THE 97’s Andrew and Vincent were in attendance for the taping of VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night, and, well, they have a lot of feelings about what they witnessed. Together, they compiled their thoughts in preparation for what you will (and won’t) witness Monday night on Vh1.
Due to a series of unfortunate events, we were unable to sit together. However, we were fortunate enough to obtain tickets and attend this exciting event. What we didn’t know, though, was how unfortunate the night would turn out. When we met up at the end of the show, we looked at each other and expressed our overwhelming feelings of disappointment.VH1 has some explaining to do, because we are still confused as all hell, with broken hearts. Ironically, even Apple’s autocorrect is aware; when you type “Unsilent” into an iPhone, it autocorrects to “Insolent.” It is the perfect adjective to describe VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night.
showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect.
VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night should be an unforgettable event, yet it turned out to be forgettable. Instead of being an event to rival the epic VH1 Divas concerts o’ the day, the show comes across as a shameless plug for the VH1 brand. Don’t misunderstand, there are a few highlights, but overshadowing them are a glaring waste of opportunities.
When we heard that VH1 was bringing back the Divas brand after a four-year hiatus, we ignited. VH1 Divas is a music history class for the late 90s. This show exposed our 8, 9 and 10-year-old-selves to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Chaka Khan, Brandy, Gloria Estefan, Destiny’s Child, RuPaul, Mary J Blige, and more (in some cases for the very first time).
What makes the original Vh1 Divas shows so great is their ability to bring together a diverse group of artists for a night of unexpected performances. Unfortunately, Insolent Night has almost nothing that was “unexpected,” and feels far from organic. It is a very calculated, over-produced, and rehearsed promotion for the VH1 brand and a glaring, painful departure from first set of Divas Live shows
Let us break down the few shining moments (yes, there are some) and numerous disappointments from the show.
VH1 Divas Holiday: The Highs
The newly renovated and reopened Kings Theatre in Brooklyn was the venue for VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night, and it is the perfect stage to set this show. The venue is absolutely breathtaking, perhaps the most beautiful in New York City. While the venue is deep in Brooklyn, it is more than worth the trip for a once in a lifetime event. Consequently, it is pretty sad that the venue is on the list when discussing high points of an event.
The Queen of Christmas
Mariah Carey opened the show with a suitably over-the-top performance of, you guessed it, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” She literally sleighed her way onto the stage — perched on a sleigh pulled by her hunky male dancers (including rumored new-beau Bryan Tanaka). After she got in position, she stepped off and belted out her self-penned classic. She’s served us a Naughty Nutcracker moment, donning a leotard to show off her amazing legs and a cutout to showcase “Bing and Bong” (her cleavage). The stage was packed with dancers who assisted Mariah in delivering, as expected, the most festive moment of the night.
No one does Christmas like Mariah, and this performance further cements that. Furthermore if you’re wondering, yes, she sounded absolutely fantastic. It’s a far cry from that ONE, annoyingly over-referenced rough performance of this classic song two years ago. In conclusion, we firmly believe that one song is not enough for a purported headliner, and a second song, possibly a duet with Patti LaBelle, was an obvious piece missing from this Divas puzzle. Considering the show’s short runtime and the song’s iconic stature though, we understand the choice.
JoJo and friends
Up next in the taping was the unlikely trio of the criminally underrated JoJo, Brooklyn-native newcomer Bebe Rexha, and Empire’s Serayah. They performed the Darlene Love classic “All Alone On Christmas.” The trio looked gorgeous, and such a collaborative performance is one of the only “unexpected” moments we received from VH1 Divas Holiday. So for that, we appreciate it. It was cute, and echoed sentiments of a Ronettes/Supremes/Destiny’s Child performance (peep their pose at the end).
In all honestly though, with the exception of JoJo, they felt out of place. It could and should have been better. No shade to Serayah and Bebe – they sounded great and did their thing. Considering JoJo’s 12 years in the game and the pipes worthy of such a claim, she deserved a more prominent performance. Or, at the very least, duet partners of a similar stature and talent. Diana “Wynter” Gordon and Teyana Taylor, who also performed later, would have been much better choices to join JoJo. Or, even better, enlisting Tori Kelly, Solange, Janelle Monae or Emeli Sande (the list goes on) would have improved the special’s star power.
Save The Best For… The Middle
The final highlight of the show comes in the middle: The divine Vanessa Williams made her very first VH1 Divas appearance. Her daughter, Jillian Hervey of LionBabe, introduced her iconic mom, and then the show took a left turn. Vanessa surprised the audience with a performance of her signature song “Save The Best For Last”. The audience went wild, and she sounded great, but why did she perform it at VH1 Divas Holiday? She redeemed that hiccup with an underrated Christmas gem, “What Child Is This”, and again executed it flawlessly.
VH1 Divas Holiday: The Mids
Patti Sang What?
Patti LaBelle is the Godmother of Soul (for those living under a rock). Her performance was, of course killer. She effortlessly showcased her unreal vocal range and reasserted her status as a legend. With all due respect, we have no idea what song she performed (it was great though), and no one even introduced the song. This puzzling move to sing a song that many don’t seem to know is, consequently, what kept her performance from being one of our “highs.”
Patti’s performance was a gospel number, and she took it to church. After Mariah’s performance though, the taping struggled to feel truly festive. Odd setlist choices and other interruptions were the main cause. This was supposed to be Divas Holiday, and it felt anything but festive. Furthermore, at a later point in the taping, the band replayed their part sans Patti, as a result of one of many technical issues that plagued the night.
