Live From Planet Earth

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(A special welcome to everbody who found Arjan Writes on the homepage of Bravo TV today!)

The gigantic Live Earth spectacle is in full swing, and I have seen some great performances so far, including KT Tunstall, Bloc Party, Kenna, Linkin Park and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Unfortunately, Justin Timberlake bailed out and did not perform with Duran "Planet Earth" Duran.

And may I just note that Keane singer Tom Chaplin looked great on stage in London today. Slimmed-down and arguably a lot more energetic than before. Rehab does wonders. Keane's passionate set included "'Somewhere Only We Know," "Is It Any Wonder" and "Bed Shaped."

July 7, 2007 in Special Reports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Special Report: MTV European Video Music Awards 2006

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A good live show is no fun without some good unscripted action. And of course it was the unpredictable Kayne West who delivered some hilarity during tonight's live broadcast of the MTV European Video Music Awards in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It all went down after Justice Vs. Simian were the surprise winners of the Best Video Award for "We Are Your Friends." The band was not available and two representatives accepted the award on the group's behalf. Visibly ticked off, Kanye West crashed the stage to upset their acceptance speech.

West, who was nominated in the same category, ran his big mouth and said: "Fuck this! My video cost a million dollars (. . ..)  If I don't win this award, this show loses credibility." He also added that he had not seen Justice Vs. Simian's video. The live footage quickly turned to a commercial.

The show's presenter Justin Timberlake tried to ease the moment after the break by making a clever remark. "Kanye West will be accepting awards he didn't win in the parking lot after the show," he quipped. "I've got sexy covered, it is good to see someone is bringing crazy back." Touche! West admitted backstage that he had drunk too much "sippy, sippy."

I love it how the European MTV Video Awards Show still has these fantastic unscripted moments as opposed to the tedious American version that is so overproduced. American artists also took full advantage of Europe's greater acceptance of profanities, by throwing "shit this" and "motherfucker that" around left and right without being bleeped. They forgot, however, that swearing just because you can is not really classy or European at all.

Timberlake won two awards himself for Best Pop Video and Best Male video. In his first acceptance speech, he thanked his mother for "birthing" him and MTV for giving him the prize just because he agreed to host the show. He's right. And he knows it.

Musical performers included the "Sexyback" singer, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Rihanna, Nelly Furtado (looking wild with fake tatts on her arms)and that monstrous band from Finland that won the Eurovision Songcontest this year.

Keane made their long-awaited return to the public stage after Tom Chaplin's lengthy recovery in rehab. They performed "Is It Any Wonder" on the outdoor stage in front of a roaring crowd. Tom looked in great shape and has slimmed down quite a bit.

Best Rock Video was awarded to my boys of The Killers (see you in Berlin!) who performed "When You Were Young" in freezing temperatures outside. Brandon sported a sexy leather motor jacket with black shades. Backstage, he commented that he was surprised that Muse and Jet were not nominated in the Rock Video category (Muse won Best Alternative Video a little later). 

Brandon also noted that he will put his MTV award "on his piano." Drummer Ronnie added that he will put his "in the microwave."

The golden oldies of Depeche Mode surprisingly one the Best Group Video, which is very well-deserved after their impressive year.

Arjanwrites.com Global Beats featured artist FreshlyGround from South Africa won the award for Best African artist. Hopefully, that will give them some momentum to break into Europe. (Kanye West photo via AP Photo/John McConnico.)

November 2, 2006 in Special Reports | Permalink | Comments (17)

My Date With Justin Timberlake (Part 5): Video Clips

As promised a couple of videos from Justin Timberlake's showcase in Amsterdam last Saturday. He shows off his sexy back and some other fly dance moves during his performance of "Sexy Back" at the intimate Paradiso theatre. (Note: You might want to turn down your computer's volume. The sound recording is distorted due to the power of the speakers in the room.)

Here are some more of his dance moves during "Rock Your Body." It is slightly out of focus but still fun to watch:

July 11, 2006 in Special Reports | Permalink | Comments (14)

My Date with Justin Timberlake (Part 4): Concert Review

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(Update: Also watch some video clips here.)

"Enjoy you summer, because I'm gonna take over fall!," cheered Justin Timberlake when he waved his audience goodbye and left the stage on Saturday at the intimate Paradiso theatre in Amsterdam. Amidst tight security, the singer was in the Netherlands to showcase his new album "FutureSex/LoveSounds" in front of a few hundred fans, reporters, international label executives and other V.I.P hot shots. The new disc is the follow up to 2002's "Justified" that sold over seven million copies worldwide. Besides writing up my impressions of his gig and new songs, I recorded audio and video as well that I will post soon. Keep checking this blog for that. I posted more photos on Flickr.

