Tuesday, November 24, 2009
What's more shocking,Adam Lambert's AMA antics or his Bob Fosse flair?
By now,many of you out there have heard about the show stopping performance that American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert gave on the American Music Awards this past Sunday night. Unfortunately for me,I didn't see it live but thanks to the internet,was able to view his "For Your Entertainment" romp across the stage.
If by chance you didn't see it,the big hullabaloo about Adam's musical number(which was shown a few minutes before 11 P.M. on the east coast)is that he had obvious sexual overtones in the dance routines and at one point, kissed a male keyboardist impromptu.
It should be no surprise to anyone who watched Adam during his AI run that his style is extremely flamboyant and he's not ashamed of his sexual orientation(nor should he be at all,in my opinion).
The folks at AI pretty much had a "don't ask,don't tell" policy about that and now that Our Mr. Lambert is no longer obliged to tone down his true artistic persona,that we would get a taste of his unbridled onstage act sooner or later.
What does surprise me is that no one has yet pointed out that his FYE number at the AMAs is in many ways,a tribute to Bob Fosse. The infamous choreographer and director who gave the pop culture world such dazzling fancy footwork in Broadway shows and films like Cabaret,Sweet Charity and Chicago would be on his feet applauding this performance if he was still amongst the living,I'm sure of it.
To start off this evolutionary chain of entertainment,take a gander at Adam's AMA performance and note the sexy combination of dancers as they move all about that large metal framework in the background,it's an important component here:
Now,take a look at former AI judge Paula Abdul's "Cold Hearted" video from the 1990s, which was directly inspired by a routine in Fosse's autobiographical musical All That Jazz from 1979. See any similar set pieces,folks? Not to mention some of the the dancers being matched up in not the standard boy/girl pairings:
Groping group song and dance numbers are a regular theme of Fosse's work,particularly his signature style. The opening number from Chicago,where the title of that groundbreaking film from '79 comes from,showcases that rather naughtily in a nice fashion:
Speaking of All That Jazz,here is that less than subtly sensuous number that inspired Paula Abdul and seemingly Adam Lambert as well.
Fosse's doppelganger in the film is named Joe Gideon( well played by Roy Schieder),who in this scene is giving his producers and cohorts a sample of he intends to put on stage for his latest play. Just like Adam,Joe gets a mixed reception about his work,to say the least.
I remember seeing this movie on cable TV years ago and this routine does inspire a blush or two,along with admiration for the creative coordination involved here(a little bit of nudity crops up,folks-you have been warned):
"So,that makes it all right then,huh,Lady T?" No,it's not a question of right here,this is more about finding out the subtext of what is really so bothersome to many people about this. If it's simply not to your taste,that's fine and if you prefer that your kids don't see it,that's up to you. However,to call Adam's performance morally offensive while other performances on the same show that appeared way earlier in the evening than his did and were far from modest,is a tad puzzling there.
Don't get me wrong,I have no problem with Rihanna or Shakira and especially not with Lady Gaga strutting their stuff on any music awards show. Yet,when none of those numbers causes one tenth of the uproar that Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment" did,it makes me wonder why.
How is it that Madonna can kiss girls on stage(mainly to boost her sagging shock rock status) and Miley Cyrus do a pole dance on a kid's award show and only ruffle a few feathers while Adam makes out with one guy and hordes of people are insisting that it's a sign of the apocalypse? I normally refuse to press the prejudice buzzer for stuff like this,but it's blinking very brightly at the moment.
In the end,Adam's getting plenty of publicity out of this and his album will no doubt sell amazingly well this holiday season. I just wonder if more of his Broadway inspired style would be more acceptable to some if he was a gal named Anna instead.
After all,risque numbers have been accepted on award shows before,such as this classic bit from Nine(which,like All That Jazz,was based on Fellini's 8 1/2 Weeks and is about to appear on the silver screen this Christmas,with Chicago's Rob Marshall as it's director)and if the likes of "Be Italian" could pass muster with the S&P department back then,does that prove that we are moving forward or backward with our accepted standards of artistic interpretation for the general viewing public? Certainly something to talk about while waiting in line for tickets to Adam's concert tour,that's for sure:
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