June 19, 2018 / 7:56 PM

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James Bay, X Ambassadors, Elle King Shine At VH1's You Oughta Know Concert



Helping to showcase emerging artists each year, VH1's You Oughta Know concert has been a staple in the myriad of televised music events every year. It went through a bit of a rebrand this year to Big Music, but the concept has remained the same - big emerging acts on a big stage in New York City. 2015 tabbed hot acts like James Bay, Elle King, Miguel, X Ambassadors, Hozier, Tori Kelly and others to perform live, sometimes together.

The two-hour televised event moved at breakneck speed for those in attendance. Before the show started, the crowd was coached on how to cheer and applaud acts coming in and out of commercials or during announcements.

The show got under way with one of the two special collaborations. James Bay and Elle King crushed a soulful and powerful rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival "Proud Mary." Bay added a scintillating guitar solo, while Elle King's vocal style gave the track a distinctly bluesy feel.

The show then moved through other stars like Tori Kelly, who sang two tracks including "Should Have Been Us."

James Bay came back out for another great performance, shredding and jumping his way through "Flow Like The River."

Strong performances from X Ambassadors and Ella Henderson were sandwiched around a somewhat weak showing from Miguel, probably the biggest star of the show.

The show continued to breeze through more one-song sets as Elle King, George Ezra and Hozier all came out to perform their hits. Nate Ruess felt a little out of place as someone with multiple hits under his belt, but he got to showcase his solo project.

The show ended with Hozier and Tori Kelly trying to cover The Beatles' powerful track about race relations, "Blackbird." It was the right track to cover amidst the issues facing the United States right now, but the execution was poor.

VH1 spared nothing to make sure their presenters matched other shows like this. They brought out a pair of great comedians, Hannibal Burress, who introduced Miguel and Jay Phareoh, who did a few of his time-tested rap impressions, before bring Nate Reuss out to the stage. They also had individuals like Natalie Dormer and Carly Rae Jepsen present, while Mel B and Salt N Peppa helped to co-host the event.

VH1 kept the gimmicks to a minimum and let the music speak for itself on this night. Though not everyone was at their best, it is refreshing to see something that wasn't a giant commercial filled with boring award acceptance speeches and stale "comedic" cutaways.

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