CeeLo Green is Loberace adds Strip headliner to the singer’s already-stuffed résumé
By Matt Kelemen
CeeLo Green thought he could do it all. The founding fourth of Dirty South rappers Goodie Mob, who became a household name after teaming up with producer Danger Mouse for the phenomenal Gnarls Barkley project, would probably tell you he certainly can do it all. Still, Green’s parting of ways with hit NBC series The Voice this season (along with fellow judge Christina Aguilera) allows him to get back to where he once belonged, with his own voice once again becoming the focus of his career, as well as his stage show opening this week at Planet Hollywood Resort.
Although CeeLo Green is Loberace was initially set to premiere last year, Green postponed the opening date. He has had the wind at his back ever since Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere became a monster hit in 2006, thanks to the soul-inflected, internationally chart-topping single “Crazy.” Green had been in demand among musical peers since launching his solo career several years earlier, but his urgent, bell-clear falsetto struck a chord with the iTunes generation while reminding older music fans of the late Curtis Mayfield.
Green’s pop culture conquest continued with a second full-length Gnarls Barkley recording, a smash solo hit containing a four-letter word (see YouTube) that was recast as “Forget You” for a Grammy duet with Gwyneth Paltrow and “Thank You” in tribute to the country’s volunteer firefighters, and several albums featuring a constellation of recording stars helping him out. Coaching Team CeeLo on The Voice brought Green and his eccentric fashion sense into America’s living rooms for several seasons, setting the stage for the singer to take the inevitable next step and ascend into the pantheon of entertainers who became headliners on the Las Vegas Strip.
With Shakira and Usher taking over for Green and Aguilera on The Voice, there’s only the question of what Green will unveil for the full-on Loberace spectacular. The title alone suggests the kind of over-the-top glitz that once characterized Liberace’s Las Vegas productions, and a CeeLo and Friends Christmas special (taped at Planet Hollywood Resort in October) guest-starred Rod Stewart, the Muppets and showgirls topped with feathered headdresses. The show, which aired on the TV Guide network, also featured The Voice contestants, hinting at what to expect from Green when he returned to the Strip.
Whether or not Loberace affects Green’s plans to write a book and create a television series based on his life remains to be seen, but after a reunion with Goodie Mob in New Orleans for a Super Bowl party and a newfound commitment to a healthy lifestyle, he can apply the lion’s share of his focus to Loberace. Will anyone from Team CeeLo turn up? Juliet Simms from season two is a good wager, as Green now guides her career. He could duet with protégé V. Bozeman for her latest single “Free Bird,” or invite any number of friends to complement the panache he presents at Planet Hollywood Resort. And if a man in a mouse costume appears onstage to a familiar beat sampled from a ’60s Italian western, followed by the audience going “Crazy,” consider it a magic moment.