Stick Joan Jett on a cheesy daytime talk show cum soap opera, performing with an erstwhile Disney cartoonish character, and she still looks totally bad-ass. With her hair black and long again these days, Jett exuded deadsexycool vibe beside Miley Cyrus’s puppy-dog earnest excitement and Oprah Winfrey’s fumbling for something to say, on today’s show featuring ’70s and ’80s women musicians and their progeny. Jett didn’t need Ms. Montana to shore up her vocals, the way Stevie Nicks relied on Sheryl Crow earlier in the show. As they duetted on “Bad Reputation,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” the rock legend’s voice shone in all its hoarse come-on. Cyrus tried to channel some of that old Runaways energy; she stared dotingly at Jett (as she should) and shook her long mane. At least Joan didn’t have to sing with Avril Lavigne, who didn’t once look at Pat Benatar during their Oprah moment “together”. (Benatar sounded great, btw.)
It was ironic to hear today’s teen idol singing the jailbait-virgin Runaways anthem. Chuck E. Starr told me that when the Runaways released “Cherry Bomb” as their first single, most DJs wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. That was before it was okay for starlets to cavort on strip poles on family television.
I was damn disappointed Joan and Cyrus didn’t get the stage time Nicks and Crow did. Joan is a goddess! Give her her props. They did get in a few bon mots.
“Rock ‘n’ roll when I grew up really had a context and a meaning. I felt like it was a religion for me,” Jett said. She talked about the sexism that still exists in the music industry. “I think there are many glass ceilings. I had a hard time in the Runaways being taken seriously.” Her advice: “Push back the pushback.” Oprah loved that one.
Miley offered the appropriate words of respect for her elder and hero. “It always meant something for me seeing Joan stand up for chicks playing guitar.”
Most of the show’s performers (who also included Salt N Pepa) came out for a feel-good singalong of “We Are Family” with Sister Sledge at the end. Except Joan. She’s too cool for shtick, as manager Kenny Laguna says. Not too cool for Oprah and Miley, but lines do have to be drawn. I hope she sells 10,000 more CDs for the prime exposure. And that Miley really doesn’t give a damn about her reputation.