Commemoration of the Fifteenth Anniversary of Aaliyah’s Death: Recap and Review of Her Final Public Television Interview on BET’s 106 & Park

This was Aaliyah’s final public interview.

On August 21, 2001, Aaliyah appeared on this show to give away the grand prize of her “Get Paid in the Escalade Contest.”  Every day for the past month, an audience member received a one thousand dollar cash prize, and was entered to win the grand prize of twenty thousand dollars in cash, and a black 2002 Cadillac Escalade SUV.

Aaliyah also announced that her next single would be “Rock the Boat” and that she would begin filming the video the next day.  A video for “More than a Woman,” which was originally intended to be her the second single from her self-titled album, had already been filmed, but she confirmed that it would be released after “Rock the Boat.”

We learn some personal information about Aaliyah.  She says that she has never owned a vehicle because living in New York means there is no point, since New York is not a car-friendly city, but she would like to have a truck if she did have her own automobile.  Her video for “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” was shown as the episode’s “old school joint,” an older music video, and Aaliyah explained that this was the only video she did in Detroit, which was where she grew up (Aaliyah was born in New York City).  Several of her friends appeared in the video.  Other of her favorite videos that she did included “One in a Million” and “Are You That Somebody?” because the latter consisted entirely of one of her favorite things: dancing.

Aaliyah also got the chance to interview some of the finalists.  She asked one young woman what she would do if she won the car.  She said she would drive to beach.  When Aaliyah asked what she would do with the money, she said that she would help her family and then  go on a shopping spree.

Eventually, the winner was chosen: a young man named Julian Hawkins.

This was really nice.  Aaliyah showed how relatable she was, and how much she loved to give back.  Of course, in hindsight, it seems bittersweet, but we saw how in her final days, she was still doing what she loved and reaching out to others.

Commemoration of the Fifteenth Anniversary of Aaliyah’s Death: Recap and Review of A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Her Final Music Video “Rock the Boat” on BET’s Access Granted

This was the last footage of Aaliyah, other than the music video for “Rock the Boat.”

On August 22, 2001, Aaliyah began filming the music video in Miami.  The video was directed by Hype Williams, who has directed other videos for many hip-hop and R&B artists.

Aaliyah is in a studio filming a dance routine in front of a green screen.  The green screen would later be replaced by tidal waves in post-production.  We meet her “sister,” her very close friend, Fatimah Robinson, who created the routine.  Robinson stated that the dance moves were based on African and Caribbean (specifically Jamaican reggae and dancehall) influences.  The two also joke about how they try to please Aaliyah’s mother in making sure that the routine is not too sexy.  We also meet Aaliyah’s hair stylist and makeup artist, who wold also perish in the plane crash that happened three days later.

That night, Aaliyah films scenes underwater in a swimming pool.  The illusion is created to make it look as though she is wimming in the ocean.  She struggles to use the breathing machine, and so she holds her breath, and later, she states that it was hard, but worth the beautiful footage, they captured.

On August 24, 2001, production had since moved to Marsh Harbour, Abaco Islands, The Bahamsa.  Aaliyah is up early in the morning to film scenes on the shore of the beach.  She says that it is painful to wake up so early to get ready for filming, but she will do anything to make a great video.

Later she films scenes under what appears to be a hut, and the next day, she films scenes on a boat.  We also see footage of some free time, where she lunges by a pool with her makeup artist.  She asks her clothing stylist to explain how he is inspired to dress her as he does.

This episode is nice, but sad, as Aaliyah and her entourage are having so much fun (despite working very hard) on this video, and yet, they have no idea that this would be the last major thing they ever do.  Filming in a tropical paradise location, and having not a care in the world, except for the work they are doing, and not knowing they would die soon, makes the tragedy all the more heartbreaking.