Wynter Diana Gordon
For those who are unaware of Diana “Wynter” Gordon, she is one of the standout writers on Beyoncé’s Lemonade (“Sorry”, “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and “Daddy Lessons”). Her resume also includes solo work, and songwriting for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, and David Guetta. Her VH1 Divas Holiday appearance was brief. A partial, country-inspired performance of “Jingle Bell Rock” (which she performed twice in the taping due to a technical issue) was her contribution to the show. While the creative reimagining of the song was cute, it was very slow… oddly so, for a song called the “Jingle Bell Rock.” One bold audience member tried to do the Mean Girls choreography, and struggled. The rest of us struggled to dance along, in response to the incessant demands of the audience-hype-people.
Remy’s Quick “Hollis”
Remy Ma made a similar appearance, quickly blowing through Run DMC’s classic “Christmas In Hollis.” The performance is incredibly short, and she too performed her cut twice. It probably could have been great. Yet, the brevity coupled with her being regulated to the small b-stage leaves much to be desired, energy-wise. Just as the hype built… it ended.
Teyana’s “Santa Baby”
Teyana Taylor continues to conquer the year after her VH1 Hip Hop Honors show-stealer and appearance in Kanye West’s “Fade” video. While she didn’t steal the show here, she did deliver an enthusiastically sensual performance of “Santa Baby.” Once again, you guessed it, she performed twice due to technical difficulties (much to the frustration of Teyana, her dancers, the crew and audience alike). Most noteworthy, this was the only performance rivaling the festiveness of Mariah’s, and the only other truly recognizable holiday song in the main stage setlist. However, there’s always been something slightly uncomfortable about the innuendo of “Santa Baby,” and Teyana took it to the next level with a Madonna-esque romp on the floor. While it was a fun performance, it wasn’t of the Divas-level vocal calibre.
VH1 Divas Holiday: The Lows
First thing’s first regarding the lows: The show was promoted to star Mariah Carey, appropriately, as the headliner for a holiday-themed Divas Live. With appearances from her inspirations, like her “Godmother” Patti LaBelle and Chaka Khan, peer Vanessa Williams, and a worthy torch bearer like JoJo, we expected a lot from this special. There was so much it should and could have been; and it was not. Simply, it became an Insolent Night. Why bother “correcting” the autocorrect when it’s not only especially relevant, but, well… correct?
Chaka Khan is indeed a legendary diva, and we were both excited to finally see her live. Sadly, Chaka did not deliver. It hurts our hearts to say it. She restarted”Ain’t Nobody” three times during the taping and did not sound as great as we all know she can. We respectfully hope that she dubs in some improved vocals.
Afterwards, she launched into Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and Patti LaBelle joined her, much to everyone’s delight. Should be epic, right? Again, something was off and the two don’t quite connect with each other on cues, so the performance came off messy. It felt a bit like we were watching Got 2B Real. Patti LaHelle, is this your doing? In addition, why did Patti and Chaka sing this at a VH1 Divas Holiday? Why did Chaka close the show without performing any holiday music? Surely the pair could have duetted on a Christmas song. Furthermore, “Natural Woman” should only be performed at VH1 Divas like this.
Finally, the show ended with a predictable yet disappointing finale: a group performance of “I’m Every Woman”. Ironically, the performance carries on without every woman. Notably absent are Vanessa Williams and Mariah Carey. Mariah’s twins sat a few rows in front of Andrew and left prior to the finale. Mariah was most likely halfway to her TriBeCa penthouse while the remaining Divas closed the show. VH1 Divas Holiday cannot call itself a VH1 Divas show without a finale including all of the performers. It just can’t. We just can’t Do we blame Vanessa and Mariah for leaving? No. Perhaps they realized the insolent decimation that was in progress and opted to go. They didn’t miss much; like the majority of the show, the finale was a nonevent.
It’s important to note that we are not regular VH1 viewers – any longer. VH1 educated us in music, but their current programming lacks the same educational and musical focus it had in the late 90s/early 2000s. Gone are the days of back-to-back music videos, Behind the Music, and the like. These days, VH1 relies mainly on “reality” shows that by and large don’t have to do with music, and that’s not really our bag. This year’s show is an upsetting solidification of that fact. VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night represents the continued destruction of the VH1 Divas brand. This show sinks to the same level of triviality that is now represented by VH1, MTV and BET.
These channels no longer focus on delivering quality music-related programming, and instead deliver disposable television programs with the occasional music-related special program. Sadly, it seems that even now such once-special programs like VH1 Divas are no longer sacred, either. The show was merely a thinly veiled plug for their aforementioned disposable programming. VH1 littered the special with shameless plugs of their other programs instead of focusing on the one thing they seem to forget: Divas, the Holidays and the MUSIC.
To Watch, Or Not To Watch?
With all that said, please do not let us discourage you from tuning in to VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night at 9pm tonight, though. At the very least, be sure to catch Mariah’s festive opening number… at least they’re kind enough not to make you sit through the whole thing before getting to it. Honestly; truly… VH1 scammed us worse than Joanne the Scammer.
We’d say we’ll tune in and live-tweet the telecast, but both of us have tickets to the opening night of Mariah’s third annual All I Want For Christmas Is You Concert Series at the Beacon Theatre; a show that is truly worthy of the title VH1 Divas Holiday: Unsilent Night. Even if it only stars one diva, Mariah’s all the Diva we need for Christmas. After this disconcerting VH1 Divas “concert,” all we want for Christmas is Mariah from now on (and a dash of Vanessa Williams for good measure).