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…On Kelly Clarkson

6 Apr

Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson Perform Valentine's Gig at G-A-YDuring the summer of 2002, I was an editing intern at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At the time, the paper was one of the top publications in the country, consistently lauded for its reporting, opinion pieces and photography. I was there to learn everything I could to help me on my journey toward a successful journalism career. I took time out to learn different things about how the industry works, how editors interacted with different reporters and even higher management. Most of all, I learned whether or not this was the career for me, since it was one I had been chasing for such a long time.

Also, at the time, I was knocking on 180-190 pounds. How is this relevant? It isn’t.

clarkson_idolYou see, at the time that I was learning more about the field I hoped to pursue, another young woman was being tested and mentored by people in her field. Her name is Kelly Clarkson and she is the winner of the first season of “American Idol.” Clarkson and I don’t have much in common besides being unapologetic ’80s babies our fluctuating waist lines. She’s a Southern girl who hasn’t minced words about her love of food. I’m a Midwestern girl who has vowed to leave no Goldfish behind.

Still the biggest thing we share is our passion for our professions. Clarkson is an amazing singer. Her voice packs so much power you feel it through your speakers. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her weight.

Clarkson will celebrate her daughter’s first birthday in a couple of months. Since the birth of her child, she’s gained some weight and doesn’t seem to give two shits about it.

“I yo-yo. Sometimes I’m more fit and I get into kickboxing and hardcore, and then sometimes I don’t and go, ‘Nope, I’d rather have wine!’” she said on Ellen.

Others seem to care more than she does. Both British TV personality Katie Hopkins and Fox News host Chris Wallace have jumped in to give their opinions about Clarkson’s weight. Neither has a right to judge. It’s not for us to decide when or how a person chooses to take care of their health. Clarkson is going on tour this summer, which will require a lot of stamina. It’s not her first time, so I’m sure she knows how to prepare herself mentally and physically for the task.

I am not, nor will I ever be, here for body shaming. It is not the job of others to dictate what another person should look like. The weight-loss journey is a personal one. It is a road filled with highs and lows, smiles and tears. And it is never ending. Just as we evolve in our careers, we evolve on our journeys. One day you’ll be happiest at your thinnest, the next you stop beating yourself up over that Five Guys burger. As long as you are still living life the best way you know how with some sense of purpose, your size along the way doesn’t matter.

As fans, all we require of our artists is that they show up (preferably on time) and perform with gusto to earn our hard-earned money. Clarkson is perfectly capable of doing that at any size. If she decides to lose weight, good on her. If she decides this she’s happiest at the size she is now, good on her. All I want is for her to sing “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Everything else is up to her.

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What I Learned From the Grammys 2015

9 Feb

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Because I missed the first 30 minutes of the show, I’ll give you my reactions as I saw them.

* The first thing I saw was Pharell accepting his Grammy then reneging on promise to moonwalk off stage. Let this be a lesson: if you say you’re gonna moonwalk, you’d better moonwalk. Otherwise all trust is lost.

* After Pharell, I was shocked to see Smokey Robinson’s face. Smokey may have also been shocked. Or maybe that’s the way his doctor has sculpted his face. I don’t know anything but it was a surprise to both of us.

* Miranda Lambert, who’s been very op[en about her weight loss, looked great on stage. I don’t listen to country music, so I couldn’t tell you what her song was about. I only became intrigued when part of it was bleeped out for so long I thought Eminem had joined her on stage.

* Sam Smith got his second award of the night and thanked everyone for “just letting me be me,” a mantra we should all take with us as we continue on this journey of life.

* Kanye modeled the latest in workout wear, especially in these frigid temps. Thanks for looking out for us, ‘Ye.

* Madonna is 56. Repeat: Madonna is 56. (However, my 19-year-old cousin likened her performance to “watching ya grandma twerk.”)

Yahoo Entertainment via Tumblr  http://yahooentertainment.tumblr.com/

Yahoo Entertainment via Tumblr

* Beyond that, the song and staging was a mashup of Take a Bow+Express Yourself+Like Prayer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

* Did anyone else notice the playoff music sounded like something evil was lurking around the corner?

