It was Movie Awards night on MTV, but the network still likes to front that it's Music Television Network and opted for some pretty tame choices for its traditional performers.
But Christina Aguilera is trying very, very hard to be anything but safe. The "Beautiful" singer was the marquee musical act at the 2010 popcorny honors, and played the field (as it were) as far as her choices of songs: she farmed out some minutes to the title track to her new "Bionic," then floundering "Not Myself Tonight" and "WooHoo," which should simply be rebranded as the Oral Sex Song.
She began her quick set sitting on a throne of red patent leather, she played up the android angle of her new album, quickly revealing that its her sexuality that keeps her human. With a stunning bejeweled bodice, body suit and hair tips from La Roux, Aguilera seared her way down some stairs and growled into "Bionic," a song that's just got too much going on, sonically. Still she started slow and got big with her dancers, who bent and humped and arched their way through "Not Myself."
Simulated sex, black lights, clothes that light up and the ambiance of a bass-heavy lane of the local Rock 'n' Bowl couldn't dampen the fact that, while she's changed her look and sound over the years, Aguilera is still a premiere vocalist. Even with some artificially gruff notes and the expected sex kittenry of holding a phallus-like mic to her mouth, she nailed her notes, made it a believable performance and not just a spectacle.
Still, the janky camera shots to the little heart that literally glowed from her crotch, the hokey adolescence of "WooHoo's" lyrics, the tired leather-themed styling, the ooo-la-la insinuation of girl on girl action (which officially jumped the lipstick lesbian shark when Madge smooched Britney all those years ago on the same network)... it was these series of missteps that derailed this naughty romp into bad camp territory.
A theme that J-Lo knows well. It's quite telling that the former Fly Girl and Billboard chart champ was upstaged by the elevated ridiculousness that is Tom Cruise's Grossman character. The fact that Ludacris was branded into that silly eyesore, too, indicates there's nothing Luda won't say no too if it earns him a buck. And it was entertaining. I'll admit it. I'm just glad Lopez didn't sing; my fragile, bitter heart can't take another "Louboutins."
Katy Perry's "California Gurls" roller-skated and beach balled all over this awkward-humor field day, a refreshingly pure sunny pop moment in between the shuffling feet of the Michael Cera and "Twilight" love-in. The blue-haired singer descended to the stage on a surf board as her backing, bikinis-on-top gurls swirled all over the happy ooncha-ooncha of the Hot 100-topping track, with Snoop the stage show's only source of testosterone. Since thrones seemed to be a running theme of this show, his Dogginess arrived on his, wearing an oversized tee and tube socks -- the latter trend one that my father can get behind.
It was sweet as it was impassably entertaining, although the teaser to her Candyland-themed music video for the song (posted below) makes me think all this cute winking is about to turn into a wet t-shirt contest with a lot of lollipops.
As for the other weird interstitial musical moments, I'm disappointed to learn we're still making R. Kelly "Trapped in the Closet" jokes (c'mon, Aziz) though heartened that in a board room somewhere, someone decided to dress Ed Helms up as a cloud and Ken Jeong in a tiger costume with the butt cut out. Recreating the weird improvised magic of the tiger song from "Hangover" seemed impossible on its face, but this was a kind remake.