I couldn't tell you much about Little Richard. I could go to Wikipedia or Google, but I'm tired. It's Friday. And my post is worlds apart from music journalism. Simply put, my base of knowledge regarding the man is that he's a legendary rock star who plays piano and shrieks. A lot. I would guess he helped pioneer the school of popular music in which musicians provided both sound and imagery, excess and eccentricity.
But, really, what's the guy good for?
Oh, right: he's a judge on Celebrity Duets.
In watching this clip, one might wonder what Simon Cowell, the show's creator, was thinking in roping a legend into a gig such as this. Throughout the premiere, we witness the likes of other successful singers onstage including Gladys Knight and Peter Frampton, all of whom could easily sit on the panel, as well. But why throw such a mentally unstable, towering trannie "loose cannon" into the mix?
Oh, right. Because he's a Crazy Motherfucker:
I don't doubt, for a moment, that the the producer of this brilliant Geico commercial instructed Richard to do nothing more than "sing what you hear."
Excellent job, sir/ma'am, wherever you are.
I'm not much a fan of reality television. I was glued to the first two seasons of Survivor, but the excitement died soon after. I'm not even that interested in American Idol, either, but the concept of Celebrity Duets - something so simple, so vapid and potentially disastrous - was pain meant to be endured. And by making Wayne Brady emcee, the folks behind the show know exactly what they're doing.
I should admit that I was forced to fast forward through most of the sets. Hearing Lea Thompson warble a death rattle alongside Randy Travis or watching Cheech Marin (who, according to Valerie Cherish clone Marie Osmond, "makes people smile") forget lyrics while Peter Frampton strums his guitar is television from which I voluntarily turn away. Luckily for me, TiVo allows me to avoid the real heart of the competition so that I can jump ahead to hear Little Richard squeal with confused, [mildly ambiguously] gay delight before, appropriately enough, ending his commentary with an indifferent "It was good." Was it good, Little Richard? Because by the sound of your staccato, breathless shrieking, I was positive you were about to whip out adoption papers after gymnast Carly Patterson moaned an off-key rendition of the song from An American Tail with James Ingram.
But the most cringe-inducing moment of the evening didn't come from Little Richard. Nor did it come from guest singer Michael Bolton (who, apparently, arrived in a time machine from 1993, as the proudly displayed chest hair sprouting from his unbuttoned shirt suggests). It didn't come from Smokey Robinson, who I'm still convinced can see people's souls with his terrifying, electric peepers.
No, the feller who really delivered the most nauseating, uncomfortable moment of the show came from Jai Rodriguez who, in his first of two songs, sang "Since I Fell For You," a song written as "musical foreplay" between two tired lovers (the second being an overacted, pitifully homosexual attempt at "urban sass" when he sang "Say My Name" with the third wheel of Destiny's Child).
Although the quality is poor, you should be able to spot Jai's cocky facial expressions as he goes "totally Rent" on our asses. Gladys Knight, who seems nicer than a woman of her success might often be, brings out an attitude to match Jai's imitation of ...Gladys Knight. And the heterosexual disinterest between Jai, a C-list celebrity known best for...being gay and useless, and Gladys Knight, an legendary Grammy winner and performer, comes off as tart and showy.
And, oh yeah, the fact that he's a lithe, jaunty gay and she's an older, stout Black woman? Well, that actually makes the performance that much more bizarre.
(For a clearer video of the performance, go here.)
It looks like reality television is back in my life. When the possibility of seeing Cheech Marin sing "Endless Love" with Taylor Dayne becomes a plausible event, "appointment television" is born.