Late night thoughts (9:30 anyway) on watching last week's Billboard Music Awards on the tube... Everybody, I suppose, understands that the Billboard Music Awards are based on Billboard magazine, and that what Billboard magazine does is track sales, so whoever sells the most wins automatically. There's an inherent lack of drama about this thing. Stone Temple Pilots, for instance, is proclaimed the year's number one "modern rock" band in front of your very eyes and you don't bat a lash... Poor Dennis Miller. It was painful to watch his interview with a two-story video image of the Rolling Stones, who were lounging backstage prior to a Montreal concert. Miller looked even dumber when he feigned confusion, trying to fill time with weak comedy, and asked the group which of two objects on the table in front of them -- the Billboard award statue or a lit candle -- was the award. I think it was Keith Richards who shot back: "the one without the light on it." Stones 1, Miller zip... Precisely what sort of Wonderbra was hostess Heather Locklear wearing that kept her bosom at such unwavering attention, anyway? I swear to God I didn't even notice it till a feminine acquaintance wondered out loud, and once you looked, you had to wonder with her... Presenters Kelsey Grammar and Queen Latifah didn't seem to hit it off particularly well after Grammar attempted a joke and the Queen shut him down, but the segment prior was something else entirely. Tori Amos, female pianist, presented Billy Joel, male pianist (Billboard pointed it out, so I thought I should pass it along), with some Lifetime Achievement butt-lick, and in so doing so she gushed her introductory praises at such length that Joel looked stunned when he finally got a chance to say his thank you's. And Amos looked up at Joel's fuzzy form so adoringly, and Joel kept glancing to his admirer with such blushing, awkward discomfort, that in an instant it was clear that the pair had obviously been in such a rush to get out of the hotel room (or back seat, hell if I know) and in front of the camera that they hadn't even had time to smooth their damn hair. If Top Male Performer Snoop Doggy Dogg really did kill a man, I bet he's developing a twisted sense of karma... Is it just me, or does the sight of Mick Jagger -- who sources of much more authority than myself agree still has that special it -- strutting around a stage in cheese-ass Stones merchandise strike anyone else as slightly pushy?... Rapper R. Kelly provided the show's best live segment, driving onto the stage with a twin pair of Harley's and proving that, God knows how many years after Elvis, a good pelvic thrust still draw cheers like nothing else on the planet. Kelly's song is about how he's going to fuck you, and he might have a thing or two to teach Trent Reznor about bestiality... God was thanked. Moms were thanked. Dads and sister and aunts and grandparents were thanked. Managers and record company execs were thanked. God was thanked again. Radio and retail were thanked over and over and over. No performer ever once thanked the press, which made me feel just terrible, really it did. Oh well, take a look at a category like Single of the Year, where the five winners were Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Boyz II Men, All 4 One and Ace of Base -- the kind of stuff critics just love to dis. I wonder why we bother?... Sheryl Crow, who became a minor and hopefully temporary star by taking a great Cyndi Lauper idea and fucking it up, thus earning a place of undying hatred in my annoying-song-hating heart, announced that she was wearing no panties, as if anyone gave a shit, further earning a place of hatred in my poser-dip-hating heart... And when it was all over with, I had to wonder three things: Why was percussion troupe Stomp, relegated to pre-recorded interlude vignettes, so much more entertaining than any of the music on the show? Where can I send a thank-you note to Tom Jones for not wearing a mesh shirt? And what the hell ever happened to Beck?

Stuff to Hear: Houston jazz diva Cy Brinson has finished putting the polish on her solo piano and vocal CD called Cy by Night, which is a kinda cute name, I guess, and since a new record is as good an excuse as any to get dressed up, she's having a release party at the revamped Rockefeller's. Discs and tapes will be on sale for those hard-to-buy-for folks, and the showcase is free. At 7 p.m., Monday, December 19.

Cassette of the Week will return next week... I'm out of room.

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