Alicia Keys

Keys saves the music    ·    April 12th, 2005

Last night, VH1 hosted a “Save the Music” concert - an interesting title considering the network has done a good job of murdering the music for some time now. With its endless run of comedy programs, pop culture serials and downright freak shows (”The Surreal Life” anyone?), VH1 can hardly be considered a great preserve of music these days.

But lately the network has vowed to bring back more sonic content. And at last night’s concert - convened at the Beacon - VH1 did its best to showcase actual singers and players, including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Rob Thomas, Josh Groban, Donna Summer and Joss Stone.

Proceeds from the event will help fund musical education in city schools. The show, which was taped, airs on VH1 Sunday night at 9.

By the time it does, the network will have had time to edit the mind-numbing stretches fans had to sit through while technical glitches were worked out. Some songs had to be taped twice, pushing back the performance of the last scheduled singer, Rod Stewart.

As with most star pile-on shows, the results ranged from revelatory to ghastly. Some of the latter moments came in the form of cover versions. Stone and Legend offered (two!) turgid takes on Chaka Khan’s “Tell Me Something Good.” Thomas should be brought up on charges for his funkless take on “Voodoo Child.”

At least he had the good sense to get out of the way of Keys during their duet of Bill Withers’ “Use Me.” She had the song’s soul down cold. Likewise, when Summer paired with teen soul comer Stone on “Try A Little Tenderness,” the older singer trounced the younger one like a gnat.

Groban provided a low-light with a sub-Andrew Lloyd Webber take on opera. But Summer soared on “Last Dance,” Legend matched a supple vocal to a stately melody in “Ordinary People,” and Keys’ version of “Karma” helped save what could have been a deadly night.

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