VH1 Divas 2009 Reviewed: Performances, Paula Abdul & More

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After a four year hiatus, VH1 finally resurrected it’s Divas concert series. The long awaited special aired Thursday night with Paula Abdul providing hosting duties. Overall it was a pretty good show but paled in comparison to the infamous original which featured Shania Twain, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin. Though I give credit to VH1 for ditching the lame idea when the concert only focused on one diva and the show served as a tribute to them ie. Diana Ross (2000) and Aretha Franklin (2001). What works best about the series is the listening to the collaborations and not highlighting one performer over the other. It’s up to the individual diva to try take over the other with over-the-top wailing as witnessed during it’s inaugural year when Celine, Mariah, and Aretha tried to out sing each other. This year’s event held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) featured some of today’s hottest young divas: Kelly Clarkson; Jordin Sparks; Adele; Leona Lewis; Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson. As with the past concerts, the divas performed solos and duets that resulted with varying degrees of success. I’ll get to critiquing the performances later but first let’s talk about Paula.


Oh, Paula. How did she do? Did she have any breakdowns? As with Paula’s moods during American Idol, her hosting had some ups and downs. At times she provided some pretty good filler in between the performances but at times she was awkward and was yelling out her scripted lines. Her best moment by far was a skit where she pretended to be Ellen DeGeneres. Sporting a short blond wig and wearing Ellen’s signature attire, Paula imitated DeGeneres’ aisle dancing to Pink’s “Let’s Get This Party Started” with perfection. Say what you will about Paula but the girl can dance and who knew she had a knack for imitating people’s dancing skills. Paula’s other best moment came when she traded barbs with d-lister comedian Kathy Griffin. Here’s a sample of their dialogue

Kathy Griffin: Did you bang David Letterman?
Paula Abdul: Have you ever banged anyone? Hey listen, Firecrotch!
Kathy Griffin: You got me, it’s on fire. It’s on fire.

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Not all her interactions with presenters went well. The silly twittering SLASH swag swap skit with Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port was painful to watch. As was Abdul’s lame acting when she pulled Liza Minelli to the stage from the audience. The biggest almost disaster was the near miss she had during her medley performance of her biggest hits. During the performance, she stumbled during a turn and almost fell ass backwards into the mosh pit. Had she fallen down into the crowd, that video would’ve been on YouTube faster than you can say “hot mess”. It would’ve been the viral video of the year.

Surprisingly, the show was about more than just Paula’s first gig after leaving idol. It was about music, performances and never-before-seen duets. Jennifer Hudson was the first to perform with her hit single “Spotlight”. Given the fact J.Hud just gave birth a few weeks ago, she looked FAB-U-LOUS in her tight leather pants. Later in the evening Boomquisha’s duet partner was Stevie Wonder. The two did a solid performance of Wonder’s hit “All Is Fair In Love”.

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Next diva on deck was the original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson. She belted out her controversial single “Already Gone” to pitch perfection. She later closed the show down with a rocked out performance of “Bring Me Some Water” with Melissa Etheridge. Kelly did herself proud and definitely earned the title “Diva”. Everyone always gives Clarkson flack for looking like a heffer but look at Jordin Sparks standing beside Kelly in the picture above. Clarkson look like a waif compared to Sparks.

Speaking of Sparks, the youngest Idol winner ever performed her latest single “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)”. It was nice to finally hear something upbeat. Having said that, Jordin seemed out of breath a few times and didn’t sound her best. Her voice didn’t carry it’s usual punch and sounded thin at spots. She later redeemed herself during her duet with Martina McBride. On a side note, I’m not sure if I’m loving the new improved and hoochie-fied Sparks. Seeing her all tarted up with light locks and short tight dresses seems a bit off- I like my Jordin all innocent.

British import Adele was next up with her performance of “Hometown Glory”. She was so adorably cute during her intro video montage. Her performance, however, was just meh but that was mostly due to my indifference to the song. During the portion when she scatted, she garnered one of the biggest applauses of the night. I guess I was in the minority. When it came time for her duet performance, she killed it with india.arie on “Video”. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this song and watching Adele bop to her performance made me smile.

Next on the bill was another British import and reality TV winner. Leona Lewis worked her newest single “Happy” to death. She did an even better job when she performed a stripped down version of “True Colors” with Cyndi Lauper. Gawd, I absolutely love Cyndi and glad she can live the rest of her life rotating “Time After Time” and “True Colors” performances to packed houses. You go girl.

The last diva to take the stage was the most questionable one. I love Miley’s guilty pleasure filled songs but Diva she ain’t. She took the stage with her latest single taking over the country, “Party in the USA”. Random note. I watched the show in conjunction with VH1.com’s blogging party. Throughout the streaming video, the feed rotated between the band, backstage, the main stage and this blogger for thefablife.com. Throughout the telecast she was busy tweeting on her phone and remained mostly stoic. That was until Miley came on and this bitch let loose and lip synced to Miley. Oh did I forget to mention this hooker was probably in her mid-late 30s. I digress. It was nice to see Miley sing this song without the ice-cream cart pole dancing. Her background dancers reminded me of the “Rehab” performance in the Glee pilot. As much as I like this song, she sounded awful and out of tune for most of it. When it came time for Miley to take a stab at a duet, she choose to perform with Sheryl Crow on “If It Makes You Happy”. Miley definitely killed it and NOT in the good way. She literally killed the song- it will never be played again. This, by far was the biggest mismatch of the night. I hope Crow got massive karma points for doing this good deed.

Who was the best DIVA on this year's VH1 telecast?

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Overall I give the return of the Diva series a passing mark. One of the things that made the first Diva special so remarkable was the closing number. I loved it when all the divas and duet partners came on stage and sang one final song. This is when you saw the egos and claws come out. VH1 please bring that tradition back.

Here are some random pictures from the red carpet. Leona Lewis, what the eff are you wearing? You’re too pretty to wear crap like that.

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Presenters for the evening included: Kathie Lee Gifford; Hoda Kotb; Kathy Griffin; Toni Braxton; Whitney Port; Lauren Conrad; The Fame Cast; True Blood actors Ryan Kwanten; Keri Hilson and Corbin Bleu.

  • frank

    the whole thing was a mess.

  • E DUB

    Kelly Clarkson looked alot like shrek’s wife i mean look at the dress she had on and the color of the hair i mean as soon as i saw her thats what i thought.