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An invaluable education in the pop-music racket

Whither pop music? Now there's a gnarly question. There are now so many genres and sub-categories that a person can be entirely up to date on one area and blind to another. Some might say that means being blissfully unaware.

It's the teen-oriented stuff that sucks up all the attention. The material that is so much part of American Idol, The X Factor and, often, the music that's heard on Glee. This weekend you can educate yourself on this one area. A time may come when you will need to be erudite about such matters. Listen, it could happen.

The 2012 Billboard Music Awards (Sunday, ABC, CTV, 8 p.m.) is an extravaganza of the Bieber-esque, a cornucopia of Katy Perry-type, sizzling semi-lewdness. And there's the hair and the outfits – dear heavens, you could write a lengthy thesis on the style. Not that these performers tend to pick their own clothes, of course.

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The shindig is, oddly enough, hosted by two TV stars – Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell, a.k.a. Claire and Phil on ABC's Modern Family. Maybe they're supposed to be joke-parental figures. Maybe ABC is just promoting their show. Anyway, our annoying friend Bieber will perform, as will Carrie Underwood, Cee Lo Green from The Voice and Katy Perry, who will grace the event to unveil a new song, Wide Awake, which, we are informed, was written specially for her upcoming film Katy Perry: Part of Me. Everything is promotion, isn't it?

As for the matter of erudition in this area, take note that Perry became the only woman in history to earn five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from the same album. Her Teenage Dream album had, like, five totally hot radio songs, and people were agog at the libertine persona presented in the accompanying videos.

In the actual awards, note that Adele, LMFAO, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne are the nomination leaders. Adele is a finalist in 18 categories, LMFAO in 17. Rihanna is up for awards in 13 categories this year, while Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne each have a shot in 10 categories.

The late Whitney Houston will be honoured with a tribute performed by Jordin Sparks and John Legend. Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and sister-in-law Pat Houston will accept an award in her honour. Possibly, there will also be some tribute to Donna Summer.

How people get nominated is a mystery. ABC says "finalists for the 2012 Billboard Music Awards are based on key fan interactions with music, including album, single and digital sales, airplay, touring, streaming and social interactions on MySpace, Facebook and many of the other most popular online destinations for music." That, unfortunately, sounds made up for the night.

Still, this is a biggie in the pop racket. It's important to be educated about these matters. As sure as the sun will rise on Monday, there will be a chinwag somewhere in which somebody is obliged to seem au courant with the pop racket and sigh, "Kids today ..."

Also airing this weekend

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The UEFA European Champions League Final (Saturday, Sportsnet, 2:30 p.m.) is one of the biggest, greatest events in sports, watched by hundreds of millions around the world. It's Bayern Munich playing Chelsea in Munich, and if you're making a bet, put it on Bayern. It promises to be a good game, even if no Champions League game can match the operatic drama of Chelsea's recent defeat of Barcelona in the semi-final.

Above and Beyond (Saturday, CBC, 8 p.m.) is a good 2006 miniseries that gets a rare repeat showing. Set in Newfoundland during the Second World War, it's about a risky plan to fly planes from Gander to England, where they were much needed. It was Canadian press magnate Lord Beaverbrook (Kenneth Welsh) who suggested to Winston Churchill (Joss Ackland) that the plan was do-able. While there is some history material, the main focus is on romance: Liane Balaban is wonderful as a young woman torn between a local fella (Allan Hawco, pre-Doyle) and a dashing pilot (Jonathan Scarfe).



All times ET. Check local listings.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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