President Biden’s Inauguration Concert Highlights

President Biden’s Inauguration Concert brought out huge stars and the highest production value of a virtual concert I’ve seen since the pandemic began. Because of the circumstances, many of the performances were played to empty streets in different cities or in Washington, DC against our most beautiful backdrops (if you forgot the beauty of the Lincoln Memorial — John Legend will remind you). Below are some of the evening highlights.

BLACK PUMAS

Austin soul band — Black Pumas — owned the night with their performance of the song, “Colors” from their 2019 self-titled album. Led by singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, the Grammy nominated band performed ACL Live in Austin. Quesada won a Grammy for his work with Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma and according to Vulture, he connected with Burton through a mutual friend. Burton was busking in Austin at the time.

If you’re looking for more Black Pumas content after watching the video below, I’d encourage you to watch their stirring rendition of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” After learning how fiercely protective Chapman’s of her music, I love it even more knowing that she likely had to approve it. You can also see them on NPR’s Tiny Desk series.

JOHN LEGEND

John Legend’s stirring performance of “Feeling Good” was joyously juxtaposed against his wife’s hilarious Instagram stories, which featured her sitting on a windowsill “reporting the news.” But when Chrissy Teigen captured Legend on camera seconds before he performed — she showed the world just how cool and calm this guy actually is. For a voice with that prowess and an event of that magnitude, I would think the guy would be sweating a little — but not a bead.

Legend took to his Instagram to reflect on the evening, saying, “It was so special for me to celebrate with the nation in front of the memorial to one of our greatest presidents. AND I loved honoring the late great Nina Simone, my constant source of musical inspiration.” Lincoln, Nina, and Legend? Say no more. Watch below.

DEMI LOVATO

Demi Lovato is my father’s favorite performance of the night, and since he has high standards, she is getting a special mention. The powerhouse singer managed to keep our interest in an empty room with a little help from a green-screen background featuring clips of healthcare workers and other Americans across the country. Her rendition of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day” was meant to uplift America, and I’m pretty sure she did just that. For music-aficionados that enjoy fun facts — Withers 18-second long note at the end of the original tune is one of the longest recorded in pop history.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE + ANT CLEMENS

Justin Timberlake reminded me of his talent 10 times over, and his performance with Ant Clemens proved magical. The duo performed in Timberlake’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee inside Stax Museum of American Soul Music. According to People the the singers were “joined by former Stax Music Academy students and musical director Adam Blackstone, who arranged the live music.” You might remember Clemons’ voice from his appearance on Kanye West’s 2018 single “All Mine.” He earned a Grammy nomination for best R&B album with his debut LP HAPPY 2 BE HERE.

Clemons and Timberlake wrote the song, “Better Days” only a few months ago and since I initially thought it was a classic that I didn’t recognize — I’d say it’s damn good.

KATY PERRY

Katy left me gobsmacked. And what an incredible arrangement. That’s all I have to say about that.

There’s a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes a disadvantage can be used in one’s favor. Had this been flooded with folks, these performances would have been far less magical.

Does Malik Beasley Have a Forked Tongue?

What happens when a man tells each of his women two different stories? The women attack one another, of course. Such seems to be the case with Larsa Pippen and Minnesota Timberwolves NBA player Malik Beasley. After receiving substantial blowback for flaunting her new relationship with her married squeeze, Larsa insists he was separated from his wife, Montana Yao, at the time the time they met.

Yao did not take kindly to Larsa’s representation, saying, “This is 100% false. Continue to speak on my name and my relationship and we’re going to have issues. Receipts don’t lie. Let’s not go there. I think you’ve embarrassed yourself enough already.”

If only women would share stories instead of launching an immediate attack. And though I’m not inside the four walls of her marriage, I’m still confused about how you trade a GOAT like Scottie Pippen for her current roster of suitors. Furthermore, whether the man is separated or not, it’s obviously still fresh and children are involved, which means it’s probably not the best idea to flaunt your new relationship on social or otherwise.

Will the Real Hilaria Baldwin Please Stand Up?

There is a lot of drama surrounding Hilaria Baldwin lately — and despite her best efforts to squash the controversy — it’s only growing. For those late to the story, Hilaria has long given the impression that she is a Spaniard (born in Mallorca). As it turns out, she’s a white girl from Boston.

The controversy began with a Twitter user who posted, “You have to admire Hilaria Baldwin’s commitment to her decade long grift where she impersonates a Spanish person.”

