A Live Recap of the MTV Video Music Awards

Why am I recapping the MTV Video Music Awards?  Shouldn’t I be examining some sort of cult film of black and white foreign film and then giving off a sort of smugness over the fact that I watch them?  Why should I be watching an awards show that no longer airs the very items it is supposed to celebrate? There are three reasons.

The first is the fact that these are music videos, a field in which some very talented filmmakers have gotten their star. The second reason is the fact that, for once, I do not wish to give off that feeling of smug superiority that I usually do. Why not have a little bit of fun and try to take readers along for the ride? But the real reason is the fact that these awards are the last sort of cultural relevancy that MTV possesses. Take a look at their prime time line up; it increasingly resembles the sort of geek show that carnival promoters would be all too happy to include under their tents. Major artists have taken their material to the internet – in fact, MTV became very angry with VEVO after VEVO demanded more money for the rights to the videos they sponsor.  As a result, MTV can no longer play the video that is up for a record number of awards this year. I give it a few more years before this awards ceremony is eliminated altogether. It will be interesting to see how MTV can continue to pretend that it is a showcase for the youth and music culture before ratings force to change its name to ADPTARI TV (All Drunken, Pregnant Teens, All Racist Italians…TV). When that happens, I suppose, I will have to start paying for BBC America just so I can watch the usually more entertaining BRIT Awards. This will be a live recap, similar to what I have done with the Oscars in the past. In being live, I will occasionally miss certain names at times; I will try to correct this as quickly as I possibly can, but mistakes may be left intact for a little while. Also, check back frequently, as this article will be ongoing throughout the ceremony.

Oh, I will also not be doing anything involving the pre-party that started at 8. I am interested solely in the awards themselves.

Actually, I did watch some of it, namely the interview with…how do you spell it…Ke$ha? Yea, she is wearing a literal garbage bag.  She also points out everything wrong with the modern artists. They have literally nothing provocative or even particularly interesting to say. Yes, we know that you may consider this to be “the most important part of your career.” Yea, we get that. Now, can we move on to someone else? Actually, Lady Gaga has just won two awards – one for the “Dance Video” (Bad Romance) and collaboration (Telephone). So, I guess that means the awards show is under way. She also discusses her companions, who are a member of the organization the want to turn around military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. I am going to go ahead and post the Bad Romance video here – it seems like I will be talking about it a lot.

OK, we are at the intro. Eminem is opening the show. He is one of the few hip hop artists I can tolerate – mostly because he seems to have his tongue in his cheek.  His current set looks…terrible, really. He is singing in some sort of basement with green lights to make it look better.  I am not sure what song he is singing, honestly. My guess is “For Better or Worse.” Well, his parents’ rec room just opened to the stage. Neat trick, especially when Dr. Dre joins him. It’s adequate, but falls flat.  An opening is the most important part of any show.  When last years Oscars opened, they were kind enough to bring another blond singer on (Neil Patrick Harris) who brought the house down. Now, There is a woman singing. I am starting to feel hopelessly out of touch (I think it’s Rhianna, but I am not sure).  What happened to the days where pop musicians were supposed to unite people and youth cultures? I do not know who any of these people are, nor do I much care about them. I’m twenty three, for God’s sake! Don’t make me feel like an old man.

Chelsea Handler does a sketch. A few rap stars show up to slap her behind. So does Lindsay Lohan, making a joke about her probation. I would lie to say that this did not make me laugh. Far funnier, however, is Handler’s descent onto the stage;  Bad Romance plays, and Handler is wearing a house on her head.  She opens the garage door, and there is her face. She then releases doves from her crotch. I wish I was making some of this up. It’s called overkill, Chelsea. “This is the first time in 16 years that the VMAs has been hosted by a woman!” Chelsea proclaims. “Justin Bieber’s mom had just given birth to her 401k plan.” Also “I want everyone to be on their worst behavior!” Well, no one has ever needed the encouragement for the VMAs. She also seems to be obsessed with getting Taylor Swift naked. THAT’S MY JOB!