 

Commemoration of the Fifteenth Anniversary of Aaliyah’s Death: Recap and Review of Her Episode of MTV’s Stripped

MTV’s  Stripped was a series where celebrities were interviewed in a unique way.  Instead of a person asking them questions, they would pick their own questions to answer.  The questions would be split into various categories.  And the guest would pick up a piece of paper and talk about what is written.

The episode featuring Aaliyah is seemingly the most well-known episode, and has apparently gone viral in the years following her tragic death.  When you google  “MTV Stripped,” many of the search results are related to her episode.  On Tumblr, all of the search results are related to her episode.

The episode is nice because it shows who Aaliyah the person is.  She talks about lots of things, and she shows that she is just like any non-celebrity person.

For example, Aaliyah talks about what she does to chill.  She likes to take bubble baths, or alternately, she will read a book; she said that she was currently obsessed with Harry Potter and that she is on the second book.

Aaliyah talks about musicians she admires.  She praises a not so popular, but talented singer named Lewis Taylor.  She got starstruck when she attended a public MTV for Janet Jackson, and Stevie Wonder, a singer she is a huge fan of, asked to meet her.  And her “soul sister” Sade, who shares the same birthday, and whom she praises for never compromising who she is as an artist, even if she were to take a long hiatus.  She also expresses admiration for Britney Spears and NSYNC, especially Justin Timberlake.

Aaliyah talks about being a celebrity.  She says that she doesn’t talk about her relationships because although being a celebrity means you give up lots of privacy, she feels the need to keep at least one thing out of the public eye, and that thing is her love life.  Another thing she mentions is rumors.  Aaliyah found it funny that people claim that she has a glass eye, and that that is why she constantly wears sunglasses and covers her left eye with her hair.  But she seems annoyed when she recalled how one person asked her to her face if she has a glass eye.  The person could clearly see that she does not.

Aaliyah is not afraid be a little negative.  She expresses a fear of motorbikes.  And she refuses to talk about an embarrassing date.  She also confesses to having changed a grade on her report card from a C to an A.

Celebrity interviews can be very intersting, and it is especially nice to seem them lead the way, and to give them a chance tell us about them.  Aaliyah, because she was very relatbale made this very enjoyable.

 

Review and Recap of Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

Aaliyah is one of those singers who defines “Gone Too Soon.” At the time of her untimely death in 2001 at the age of 22, she had achieved so very much, and it seemed as though the sky was the limit for her.

As is the case of any famous person, it is inevitable that a biopic will be considered. However, biopics are a interesting thing. They can be done well. And they can be done horribly. Also, when it comes to comes to biopics, it must be emphasized that one can never please everybody. People will take issue with casting, artistic license, and so on.  Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B is one such biopic that failed at its goal.

The film begins with Aaliyah performing “My Funny Valentine” on Star Search at the age of ten, which was her first public performance.  She performs with her aunt Gladys Knight (who at the time was married to her uncle Barry Hankerson)  She is signed to a record deal, but she is not yet given the chance to prove herself.  Eventually, she creates her public persona, and starts recording her first albumAge Ain’t Nothing but a Number with the help of R. Kelly.  When R. Kelly gets too close to her, and they get married, despite her being under the age of 18, her parents force Aaliyah to end all contact with him, in both a professional and personal context, and they annul the marriage.

Aaliyah is reluctant to move on with her career without R. Kelly’s influence.  But she recognizes her own inner strength.  She collaborates with Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who give her second album, One in a Million  a new sound.  Aaliayah moves on to more things. She sings the song “Journey to the Past” from the movie Anastasia, and when it is nominated for an Academy Award, she performs it at the Oscars.

Aaliyah makes her film debut in Romeo Must Die, and later, she films The Queen of the Damned and releases her third album  Also, she becomes close with rapper Damon Dash, and the two become romantically involved.  The record label is concerned about the album’s performance, and they suggest that the song “Rock the Boat” be her next single.  She goes off to film it in the Bahamas, but not before she and Dash promise to each other, despite their careers, they will find time for each other.  There is then a post-script that says that Aaliyah died in a plane crash on the way back to America.

