Last year’s MTV awards gave us Drunk JT, a zillion performances cut off after 30 seconds, four lame parties, a whole lot of Rihanna and…umm…I think that’s it. Am I missing anything?
Ready to go again?
This post is being written live, so if you’re reading it in your feed reader or on Facebook, click through to see the whole thing. (All times AST)
9 p.m. – We’re back in L.A. for the first time in 10 years. Apparently there are GPS devices in every celebrity limo so they can track EXACTLY where everyone is on their way to the venue. Creeeeepy.
9:04 – Taylor Swift, of all people, is now a fashion critic. And by critic, I mean swooning over celebrities. T.I. is up on the stage and Taylor describes his look as, “Preppy look with an edge…you are classing up the VMAs!” I bet that look will go over great when he spends his year in prison.
9.07 – Sway, VMA veejay extraordinaire (I guess you can still call them that?) is in a helicopter above the streets of L.A. tracking the celebrities with that GPS. Sway asks Katy Perry to open the sunroof on her limo to prove that this is live. She haggles with her driver and he opens it. THIS IS RIVETING TELEVISION.
9:09 – Tokio Hotel arrive in a gigantic, oversized, Al Gore-raping monster truck.
9:14 – This army of circus performers had best lead to something good…and it’s T-Pain, in honour of his upcoming album Three Rings. Riding on top of an elephant. And the elephant even has its own bling, in the form of a giant cross. Does it get its own vocoder too?
9:19 – Sway is back up in the helicopter, and throws to Chris Brown doing a video blog from his limo. As you might expect, Brown’s limo is disappointingly PG-rated, without a drink or other toxin in sight. Where’s the danger, Chris?
9:23 – Muchmusic’s Leah reports that there’s rumours that Michael and Janet Jackson may be at the VMAs in some fashion. Meanwhile, Sway tracks down Panic at the Disco’s limo and talks with them from his lofty helicopter perch. Turns out that the GPS function isn’t really all that necessary because each limo has the band’s logo on top of them in a big, ugly white sticker. One of the dudes from Panic comes out to wave at Sway. Again, RIVETING TELEVISION.
9:28 – The other rumour flying around – that Eminem may be joining Kanye West to close the show. Which may literally blow the roof off the place.
9:33 – And I get a chance to take a break from liveblogging while one of the teams from America’s Best Dance Crew dance. Nothing to see here, folks, carry on…
9:37 – Sway uses his logo-seeking skills to find the Jonas Brothers limo. True story – they’re actually up for Video of the Year, the show’s most prestigeous award. Their competition? Chris Brown, Britney Spears, the Pussycat Dolls and the Ting Tings. One of them will join the likes of past winners The Cars, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins, Lauryn Hill, Eminem, Outkast, and Green Day. How unbelievably depressing.
9:43 – Christina Aguliera is putting out a greatest hits album? What the hell? The girl is the least prolific pop star on earth – she’s only made three albums in 10 years. Yeesh.
9:46 – Slipknot being interviewed on the red carpet. Yep, that made sense.
9:50 – 10 minutes to showtime. Taylor Swift interviewing a balloon dressed up like Ashlee Simpson…wait, that IS Ashlee Simpson? Holy shit she’s ridiculously preggers – there’s gotta be at least five babies in that belly. (Apparently there’s gossip around that it’s twins. So just two babies, not five.)
9:58 – Benji from Good Charlotte and Paris Hilton end up as the last interview of the night, and they talk about what Britney’s going to be doing. Well…let’s find out…
10:00 – Showtime. We open in Britney’s dressing room with Jonah Hill helping Britney to relax for her big moment tonight…by kissing her. It’s a pretty lame bit, although the shameless Verizon phone plug gets a good chuckle.
10:02 – We follow Britney all the way from her dressing room to the stage. She’s here to celebrate an important birthday – the 25th anniversary of the VMAs. And…that’s it for her. That’s all she says. Thankfully, we get her much superior pop successor – Rihanna, performing her new single “Disturbia” on top of a giant dress/cake/podium/something. I’ll be honest, I usually hate it when pop stars re-releasing a record just to add another couple of singles but this song is kinda great. And it’s even better live with the guitars cranked. But she’s not singing it all that well.
