International CES, the annual event that takes place (usually) in Las Vegas in January, as when the major tech companies unveil their new products for the year. It’s a land of big TVs, tech of the future, robots, AI, and a lot more.
It’s also often a land of celebrity sightings, as brands bring in famous actors, musicians, and athletes to shill for their products. Roughly half the famous people I’ve run into in my life have been at CES – I passed Shaquille O’Neal in the hall. 50 Cent darted past me in a bathroom line. I watched Michael Bay walk off stage because his teleprompter malfunctioned. I saw Stevie Wonder sing a few bars in person, and asked Neil Young a question at a press conference. One year, one company had a Lady Gaga impersonator at their booth, while another company had the real Lady Gaga.
This year, due to the pandemic, CES is being held virtually. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in celebrities. iHeartRadio, Tuesday night, held an event featuring Ryan Seacrest interviewing Dua Lipa, with a performance by Billie Eilish following.
A play by play of the event:
– Seacrest welcomes us, from the “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” studio, and narrates a familiar-looking play-by-play of everything that happened to the music business in the opening days of the pandemic. Namely, no more live music, leading to Chris Martin and others Instagramming live performances from their homes.
– Soon after, it segues into a commercial for iHeartRadio, as the radio giant organized “live music experiences,” and even one awards show, based on performances from artists in their homes. This was, in keeping with the CES theme, thanks to technology. The iHeartRadio executive interviewed says the iHeart Living Room Concert cost $250,000, which I’m not sure is supposed to be a large or small amount.
– Then there was charity concerts, including that memorable moment when the Rolling Stones all performed from their own bedrooms:
– Time to talk to Dua Lipa, First we get a sizzle reel, and Seacrest states that she “bravely” released her new album during the pandemic. Seacrest asks what it’s like being in the pandemic when she’s used to being “on the go”; these types of interviews tend not to be so hard-hitting.
– Seacrest then asks whether Lipa was worried about, during a pandemic, putting out “up-tempo music,” which brings to mind something memorable once said by Seacrest’s mentor and predecessor as host of American Top 40, Casey Kasem:
– Dua Lipa, born in London and of Kosavar Albanian ancestry, has an absolutely fantastic accent.
– Most of the CES panels and keynotes were prerecorded, in some cases at least a couple of weeks ago, which has been made obvious by, say, a Twitter executive appearing on a panel about public policy and not mentioning that they banned Donald Trump. It’s not clear when the iHeart program was filmed, although Dua Lipa has long dark hair in her interview, and…
She also recently sported short hair in a cover shoot that was likely shot more than a few days ago…
– Now it’s time for Billie Eilish. She’s introduced in a video, calling the year “a crazy change for all of us.” She does not mention the death of Eddie Van Halen.
– She then sings a pair of songs, both rather good (not sure what they’re called). Despite these being an event touting tech, she’s just sort of on a standard stage, it’s not like that cool “dancing on the ceiling” thing she did on SNL awhile back:
– And that’s it. Seacrest signs off with “here’s to more shared experiences this year.”
Not sure what we learned, except that Billie Eilish is far from a one-hit-wonder, that iHeartMedia is very proud of everything they did for music in the pandemic, and Dua Lipa and Miley Cyrus were in fact in the same room for that song they recorded last year.