* Beyonce addressed the BeyHive in her acceptance speech. BeyHive collectivly loses its shit.

* Somehow Ed Sheeran was able to get the best backup band of all time: Herbie Hancock, Questlove and John Mayer. That’s pretty amazing. (Don’t know his song either, but his voice is nice).

* For the second time last night, the 50-and-up crowd had a band to rock out to. This time it was E.L.O., a band whose name I didn’t know but whose music I’d heard. And I wasn’t the only one. Sir Paul McCartney became everyone’s dad jamming to his song at the family reunion when E.L.O. got on stage. Cheers to rocking out in your 70s!

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* Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani sang…or something. The orchestra was great, though.

(At this point, “Walking Dead” fans creeped into my timeline with their spoilers. They all suck…until I can watch the episode.)

* Last year, Annie Lennox made a couple of comments that ruffled my feathers. First, there was the whole Beyonce-is-feminist-lite thing, which made no sense. Then there was the whitewashing of “Strange Fruit,” a song specifically about lynching. Because I’m petty, I couldn’t enjoy Annie’s rendition of Nina Simone’s version of “I Put a Spell on You.” I’m sure it was lovely, but I’m not ready for her yet.

* Pharell looked like he was auditioning for the sequel to “Grand Budapest Hotel” as he performed “Happy” what has to be the billionth time in the past year. But kudos to him for having his dancers perform in hoodies and stand for a moment in the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” stance.

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* President Obama and a domestic abuse survivor introduced Katy Perry, who surprisingly sang pretty well. I was slightly distracted by her Solange copy fit, though.

* Lady Gaga sang with Tony Bennett. They were both painted a disturbing shade of orange.

* I am a Stevie Wonder stan. I listen to “Songs in the Key of Life” in full at least twice a month. The rest of the month, I’m rotating through my favorite songs. Last month it was “Rocket Love.” So imagine my joy when Usher started “If It’s Magic.” I had to grab my tissues. Then Stevie came out to hit a few bars of his harmonica solo. It. Was. EVERYTHING!!

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* I’ve only listened to “FourFiveSeconds” briefly, so the show was the first time I’d actually listened to it. Thoughts: Rihanna’s vocals are getting so much better. Kanye wasn’t as hyped as I would have liked. Paul McCartney’s mic wasn’t on. Still it’s the most hood folk song I’ve ever heard, and I’m here for it.

* Mary J. Blige sang “Stay With Me” with Sam Smith. I could have died in that moment a happy person.

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* Prince!!!

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* Kanye almost Kanye’s Beck’s acceptance speech. There were several great moments in this: 1) Kanye being able to laugh at himself. 2) Beck truly being at a loss for how he beat Sam Smith, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran. 3) And this Vine of Jay-Z silently saying “Don’t do it.”

* Kristin Wiig was grown-up Maddie Ziegler while Sia sang “Chandelier” to a wall. Maddie gets all the props for making everyone think her crazy jumping around was just that and not extensive choreography. It takes work to look a fool and not hurt yourself in the process. Maddie wins.

* Somewhere between “conscious uncoupling” and Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Martin got buff. Yes, Lord!

* There was minor controversy surrounding Beyonce singing “Precious Lord,” seeing as how Ledisi sang it in “Selma” (beautifully, I might add). I didn’t hate Beyonce’s performance, but I did wait for the goosebumps. “Precious Lord” is the kind of song you feel in your bones, and I didn’t get that. But she still did well. Put it this way: the BeyHive won’t be defecting any time soon.

* Common and John Legend dueted on “Glory” and it was glorious. It’s a great song with a powerful message. My fingers are crossed for an Oscar.

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Apparently I missed AC/DC, Ariana Grande and…I think that’s it. I’m OK with that. All in all, it was a pretty blah Grammys. There weren’t a lot of get-out-of-your seat moments. Hopefully the Oscars will be better.

What did you think of the show?

What I Learned From the MTV VMAs

25 Aug

beyonce_vmasLike the BET Awards, the VMAs offer amazing spectacle. So before I get to the main event, let’s discuss Mrs. Carter’s opening acts.

