I wasn’t that into the Together At Home concert Saturday night. I mean, I happened to turn it on when Lizzo was performing, which was two minutes of straight bliss, but the show in general….
I was much more excited about the Instagram Live battle between BabyFace and Teddy Riley. I was bouncing in my seat because you can’t possibly take in all the tracks these dudes have produced, much less pick favourites (though the possibility of hearing some SWV or Tevin Campbell or Toni Braxton or Blackstreet or WHITNEY!!! was really keeping me going). I logged on, I smiled at how extra it looked, because it wasn’t just a living room shot – Teddy had psychedelic lights on some sort of backdrop, while Babyface was all velvet blazer in a darkened studio. And then:
Then it all went terribly. You’ve obviously seen the social media posts by now, but if not – Teddy Riley has an e-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-e setup, and a hype man, and is later revealed to have had at least six people in his house helping or engineering or something, and you know he’s not quarantining with all of them.
All of that is way over the top, and not at all the point of what this battle should be – as evidenced by Babyface’s shot, which is him, alone in his studio, with a locked-off camera… but if that was all that was a bit extra, we wouldn’t be here.
Instead – it gets so much worse.
There are terrible audio issues. First of all, the tracks themselves sound hollow and weird, like echo-y, vague suggestions of songs instead of the actual unfettered bangers. Every time Teddy speaks into his mic, there’s a horrible echo, feedback – like the worst possible outcome of your parents dragging you to a community picnic.
Meanwhile Babyface is just… waiting:
But it only gets worse. Every time Teddy moves, or speaks, and the echoes happen, there’s a FLURRY of activity in the background, as his various people rush to fix things… accompanied by dozens of comments going “Teddy turn your mic down”, “Teddy you’re giving yourself feedback”. Probably thousands of comments, actually, but IG live can only scroll so fast.
So of course, Teddy, who has put THE MOST effort into this whole show, decides the logical thing to do is to pass the blame – he says, repeatedly, that the problem is Babyface’s setup. Babyface, uh… disagrees. Which in turn creates Twitter’s favourite new comeback:
Teddy Riley team: there's something happening with the audio on your side— Lauren Chanel Allen (@MichelleHux) April 19, 2020
Babyface: I'm here by myself.... .SOCIAL... .DISTANCING...
Somehow the entire world is giggling at this at the same time:
This tweet didnâ€™t age well https://t.co/VwUDUlUYCT— Toni Braxton (@tonibraxton) April 19, 2020
It is the worst. It’s the best. It’s the best worst IG live ever, and every time you think it’s going to be fine now, it gets worse… which is, of course, the best.
Eventually Teddy and his “Groove Is In The Heart” background and his 89 mic stands say they’re going to fix everything and everyone should come back in a half hour… probably to shut down the IG commenters who are like “Just send Kenny your songs and let him play them!” But… it’s not better. And just a few minutes after everything was ‘supposed’ to be fixed, Babyface releases a video, thanking everyone for coming, but:
“It’s only right that we postpone this thing and do this at a time when there aren’t any technical difficulties, and everyone can hear the music the way it needs to be held. I gracefully would like to say, why don’t we do this at another time?”
You guys. Is that, or is it not, the ‘I did not feel I was given the material to warrant this nomination’ of 2020? And it’s worth noticing that, um, his audio here is perfect…
I can’t tell why, exactly, this was so hilarious. Partly it was that the premise here was exciting because these two are super-evenly matched, musically, so everyone was anticipating a show… just not the one we got.
Teddy Riley, showing EVERYTHING HE HAS, is messing it up badly, and it’s awful because it’s clearly so important to him, but he can’t stop, and he can’t take responsibility, and it just keeps getting worse. This isn’t an Instagram live, it’s one of the cringier episodes of The Office. Teddy Riley is Michael Scott, Babyface is Jim, somewhere John Krasinski is trying to get them both on Some Good News.
Plus, everyone clocked it. Everyone saw it happen the same way. Please note this tweet is from THE Toni Braxton, whose tweets were amazing throughout the night:
Ok guys I really have to log off please stop sending me memes like this one. Donâ€™t share this one anymore ok? pic.twitter.com/ievjRAWCoM— Toni Braxton (@tonibraxton) April 19, 2020
(If you’re too young to know why this is the absolute best, your homework today is to find out.)
The rematch has been scheduled for today, Monday, at 8 PM. Lainey and I are usually just wrapping up the podcast around then. We might have to connect after we finish so we can watch a little of this… because I’m not sure it’s going to be possible to watch with a straight face.