Last summer, Lifetime announced that they were planning a movie about the life and career of Aaliyah; it was called Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B.  They cast the actress and singer Zendaya (best known for her role on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up) as Aaliyah.  The announcement of the casting received lots of criticism over the casting because many people felt that Zendaya did not look enough like Aaliyah, and that she was too light-skinned to play Aaliyah.  Aaliyah’s family, however, asked the public to not attack Zendaya.  Also, due to her family disapproving of the production entirely, and due to the fact that they controlled the rights to the majority of her music, Lifetime had to rely on the covers that Aaliyah sang, as well as the original songs that her family did not control.  Zendaya would depart from the role, citing the various issues with getting the rights to the music, among other complication of the production, and she was replaced by Alexandra Shipp.

The film finally premiered on November 15, 2014.  It was universally panned by critics and viewers.

According to Wikipedia:

Critical reception to Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B has been predominantly negative.[10][11][12][13] The New York Times heavily panned the film, criticizing it as “ham-handed” and “underwhelming” and writing “Condensing the singer’s life into such a short space requires a cruel knife and, in this case, a wildly imprecise one. A good film doesn’t show its seams. This one — based on “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman,” a biography by Christopher John Farley — is mostly seams. Much of the acting has dull edges, and the screenplay is aggravatingly stilted.”[14] The Wall Street Journal also criticized the film, commenting that the “overuse of the three and four-way split screen montages only enhanced the lack of material.”[15]

Viewer reaction for the film has been extremely negative and fans mocked the film on social media sites like Twitter,[1][16] using the hashtags #LifetimeBiopics and #LifetimeBeLike.[17][18][19] Viewers felt that Shipp was miscast as Aaliyah, that the late singer’s controversial relationship with R. Kelly was overly romanticized, and that the music covers did not properly do justice to the original songs.[20][21] Fans further commented on the film’s casting as a whole and many created pictures that overly exaggerated what they felt was extreme miscasting of many of the celebrities depicted in the film.[22][23][24]

All I can say is that, this biopic had numerous problems.  In my own words:

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B is one that fans of the late singer would rather forget.  So many things just did not go right.

  1. Many of the figures in Aaliyah’s life were played by people who hardly even look like them.  The actors portraying, R. Kelly, Missy Elliott, and Timbaland, look like fake versions of the the people they are playing.
  2. Since Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson owned her now defunct label, Blackground Records, and since he disapproved of the movie from the beginning (along with the rest of Aaliyah’s family), Lifetime did not get the rights to use Aaliyah’s music, and all they could do is use two of her cover songs, and two of her original songs that her family did not own; according to Wikipedia: “Four of her songs (two covers) were used in the film: the Isley Brothers‘ “At Your Best (You Are Love),” Marvin Gaye‘s “Got to Give It Up,” “Journey to the Past” and “The One I Gave My Heart To.”  If you do a biopic on a singer, you need to use their songs, and most of Aaliyah’s most famous song such as “Try Again,” “One in a Million,” and “Are You That Somebody?” are completely absent.
  3. The film is poorly written and put together.  There is a lot of telling and too little showing.  We are often briefly told things that Aaliyah did, and it seemed like the screenwriter was doing that because of having little to work with.
  4. The ending is anti-climactic.  It shows Aaliyah and her romantic partner, Damon Dash talking about how their careers leave them little time to be together, and they promise to spend more time with each other when Aaliyah returns from filming the music video for “Rock the Boat.”  We see her get into a car that drives off into the distance.  Then we see words on screen stating that Aaliyah died in a plane crash in the Bahama shortly after filming the video.  Seeing that made me feel like this was such a cheap ending.  I get that they did not want to depict the plane crash or even have it happen off screen, but it’s not a good ending to show two people making plans for the future, and then be told that one of them would die.