Oh great, a reference to Jersey Shore. And the fact that this “is why MTV doesn’t play your videos.”  Again, that’s my job to make those kind of statements. And then she asks to see Kanye West. He is eating fish sticks right now (just kidding). What is Chelsea’s technique to prevent people from interrupting speeches? Beating the crap out of them. Again, not surprised and the joke is not particularly funny.  At the BRITs, the hosts will frequently go for the jugular.  Why can’t I see more of that?  First up is Ellen DeGeneres, introducing the nominees for “Best Female Video.” I seem to recall voting for these things at one point. I forget. Anyway, let’s see…Lady Gaga wins. And is anyone surprised? Well, in fairness, the video was impossible to ignore, and I have always found Lady Gaga to be artistically satisfying. She does seem genuine in her approach. But I have a bigger speech prepared for later – let’s hold off shall we? Another sketch, involving Chelsea meeting the “Best New Artist” nominees. She has hosted some sort of banquet at a hotel, and meets Kesha (the dollar sign is pretentious, and difficult to type). Also, why is voting still open?  This is the actual show, is it not? So shouldn’t votes be counted by now? Also, would it hurt for some of the awards to be picked by PROFESSIONALS, just giving them a hint of legitimacy?  OK, first commercial – I am taking a break. Our Host, Ladies and Gentlemen

Found this little gem during the commercial break. This is our host. And we are back.

The cast of Jackass comes out. They still look twelve.  They have a new movie coming out; have you heard about it? Well, they show a clip from it. I’m sorry, isn’t this about MUSIC VIDEOS? Yes, as they introduce the best rock video: 30 Seconds to Mars wins for “Kings and Queens.” I would just like to say one of the band members looks like Annie Lennox. Before the announcement, one of the people rips of their clothes, and shows themselves wearing a cotton dildo. I have a feeling this will get mentioned somewhere. Who is Kim Kardashian? Seriously, who is she? Why is she famous? She is some sort of Andy Warhol anomaly. She is introducing…Justin Bieber.  Another question; why is HE famous? Not even Andy Warhol could predict his rise. All five foot four of him takes the stage, being chased by twelve year old girls. OK, so we are at some Freudian themes and he hasn’t sung a note. Anyway, he starts with Baby and…I am hitting the mute button. Can just Bieber sing? Umm…I have heard worse but it is still quite bad. Can he dance? From a technical standpoint, but he takes no risks, does nothing new, and is frankly just something I would expect to say a break dancer do while I but tips into his hat. He he play drums? No, but he is trying to do that anyway. Why is he hated?  It is not because of a sheer lack of talent, although that plays a very strong portion of it. The real reason is, simply, that he is not going to last. Yes, people can already see the expiration date. At this point, it is sheer tolerance that is keeping him afloat.  I do not know how long he is going to last. It will be a flame out – but he will try to continue it far beyond its shelf life. In the meantime, I can go on listening to my actual music. Kids, when you want to listen to some good albums, I have quite a few that are waiting for you to discover.

Oh, one other thing; the turning of Justin Bieber into sex symbol counts as a bizarre form of pedophilia. That is all.

Who says lesbians can't be pop stars?

Kesha and Trey Songz introduce Usher. A much better dancer, but still not an adequate performer. He is clearly lip syncing and the staging, costumes, and actual dancing show just how desperately he wishes he was Michael Jackson. I seem to recall this one article in The Onion that said Usher was called the new King of Pop due to a lack of really qualified candidates. Isn’t that sad? What’s more, it barely read like satire. I shall try to find it at the next commercial break.

Oh, can we get rid of the autotuners?  Either Usher lost his voice to throat cancer or…well, there is no or. I do recognize one song that he is doing right now. OMG, except he is singing it as “Oh My Gosh.”

Well, that’s over and done with.  We are now onto the “Best Male Video” award, introduced by Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. Perry jokes about how she met Russell Brand at the VMAs. None of these videos are exciting. Not one. Not even the Eminem one; he peaked with “Without Me” and do not try to tell me otherwise. Eminem wins for Not Afraid. And he is apparently gone back to New York so cannot except the award.

By the way, who is that demon gummi bear that is DJing? Anyway, we are at another commercial. Oh, wait – I was wrong about that Onion article. It was actually about Justin Timberlake. Sorry about that – here is the link anyway.

