It’s hard to say who the biggest star was at last night’s Cee Lo and Friends Christmas special at Planet Hollywood, but I might argue that Cee Lo stole his own show.
The friends, in this case, included Cee Lo’s teams from Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of The Voice, who contributed strong vocals throughout the set. (In particular, Season 1 alums Niki Dawson and Vicci Martinez did a touching rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” a song that always makes me want to watch Love Actually and cry.) Rod Stewart joined the big man on “Merry Christmas, Baby,” holding the mic stand and rocking on his toes as he crooned. And the Muppets sang a raucous version of “All I Need is Love,” which had kids and adults ready to rush the stage with so-that’s-how-they-do-it smiles.
Then there was Cee Lo himself, who emerged glistening like a Christmas ornament in a red vinyl suit with floor-length jacket. In front of stock footage of fireplaces and jingling bells, Cee Lo strutted through a full lineup of holiday classics that will also appear on his upcoming Christmas album, singing about Santa Claus’ lists, the Grinch and Jesus (and once using his name in vain). But even in the context of such a wholesome night, Cee Lo’s theatrical alter ego, Loberace—the star of his 2013 headlining gig at Planet Hollywood—shone through. Who honestly owns a floor-length red vinyl jacket? And who attempts to wear it anywhere but a walk-in fridge?
After the faux snow fell over the audience and Cee Lo retired the coat (vowing never to wear vinyl again), he ditched Santa Clause for a moment and finally stopped looking at his monitors. Singing “Crazy” and “F*ck You” in front of a handful of Jubilee! showgirls, the singer started an infectious dance party that ended well before we were ready to quit. For all the showmanship and holiday cheer, the best part of the night was Cee Lo just doing Cee Lo.