‘Sesame Street‘ has just started it’s 45th (can you believe it?!) season and they’re already doing it up big. For the second episode, which aired on September 16, Janelle Monaetaught us about “The Power of Yet” through song. Isn’t Bert‘s little Tuxedo adorable?
For the ‘Proud To Be Me‘ episode which aired on Wednesday,Lupita Nyong’otalks with Elmoabout being proud of the skin you’re in. Nyong’o also appeared on the Spanish version of the show, ‘Plaza Sesamo‘ earlier this year to teach us all how to smile.
Viola Davis, Mindy Kaling, Zachary Quinto and Aziz Ansari are some of the other big stars who will be dropping by the show this season. Recently, Bird Bird, Cookie Monster and some of their friends helped Jimmy Fallon read some responses to his #WhenIWasAKid hashtags for ‘The Tonight Show.’
September was full of great releases, so many that I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the awesome music. We finally got that NIN record we were promised, some punk rockers got their grown and sexy on, and Janelle brought the grooves.
Nine Inch Nails, ‘Hesitation Marks‘ You know that DivaJuliaand I are huge fans of NIN, and Trent Reznor, but I can’t say I was anticipating this one. It’s been a long wait for this album, and I think that’s what kind of scared me. Over the past couple of years some of my favorites bands (I won’t call them out) have returned with lackluster, uninspired music that I had to force myself to get into. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about with ‘Hesitation Marks.’ I could see hardcore NIN fans being split on this one. It is a return to the original sound, but songs like “Copy Of A” and the lead single “Came Back Haunted” wouldn’t really fit onto ‘Pretty Hate Machine.’ It is also much different than it’s predecessor ‘The Slip,’ no crunching guitars or get stuck in your head choruses like the songs from ‘With Teeth.’ The angst and anger are still there though. For a guy that is married with kids you’d expect Rez to have a different outlook on life, but on “Find My Way” and the oddly poppy “Everything,” it’s still a dark world for Trent. The pounding, almost hip-hop-ish beats will make this a treat for the audiophiles that brought the enhanced version. While this might not be anyone’s absolute favorite NIN output, it’s still damn good and worthy of a listen. Check it on NIN.com store.
Janelle Monae,‘The Electric Lady’ Janelle Monae is all about aesthetics. Her spunky, punk attitude and black and white uniform are a part of an image that isn’t contrived like the looks of some of her pop peers. It’s like she’s a superhero that doesn’t have an alter-ego. On her third release, Monae continues her Android saga with the help of some famous friends. Prince joins her on “Givin Em What They Love” which has some Rufus & Chaka Khan funk to it. Prince-lite, Miguel lends his voice to the sultry “PrimeTime” where Janelle tells us that she doesn’t want to be mysterious. Though she does have a great singing voice, I love the moments where she drops some rhymes, like on the title track with Solange and “Q.U.E.E.N.” with Erykah Badu. The guest stars compliment ‘The Electric Lady,’ Janelle is the star, jumping from R&B to rock like she’s flying over buildings questioning herself and the world around her. Monae is a hard one to peg, and for some people a hard artist to get into, so maybe it’s good that we get to see her without a mask on. This her most accessible effort and a good place to start with newcomers. Check it out on iTunes.
Arctic Monkeys, ‘AM’ The Arctic Monkeys have come a long stylistically, but I wondered how natural of an evolution this was for the band. ‘AM’ doesn’t sound like it’s made by the same band that put out 2006’s ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not,’ and while I thought there was too much of Josh Homme‘s influence on subsequent releases, but they have found a nice balance between their rock roots and new found swagger. The Alex Turner on ‘AM’ could, as they say, “get it,” while the old one would have been laughed at and probably kicked for even looking your way. His lyrics are what make the Arctic Monkeys so interesting to listen to, and here they are sexy and complex without being too try-hard. Citing Outkast and Aaliyah as influences, there are definite hints of R&B on songs like “Do I Wanna Know?” which also has a great clap along beat. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” and “One For The Road” have a cool, old school rap vibe about them. Homme does make an appearance, vocally, on the album, but this is pure, and new Monkeys, all grown up. iTunes.
The 2013 BET Awards was a mostly enjoyable show with performances galore. Chris Tucker served as host, but he was barely on stage and with the exception of a bit about his friendship with the late Michael Jackson, he didn’t make much of an impression.
The show went on without a hitch, though whoever was in control of the censor button was a little late, especially for Nicki Minaj‘s verse during Chris Brown‘s “Elevate The Game.” And elevate the game she did, she hovered over the audience in some sort of bubble, not missing a beat or looking nervous.
Robin Thicke took to the stage for the dirty song of the summer, “Blurred Lines.” It wasn’t that much different than previous performances, but I always appreciate Thicke,T.I. and Pharrell Williams sharing the stage together.
What I didn’t appreciate was Mariah Carey phoning in yet another performance of “#Beautiful” which is a good song, I just wish she would actually sing it. Miguel was on hand, as was Young Jeezy who gave us the most awkward segway into his song “R.I.P.” Miguel also performed “Power Trip” with J. Cole and his song “How Many Drinks” with Kendrick Lamar.
