The 2013 Billboard Music Awards: A Little Good, A Lot of Bad, Quite a Bit of Ugly

Prince

I watched the Billboard Music Awards last night. For the most part, I regretted my decision to do so. In case you missed the show, here are my brief thoughts on each performance. I’ve embedded a few of the performances that won’t burn your eyelids with their corrosive awfulness.

Bruno Mars, “Treasure”: A fun song, well-delivered with plenty of energy. Great start to a mediocre (at best) night. A-

Selena Gomez, “Come and Get It”: Recycled choreography from previous live performances, canned vocals, dull song. Maybe Kid Rock wasn’t so far off. C

The Band Perry, “Better Dig Two”: Lost in the shuffle of later travesties, but this was an excellent showcase for country-rock. No lip-synching here! A

Chris Brown, “Fine China”: Based on this shamelessly derivative visual and auditory catastrophe, I hereby ban Chris Brown from all future awards shows. Save us, Orianthi! D

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, “Thrift Shop”: “Can’t Hold Us” is far from superior, but these overnight superstars made a decent case for their popularity with this committed performance of a somewhat silly song. B

Taylor Swift, “22”: Unabashed, charismatic fun. She’s successfully leaped from country to pop, and there may be no turning back. A-

Kacey Musgraves, “Merry Go Round”: Very surprised that this critically adored “one to watch” got a slot on this mess of a show, but this was a cool, calm, collected rendition of a wonderfully written song. A-

Justin Bieber, “Take You”: Why does he only have one sleeve? Why does this perfectly amiable song sound so robotic? Why is he flying on Bieber Airways? Later, Justin Bieber said it’s all about the music, but this performance sure wasn’t. D+

Pitbull and Christina Aguilera, “Feel This Moment”: Christina Aguilera can sing. We know she can. So why is the backing track consuming her live performance? And why was that A-Ha appearance so short? C+

Miguel, “Adorn”: Points off for almost decapitating several audience members, but this song is fantastic and it loses none of its appeal live. Take notes, Chris Brown. THAT’S what a falsetto is supposed to sound like. A-

Ed Sheeran, “Lego House”: Another performance centered around the vocal, and another one of the night’s strongest. Sheeran commands the stage with just a guitar. A-

will.i.am. and Justin Bieber, “#thatPOWER”: There are so many things wrong with this song I don’t even know where to begin. Wait, did I call it a song? That might have been too generous. F

Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, “Live It Up”: If J. Lo wants to repackage “On the Floor” with slightly different lyrics once every couple of years, that’s fine for her. At least she can dance. C+

Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, “High School”: This performance was buried in the lineup, probably to avoid sending the censors into a tizzy. Minaj and Wayne can rap just fine, but both seem to have lost the ability to truly change the rap music conversation. C+

Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”: He can call himself whatever he wants, but on this show, he was king. A

Did you watch the show last night? Am I right that these performances probably don’t represent the best of what pop music has to offer?

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