10:07 – …and the band just transitioned into the hook of “Seven Nation Army” during the bridge. Oh Rihanna, you’ve always known the way to my heart…
10:08 – Here comes our host for the night, British comedian Russell Brand. Quite the risk for MTV on this one, given that Brand is still mostly unknown in North America aside from his performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He asks the people of America to elect Barack Obama on behalf of the world…and then makes Bush jokes? Really?
10:12 – So the joke about Bristol Palin’s boyfriend – that being sent to the Republican convention is a great form of birth control – was okay, but then he proceeds to drill it into the ground way past the point of comedy. At least his gag about Michael Jackson’s father was Britishly awkward. I think that this night is going to be pretty close to disastrous for Brand.
10:15 – First presenter of the night is Jamie Foxx. I want him to bring the crazy and he does, pulling out the worst Busta Rhymes impression I’ve ever seen and making an awkward T.I. jail joke (“Don’t shoot me,” he ad-libs afterwards). He eventually gets to the Best Female Video award, which goes to Britney Spears. I kind of want her to tear MTV a new one for dragging her into the ditch last year, but alas, she thanks God instead.
10:25 – Brand introduces Demi Moore to present Best Male Video. She forgets her microphone but the crew brings one out for her. She looks bloody fantastic for 45, that’s for sure. Moore explains that David Bowie won the first ever award in this category. That logically makes Chris Brown, this year’s winner, the next David Bowie.
10:30 – Taylor Swift, who is apparently dating one of the Jonas Brothers, introduces the Jonas Brothers. They’re not in the arena, though – they’re on the Hollywood backlot playing acoustically. Their performance of “Love Bug” is charmingly inoffesnive until they pick up their instruments and rock out and HOLY SHIT THEY JUST LET THE FANS LOOSE MY GOD THE CHAOS THEY ARE TEH NEW BEATLES!!!!!!!!!!!11
10:34 – So apparently the pre-commercial segments this year are going to be the house band (DJ AM and Travis Barker of +44 on drums) performing some VMA classics. This throw is Katy Perry doing “Like a Virgin.”
10:39 – …and Katy Perry is now singing “I Kissed a Girl” with the house band as we come back from commercial, but you can barely hear her over the backing track. Anyways, Brand introduces Michael Phelps who’s wearing headphones for some reason. I think he’s introducing Weezy…
10:41 – …with special guest Leona Lewis. Not on stage with him, however, is a suitable belt. Wayne’s pants are ridiculously low. The censor gets a workout during the first part of the performance, as nearly every five seconds a word is silenced out. Things get a little more fun when T-Pain comes onstage. Kobe Bryant loves it.
10:46 – Lindsay Lohan and Ciara come out to reveal the winner of the dance crew battle earlier that I didn’t pay attention to. They also give an award for Best Dancing in a Video to the Pussycat Dolls for their god awful, tuneless, insufferable monstrosity of a single, “When I Grow Up.” I actually have this theory that the track is an attempt to take the essence of a full-frontal lobotomy with an electric drill and distill it into a pop song.
10:53 – A quick shout out to the So You Think You Can Dance Canada commercials, which while they do feature that same awful song, are pretty friggin’ great to watch.
10:57 – The cast of the upcoming Twilight – which is a phenomenon I somehow entirely missed until earlier this year – come out to talk to Russell Brand and introduce Paramore, who are performing across town at the Whisky. “Nothing is as it seems,” they keep saying. Maybe they’re hinting at something?
10:59 – Confession: I’ve got a huge soft spot for Paramore and their shamelessly simple pop hooks, even if I’d kind of rather hear “That’s What You Get” than “Misery Business.” They still play it well though. And there’s the twist – now the band is actually AT the VMAs. I barely noticed the switcheroo at first – Mark Burnett would be proud.
11:06 – Russell Brand introduces the odd couple of the evening, Slash and Shia LaBoeuf. They’re presenting Best Rock Video which goes to Linkin Park, eliciting a huge laugh from Slash for some reason. True story: I’ve never heard the winning song before, and it sounds like sheer, unadulterated boredom. “Transformers was awesome,” says the guy who isn’t Chester.
