Internet music awards show strikes a sour note

The first annual eWorld Music Awards took place this Wednesday at L.A. Live’s Conga Room. The new awards show, which will be held annually the week leading up to the Grammy Awards, honors cutting-edge music artists that are emerging on the Internet.

eWorld Media, the organizers of the awards show, focuses on distributing technologies such as its free Internet application Boomerang Media Station, which streams music, movies and webcasts.

The eWorld Music Awards was executive produced by Steven Marcus Aurelius, a multiplatinum, multi-Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer; John Hamilton, a five-time producer of the Golden Globes; and Chris Donovan, a seven-time director of the Independent Spirit Awards.

The red carpet was flooded with reporters from small online newspapers as well as large entertainment networks like E! in a rare merging of small and large media outlets. Attendees included numerous important players within the entertainment industry, including rising artists, music producers, agents and publicists. The event was also open to the general public for ticket prices of only $30.

The Conga Room was a spectacular venue choice. With a balcony, dining room, multiple bars and impressive sound and lighting system, it provided the perfect venue for an awards show such as this.

But despite the award’s potential and all the excitement leading up to its premiere, the eWorld Music Awards show ended up being a bit of a disappointment. The much-touted host — MTV V.J. Susie Castillo — was not in attendance, an absence left unexplained.

As a result, the entire show ran rather haphazardly and lacked structure. In addition, the show fell victim to a number of technical difficulties — ironic, considering eWorld’s claim to technical innovation.

After a long delay in its start time, the awards show kicked off with a solid performance by Jason Derulo, the R&B/pop performer known best for his ubiquitous and catchy song “Whatcha Say.”

He commanded the stage with smooth dance moves and light-up finger gloves, both of which echoed the late Michael Jackson. Derulo popped, locked and moonwalked gracefully while he sang his noteworthy single. His vocals were surprisingly strong, which suggests the possibility of a career without the aid of autotune that is so prevalent in his hit song.

After his performance, Derulo accepted the Future Icon Award, and the show went downhill from there.

The stage went dark and a D.J. began playing music, signaling an unannounced intermission. The break lasted for over half an hour, as the audience grew restless and became confused.

Finally, another musical performer walked onstage, without introduction. It was the hip-hop/R&B duo Rock City who performed a beautiful a cappella tribute to its home in the Virgin Islands, followed by an energetic, upbeat song “Wave,” which showcased its quirky personality and strong stage presence.

The next performance was by Rej3ctz, who also won the Creators of the Jerk Movement Award. The group poorly lip-synced a hip-hop/electronic song but had plenty of enthusiastic dance moves to compensate for its inability to actually sing.

Rej3ctz were followed by the recipients of the Award for New Movement, SA-RA, a diverse band featuring a bongo drum player and a saxophonist. Its highly anticipated performance started out shaky, as the band was out of sync. The group finally hit its stride with the song “Hollywood,” but it seems SA-RA may need more experience performing live before it  can break into the larger music scene.

The highlight of the night was an appearance by legendary Russ Regan, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The record executive was responsible for discovering talents like Elton John and the Beach Boys. He also has won four Academy Awards and is one of two music executives who have sold a billion records.

The many interludes between winner announcements and performances made the event feel more like an extended concert party than an awards show.

Thankfully, the D.J. provided enough good music for attendees to get out and dance on the floor beneath the stage during the long lulls.

The eWorld Music Awards might aspire to be the next industry awards show, but it will have to get its act together beforehand. Hopefully it can because the many artists that are pushing their way to fame through the Internet deserve the chance to be recognized for their diverse talents in their own unique awards event.