9:00: We open with stereotypical Vegas and introductions from MTV’s insufferable VJs. Our first star on the red carpet: the king himself, T.I., looking damn stylish.
9:02: Fall Out Boy gets interviewed, who are going to be hosting one of the four “suites” throughout the hotel where the show will be filmed. Pete Wentz talks about his DJing experience, saying that the two songs that always get the crowd going are Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” Is anyone else as sick of the Journey revival as I am?
9:06: Rihanna is asked about Shia Lebeouf. We get a total non-answer. That means she’s totally doin’ him.
9:11: Lil’ Mama has maybe the worst outfit I’ve seen at an awards show since Bjork and the swan (which was at least funny). She’s dressed like a 16 year-old baby, a purple poofy outfit with a hood and everything.
9:14: Oh god, it’s Nelly Furtado. First off: her hair is a reddish blonde and it looks awful. Secondly, how can she still sound like a 16-year-old girl every time that she opens her mouth? It’s time to start acting your age, not your shoe size. Oh and she thinks Britney can pull off her comeback.
9:21: Mary J. Blige makes it 2 for 2 in the “Britney Comeback” count. She doesn’t pick a side in Kanye/50, though. Cop out.
9:26: Some group I’ve never heard of called “Boys Like Girls” also think Britney can make a comeback. Minutes later, 50 Cent says that he’s expecting the best from Britney.
9:32: We get our token pre-show performance from Nicole Scherzinger with a little help from Lil’ Wayne. Now, here’s the thing: we all know that Scherzinger was the only one of the Pussycat Dolls who could really sing, and that not unlike Beyonce before her, the whole group thing was always just going to be a vehicle for a solo career. But this is no “Crazy in Love” – she’s abandoned the pop hooks that were the Dolls’ signature for a hip hop sound that really doesn’t work for her. It will probably still be a huge success, but it’s pretty lifeless.
9:41: Ludacris has a soundwave buzzed into his haircut. It’s pretty awesome. Luda loves the new Britney record, and Jennifer Hudson wishes her the best as well. Does ANYONE want her to fail?
9:43: Kanye looks great in a James Bond tuxedo. He talks about his hopes for winning video of the year, and I’m reminded about how much I love Kanye’s wholehearted, genuine love for the artifice of the music industry. Speaking of which, he admits that the whole duel with 50 Cent is “purely a marketing scheme on my part.” That gives me a good segue to plug tomorrow’s McNutt Against the Music column all about the 50/Kanye showdown.
9:51: I’m reminded that Panic! At the Disco won best video last year. As if you needed any more proof at the increasing irrelevance of MTV.
10:00: “It’s Britney, bitch.” (Thoughts on Brit and the rest of the show after the fold).
10:03: So the Britney Spears comeback begins and ends in four long, excruciating minutes. Even by her own standards, this is a disaster. Her outfit is basically just a pair of underwear, as boring as it is sleazy. The backing track is the studio recording, so it doesn’t even sound like she’s trying to sing. But the nadir of the whole sordid mess is the performance itself, which lacks anything remotely approaching a spark. Britney barely moves the entire time, clearly out-of-shape and unable to dance like she used to. She looks like she’s trying to be sexy, but she just comes off as really, really tired. It’s like a pale imitation of the real thing, and the real thing was pretty fake to begin with. The dream is over.
10:04: And someone at MTV knows it too. In the most brilliant scheduling decision of the night, they send out Sarah Silverman immediately following the performance to tear down whatever weak artifice of a comeback that Britney had assembled. Congratulating Brit on accomplishing everything she’s going to accomplish in her life before the age of 25 and calling her kids “the most adorable mistakes you’ll ever see,” Silverman turns the washed-up pop star right back into a punchline, like Cinderella’s carriage becoming a pumpkin at midnight.
