June 03, 2005

HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME, Episode 1

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In the new NBC series Hit Me Baby One More Time, hitmakers from days gone by (such as Tiffany, above) compete against each other for charitable causes, dusting off their signature hits and taking a stab at performing recent songs. Staffer Mike Madden breaks down the first episode, which aired June 2.

* First act: LOVERBOY

Hit played: "Working For the Weekend"
Cover song: Enrique Iglesias' "Hero"

How the band looked: Singer Mike Reno looks like the prototypical aging rocker (chubby, wrinkles) and, oddly enough, he did not sport the trademark bandana, except during the tail end of the pre-taped "catching up with the stars" segment.

Best moment: In reference to "Working for the Weekend" and it's inspiration, Reno said, "It's a song for everyone who parties on the weekend."

Carry on or hang it up? Hang it up. The performance was very mid-'80s American Bandstand. The cover was especially painful because it wasn't close to being in key, and the smoke machine was cranked up way to high.

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* Second act: CeCe PENISTON

Hit played: "Finally"
Cover song: Faith Hill's "There You'll Be"

How she looked: Peniston has aged well in the past 10 years; she looks like she might have dropped a little weight.

Best moment: Peniston's attempt to get the crowd up by clapping right over the microphone. This came off as a little unprofessional, as the clunk of her hands was very audible.

Carry on or hang it up? Carry on. There definitely is an audience out there that gets nostalgic for old dance hits, even if they're from one- or two-hit wonders. She gets extra points for choosing a cover song that fit her singing voice, as well as the shift in her target audience from teens to adults.

* Third act: A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS

Hit played: "I Ran"
Cover song: Ryan Cabrera's "On the Way Down"

How they looked: First off, singer Mike Score is the only remaining original member. Second, he's parted with his signature hairdo; it's been replaced by a baseball hat and ponytail a la K.C. from K.C. and the Sunshine Band. It was a bad choice to not at least attempt to recapture your gimmick.

Best moment: The utter nonchalant attitude that Score displayed while discussing the lineup change during the "catching up" segment. He comes off as if he was the only recognizable member of the band. Oh, wait -- that's true.

Carry on or hang it up? Hang it up. It was just a sad display all around, but let's face it – the band shouldn't have been anything in the first place. "I Ran" was a terrible song then and it's even worse now.

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* Fourth act: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

Hit played: "Tennessee"
Cover song: Los Lonely Boys' "Heaven"

How they looked: The group's members looked pretty much the same as they did in their mid-'90s heyday, although leader Speech needs a bit of a wardrobe makeover to fit in even with the "conscious" rappers of today (Common, Kanye West).

Best moment: AD was the first act to actually work the stage a bit with real energy, and the ever-present spiritual adviser/dancing old man Baba Oje did his thing, too. Plus, during the group’s rendition of "Heaven," the members added their own raps, while Eshe sang the song's chorus.

Carry on or hang it up? Undecided. While it did impress as part of this program, and the group still performs regularly, Arrested Development is too clean for today's mainstream rap climate, even in the aforementioned "conscious" rap niche. Also, the absence of former female front woman Dionne Farris took away from the group's eclecticness.

* Fifth act: TIFFANY

Hit played: "I Think We're Alone Now"
Cover song: Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway"

How she looked: A few bad wardrobe choices brought out the fact that the former "queen of the malls" is out of shape.

Best moment: When asked what advice she could give to young people who want to get into the music business, Tiffany's response was, "Sing anywhere you can." This is golden advice from a one-time pop princess who has belted out a tune or two on the southbound side of a mall escalator.

Carry on or hang it up? Hang it up. Her performance of "I Think We're Alone Now" is a reminder that you can't always go home. However, she really took a nosedive with her awful rendition of "Breakaway." She should have taken a lesson from Peniston and tried to fit her age rather than singing a younger act's song. Besides, Clarkson can sing circles around Tiffany on her best day.

Studio audience winner: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

Most deserving to win: CeCe PENISTON. Although Arrested Development put on a better performance, Peniston has the best chance at a nostalgic run. She looked good, sang well and, most importantly, didn't come off as corny or desperate.

-- By Mike Madden

Posted by medleyville at June 3, 2005 04:25 PM
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