We are back, to that sketch about the “Best New Artist” nominees. Chelsea Handler is making fun of auto tuners. Anyway, Ashley Greene and the Annie Lennox lookalike from 30 Seconds to Mars introduce Florence and the Machine. Hmm…this is interesting. The staging is good, the cinematography is good, the singing is a knockout. The song is also killer; a wonderful variation between the slow, meditative verses and thepunchy refrain. It seems to be a tribute to the Phil Spector wall of sound style, combined with the vocals of Tina Turner and a hint of Paul Simon’s Graceland album with the tribal aesthetic. Also, Celtic Music.   MTV, what is this?  Have you introduced me to an artist that I may actually like? This performance is, so far, the highlight of the VMAs. I am going onto iTunes now to find those songs.

OK, we are back. Ah, the cast of Glee. My old nemesis. We meet again. They are here to introduce “Best Pop Video.” Again, Jane Lynch is the only one who says anything funny; it’s basically a typical Glee episode then. Actually, I remember who I voted for this one: Katy Perry. I am serious. Her video was well thought out and complimented the song quite well. But Lady Gaga wins again. I was saving for her for Video of the Year – that would make it the first time since 1996 that the actual best video of the year won the award. Lady Gaga lets out an Axl Rose scream, and is wearing a different outfit. Jesus, where does she store all of this. She also jokes about the fact MTV censors her videos: “I refuse (to cut them) because WE WERE BORN THIS WAY!”

OK, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson are here to…introduce Taylor Swift, performing her new single. It opens with video footage of last year, with Kanye interrupting her. Oh boy. Of course that was going to happen. Actually, the song seems to be ABOUT Kanye West. As far as I can tell; it’s hard to tell what she is saying. There is a lyric about “everyone believing in you.” Did I ever mention that Country and Hip Hop are my two least favorite genres of music? Well, at least Taylor Swift seems to be able to perform in the genre well. And at least she sings – unlike Kanye West.

OK, now we move onto a short intro about the Video of the Year. Again, I would like to point out VERY FEW of the best videos of the year actually win it. Michael Jackson never won the award. Neither did The Beastie Boys. Neither did Fatboy Slim for “Weapon of Choice.”  Nothing directed by Michel Gondry won, nothing by Spike Jonze won. Nothing by David Fincher won. The list of exclusions is far longer (and more embarrassing) than any list of winners.

In fairness, Beyonce DID deserve it last year.

Back to Chelsea’s sketch about “Best New Artist” nominees. She is talking to that bizarre little man child now (Justin Bieber) about his “wig.” Man, even this guy’s speaking voice is terrible. Anyway, Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Andrew  Garfield come out to introduce Drake and Mary K Blige. OK, this is getting tiring. Can we please bring back Florence and the Machine? Or someone who actually performs music?  With lyrics, rather than just throat utterances and people repeating (not singing) the same sentence over, and over, and over, and over….these performances make me upset for the future of music. I thought we were beyond hip hop – it was petering out as artists became worse and worse. Maybe what we need is another East Coast, West Coast beef – minus the tragic deaths. At this point, I am not even sure the song has lyrics.  It sounds like open mic night, with people getting up there and saying whatever comes to mind. How else do you explain the line “Go, Cinderella, Go Cinderella!” Did you watch the movie with your niece or something before coming to the ceremony? Also – “Fine like a ticket on the dash…” Did you just fail to feed the meter and have your car towed? Florence and the Machine represented the best performance of the night. This was the worst. Sure, the costumes and sets were nice – but when it’s promoting such a bad piece of music, who cares?

Evan Rachel Wood and Joe Manganeillo introduce the technical awards. It is rather rapid fire – Art direction goes to Florence and the Machine. (Actually Florence + The Machine..I have been typing it incorrectly) Lady Gaga picks up an award for choreography. I missed director, sadly. Muse, I think, won an award for Special Effects. Really, I know this is sloppy and I apologize. But this is another problem; these are important awards. Why not let the people come up and accept their awards. It demonstrates a lot of class; that is why the Oscars do it that way.

Now, we are onto the Cast of Jersey Shore. They are in a hot tub. Chelsea thanks them for “dumbing down America.” They then demand she get in the hot tub. She complies.