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Songland Interview — Greg Scott Takes You Behind the Scenes of the NBC Show

SONGLAND — “Bebe Rexha” Episode 208 — Pictured: (l-r) Greg Scott, Ryan Tedder — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC)

I’ve long been a fan of NBC’s Songland, as the hit songwriter series provides an opportunity to nurture up-and-coming songwriters, pairing them up with three industry titans for an in-studio upgrade to their existing song. Greg Scott is one such winner, and he graciously took me behind-the-scenes of the hit competition, which scored him a track with Bebe Rexha, which will be featured at the 2021 Olympics.

He shared his win with fellow contestant Anna Graceman (Rexha combined their tracks). Tune in to hear about his story and his experience on the show. We also talk pop-culture — covering Connie Chung’s game of whac-a-mole with Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, Chuck Wicks dragging Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise’s on-set rant, George Clooney and Amal’s love story, and more.

Tom Cruise Loses His Top — and I’m Here for it

Tom Cruise lost his top — and it’s one of the best pieces of audio I’ve ever heard. First obtained by The Sun, Cruise can be heard for a solid three minutes tearing into two of his crew members who are accused of breaking the Covid-19 six-feet-apart rules. Since Mission Impossible VII has already been shut down due to the Coronavirus, Cruise clearly had enough.

Many have compared the Cruise rant to the “good-for-you” Christian Bale meltdown, which I’d argue is distinguishable. For starters, Cruise’s anger represents a nation of virus-fatigued rule followers who are forced to isolate at the hands of selfish dolts who refuse to put a piece of cloth over their face for the benefit of the human race. Bale —on the other hand — was bothered by a disruption to his acting process.

Does a true leader behave this way? Sure. Cruise can be both a leader and a Hollywood A-lister whose multi-million dollar film, and the jobs that come with it, are riding on his shoulders. Kudos to you, Cruise.

Sarah Silverman Calls Out Hollywood for Non-Jews Playing Jewish Roles

Sarah Silverman visited Howard Stern for an in-depth interview, and she drew attention to one of my long-standing issues with Hollywood. In the clip below, Silverman points out that Jews either play sidekicks or annoying girlfriends. But when the role is self-realized and courageous, they are played by non-Jews. Her examples include Felicity Jones playing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rachel Brosnahan as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the latter of which I’ve long complained is an inaccurate, borderline offensive portrayal of Jewish culture. She also cites Jojo Rabbit saying, “The Jew in the wall isn’t even Jewish.” And don’t get her started on Woody Allen. Watch below.

Howard Stern Interviews Eddie Vedder — Magic Ensues

Eddie Vedder visited Howard Stern for one of the best interviews in Howard history, and one particular performance caught my attention. Watch below as the Pearl Jam frontman covers Warren Zevon’s song, “Keep Me in Your Heart for You While.” Vedder originally performed the tune at the request of David Letterman and Stern asked him to perform his rendition from the comfort of his studio. The result is magical.

Matthew McConaughey Relives the Fast Times Table Read

Matthew McConaughey — (Photo by: Bravo)

McConaughey visited Watch What Happens Live to promote his new memoir, Greenlights, and when a fan asked him about Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s sexual chemistry during the Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read, he answered the question directly— avoiding the typical worm-your-way-out-of-uncomfortable questions approach so often utilized by celebrities.

McConaughey had some fun with it but admitted he didn’t notice the hot tension. He was also asked about Shia LaBeouf’s very funny, in-character hot boxing of his car to emulate Spicoli, and he admitted something interesting. While Shia’s performance was quite enjoyable for all of us, the end result was edited down and Shia might have been more annoyingly in character than we originally suspected (I’d like to see the uncut version).

It is difficult to articulate how Matthew McConaughey can live in a different world and be so down-to-earth at the same time, but he definitely achieves it.

VMAs Recap: Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, BTS and Other Standouts

I’d never have guessed that MTV would fare better with two hands tied behind their back than they would with complete freedom, but their Covid-19 shackles actually set them free from the routine that has plagued them for the last decade. With the universally beloved Keke Palmer as its emcee sporting a digitally generated backdrop of New York City, the show featured outstanding outdoor performances, dancers donning masks, a drive-in audience, virtual and in-person acceptance speeches, and much more. In short, MTV hit it out of the park. Enjoy the highlights below.

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