For the last trillion years, I have taken to newsprint and the various forms of the InterWebs to offer musings about MTV’s Video Music Awards shortly after they occur. This has become a yearly tradition for me. It’s something I have grown to look forward to, and it’s honestly one of the few things that I consider fun anymore.
Luckily, I have obtained this silly, little blog since moving to the area all the way back in January, thus allowing me another forum to post my irrelevant thoughts on such things. It goes like this: I divide the program into five categories — Host, Performances, Awards, Stage, Presenters — and grade them all on an A to F scale. This, of course, is all accompanied with ramblings and opinions on a few of the highlights the show offered.
Even more serendipitous is that this year’s telecast spawned yet another new record in social media. According to Twitter, the much-discussed Beyonce baby-bump moment inspired 8,686 tweets per second, a record for such a statistic, beating the women’s World Cup final from earlier this summer. See. The VMAs do matter, silly!
Anyways, below are this year’s thoughts about MTV’s biggest television event of the year. Feel free to argue, leave a mean comment or send me nasty emails and Twitter messages. It’s all in good fun. Oh. And for those wondering, I streamed the entire show on the network’s website after the fact (I spent a lovely Sunday evening at Wolftrap while the ceremony was live). So if you shall ever feel so inclined, you can click here to view the show in its entirety. If not, you can just read the following and pretend as though you didn’t miss a thing (yeah!).
1. Host: F
Well, that was easy. The network opted for no host this year, in a move that can either be looked upon as brilliant or pathetic. Or, well, a little bit of both. Either way, this year, it didn’t really work. My initial question when I heard they were going to do this? “Gee, Colin. What in the name of Nicki Minaj’s hairdo will they do for a monologue?” That question was answered in the worst way. Kevin Hart was not only not funny, but he was excruciatingly awkward to watch. It’s no wonder the powers-that-be insisted upon not offering him the official hosting gig. No host is better than Kevin Hart (put that on a t-shirt, friends). That said, the no-host trick left a gap in the VMAs experience. Yeah, Chelsea Handler was awful last year, but Russell Brand was one of the best decisions the network has made in the last decade (and even more so, asking him back for two years in a row showed a level of intelligence I didn’t think MTV had). Think about it: This is a land where heavyweights such as Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx and Ben Stiller have wandered before. Why not give some up-and-comer a chance at making a name for him or her self? Having no host not only seemed like a low-rent move, but it also took away from the level of unpredictability this particular awards show has been famous for in the past. Smarten up, MTV. See what Louis CK is up to next August.
2. Performances: C-
Let’s get the good out of the way first. The best of the evening? Jay-Z and Kanye West’s inspired take on “Otis” (and for those of us who have a date with the two in Baltimore on Nov. 1, this performance justified those unreasonably expensive tickets in the best of ways, mind you). Because this is a family-oriented fun-time blog, I will spare you the video in favor of saying that easily the night’s second-best outing was Adele’s always fantastic voice and her take on “Someone Like You.”
The rest of the show? Ugh. As a former editor of mine text messaged me Sunday night while I was out, “So far, the best part of the MTV VMAs is Jesse J before the commercial breaks.” Indeed. Aside from Beyonce’s headline-making moment and usual spot in the “best three performers of the night” list (really — it has become not fair to the other performers. She consistently brings down the house every single time she’s asked to do these things, and this year’s performance was no different), the performances were mundane. Lil’ Wayne is not nearly as important as he thinks he is. As a friend of mine tweeted Sunday night (a tweet I would link, by the way, had she not used explicit language), there is a large faction of people not over Chris Brown’s stupidity and past discretions. How people can root for him again is beyond me. I mean, goodness — he blew up a “Good Morning America” dressing room six minutes ago! Notice the exclamation point. His dance routine was simply annoying. I’ve never liked Lady Gaga and that whole dressed-as-a-dude schtick was as obnoxious as she’s ever been, even ruining a great idea by forcing Brian May on stage. And the Amy Winehouse tribute made no sense. Bruno Mars singing a song she didn’t even write? Yeah, the act was fine, but you couldn’t have done anything better, MTV? Goodness. Tony Bennett was already there. Just let him do a swingy version of “Rehab” or something. The entire moment was a potentially legendary occurrence that MTV completely mishandled. Kind of indicative of the evening. And P.S. — Where was the rock? Come on, now. Coldplay has a record out in a month. Why couldn’t someone force them out there, just to throw rock music a bone?
3. Awards: C
A lot was made of the new “Video With A Message” category. And then Lady Gaga won and the everybody sighed. Aside from that, there really weren’t any instances of note. The best moment? Katy Perry falling on her face while accepting the award for best collaboration with Kanye West (boy, she just had to bring up that whole interrupting Taylor Swift thing, now didn’t she?). Her attempt at humor made the stretch the most cringe-worthy 30 seconds of airtime MTV put out for the world to see Sunday night (and by the way, as much of an apologist for Kanye West as I am, even his most stringent haters have to credit him for the way he handled accepting that award while Perry was prancing around). The worst moment came when Lady Gaga completely highjacked Britney Spears’ Video Vanguard Award. Spears, who you have to admit has produced a career turnaround that forces most any pop music lover to root for her now, was fabulous throughout the night. You could tell she was sincere, and at this point, that’s all you really need to do to win everybody over if your name happens to be Britney Spears. Gaga’s attempt at upstaging the pop star was incredible and inappropriate. Add that to the fact that the suits somehow turned her acceptance into an introduction for Beyonce’s performance, and what you have is quite possibly the worst “Vanguard” moment in VMA history. Still, the Foo Fighters winning anything always makes the night a little more worth it, right? Right. And Adele ending the evening with a tie for most awards won (three) makes up for missteps here and there, correct? Correct.
4. Stage: B
I liked it. Really. I did. In years past, the network has made weird attempts at making the stages and performances seem Hollywood-like, over-doing everything with special effects and elaborate designs. This year was nice and simple, and I dug it. The best VMA moments have always come without the aid of technology or multi-million-dollar designs. The people behind the operation did a nice job of balancing the two this year. Keep it simple, friends. That’s the key to everything.
5. Presenters: D
Goodness, just stop. If you aren’t going to have a host, save the always-annoyed-looking celebrities from trotting out there to remind us of the next “Twilight” film and present an award for best choreography. Why not just kill the idea altogether and have some disembodied voice narrate the winners, much like you did to get in and our of commercial breaks, MTV? These spots always make the people you already dislike more unlikable and the people you tend to enjoy sympathetically awkward. Jonah Hill was weirdly unfunny. Miley Cyrus vouching for Cage The Elephant was … wait … Miey Cyrus vouched for Cage The Elephant? All in all, the presenters were what they usually are, and what they usually are isn’t something most people enjoy seeing. If you are so inclined to tinker with the formula, MTV people, see how you could figure out going about the whole thing without the help of mindless celebrities who could care less about giving Katy Perry yet another award.
And that’s that. See. It wasn’t too hard, now was it? Before I go, though, I must commend in the highest form Rob Sheffield’s take on the whole thing over at Rolling Stone. It may just be the best thing I’ve ever seen him offer, and it would literally be impossible for me to agree with him any more than I already do when it comes to this year’s ceremony. It’s a must-read.
As for this year, now that the VMAs are over, we can officially proclaim awards season in full force. The prime-time Emmys are in less than a month, and the Golden Globes, Grammy Awards and Academy Awards will both be here before we can say “trophy show” three times over. Buckle yourselves in, friends. The season of awkward celebrity moments is upon us.