Sofia Vergara comes to introduce Best Hip Hop Video. It will go to Eminem. Let’s skip the formalities. Also, why do hip hop songs tend to “feature” multiple rappers? Oh, and it did go to Eminem – again, he is not there to accept the award.
Back to the cast of Jersey Shore, joking about how they never clean the hot tub. Chelsea Holmes comes out pregnant – scrambling to find a morning after pill. You know, at least she completed called the cast of Jersey Shore for the anti intellectual scum bags that they are. How is this what entertains America?  I can’t imagine the state of New Jersey being pleased. There is a lot of talk about Kanye West’s performance that is apparently closing the show. I hope it looks like this:

Selena Gomez and Ne Yo come onstage. They are here to introduce Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams and B.O.B. to perform Airplanes. Starts out with an Elton John style – actually quite pleasant, and then B.O.B. comes out. Then Hayley Williams (lead singer of Paramore) comes out. She is a fine singer, but then B.O.B. comes in to ruin it. Look, rappers.  I do not care what you have to do to revitalize your genre. You need it. Go to a vocal coach. Take some music theory. Learn that “speaking” is not the same as “singing.” Do something ; at this point, the performance is downright schizophrenic – actually good in some places, terrible whenever B.O.B. is onstage.

And then La Roux shows up.  It’s actually good to hear someone sing again. We are approximately 20 minutes away from Video of the Year being announced. Stay with me.

The polls are not closed for the Best New Artist Award. Frankly, no one is that exciting. Just please do not let it be Justin Bieber. Humanity, give me some reason to justify my fast dwindling faith in you. We have some winners from the Latin MTV awards. They do mention that that Guns N Roses, Alicia Keys, and Eminem all won in the past. And the winner is…..you people make me sick. At least his speech is short; the less I have to hear him speak or sing, the happier I am.

Linkin Park are up to perform “The Catalyst.” They are performing at the Griffith Observatory. This may actually be another highlight of the show – the staging is well done, the song is actually not bad, and..well, in a show with as many lows as this one has had, I may be overstating the impact of the decent moments. Try imagine sifting through a ton of granite. Every once in a while, you find a bit of feldspar. Worthless on its own, but after all the hard work and tedium, I guarantee what will be seen is a diamond.

And here we are. The Video of the Year Award. Lady Gaga has utterly dominated so far; I see no reason why this will not continue. Anyway, Chelsea announces Cher. Cher. I will repeat that: Cher. This is actually another surprise, having her come out. She jokes about her age, her costume, everything. It is actually quite funny, and a good pick to present the award. And the winner is – Lady Gaga. For what? Cher does not say. But it is apparently Bad Romance, according to the graphics on the screen. And her new record (I am not sure if she means her new single or album title) is called “Born This Way.” She even sings a piece of it.  Sounds interesting. I imagine that will be out sooner rather than later.

Finally, we get to a performance by Kanye West. Aziz Ansari introduces him. He comes out wearing a red suit of some type, fiddling around on a synthesizer. Guess what? The performance is just as bad as all of the other rap performances of the evening. Kanye spends most of his time scowling and walking around, demanding a “toast for the jerk offs who never take work off.” He just rhymed “off” with “off.” Most toasts for “douchebags” and “assholes’ are called for.  Oh, and Kanye, you are not a member of Prodigy. You can step away from the synthesizer. Another rapper comes out. He does something, then Kanye goes back to – well it sounds like he is speaking through a rotating fan. Kanye has created same sort of avant garde form of backmasking – an entire verse is being played backwards. I am sure of it. Then a fireworks display behind him (for no reason), the audience chants “Kanye!” and we are apparently out.

Now, remember how I said that the VMAs were the last remnant of cultural relevancy MTV still possessed. I was wrong. They are apparently failing at that as well. Utterly boring performances (save one), absolutely no surprises in the wins and pathetic presenters (save one). I do not know how MTV can save these.  I still feel, for some reason, that giving out awards to music videos is important. Maybe, in the future, VEVO can stream the ceremony. Maybe they can do more to promote underground artists or emerging artists. Maybe they can not let the public vote on the awards. Maybe they can end their dependence on hip hop music (guess what?  I am not alone in my distaste of the genre; sales of hip hop albums have been declining since 2005, while electropop has become increasingly popular and alternative rock has been making somewhat of a comeback).  The thing is, MTV cannot continue in this fashion. The last thing an awards ceremony needs to be is boring; but MTV somehow managed to accomplish this task.

I guess I can always wait for next years BRIT Awards.

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One Response to A Live Recap of the MTV Video Music Awards

  1. Great recap. Probably a lot more entertaining than the show itself. Also I never understand why the artists get the awards as opposed to the filmmakers – you can a best video performance but actual best video should go to the person behind the camera.

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