What Henson and Howard also have, of course, is a bevy of high profile friends willing to perform on the pair's very first Christmas special. And while many of those performances were nothing short of spectacular (Mrs. LaBelle, I'm looking at you), at least one performance of the night most decidedly did not pan out as planned — Chris Brown's.
I feel a little Grinch-y even saying it but, c'mon. If you watched, you know what I'm talking about.
But before we delve into what went wrong, let's take a moment to celebrate what went right. As for the special overall, I thought Henson and Howard were very charming. Howard even managed to make it through the entire night with saying something completely mind-boggling.
The skits were cute, and the music! My God, the music. Please sign me up to be in the audience at any show that includes Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Patti LaBelle, will.i.am, Jussie Smollett and Bryshere Y. Gray all under one roof.
Which brings us to Chris Brown. On the plus side, his fancy footwork at the start of his performance reminded me how seamlessly he can move. It's an art, really.
Then he began singing, and I have to say I was puzzled. It's not that I'm not a fan of the song he started with, "Back to Sleep." It just seemed an odd choice for a Christmas special, what with the lyrics being "Just let me rock, f*** you back to sleep, girl." Granted, he gave the clean version on stage. Yet it still seemed completely out of sync with the whole holly, jolly vibe of the show.
After singing a few lines from that, though, he segued into "This Christmas." Er, sort of. To be honest, I'm not sure what was happening. I thought he simply lost his lyrics, but the Twitterverse had plenty of other theories as well.
What is wrong with Chris Brown's voice on #WhiteHotHolidays . he must be sick.— LongLiveGabe (@_Andrah) December 10, 2015
Was Chris brown high? He was sure acting like he was on something #WhiteHotHolidays— Tesia~ (@Tesia_Monae) December 10, 2015
Y'all Chris voice was tired hunny.. Him been workin hard on his album & mixtape his voice is shot #WhiteHotHolidays he needs to rest— Pεττy Bεττy (@dFINEGr8neZZ_Me) December 10, 2015
Ursala came and got Chris voice before the performance. #WhiteHotHolidays— John Trowell (@GKritic37) December 10, 2015
What is HAPPENING Chris? Is it his mic?? #WhiteHotHolidays— Ethan Krane (@theEthanKrane) December 10, 2015
While many of these could legitimately explain Brown's sub-par performance (except for Ursula taking his voice, though I do love a good Little Mermaid reference), it appears that Brown is at least partially laying claim to only one: being sick.
I appreciate @TherealTaraji for allowing me to come on their Holiday special. Grind season been in full effect. Been under the weather.— Chris Brown (@chrisbrown) December 10, 2015
Personally, I find the whole "under the weather" line to be vague at best. It sounds like he knew he didn't perform well and perhaps there is more to the story. Could something actually be up with Brown's voice that he isn't telling us?
Here's more fuel to add to that fire. Brown just announced that in support of his new album, Royalty, he is planning to hit the road for an "intimate" concert series. And by intimate, he clearly means oddly scaled back — thus far, the entire series consists of only three shows.
Is Brown losing his voice, as many fans are speculating after tonight's strange performance? Or did he just forget the lyrics to the song? Whatever the case may be, you've got to give the guy credit for persevering. He may not have had the voice to back it tonight, but it seemed like he was singing his heart out.
Here's hoping the holidays bring Brown some downtime to sip eggnog somewhere and give those tired vocal chords a very merry rest.
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