* I’m an old. Anything that I watch on MTV, I watch on demand or stream it. So I had no clue what channel MTV is anymore.

* I actually like Ariana Grande. I’d like her more if I could understand some of the things she’s saying

* Nicki’s anaconda actually bit someone. Well, not exactly her anaconda—her boa constrictor. I didn’t even know boa constrictors bit people. So it was safe to say her reptile was fired and we wouldn’t have a repeat of Britney’s snake dance. And that was OK because it wasn’t necessary. The dancers dressed as snakes and Nicki’s mesmerizing derrier did enough. Not enough to empress J.Lo, but enough.

* Jessie J is such a great singer and performer. I really hope “Bang Bang” does it for her. And it was cool to see different body types on on stage together. Sure, they’re all very small with waists snatched to the gods, but they’re still shaped differently and looked like they were having a ball. Even, Nicki, who couldn’t get her clothes right.

* Gwen Stefani has joined the list of people who has been bathing in unicorn tears and drying her hair with angel wings. The woman wakes up everyday and says, “I rebuke you, age!!”

* Katy Perry beat Beyonce with “Dark Horse.” I’m an admitted “Dark Horse” fan, but come on!

* About a half hour in, and I was already anxious for Beyonce’s performance. While Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande were fun, the three of them together are still no Beyonce.

* Taylor Swift performed, and I’m all, “Look! Goldfish crackers!” It’s not that I hate Tay-Tay (that’s too strong of an emotion). I’m over her. Plus, I liked the song better when it was 3LW singing it. (Shout out to Adrienne Bailon)

* By this time, it became apparent to me and several others on Twitter that the VMAs were much better when we were kids. *Busts out rocking chair* Back in my day, that Jim Carey/Jeff Daniels bit would have been hilarious. That kind of thing falls on the deaf ears of kids who were born after the first “Dumb and Dumber” was made.

* Kim Kardashian is friends with Sam Smith? I have questions. But…

* Common made sure we all took a moment of silence for Mike Brown and Ferguson. I’m nothing but appreciative of that.

* Apparently Drake couldn’t make it to the awards because he was still reeling from that hurt Nicki put on him in the “Anaconda” video.

nicki-minaj-drake

* Uzo Aduba smacking herself in the head was great! The smoothing out of the hair was even better. The ladies of Litchfield brought out Usher, who reminded us all that he works hard for a performance. Even if it means fake playing a bass guitar and sweating through his white clothes. And Nicki wore more clothes that don’t fit—a trend for her last night.

nicki_usher

* Lorde walked up to accept her award and did Lorde things. Because she’s Lorde and that’s just what she does.

* The Truth campaigners calling out all of Hollywood’s real-life smokers was an interesting tactic. No, it’s not healthy, but all the photos they showed were paparazzi shots. It wasn’t like they were at events promoting their bad habits. I don’t want to sound like I’m defending smoking, but I think it’s dirty to pick on people’s personal lives that way.

* A little more than an hour into the show: still no Beyonce, a butt-ton of commercials, and a ridiculously slow program that seems to have been produced by the same people who did the BET Awards because that sound system was trash.

* Did anyone else think that Robin Williams tribute was a poor afterthought?

* Jennifer Lopez exists to make the rest of us look bad. I mean…

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* Iggy Azalea recovered nicely from her fall the other day. She and Rita Ora sang “Black Widow,” which is only growing on me because I like the hook.

* I’m a huge, huge fan of dental hygiene. But the Crest White Strips commercial gave me pause. The example they used was mustard-yellow teeth. If your chompers are the same color as a tart condiment, you need more than over-the-counter white strips. Message.

* By this time, it’s 18 minutes until Beyonce, and I’m getting antsy.

* Chanel Iman, Joan Smalls and Jourdan Dunn, all from the “Yonce” video made an appearance on my feed dressed like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus.

* Essence took us on a nostalgia trip. Never forget.

* Miley Cyrus, who literally showed her ass last year, did a beautiful thing and let a young, homeless man take the stage to accept her award. He spoke about the hardships he faces and the charity that he and Miley are working with to bring awareness to the cause, My Friend’s Place.

