The 2012 "VH1 Divas" show looked really promising when VH1 announced that it would be a tribute to the great Whitney Houston, who passed away earlier. Many fans started to wonder which divas would appear to honor her on the show: bets went from the legends who inspired her (Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick...), to her contemporaries (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Toni Braxton...), to the ones she inspired (Christina Aguilera, Brandy, Monica, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson...).
But later another big diva, Donna Summer, passed away too so the producers decided to change the concept of the show and make it a dance tribute to honor both of them. This was a wise decision, because many other shows honored Whitney later in 2012 and another one entirely dedicated to her would have been repetitive.
Another wise decision was to feature Whitney's up-tempo songs. Other tributes focused on her ballads, so doing her dance tunes brought something fresh to the table.
Although the VH1 producers weren't able to get real Divas for the concert, they were smart enough to pick real vocalists to sing the Whitney songs: Jordin Sparks, Melanie Fiona and Ledisi. However, the song arrangements were atrocious. The same happened with the Donna Summer tribute. The band turned her classics into and horrendous remix. How sad!
The line-up was also really disappointing. The concert was celebrated at a time when big female voices were promoting new releases: Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Carrie Underwood, Brandy, Leona Lewis and Emeli Sandé had all new albums out. So it was a huge letdown to know that VH1 couldn't get any of them.
Luckily, they could get Kelly Clarkson, who always delivers. Her performance of "Catch My Breath" was stellar. She was the true diva of the night.
Adam Lambert was a good choice as the host. His opening number covering David Bowie's "Let's Dance" was one of the best performances of the evening, and he saved the Donna tribute with his renditions of "Hot Stuff" and "Last Dance". However, his cover of Madonna's "Ray Of Light" was awful. He was completely out of tune during the first half of the song, and his choreography was ridiculous.
Ciara was a surprise. Not only she proved that she can sing live, but also that she is one of the best dancers out there. Her cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" was a highlight, but as the show was called "Divas", a tribute to Janet Jackson would have been more appropriate.
Metric was another surprise. The band sounded good, both on the performance of their song "Breathing Underwater" and on their cover of Blondie's classic "Heart Of Glass". But why did they get more than one song to perform while the others only had one?
Paloma Faith and Natasha Bedingfield delivered nice performances too, as they both have big voices (the first requirement to be a diva)!
Kelly Rowland and Keri Hilson were weak choices though. They do look as divas, but they don't have the voices. Their performances on the Donna Summer tribute lacked power.
However, the MAJOR MISTAKE of the show was the addition of Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Pitbull to the bill. What were they doing on a show called "Divas"?
Pitbull doesn't have the attitude like for example Elton John, George Michael or Adam Lambert have to be considered "divos".
And Miley and Demi are the opposite of divas. They don't have the voice, they also don't have stage presence (another big requirement to be called "diva"). Miley was horrible butchering Billy Idol's classic "Rebel Yell" (same happened with her when she sung "If It Makes You Happy" with Sheryl Crow on Divas 2009). Also, what did that song have to do with the dance theme of the show? It was completely out of place.
The only reason I can find to try to understand why they were invited was that the producers wanted to reach to a younger audience, as the show was heavily promoted in social networks. But that is not enough reason, VH1. You need glamorous vocalists on Divas, not teen idols. It was painful to watch them on a show called "Divas".
All in all, it was an entertaining show. But it was still kind of a mess if you compare it with the very first shows. It's a bit of a mystery why VH1 can't get bigger names.
If VH1 attempts to do another show in 2013 I hope they gather some of today's top female vocalists (not teen pop stars) together on the same stage, singing both their own songs and a number of collaborations. My choices would be Adele, Chistina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Pink, and Carrie Underwood as headliners, and Emeli Sandé and Delta Goodrem as guests. Allow each of them to do more than just one song and bring them all together to sing the last one.
The current format does not allow the performer to make a concert-like connection. That was what was so great about the first couple of years. It was like you got to see a mini-version of all these great singers tours, with some fun duets sprinkled in. Now they run the show like a bad awards show, without the awards.
VH1 really needs to get it together next time if they want to have a successful show. I hope that they will do one show with REAL DIVAS (not mediocre artists that sell millions of records and are on TV all the time) to make up for this and restore respect. Time to watch the two first shows and be reminded of how the "VH1 Divas" shows used to be.
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