Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Category: Music (11-20 of 83)

David Letterman's annual Christmas show: Once again, Darlene Love brought down the house, and Jay Thomas brought down the Christmas tree

This is always a wonderful time of the year for The Late Show with David Letterman. It’s when Letterman invites old friends onto the show, a period when friendship and honest sentiment occasionally nudge aside the movie stars plugging their holiday releases. READ FULL STORY

'A Very Gaga Thanksgiving' review: Singing and talking turkey with Lady Gaga, 'America's Picasso'

Lady Gaga proved her mainstream outreach on a holiday evening with A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, a 90-minute special that dialed back the wacky fashion-sense and “little monster” talk in favor of Tony Bennett and making construction-paper turkeys with third-graders. READ FULL STORY

The CMA Awards review: Hank Williams Jr., Lionel Richie, Glen Campbell, and Faith Hill provided surprises and emotion

The 45th Country Music Association Awards have turned into one of the most dependably entertaining awards shows of any sort on television. Wednesday night’s host combination of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood have become a comfortable comedy team. When they began the evening with jokes about Hank Williams Jr.’s perceived Obama/Hitler comparison — the Fox News appearance that got him punted out of prime-time football — and Hank himself joined them on stage, the trio got a standing ovation of hearty laughs. Herman Cain, take note: That’s one way to defuse a scandal. READ FULL STORY

Neil Gaiman, Stephin Merritt, and Moby helped Craig Ferguson celebrate Halloween: VIDEO

The unholy trio of writer Neil Gaiman, Magnetic Fields genius Stephin Merritt, and Moby helped Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer bring “Science Fiction/Double Feature” to The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson last night. READ FULL STORY

'Beavis and Butt-Head' premiere review: Lashing out at reality; are you glad they're back?

They sit in judgment. Well, actually, they sprawl in judgment, their sneers at the ready. Beavis and Butt-Head may be the best TV critics ever, at least for a certain kind of TV. In the ’90s, they dissected the visual signs and verbal disconnects of music videos with the rigor of semioticians (Beavis and Butt-Head and Barthes). READ FULL STORY

'Parenthood' review: Cee Lo Green stole the spotlight from baby Nora

Because Parenthood is, among other good things, a paragon of domestic semi-realism (nope, still not buying that coffee-cart-girl adoption), I was dismayed to see how Kristina and her mere-days-old Nora were ignored once they got home from the hospital. This was mostly because… Cee Lo Green was coming to town! READ FULL STORY

'The X Factor' premiere review: Simon Cowell and his shocking, brief sincerity

The logo and stage set for The X Factor are dominated by a gigantic red “X,” presumably filled with the blood of contestants Simon Cowell has deemed unworthy and had drained. READ FULL STORY

The MTV Video Music Awards was a conservative show, not a bad thing: A review

The annual MTV Video Music Awards For Videos MTV Doesn’t Play was hyped in advance for its host-free format and its Kanye-Jay-Z duet, but it turned out that the most consistent quality of the broadcast was its aesthetically conservative mien. The performances by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Adele, Bruno Mars, and Jesse J emphasized full-throated pop music sung without bombastic, American Idol-style excessiveness. The Foo Fighters’ acceptance of their award by exhorting the viewers to “never lose faith in real rock & roll music” amounted, in this context, to the night’s most aggressive statement, while the band’s dedication of its prize to the most music-minded of MTV executives, former CEO Judy McGrath, showed an admirable display of informed gratitude for one reason why MTV initially existed.  READ FULL STORY

Why I'm now officially excited to watch 'The X Factor'

Before this morning’s X Factor press session for the Television Critics Association in L.A., my enthusiasm for this competition show was mild to nil. Another competition-show import, more snark from Simon Cowell, more ditziness from Paula Abdul. Big shrug. But the lively, goofy press conference made me think this could be the one of the best, messiest, most controversial Age of Narcissism star-making shows we’ll see this fall.

Why? Here’s why: READ FULL STORY

Grading 'The Voice' judges' performances: Blake, Christina, and Adam give it their all... well, two out of three did...

I like the two-hour versions of The Voice more than the one-hours because they give us a chance to see and hear more of the coaches. By which I mean I’m fascinated by the ongoing spectacle of Christina Aguilera sitting in her judge’s chair as though it was a queen’s throne, tossing out that mixture of lofty pretentiousness and strained street earthiness while invariably bringing the contestants’ performances back to — who else? — herself. At the opposite extreme, there’s Blake Shelton, whose steady transformation into a real TV star, a country sage whose charm is squarely in the great TV traditions of Roger Miller, Jimmy Dean, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, has been a joy to behold. I’d give a thousand “I was feelin’ you, girl”s from Xtina for one “Gosh-dang, I’m glad I know you!” from Blake.  READ FULL STORY

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