Something is happening in pop land. A change is taking place. After the Britney-style ditties, squeaky clean pop divas and the teenage pop stars that dominated the past decade, it appears a new category of pop icons is emerging who are trying to push the limits of the genre into a whole new direction.
This new group clearly surfaced at tonight's American Music Awards when Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert delivered performances that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
Sure, Kelly Clarskon was vocally strong, Whitney Houston was touching, Green Day was solid, Carrie Underwood was flawless, Rihanna was out there, Jay had swagger, Shakira was bold, Timbaland delivered the beats, Nelly was Pucci, Taylor Swift stayed up late to give "thank you" speeches, but nothing was as mind-blowing (there I said it) as the performances of Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert.
Even though Lady Gaga did not win any AMA awards, her performance tonight was Oscar worthy. She performed "Bad Romance" and "Speechless," starting off appearing as something that is best described as an eerie human/animal hybrid raised in the spotlight of a disco ball. The singer took the act to a whole new level of shock and awe when smashed the window of a glass box to get to her piano to perform "Speechless." If that wasn't enough, the piano then caught fire while violin players wearing gas masks surrounded her. Just surreal.
And then there was Adam Lambert. He's a bit like a male Lady Gaga with his fine sense for theatrics. Tonight, the San Diego showman broke with his wholesome American Idol past for once and for all. In a frantic S&M inspired set, he strutted up and down the stage like a dominatrix focusing more on giving people a show to remember than on vocal perfection.
The moment that will have ABC programmers worried came in the last few seconds of the show when Lambert kissed his male keyboard player full on the mouth. This was definitely no wardrobe malfunction, and it may be censored from the show's West Coast airing. If it is not, this will be a huge step in the right direction for network TV. That in itself would be a major accomplishment and a television history milestone brought on by Lambert.
And here's something I have noticed. Now that Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert are taking risk and injecting their show with a heavy dose of concept and performance art (whether it works or not), I can't help to notice that other artists are attempting to follow their lead (Rihanna, Shakira). More reason for me to believe that Gaga and Lambert are blazing a new trail in pop land. What did you think of tonight's AMAs?