Last night was extremely trying on a sista. A glutton for punishment, I agreed to live-blog the BET Awards '08 knowing full well that I would have to subject myself to random acts of ignorance and my people behaving--and performing--badly. It's nothing new, that's just how BET rolls. No matter how hard they try, they just can't get it right. Still, people, including yours truly, continue to watch the channel (although many won't admit it) through our side-eyes hoping, wishing and praying that BET steps their game up. Last night was almost that night. Unfortunately, it took a full two hours into the program to get to that moment.
Sure, prior to the 10 o'clock hour, performances by Ne-Yo and Alicia Keys, who brought back the girl groups of the '90s--SWV, En Vogue and TLC--to join her on stage, were good, just not great. Today people are more apt to talk about how much weight Coko and her girls gained as opposed to how they sounded. Nostalgic heads such as myself, ate the reunions up nonetheless. It was a treat for our eyes and ears for these quality acts of yesteryear to take the stage once again.
But before, in between and after those decent performances was a hodge podge of hot messiness that almost led me to throw in the towel before finishing my live-blogging duties. But I had to hang in there because I knew that my girl Jill Scott would be performing in the Al Green tribute. That was enough to make me stick around, and I'm so glad that I did. Although it wasn't because I was waiting for a stellar performance from Jill, because I didn't get it. Something was off about Ms. Philadelphia last night. Thank goodness Anthony Hamilton came in to save the day because he sounded great on the song that he sang, and it's no wonder with his Green-esque throwback sound. He was a joy to watch. But I was ill prepared for who was to come next. I don't remember hearing MC Lyte speak his name during the opening credits, so it was truly a shock in every sense of the word when the final artist to take hold of the mic in the Al Green tribute strode on stage: Maxwell.
The live-blog didn't accurately capture what was happening at the moment when that man came on my television screen for the first time in years. But to recap, this is what I was able to write at the time:
10:08 OHMYFREAKINGGOD! IT'S MAXWELL!!!! I can't type and scream at the same time!!!!
10:10 MAXWELL IS "SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL"!!!
10:11 I think I just had an orgasm.
I have no idea what Al Green just said. Sorry, folks. Maxwell made me
mess myself. Sweet Jesus on the cross I was not ready for that. I LOVE
YOU, BET! I take back every bad thing I've ever said about you.
10:14 I'm gonna need a medic.
Truth be told, I'm still a little shook. I was so not expecting that last night--or any night for that matter. With the relatively low profile that Maxwell has kept over the past few years, his cryptic MySpace messages and one pitifully short snippet of new music since 2001, its been hard to be a Maxwell fan of late. Prior to last night, many had written him off. But not us here at SBHQ. We've been holding out for our musical hero, and he finally blessed us with this "Simply Beautiful" surprise.
Dressed in a tailored gray suit, crisp white shirt and designer sunglasses, Maxwell took to the stage at the Shrine Auditorium and made Al's "Simply Beautiful" his own. He sounded as good as I remembered him sounding and, despite no longer rocking his once-signature fro of curls, he looked as fine as ever. And not only was his performance of the Al Green classic pitch perfect, but his stage presence was incredible. Maxwell exuded pure, unadulterated sex appeal, especially when he told no one in particular to take off her dress but to leave on the pumps. I'm sure there were a number of women across the country standing in their living rooms with nothing but their heels on after he made that command. Lord knows I was contemplating it.
If there was ever any doubt (and admittedly I've had them myself) that Maxwell was coming back, this was his public declaration that he is here and here to stay. Mark my words, when he comes back full throttle with his new album and concert tour, he will shut the game down. All these R&B and soul cats--many of whom I love, mind you--will just have to fall back and let the man regain his throne. Don't ever wonder, indeed.
BET will undoubtedly snatch this and other videos offline, but don't despair because the footage is available on the BET.com for those who slept, or more than likely changed the channel. Enjoy these flicks of Maxwell from last night as well.
[Photos: Kevin Winter/Getty Images & John Shearer/WireImage]