When this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is broadcast on HBO May 18, you can "dim all the lights" on any hopes of seeing Christina Aguilera sing in tribute to Donna Summer. Though previously advertised as a musical guest who'd be saluting the late disco queen, Aguilera was an unexplained no-show at Thursday night's ceremony, leaving curious attendees to wonder whether she'd lost her voice on top of temporarily abandoning her "Voice" post.
That left it up to planned partner Jennifer Hudson to go it solo and work doubly hard for the money...at about half her former size, judging from the skintight bodysuit she wore while serenading the crowd with a medley of "Bad Girls" and "Last Dance." Hudson looked like she was on her way to the Bob Mackie Hall of Fame ceremony in this glittery outfit, but even the Rush fanatics who packed L.A.'s Nokia Theatre for the show weren't complaining, about either her sexy get-up or the high notes she expertly hit at the climax of "Dance."
Left unspoken was whether it had been planned that Aguilera would sing one of the two Summer numbers that ended up with Hudson, or whether attendees missed out on the chance to hear Christina replicate the classic moans of "Love to Love You Baby." Aguilera did not take to her Twitter account or anywhere else to explain being MIA, and her publicist did not immediately respond to requests for comment on her absence Friday.
At least the epic glories of "Love to Love You Baby" did not go unremarked upon. In an effusively delivered induction speech, Kelly Rowland noted that producer Giorgio Moroder "laid down a 17-minute track for Donna to sing over...I'm pretty sure me and a lot of y'all out there were made to that record."
With Hudson in the lead, the dress code skewed much glitzier than it usually does at a Rock Hall of Fame ceremony certainly varied, thanks largely to an unusual number of sharply attired R&B and film/TV celebrities on hand to salute the honorees. Oprah Winfrey inducted Quincy Jones, while a typically well-dressed Harry Belafonte joined a typically jersey-ed Spike Lee in offering props to Public Enemy. Flavor Flav wore a white tux with tails, as did the young son he dressed in identical garb and literally dragged to the podium.
Usher paid homage to Quincy Jones by way of doing a Michael Jackson tribute, singing "Rock With You" in black leather formalwear accented by a tiny red bow tie and red shoes, a la Jackson's pre-militaristic garb.
It was up to the likes of John Fogerty to really let rock's freak flag fly, as he wore his usual flannel shirt while supporting honoree Randy Newman in his opening number and participating in the show-ending jam.
Perhaps the most notable sartorial surprise belonged to Foo Fighters, who made an appearance as a Rush tribute band, wearing wigs and white kimonos as they banged through some famous riffs before the real Rush came out and replaced them. The outfits represented a semi-inside reference to what Dave Grohl previously referred to in his induction speech as "the most infamous band photo of all time," a '70s shot in which Rush somehow managed to combine kimonos with embarrassingly skintight pants.