The 2020 American Music Awards were certainly different this year, but that didn’t stop the spectacle or the drama.
Hosted by Taraji P Henson, the AMAs delivered an impressive lineup of socially distanced performers and hosts, including Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion, the live premiere of the Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes collaboration, and Jennifer Lopez. One of the more highly anticipated performers, JLo is known for her stage presence and performance power. Unlike Bieber x Mendes, there would be no awkward belting from six feet apart.
What would she do? Show off her athleticism? Wear that Versace dress yet again?
Lopez was joined by Maluma in performing their popular collaborations “Pa’ Ti” and “Lonely” to promote their new movie, Marry Me. The performance was sensual and provocative, with J-Lo dressed in a black bodysuit and notably short hair while dancing around a chair. Admittedly it was stunning, it was impressive, it was … familiar.
Twitter was quick to point out why: The performance very closely resembled Beyoncé’s 2014 Grammy Awards Performance of “Drunk in Love.“
Did y’all just not see how J.Lo & Maluma just decided to copy & paste Beyoncé’s “Drunk In Love” performance for the… https://t.co/FqHEmUBeHs
— RoMane (@RoMane)1606098638.0
Does J.Lo think Beyoncé is dead or sumn? Why does she keep giving tribute performances
— jessica (@jessica)1606144507.0
In 2014, Beyoncé, soon after the release of her transformative surprise self-titled visual album, performed “Drunk in Love” with her husband, sporting short blonde hair and a body suit while dancing around a chair. It is easy, then, to see why the Beyhive had a problem with J-Lo’s performance six years later.
Down to the striking fluorescent bars of light in the background, the two performances have been compared side by side with clear resemblances.
But honestly, so what?
How many boilerplate performances of artists standing in place, gesticulating wildly, and doing nothing else have we sat through? And I’d rather J-Lo give us Beyoncé-Lite than give us nothing.
I can’t imagine Beyoncé breaking a sweat over this controversy. The fact that the Beyhive recognized a performance from 2014 is credit to Queen B herself.
And Beyoncé has evolved endlessly since her self-titled era. To think, we didn’t know then how much we needed Lemonade. Of her performances, Beyoncé’s recent years have been her best and most iconic. While thrilling at the time, the “Drunk in Love” performance was not Beyoncé’s most innovative.
If J-Lo had appeared at the AMAs and replicated Beyoncé’s Coachella set, a visual from Black Is King, or even a scene from Lemonade, this would be a different take. While there is something to be said about how J-Lo, as a white Latinx, has benefited from Black aesthetics during her career, this is not the conversation fans are having.
Despite being slightly derivative, Jennifer Lopez delivered exactly what we expected: an enviably athletic, drama-filled performance. And whether she’s offering the Versace dress, this pseudo-Bey performance, or just the nature of her music, Jennifer Lopez isn’t necessarily an innovator, but she knows how to put on a good show.