Jennifer Lopez hosted the American Music Awards last night and opened with a medley of the year’s biggest hits. She gave it everything. She hit every move. She was a machine. She was the Entertainer. It was an awesome display of all of her performance skills.
But here’s where we discuss celebrity and branding and career strategy. Because as great as she was at the beginning of the show, I still kept asking WHY?
JLO’s first song was one of her own. From 1999. Then she’s like – it’s not about me, and proceeds to sing and dance to other people’s (much more current) songs for the recap, which reminded me of Billy Crystal at the Oscars. You know how he used to parody the nominated films and point to the actors in the audience – Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, for example – for what used to be the traditional Oscar musical kick-off?
Is JLO Billy Crystal now?
She’s a big name. She has a major television drama that’s premiering next year. She’ll be headlining in Vegas soon. Her career is not slowing down. So what was the brand value to her accepting this particular gig? Because these jobs are for those on the ascent and those on the descent, and JLO is neither rising, nor is she falling. She occupies a place in the middle, you could say near the top, where most people want to live, and she’s held it for a long time. But what position did she hold at this show? Where did she stand?
The major stars like Alanis and Celine and Jeremy Renner and Harrison Ford, they didn’t sit in the audience. The audience was for I Can’t Ariana Grande. And Meghan Trainor. And Hailee Steinfeld. And there’s JLO up on stage, changing her hair and her dress every five minutes, not quite with the elites, and definitely not with the want-to-be elites, but obliged to address and entertain the want-to-be elites, which, frankly, is beneath her. To me, it’s beneath her. No matter how great she looked, no matter how well she danced, I still don’t know that it was a good brand decision.