As all of us have failed to violently remove from our collective memory, Miley Cyrus recently did this:
And subconsciously curl into a ball.
What Miley Cyrus did at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards was…different. Just to put things into perspective, the context of that was supposed to be a musical performance of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines. It was not a diaper commercial, where she was proving the product’s amazing moisture retention. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it, but I knew I was shivering. Lost and scared. It made me need my Mommy to tell me that everything was going to be okay.
But I did not need my Mommy for two reasons: one, I’m a grown-ass man. Two, for every twerked-up foam-fingered exhibition of mental illness, there are at least five live performances that will blow your mind, in a good way. I’m stabbing in the dark with that ratio, but it better ring true, or we can expect more performances that will give Billy Ray multiple cardiac arrests. And us, projectile vomiting.
So here are five videos that remind us that the performance of music is supposed to be a magnificent experience, free of this ‘twerking’ and foam fingers (leave that to the sports, what the fuck do you need a foam finger at the VMAs for?).
Ian Brown – I Wanna Be Adored (T In The Park, 2006)
The former frontman of The Stone Roses went solo in 1998, after falling out with guitarist John Squire, the McCartney to his Lennon. After a shaky start to his solo career, Brown picked up NME’s ‘Godlike Genius’ award in 2006, the same year he performed this rendition of I Wanna Be Adored. As a Stone Roses hit, the song was not an extension of the Madchester movement, but a solemn, almost shoegaze track that hits the right spot…when you’re high. As a solo artist, Ian Brown would amp up the energy when performing I Wanna Be Adored, giving the audience not just a song, but an experience you keep in your heart for a lifetime. This kind of audience sing-along never happens with Miley. Which might explain why she had to resort to…whatever it was she did.
Texas – Inner Smile (Paris, 2001)
Sharleen Freakin’ Spiteri. If any woman had stage presence, it was her. She sometimes mans it up, being a contralto and with a frontman style reminiscent of the penis-possessing Elvis Presley, but then her feminine charm shines through (from her face, not her ass, attn: Miley) as she gets deeper and deeper into her songs. Texas were always a joy to watch, and here’s a 5 minute example.
Do excuse her for looking like she came out of The Matrix in this one.
Coldplay ft. Jay-Z – Lost+ (Chicago, 2008)
Chris Martin lives his songs. He’s a goddamn geek, but damn it, as a musician, he’s effortlessly talented, dedicated and passionate (which allows him to put up fantastic live performances without having to twerk). He’s a story-teller as much as he is a pianist and a vocalist. I almost forgot to laugh that Jay-Z is just a rapping head in the television on-stage.
Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel (New York, 2001)
Let’s go back to a time when showmanship did not require on-stage masturbation. There was a time when a performer touched his crotch, and it was considered an artistic component of a brilliantly-choreographed routine that made millions cheer, and not go, “WTF HANNAH MONTANA?” I am, of course, talking about the legendary and immortal Michael Jackson. This man DEFINED showmanship for generations of attempt-to-emulate-but-fail-miserably-*cough*-Justin Bieber performers we see today. This was a particularly electrifying performance of The Way You Make Me Feel from his 30th Anniversary Revue Show in New York.
All I Want Is You, Where The Streets Have No Name – U2 (Slane Castle, 2001)
If there was a video game that needed you to put together live concerts, Bono would be the cheat character. Like Ronaldinho in FIFA 03, or The Concrete Donkey in Worms, or Miley Cyrus in The Hannah Montana Video Game (I just made that up, please don’t actually Google it). U2 are truly a rock band – one of the rare breeds that consistently produce enjoyable albums, and are just as great live. So picking one song out of their many live performances to use as an anti-Miley example here is nigh on impossible. So I’ll go with this rendition of All I Want Is You and Where The Streets Have No Name taken from Slane Castle – remembered as the concert performed after Bono buried his father. It was emotional, powerful – watch the brilliant transition from the ballad that is All I Want Is You to the more energetic middle-class anthem Where The Streets Have No Name.
If you know of any other live performances that are on the opposite end of the taste spectrum from…whatever Miley did, share it in the comments below!