After listening to Timberlake's new single "Sexy Back" last week, I was curious what his new songs would sound like. Fans that were getting a little uneasy after hearing the singer's new Timbaland produced groove can relax. "Sexy Back" is not like any other new album track he performed. I'm pretty certain that "Sexy Back" is intended as a shock song: a single to grab radio time and get people buzzing. New songs he performed include "My Love," "Till The End Of Time," "What Goes Around," "She Knows" and "Sexy Back."

With his charismatic stage energy, sexy dance moves and flawless vocal delivery, watching Timberlake perform live is a real joy. After previously seeing him in concert with N*Sync and together with Christina Aguilera during his last world tour in 2003, there's no doubt in my mind that this Memphis native was born to be an entertainer.

At the age of 25, Timberlake has the gift to inject his pop music with a sense of soul and stamina that is unusal for an artist still so young. In many ways, Timberlake is like an old black soul trapped in a white man's body. In fact, arguably one of his greatest contributions as a pop star is that he takes his polished popsoulfunk to a whole new and diverse generation of music lovers. "Music is music," Timberlake once said. "It's the universal language. And whether you're gay, straight, black, white, you know, whatever, you like what you like."

He introduced this very special showcase in Amsterdam by greeting the crowd and explaining that he was looking forward to sharing some of his brand-new tracks from "FutureSex/LoveSounds." "I hope you like these new tracks, and if you don't well then fuck you," he said in his endearing, pseudo bad boy manner.

(Full review after the jump.)

Dressed in a '50's inspired, tailored black suit with white shirt, black tie and stylish hat, he kicked off the night around 10:00 p.m. with an extended version of "Cry Me A River" that ran a little over 7 minutes and included a propulsive new intro and a rocky guitar finale. He went straight into the Latin-flavored "Senorita" that he sang while playing vintage Rhodes fenders.

The first new song he played was "My Love," a mid-tempo R&B ballad in the vein of the glossy soul pop on "Justified." The track was followed by a crazy fun mash up of "Like I Love You" and Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit" that had the versatile Timberlake jumping around the small stage with an electric guitar.

His next tune was another new track called "Till The End Of Time," a sugar-sweet pop ballad that I found bland and will probably make a nice B-side. It was followed, however, by a noteworthy new song that Timberlake did not introduce but I'm guessing it is called "She Knows." The song has a vigorous club groove that allowed him to show off some of his flashy dance moves and beatboxing. "She's bad, and she knows," he sings.

After telling the audience he was glad to be back in Amsterdam, he went straight into the pop-oriented new track "What Goes Around" that is the "Cry Me A River" of this new album. Its lyrics talk about hurt, pain and revenge. He continued playing straight up versions of "Last Night" and "Take It From Here," both from "Justified."

With the crowd in a frenzy, Timberlake hit them even harder by performing his biggest hit "Rock Your Body" that turned into an all-out celebration. He lost the tie, unbuttoned his shirt and was ready to bring his party to a climax before coming back for an encore.

His return to the stage was introduced by the band's own version of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams." Fun! Half-way through, Justin ran on stage and shut down the band by lifting up his arm. He then counted to three to introduce the deliciously fat and ferocious funk groove of his new single "Sexy Back" as the showcase's final song.

The shock song is a fantastic track to perform live. It oozes with sexuality and packs so much energy that the singer had the crowd jumping up and down for almost five minutes straight. Also, his natural vocals fit the song much better than the computerized crooning that is on the recorded version. Timberlake was totally feeling the song as well, humping his mic stand and prancing around.

That brought this  impressive and successful showcase to an end at around 11:15 p.m. I appreciate Timberlake even more after seeing him in such a small and intimate venue that does his showmanship a lot more justice. Much kudos also to Timberlake's incredible seven piece band and four back-up singers who completed the shining concert experience.

July 10, 2006 in Special Reports | Permalink | Comments (10)

My Date with Justin Timberlake (Part 3): Exclusive Live Photos

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(Update: Also watch some video clips here.)

Justin Timberlake rocked Paradiso in Amsterdam last night. He performed some of his old hits and he also showcased several new tracks of his forthcoming new album "FutureSex/LoveSounds." Find all my photos of Timberlake's exclusive gig on Flickr. Full review and some video footage coming up. Stay tuned.

July 9, 2006 in Special Reports | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack