have, and use them.  It’s never too late.  Unearth and hone your talents, share them.

Always make sure the focus is in using them not to profit, to entertain, to self-promote, or to control, but to do good.

That’d be a great step toward making the world a better place.

*Pog stands for Powerful man Of God (the m is appropriately silent.)

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