10:09: So now that we can all stop talking about Britney, we’re going to spend the rest of the night jumping between four different hotel suites where Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland, Fall Out Boy and the Foo Fighters are hosting their own private parties/gigs. We get to check out the action at the first three, and are supposed to hear from Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, but his mic isn’t working. Funny, I find him much more entertaining this way.
10:11: Our first award: Monster Single of the Year. The winner of this brand new award should be Rihanna. And it is. Smartly, they’ve put her table right at the very front of the room, since this might not be the last we see of her. An important lesson out there for anyone hoping to produce an awards show: have a damn podium on stage. Because pop stars like Rihanna look REALLY awkward holding a mic in one hand and their award in the other.
10:15: We also go back to the Kanye Party where he’s rocking “Stronger.” At least, half of “Stronger.” Clearly, we’re not going to be getting many full songs from the four different parties. Very unfortunate.
10:21: Back at the main auditorium, British producer/soul guru Mark Ronson is rocking the house band, adding his signature big-band sound to all sorts of other people’s songs. Mark Ronson remix #1: Akon’s “Smack That.”
10:23: Jennifer Hudson and Robin Thicke (who looks EXACTLY like his father) present the Quadruple Threat of the Year. This is pretty much the worthless category ever. Justin Timberlake wins and bounces around his private party in excitement. At first I think this is just because he’s being goofy, but no: JT is friggin’ HAMMERED. He drunkily challenges MTV to “play more videoooss.” MTV smartly cuts away from Drunk JT to another half-performance from the suite parties: Fall Out Boy rocking the second half of “Thnx Fr the Mmrs.” Performance is decent by their standards, but ends with some pretty poser-iffic instrument smashing. Sorry dudes, wasn’t feeling it.
10:31: The Foo Fighters are plowing through “The Pretender.” Hey, Pat Smear’s playing with them! The band’s former guitarist has been playing with them every now and then during the past couple of years, so perhaps this might become a longer-term thing.
10:33: The showdown: Kanye and 50 Cent come out to present the award for Earth-Shattering Collaboration. They don’t say a single word to one another: they just stare each other down (Kanye on his tiptoes to look Fiddy in the eye). The award goes to Beyonce and Shakira. Blah.
10:36: Mark Ronson remix #2: Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call” with Adam Levine on vocals.
10:41: While TI holds down the fort at the JT/Timba gig, Rosario Dawson introduces Chris Brown to perform. Smartly, MTV realizes that you don’t bring Chris Brown to your show to sing. Instead, you arrange a crazy long dance number that involves tables in the audience, little kids with killer moves and a Rihanna guest appearance (looking stunningly hot). It loses points for Brown once again trotting out his tired Michael Jackson moves, but otherwise it was fun.
10:50: Mark Ronson remix #3: Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.” with some guy rapping. Anyone catch who it was?
10:55: The stars of The Hills (OMG SYNERGY) present the award for Male Artist of the Year. Some tough competition here, but it’s Drunk JT who brings home his second Moon Man of the night. His speech rambles on about how great it is to see young talent like Chris Brown at the VMAs. That’s right folks: Justin Timberlake is now an elder statesmen of popular music. What a strange world we live in. Oh and Drunk JT takes another dig at MTV, telling them to “play more damn videos” and that “we don’t want to see any more of…umm…The Simpsons on reality TV.” I hope he means Joe, Ashley, and Jessica and not Homer, Lisa and Bart.
10:59: We check in with the Foo Fighters who are absolutely killing (in a good way) their cover of Prince’s “Darling Nikki” with Cee-Lo Green on vocals. Don’t worry, Tipper: they didn’t show any of the dirty parts on TV.
10:04: 50 Cent is rapping “Ayo Technology” at the JT/Timba party, perfectly timed with Drunk JT’s return so he can carry the chorus.
11:07: Shia LaBeouf drops a MEGATON exclusive as he reveals the official title for the new Indiana Jones movie: “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” It turns out that the only way to make the MTV Video MUSIC Awards relevant again is to make an exclusive announcement about the title of a huge upcoming MOVIE. Go figure.
