Everyone knew Sunday night’s BET Awards would focus on the lasting memory and legacy of [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist], who died Thursday afternoon at the age of 50. The show didn’t waste any time, kicking off the proceedings with a 10-minute tribute that brought the packed crowd at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium to their feet, immediately establishing the show as a sort of wake for the fallen singer.
The show opened with a clip of Jackson’s appearance on the 2003 BET Awards, where he performed with James Brown. It was a melancholy but inspiring introduction to the proceedings. The audience was then treated to a stunning performance by [artist id="13207"]New Edition[/artist], who performed a medley of Jackson 5 hits. The iconic R&B group, led by Bobby Brown, sang and danced their way through classics like “ABC” and “The Love You Save.” The choreography was especially impressive, considering that New Edition had so little time to rehearse.
Following the Jackson 5 songs, host [artist id="7590"]Jamie Foxx[/artist] walked onstage dressed like vintage Jackson: The Thriller-era red leather jacket and a single sparkling sequined glove. Foxx greeted the audience and immediately launched into a performance of “Beat It.” Foxx, who has plenty of experience mimicking R&B icons, ran through the classic Jackson tune with aplomb, never missing a note.
After the ovation, Foxx told the audience that the show would be festive. “No need to be sad,” he told the audience. “We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everyone else.” Foxx kept it light, poking fun at Jackson’s nose and the change in his skin tone over the years. “Michael was all kinds of black. He was Wesley Snipes and Chico DeBarge at the same time.”
Foxx wrapped up the show’s opening sequence with a decent take on Jackson’s signature dance move: the Moonwalk. The Shrine erupted once again as Foxx danced his way off the stage.
MTV will be paying tribute to MJ throughout the weekend with music videos, exclusive performances and calls and tweets from celebrity admirers and friends. For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”
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