* Some douchebag earlier IG’d Beyonce’s playlist, so it wasn’t a surprise and I was pissed. That frustration quickly dissipated when Queen Bey took the stage with her mimes and sang “Mine.” Beyonce, in a leotard full of mirror shards wrecked shop. She went through the entire “Beyonce” album (which bangs, I must say). Had I not seen the On The Run show, I might have enjoyed the performance more. There were a couple of songs (“Mine,” “No Angel,” “Rocket”) that she didn’t perform in Chicago, so those were good to see. And though I was a little miffed she didn’t perform my song, “Superpower,” the last medley of “***Flawless,” “Blue” and “XO” were everything. She got choked up at the end, a beautiful moment. But what set it off for, I think, everyone was when Jay and Blue came up on stage to give her the award. I’m not a cryer, but this didn’t move you then you might need some counseling.

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So, what did you think of the #BeyMAs? Was there a performance that stood out to you besides Beyonce’s?

Yonce Taught me

4 Aug

SAM_2641Editor’s note: This recap is late as I went to the On the Run tour stop in Chicago a couple weeks ago. I’ve been in the middle of my own three-city tour, so I haven’t had time to write up a post about the show. Anyway, here’s what I learned from the Carters.

1. Traffic is stressful. What should have been an hour-and-a-half drive to Soldier Field ended up being three hours, two if which were spent in standstill traffic. It turns out when the Obamas want to see Bey and Jay, the rest of us have to bow down and wait for Secret Service to secure the area. The good news is that the show started late, so we only missed the first 10 minutes.

2. ‘Tom Ford’ is a great stress reliever. My friend and I were rightfully pissed to have to wait so long to get into the show, but somehow Jay Z telling us to “clap for a n—- with yo trappin’ ass” put us right on easy street.

Beyonce (and I) sang ‘Ex-Factor’…and it was everything.

3. There’s nothing like a sing along. Belting “Resentment” is great. Shouting it at the top of your lungs with 61,000 of your new besties is even better. Also, seeing what you look like when you’re belting one of your favorite songs is what Oprah calls an ah-ha moment.

4. Dance like no one’s watching. Sure, I was surrounded by thousands of people. But I’ve been practicing my Beyonce moves for a while and I got bodied with the best of them. As is always the case when I’m in Chicago, it was chilly. But my fellow fans kept the stadium nice and warm with all their dancing, too.

5. You can sleep and still grind. I’m thoroughly convinced that the Carters haven’t slept since 1998. They took the phrase “you sleep, we grind” too literally because it’s evident in the amount of work they put into the show. Of course, they didn’t physically do the lighting or the sound. They didn’t choreograph all the routines. But their stamps are imprinted on every minutia of the show. They’re the hardest working couple in show business and eventually they’re going to run out of juice. Don’t let that be you. Take time to enjoy what you’re doing. Work hard, but enjoy the fruits of your labor.

6. It takes a village. With that, recognize that they have teams of people helping them achieve their success. Temper your expectations when you tell yourself you want a body like Bey’s or Les Twins (her fine, French dancers). That takes a lot of time and will not happen over night.

7. Power of positive influence. One of the things I noticed is how much more toned Jay is. Most of us remember Jay of the ’90s. Lanky, but a little doughey. Modern-era Jay seems to be taking a keener interest in his health. He even went vegan for a month last year. That’s always nice to see.

8. One monkey doesn’t stop a show. Back in the old days of 2004, Jay-Z was on tour with R. Kelly. They had a falling out and R. Kelly left the tour. I had tickets to see them both, so I was a little concerned about what was going to happen. Right after R-uh left, Jay announced it would be him and friends. It was like a circus, with Mary J. Blige, Ciara, Bone Crusher, Lil Jon, Lil Scrappy, and a bunch of other Lil people. Jay told us he promised us a show and, “One m—f— monkey don’t stop no show.” I say all that to say the Carters are professionals. Whatever issues they’re having at home, people paid a lot of money to see them on stage together and they will honor that commitment. Anything else is none of my business.