Both Miguel and Lamar were big winners, and even though Kendrick didn’t accept his first award, after a stellar performance of “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” with Erykah Badu, he made it to the stage to grab his trophy for “Best New Artist.”
R. Kelly made a triumphant (?) return to the stage for a medley of his hits, which included the classics “Bump n Grind” and “Ignition (Remix).”While R might see a bump in sales after his performances, it’s say to say he won’t catch anyone trying to copy his spiked, leather jacket look.
Ciara got super turnt up for “I’m Out” and then invited us to her “Body Party.” Cici is an amazing performer, and motivation for us to get our butts into the gym.
Definitely the highlight of the night was the tribute to the legendary Charlie Wilson. Jamie Foxx, India. Arie and Stevie Wonder got into the groove for some of Wilson’s biggest hits, then Uncle Charlie was joined by Justin Timberlake, Snoop Lion and Pharrell for Snoop’s “Beautiful” and The Gap Band‘s “You Dropped A Bomb On Me.” If this didn’t make you feel good, then I don’t know what will.
Janelle Monae got to close out the show with “Q.U.E.E.N.” and Ms. Badu made another appearance with that poodle from the song’s video. A great way to end the show, even if we, and the audience I’m sure, we’re pretty tired by then.
Here are all the winners!
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist Beyoncé Tamar Braxton Alicia Keys Rihanna – WINNER Elle Varner
Best Male R&B/Pop Artist Chris Brown Bruno Mars Miguel – WINNER Justin Timberlake Usher
Best Group Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – WINNER Mary Mary Mindless Behavior Slaughterhouse The Throne (Kanye West and Jay-Z)
Best Collaboration 2 Chainz (featuring Drake) – “No Lie” A$AP Rocky (featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar) – “F—in’ Problems” – WINNER French Montana (featuring Rick Ross, Drake and Lil Wayne) – “Pop That” Kendrick Lamar (featuring Drake) – “Poetic Justice” Justin Timberlake (featuring Jay-Z) – “Suit & Tie” Kanye West (featuring Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz) – “Mercy”
Best Male Hip Hop Artist 2 Chainz A$AP Rocky Drake Future Kendrick Lamar – WINNER
Best Female Hip Hop Artist Azealia Banks Eve Nicki Minaj – WINNER Rasheeda Rye Rye
Video of the Year 2 Chainz (featuring Drake) – “No Lie” A$AP Rocky (featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar) – “F—in’ Problems” Drake – “Started From the Bottom” – WINNER Drake (featuring Lil Wayne) – “HYFR” Kendrick Lamar (featuring Drake) – “Poetic Justice” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (featuring Wanz) – “Thrift Shop” Miguel – “Adorn” Rihanna – “Diamonds” Justin Timberlake (featuring Jay-Z) – “Suit & Tie” Kanye West (featuring Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz) – “Mercy”
Video Director of the Year A$AP Rocky and Sam Lecca Benny Boom – WINNER Director X Dre Films Hype Williams
Best New Artist Azealia Banks Joey Bada$$ Kendrick Lamar – WINNER Trinidad Jame$ The Weeknd
Best Gospel Artist Deitrick Haddon Lecrae Tamela Mann Mary Mary – WINNER Marvin Sapp
Best Actress Angela Bassett Halle Berry Taraji P. Henson Gabrielle Union Kerry Washington – WINNER
Best Actor Don Cheadle Common Jamie Foxx – WINNER Samuel L. Jackson Denzel Washington
YoungStars Award Gabrielle Douglas – WINNER Jacob Latimore Keke Palmer Jaden Smith Quvenzhané Wallis
Best Movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild” “Django Unchained” “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap” “Sparkle” “Think Like a Man” – WINNER
Subway Sportswoman of the Year Gabrielle Douglas – WINNER Brittney Griner Candace Parker Serena Williams Venus Williams
Subway Sportsman of the Year Victor Cruz Kevin Durant Robert Griffin III LeBron James – WINNER Ray Lewis
Coca-Cola Viewers’ Choice Award A$AP Rocky (featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar) – “F—in’ Problems” Drake – “Started From the Bottom” – WINNER Kendrick Lamar – “Swimming Pools (Drank)” Miguel – “Adorn” Rihanna – “Diamonds” Justin Timberlake (featuring Jay-Z) – “Suit & Tie”
Centric Award Tamar Braxton – “Love and War” – WINNER Fantasia – “Lose to Win” Miguel – “Adorn” Nas – “Daughters” Charlie Wilson – “My Love Is All I Have”
Best International Act: Africa 2Face Idibia (Nigeria) Toya Delazy (South Africa) Donald (South Africa) Ice Prince (Nigeria) – WINNER R2Bees (Ghana) Radio and Weasel (Uganda)
Best International Act: UK Marsha Ambrosius Estelle Labrinth Rita Ora Emeli Sandé – WINNER Wiley