TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS YOU’RE DELIRIOUS
Tuesday night I put on my Pop Pants! and went to see Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera.
Okay, I don’t have literal Pop Pants!, it’s a metaphor. But I did wear new shoes and I have the big nasty blisters on the back of my ankles to prove it. Bad move!
Black Eyed Peas opened the show. I caught most of the set, but it was kind of muddy (the sound would, as per usual, get progressively better through the night). They closed with their current single, but sadly, without Justin contributing. In fact, there was to be no artist crossover for the night. I had heard a rumor that Christina was going to fill in the female parts on Justin’s “Rock Your Body,” but no dice. And why not have the Peas sub for Clipse on “Like I Love You”?
After BEP, the interim music was predictably pop. A couple tracks of Sean Paul, who is just ghastly…but then, strangely, a Led Zeppelin track. “Kashmir” maybe? The one Puff Daddy sampled. More ghastly, but at least odd.
Christina’s set began with a short filmed piece, using the intro from the Stripped album. It also confirmed we were going to get the new dark-haired pop vixen. It looks good on her, as does the added weight—which really has just bulked her up enough to look like a normal girl. She opened with “Get Mine, Get Yours,” and was instantly on vocally, but she didn’t really hit her stride performance-wise until a few songs in. Specifically, the new dirge-rock version of “Genie In A Bottle.” This made her my new goddess. As skuzzy guitars rendered the song unrecognizable, she rolled out onto the stage dressed in leather and strapped to a big metal X. There was fire shooting up from around the stage, and the whole thing was so over-the-top, so unashamedly Spinal Tap rock ‘n’ roll, I fell into a big pile of awe.
Little did I know that it would get better. The next song, “Can’t Hold Us Down,” saw her sliding into a biker jacket and getting on a pink motorcycle. The bike went up on its back wheel, turned, and even shot sparks out the tail pipe. “Make Over” was next, with Christina dancing in front of a chain link fence and behind a strobe light for the frenzied chorus. It was the most punk rock thing ever! (And has anyone noticed the similarity in the verse melody of “Make Over” to the Sugababes’ “Overload,” and even the mention of the word “overload” in it?)
It wasn’t all rawk and leather, though. Her best outfit of the night was probably the red, satiny number she wore for the duo of Etta James covers. She also did a classy runthrough of “Impossible” atop a piano, very torchy, and an acoustic “Come On Over (All I Want Is You).” In fact, all her versions of the hits off the first album were done with a little bit of a skew to them, thus getting around her attempts to distance herself from the material. She even managed to work DMX’s “X is Gonna Give it to Ya” into “What a Girl Wants,” the show closer. I imagine every time she does, Earl’s ears prick up somewhere, like the dawg that he is, and he thinks, “What the fuck?” It was pretty ballsy.
The encore was, of course, “Beautiful.” Christina came out in a white T-shirt that said “God Sees No Color” (admittedly, giggle inducing) and jeans, pretending she had forgotten to do an important song and apologizing. She did the first verse a cappella, and her voice sounded amazing. The band kicked in and carried her through to the end. It was a real high to finish on.
The anticipation for Justin (or should we say J.T.?) was palpable. These were teenage hormones we were dealing with, and there is nothing like a rush of sexual excitement to get a girl’s throat going. No, not like that, dirtbag! I mean the screaming! It was deafening, really crazy and ear-shattering.
Justin’s set was extremely polished and had a lot more pyrotechnics. He opened with “Rock Your Body,” and after a few more from Justified, he did a couple of N’Sync tunes—“Gone” and “Girlfriend.” He followed with “Cry Me A River,” complete with backing vocals from four different singers. The soundman outdid himself mixing it. It was clean and clear and totally crisp. This has to be one of the best pop songs to come out in the last decade, if not the last couple.
Unfortunately for J.T., just as it will likely be the best song he’ll ever record, “Cry Me A River” was also the peak of his set. I am not sure what left the stage, whether it was just the material doesn’t compare or more likely, it was all just too polished. He and his dancers and his band were so well practiced, there was no danger of a mistake—and it kind of drew the life out of it. He also did an extended section between himself beatboxing, his drummer, and his DJ that was pretty cool, but perhaps too long, and it killed some momentum. You have to give him credit, though, for getting a couple thousand teenage girls singing the parts to Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock.”
He did bring it back for the encore, I will admit. “Like I Love You” is an unbelievably cool dance track, and it got the arena to its feet. I even did a goofy robot dance for the amusement of my friends.
Overall, an impressive night, and an ace example of how good big shows could be. I even bought a Christina T-shirt, which I will wear unironically, of course.
I do find the whole thing frightfully amusing, though.
Current Soundtrack: Radiohead, Hail To The Thief