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AMAs 2011: Hot Chelle Rae wins; Mary J. Blige comes to the rescue

November 20, 2011 |  7:21 pm

Pop & Hiss will be posting live throughout the night. There may be typos. 

Two hours in Sunday night and the American Music Awards finally offered a musical performance worth celebrating. R&B star Mary J. Blige gave a scorching vocal take on her "Mr. Wrong," and then took a moment to make sure audiences paused to remember the recently departed Heavy D. 

For her performance, Blige gradually ramped up the tension, reasserting herself as one of the most striking and dominant singers in pop and R&B. Lyrically, it may not be Blige's sharpest single, with the artist inviting heartbreak with more or less open arms, but nothing Blige touches sounds frivolous. As the song builds, it becomes less about the deadbeat she's attracted to and her anger at her own weakness at not letting go, and she marked the occasion by digging deep rather than aiming for the heavens.

Earlier, Katy Perry received a standing ovation for apparently possessing an ability to competently sing and strum an acoustic guitar for the boring ballad that is "One That Got Away." Still, Perry was many moons more entertaining than the generic, bachelor-pad disco of Maroon 5, which performed "Moves Like Jagger" with Christina Aguilera. Although one would be hard-pressed to find any evidence in the song of any understanding of even the Rolling Stones at their worst. 

The American Music Awards apparently have a thing for the blandly inoffensive, as they let Adam Levine stay onstage to perform "Stereo Hearts" with Gym Class Heroes. Levine gave the requisite, hey-this-is-serious yawn of a hip-hop interlude. 

The American Music Awards gave Hot Chelle Rae its best new artist award, which came branded by a tech company.  Hot Chelle Rae, of course, has the year's most annoying hit in "Tonight Tonight," which may as well be a commercial jingle for major label schlock. But as the band would say: "Whatevever, la, la, la. It doesn't matter." Don't expect Hot Chelle Rae to figure much at the 2012 Grammy Awards, although the artists Hot Chelle Rae beat, Nicki Minaj and the Band Perry, likely will. 


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-- Todd Martens

Photo: Mary J. Blige during her scorching performance at the 2011 American Music Awards. Credit: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters