Billboard Awards a Testament to Dead, Living

The past, present and future collided in the Billboard Music Awards Sunday, the out of season music awards show from Las Vegas.

With a number of artists to be celebrated with statuettes on the podium for their past chart success, other artists used the platform to promote their new work, in performance or in shameless plugs while presenting.

But the sheer number of deaths of pop figures this year gave the event an almost maudlin tone. Not only did John Legend and Jordin Sparks salute Whitney Houston, Cee Lo Green broke off his new song with his old Goodie Mob to break into “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” to honor the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch. Natasha Bedingfield sang “Last Dance” in memory of Donna Summer who died last week. And there was no contingency to cover the pop death after a lingering coma for another disco-era giant, Robin Gibb of the Bee-Gees who died Sunday at 62.

Didn’t the BET Awards turn its event around in a hurry to honor Michael Jackson when that icon died? Couldn’t someone have readied a Bee Gees song knowing Gibb had been in a coma so long?

It might have been hard to find a place for it in a show that was already running two hours and culminated in a long tribute to Stevie Wonder that also ended up in the past in future – with oldies sandwiching a brand new song. But at least he was still alive.

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