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Cat-ural Appropriation: The 2013 AMAs Happened, So Here Are Some Performances And Thoughts

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The 2013 American Music Awards! Yeah, that happened tonight.

While I’m currently 50 shades of overit.com/cannot after having covered 2 hours of red carpet footage (WHY) and 3 full hours of performances and acceptance speeches for made up awards that have no significant clout in the music industry, I’m still hanging in there with this performance post. Who slayed? Who remained lame? Eh, it was a mixed bag. BUT ISN’T IT ALWAYS?

And as for the awards? Taylor Swift won everything, because obviously.

Katy Perry! LOL, nope. Just nope. Absolutely not. Madonna did the geisha appropriation with “Nothing Really Matters,” Kylie did it with “German Bold Italic,” Britney did it with “Toxic” during the Femme Fatale Tour — and all of them just did it better. But that’s not even the point: The point is that this performance is such pointless nothingness, and so incredibly representative of the general Prism campaign mantra: “Eh, that works.”

Ariana Grande! Fun fact about Ariana Grande: She sees demons. Another fun fact about Ariana Grande: When she’s not sprinkling holy water in and around her home and wrapping herself in red Kabbalah bracelets, she’s also a fucking incredible pint-sized vocalist quickly creeping up the stairs in her Quinceañera party dress for Mariah‘s wig. “Tattooed Heart” is my favorite song off her debut Yours Truly, and she did the song complete justice live. ‘Twas a Motown dream! And Beelzebub loved it too.

Ke$ha! Oh, my sweet, sweet K$. I’ve seen that look before: I’ve seen it on Britney‘s face in almost every Femme Fatale meet-and-greet photo, I’ve seen it when Kathy Perry got divorced via text in Part Of Me and had to get out on stage and force a smile — that’s the look of someone who’s simply grinning and bearing it. Ke$ha is way past a rowdy Pitbull club feature, and way better than being groomed to girly perfection and twerking with sexy ladies on stage. She wants to roll around and get nasty in dirt and glitter. She wants to sing heartbreaking guitar ballads. She wants to rock out with her cock out with the Flaming Lips. She wants to be #FREEKESHA. It was a fine performance, sure — but it reeked of disdain.

J. Lo! Ay mami, YASSSSS! Jennifer Lopez does this really cool, funky, urban thing lately (read: the past 10 years) where she shows up to an awards show and utterly mops the floor with the pop princesses half her age with ease. Oh God, it’s not even a competition! Everyone should be embarrassed, seriously. Sure, she doesn’t have Mariah-sized pipes (let’s not ignite that diva war), but she’s got the hot fiya moves and charisma of a true legend. She’s a true triple threat, and it was nothing less than a treat to watch her tribute Celia Cruz in a fiery, feisty ode to the salsa icon. Also, how rare is it that a tribute gets it right? This one got it so, so right.

Legendtina Maria Desnudate Goduilera! Frankly, I just feel bad for everyone else. While certain divas attempted to appropriate cultures or disgrace historical figures, Legendtina decided to rise up like a lotus and remind true lovers of American Music what an actual legend looks and sounds like. She (along with her longtime fans, A Great Big World) stunned a simple black dress on stage — looking oh so Sveltetina — giving you that “The Voice Within” urgency and Stripped elegance without even a single hint of theatrics. It was so beautiful (REFERENCE), so blessed (REFERENCE) and so restrained (Buy Bionic on iTunes), she didn’t even need to call in that small favor involving a bucket of pig’s blood backstage before Gaga arrived to perform. The only problem? Way too short! She got knocked off stage for Kendrick Lamar‘s performance too quickly. But fear not, Legendtina’s Curse is a real thing — so good luck sleeping tonight, Kenny. Regardless, she slayed something severely, even bringing the young ladies of One Direction to tears. (And no, we’re not getting into the merciless shade that was not being nominated for “Hoy Tengo Ganas De Ti.”) VIVA LA LEGENDTINA!

Rihanna! Oh, Robyn. C’mon now, my Illuminati Instagram Navy Commander Princess. RiRi got the Icon Award for being, duh, an icon — but she looked like she found out about the award approximately 20 minutes before she wandered onstage in a chronic haze. Her hair was pinned up like it was just getting ready to be addressed by her glam squad and her outfit was half falling off (the first one, anyway.) She certainly looked #Unapologetic as she performed “Diamonds.” It was fine, but real talk — that was some Diamonds Tour rehearsal performance realness. Rihanna is usually so dependable as an awards show act, too! This wasn’t very compelling. She was purely #PhucksFree tonight — but, it doesn’t matter. At least we got to see Mama Fenty share a real moment with her daughter onstage. #Navy4Lyfe #PhuckYoAMAs

Lady Gaga! The nice thing about whenever Gaga decides to dress down (“dress down”) and commit to a single theme (as best she can!), the haters suddenly forget why they’re mad and remember why Lady Gaga’s so important as a pop star. She brings it. She’s got the goods…and she wants to entertain you. (You might have heard — she’s really into applause.) She serves what you (I, so therefore you) should want in a pop star: Choreography, creativity, social commentary and vocals for days. R. Kelly and Sister Swine as JFK and Marilyn Monroe (which is also referenced in the song, hello!) was a perfect blend of pop camp and performance art, showing off Gaga’s underappreciated sense of humor inside the Oval Office. And yes, those chops were also insahne. The ending was a bit devastating (“LADY GAGA IS FAT, LADY GAGA IS OVER”) and could have perhaps, y’know, ended with a more optimistic message. But maybe it’s best this way — a small reminder to the Twitter trolls tweeting her directly to kill herself that, in fact, you are the problem.

Miley Cyrus! She had per pussy hanging out. Literally! (It was behind her and her aggressive looking pelvis.) Look, Miley and her team “get” the Internet. They know how Google works. You put Miley on stage with a giant pussy (cat), and you’re going to get them searches for “Miley pussy,” “Miley nude” and “Miley porn” up faster than you can spell SEO. (Thanks for the hits, Miley!) Kudos for being the year’s biggest stunt queen, because it absolutely worked — you just might not have noticed that she also happened to be singing. Pretty well, too. I look forward to the day that Miley decides to focus on that again rather than using a prop of choice (foam finger, sledgehammer or giant cat), ’cause it’s all a little one trick pony — err, pussy — as of late. But at least there’s no reason for any cultural appropriation thinkpieces to be generated about this one! Just, uh, cat-ural appropriation.

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And the best performance of the night goes to Britney Spears, for her stirring rendition of “Not Bothered To Attend.”