This just in: MTV still sucks. While this year's VMA's were noticeably devoid of any of the previous years' surprises and gaffes that actually make this snore fest watchable, one thing about the show remained constant: It was still a celebration of artists who believe in their own work almost as much as they believe in their own hype.
From Taylor Swift's performance of “Still an Innocent” which was prefaced by a video recap of her onstage encounter with Kanye West last year, to Lady Gaga breaking down in tears when she accepted the night's top award–which recognized a visual medium even MTV hasn't cared about in more than a decade (at least, not on network television–YouTube is another thing).
During a pre-show red carpet interview, rapper NeYo gushed about pop upstart Nicki Minaj who he said was more than a mere artist and rather someone who has successfully “built a brand.” What this had to do with her talent as a musical performer remained unclear.
While many mainstream artists create aurally accessible, and largely uninspired music geared toward mass consumption, this year's show was painfully lacking in any powerhouse performances which could be compared to last year's duet between Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Worst of all, the show was hosted by the notoriously unfunny Chelsea Handler. Seriously, who did this woman sleep with to get where she is today? But what did I expect? This is MTV we're talking about here. No longer a platform for launching the careers of talented musicians, the programming juggernaut serves as a paid advertiser for roided-out oompa-loompas from New Jersey.
Here's a few of the highlights, or whatever from the evening:
Biggest Robbery: Katy Perry going home empty handed
While I have said in the past that Katy Perry is expert at going for the cheap thrill, the statuesque raven-haired beauty was my guilty pleasure this summer. Hers was the only clip nominated that I watched ad nauseam on YouTube for the past three months. From Snoop Dogg's laid back über cool cameo amid the dazzling candy-land backdrop, to Perry ejaculating whipped cream from her mammaries, this one truly demonstrated the power of video to entice and entertain, on top of which, the song sported the summer's catchiest pop hook.
Artist overshadowed by his own stage production: Usher
This was a real disappointment. Whether you're a fan of hip-hop or not, Usher is actually a marvelous dancer. He's got that whole Jamiroquai meets Michael Jackson smoothness and precision which lends his movements the appearance of a well-oiled dancing robot gliding across a floor. But his performance last night of “OMG” was eclipsed by the garish spectacle of his stage show which included vacillating lasers and flashing lights, not to mention luminescent floor grids reminiscent of the movie Tron. All of which served to distract rather than enhance the performance.
Funniest ad-lib: Katy Perry announcing the award for best male performer along with Nicki Minaj
During the scripted announcement, Minaj robotically mentioned to Perry she had her eye on five guys that evening. Of course Minaj was referring to the nominees for best male video. The winner was Eminem for “Not Afraid.” By this point in the show, Eminem had left the building to catch a plane to New York. Perry was handed the award and in turn handed it to Minaj and said, “Here's one of your five men. Have fun, he's stiff.” This was followed by some awkward laughter and Perry mugging comically for the camera.
Best Performance: Kanye West
The last act of the evening was perhaps the most anticipated. With voice heavily Auto-Tuned, Kanye sang the verse “Let's have a toast for the douchebags/ let's have a toast for the assholes/ let's have a toast for the scumbags/Every one of them that I know.” These words which no doubt referenced the fallout he experienced following his interruption of Taylor Swift's award for best female artist represented the most clever spoofing of Kanye to date.
Grossest Outfit: Lady Gaga
Aaaand the winners are:
Video of the Year Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Best Male Video Eminem – Not Afraid
Best Female Video Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Best New Artist Justin Bieber -f/Ludicrous Baby
Best Hip Hop Video Eminem – Not Afraid
Best Pop Video Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Best Dance Video Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Best Rock Video 30 Seconds To Mars- Kings and Queens
Best Collaboration Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé – Telephone
Best Choreography Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Best Editing Lady Gaga -Bad Romance
Best Art Direction Florence + the Machine -Dog Days Are Over
Best Direction Lady Gaga -Bad Romance
Best Cinematography J-Z and Alicia Keyes- Empire State of Mind
Best Special Effects Muse -Uprising
Breakthrough Video The Black Keys – Tighten Up