2011 Billboard Music Awards: Highlights and Lowlights

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HIGHLIGHT: The use of remixes in performance segments. Even excluding the two Britney Spears features (records that we like, but which could be industry warning signs), Ke$ha‘s performance featured a segment of the Cirkut remix of “Blow,” and Cee Lo Green‘s medley included an extended version of the spaghetti-Western break that Danger Mouse sampled for the “Crazy” beat, plus an electro remix of “Forget You.

LOWLIGHT: Britney’s feature spots themselves. It’s hard to know what to make of her enervated performances, especially when her companion was practically using his arm as a seatbelt on her when they were in the audience, and while her father is insisting she’s mentally unfit to give legal testimony, but she was handily shown up by both Rihanna and Nicki Minaj (who first came out dressed as a member of G.I. Joe nemeses C.O.B.R.A. only to have that armor stripped off her by someone in a chicken suit, and then replicated the lapdance choreography she performs on tour). This does not bode well for her upcoming tour, but more than that, we’re just worried about her!

HIGHLIGHT: Cee Lo, on the other hand, was in fine form, and we salute his continuing stylistic tributes to Elton John. ?Apparently the Muppet-”Crocodile Rock” Grammys homage wasn’t a one-off, judging by Green’s bedazzled outfit and glasses (not to mention the piano, which he didn’t appear to play at all).

LOWLIGHT: The same cannot be said for Lil Wayne‘s attire. Nobody needed to see a t-shirt of Ayn Rand‘s face with a Ziggy Stardust star over one eye. (Mary J. Blige looked great though.)

LOWLIGHT: will.i.am‘s portion of the Black Eyed Peas‘ acceptance speech for Top Duo/Group. “I thank technology: code writers, chip makers, programmers, Intel, all of them!” Really? (He did acknowledge the groups very early days, though, which doesn’t happen often.)

HIGHLIGHT: The rest of the Black Eyed Peas’ acceptance speech for Top Duo/Group: Fergie‘s “VEGAS!” shout-out (which rang more true than any of Ken Leung’s Vegas plugs), apl.de.ap’s thank-you to “all the Peabodys out there” (what a great name for a fanbase!) and Taboo‘s brief and equally genuine thank you.

LOWLIGHT:?Taylor Swift‘s acceptance speeches. Don’t get us wrong, we love “passive-aggressive” Taylor Swift as much as other people hate it. It’s a great, interesting pop character. But this far into the success of?Speak Now, she should be past the point of mock-shock when she wins a Billboard Award. She knows how she’s charted. She needs to learn a more self-effacing gratitude. You’re not?Glen Coco, you’re Regina George. Own it!

HIGHLIGHT: Scheduling the pre-taped U2 segment to immediately follow Ke$ha’s performance. You could see all the confetti everywhere as will.i.am introduced the U2 360 feature, but once the band took the stage to accept the award for Top Touring Artist, it was gone.

LOWLIGHT: The logistics of the Neil Diamond Billboard Icon segment. When the Nicki Minaj/Britney duet wrapped, the “award regulations” appeared on-screen before the commercial break, as though the telecast was wrapping. A nice hint to those who don’t care about Neil Diamond that they could tune out, but a bit disrespectful from a supposed “icon.” Then the segment itself failed to mention anything about Diamond’s Brill Building beginnings. The man wrote “I’m a Believer”! Is that not iconic enough? (They do get points for showing the amazing cover art for Diamond’s live double album Hot August Night.)

HIGHLIGHT: Neil Diamond himself. He seemed genuinely happy to be getting “serious” recognition of late (he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year). He joked that he didn’t know how he was supposed to conduct himself as an “Icon,” but he’d find out: “I’m gonna google it.”

HIGHLIGHT:?The use of “Skidamarink” (The Elephant Show song) in one of the numerous Chevrolet Cruze ads. (And was that Josh Hamilton in the backseat?)

LOWLIGHT: The use of a “Flashing Lights” knockoff in the otherwise perfectly fine L’Or?al spot featuring Jennifer Lopez.

[Photo: Billboard]

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