11:09: Pam Anderson throws back to Kanye, who gets the first full-song performance from one of the suites, performing “The Good Life” from Graduation. He earns his pay by running all over his two-story suite for the entire song. The highlight? A shout-out to Snakes on a Plane. Never forget.
11:17: Finally we go back to the Fall Out Boy party, where Gym Class Heroes are doing a rap remix of “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s An Arms Race.” I think Kanye’s was better. Oh wow, and here’s the lead singer of Panic! At the Disco to “sing” the chorus. And by “sing” I mean “scream like he just hit puberty.” Wow. One of the worst things I’ve seen all night.
11:18: Timbaland’s at a club called Rain for a performance that’s Megan Fox tells us is going to be huge. What do we get? Just a quick segue into a Linkin Park song. “Bleed it Out” sounds so much like a U2 riff that for a second I think that Timbaland is actually going to introduce The Edge live on stage.
11:23: The Best Group award goes to the gents in Fall Out Boy. Pete’s mic is working this time as an oversized bunny presents him with the award.
11:30: Okay so this is cool – Fall Out Boy serves as the backing band for Rihanna as her and Patrick Stamp share vocals on “Shup Up and Drive.” Tres awesome, but again – we don’t get to see the whole thing. Come on, MTV give us more of the good stuff!
11:33: Nelly introduces Alicia Keys who debuts her new single and wears a really strange headband. The song isn’t bad, but the ballad falls a bit flat with the crowd. Things get better as she meets up with her band behind the curtain and covers George Michael’s “Freedom ’90.” The crowd seems glad to have some actual singing for one of the few times tonight.
11:39: Common visits the Kanye suite and performs some of his sweet new single, “Drive Me Wild.”
11:46: In two short minutes, Jamie Foxx gives us the recap of a fight that took place minutes before between Kid Rock and Tommy Lee (which by all accounts, was completely legit), plugs The Kingdom (twice), shills for Kanye West, pimps his own after party, and shouts out to Diddy. Oh and hands out the fan-voted award for Best New Group to the Gym Class Heroes. Sorry, Peter, Bjorn and John. Democracy failed you.
11:49: My mind is just blown. I don’t know how to respond to this: Miss South Carolina from Teen USA was just on the MTV awards. Yes, HER. Basically making fun of herself (poorly). But the content was irrelevant: all that matters is that someone at MTV was trolling YouTube and decided to put this woman on national television. Again. I can’t wait to see the “Evolution of Dance” guy at the Grammys.
11:53: Mark Ronson Remix #4: “Stop Me,” his cover of The Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before.”
11:55: Mary J. Blige comes out to introduce someone who “changed all the rules” and “the most incredible producer of our time.” She’s referring, of course, to Dr. Dre. Glad to see that MTV hasn’t forgot about Dre. He makes sure to tell us that, “Detox, it’s coming.” As such, I’m also glad to see that Dre hasn’t forgotten about, you know, finishing his album. I’ve been worried for a while.
11:58: Dre is presenting Video of the Year, which for those keeping track at home is the first award of the night that actually has anything to do with music videos. Not coincidentally, it is also the last award of the night. The winner: Rihanna. I CALLED IT. A deserving winner, actually – “Umbrella” is a pretty stunning video.
12:01: And it’s…not over? Diddy tells us that we’ve got one last performance. And it’s a celebration in the honour of the past year’s biggest success story: Timbaland. We start with Nelly Furtado performing “Do It.” Then we move into “The Way I Are” with Keri Hilson dancing on the tables while Tim spins. And in a puff of smoke, out comes Drunk JT with “Lovestoned.” And he’s somehow capable of pulling off a fully functional dance number. That kid is a machine. It all ends with “Give it to Me.”
12:11: Closing time folks. Only 364 more days until the next trainwreck!