11:11 – Miley Cyrus is backstage playing Rock Band 2 with Tokio Hotel and absolutely BUTCHERING “Living on a Prayer.” Pain-inducing. She introduces Pink on the backlot who performs her new track “So What.” In four minutes, she breaks a mirror, slides down a curtain, shoves a man down the subway stairs, throws a statue through a plate glass window, sets off fireworks and lets the backing track do almost all the work during the chorus. It’s a pretty killer chorus, though, and probably the performance of the night.
11:15 – Pink’s wearing this leather vest that’s undone most of the way down and there’s a LOT of boob flashing going on. To the disappointment of all the 14-year-old boys watching, though, she’s got tape over her nipples.
11:21 – Pete Wentz is pain.
11:22 – Slipknot presents Best Hip Hop Video…but there’s an imposter in their ranks – McLovin’! “I’m fucking trashed” he says drunkily, and I don’t think he’s acting. Weezy gets this one for “Lollipop.” He’s got three thank yous – God, family and y’all. Short and sweet.
11:26 – So Russell Brand’s been making jokes about promise rings all night, and Jordin Sparks is having none of it. “Not everyone want to be sluts,” she says before introducing T.I performing on the backlot. Yes, someone is sincerely defending promise rings at the MTV Awards. Abstinence is the new dangerous. Rock and roll is truly suffering.
11:28 – WHAT. THE. HELL. Okay so Rihanna is back, and her and T.I. are now performing “Live Your Life,” a track off of T.I.’s upcoming record, Paper Trail. The shocker is the hook – it’s friggin NUMA NUMA. They actually sampled Numa Numa. Somebody put this down in a studio and said, “let’s keep this on the record.” My god, is this what we’ve come to? This is the postmodern wasteland in which pop music must live and thrive? Kill me now.
11:37 – The cast of High School Musical introduce Christian Aguilera who is giving us a taste of that Greatest Hits record I mentioned earlier. Turns out that it features re-recordings of several of her classics including this electro-dance version of “Genie in a Bottle” that she’s performing right now. It’s a nice riff, but it robs the song of its tune. It doesn’t sound all that different from her new single, “Keeps Gettin’ Better” that she transitions into. And it’s equally tuneless. Is it too much to ask that we have some melody with these great beats?
11:41 – Gotta say that so far this is probably the most boring, uneventful VMAs in history. Here’s hoping there’s a megaton left in the final 20 minutes to make all this almost-kinda-sorta-maybe worth it.
11:43 – Someone from The Hills and someone from Gossip Girl introduce the fan-voted Best New Artist category. All the texts are in and it’s pop punk band de jour / environment haters Tokio Hotel who take home the Moonman. Germany prevails!
11:50 – Paris Hilton is presenting Best Pop Video, which goes to Britney. True story: for all Britney’s association with the MTV Awards, tonight’s two Moonmen are the first two that she’s ever actually won.
11:59 – I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about Kid Rock having one of the summer’s biggest hits and refusing to sell it on iTunes, but alas, it’s been a bit busy in the world of politics. As for the song itself, it’s obviously quite awful but I kind of admire its blatant shamelessness. It’s like, “Yeah I’m going to write new lyrics for “Sweet Home Alabama,” throw in the hook from “Werewolves of London” and sell you back two songs you already own. And you’re all gonna eat it up.”
12:03 – And Lil’ Wayne comes to rap. In theory, this is two of this summer’s biggest phenoms coming together at last. In practice? It’s pretty much a clusterfuck.
12:08 – Come on, just put me out of my misery and give me my Kanye performance, dammit.
12:10 – Kobe Bryant gets to present the last award of the night, the depressing Video of the Year. And it seems that best the art form had to offer this year is apparently an evening-long apology to Britney Spears, as she takes home the award for a video that doesn’t even rank in the top half of her admittedly-weak videography.
12:13 – With a cool little glowing heart on his chest, Kanye West launches into the first ever performance of “Love Lockdown.” And it’s the one truly shocking event of the entire night. Why? Kanye isn’t rapping. I repeat, KANYE ISN’T RAPPING. HE IS SINGING. “Love Lockdown” isn’t a rap song, it’s an R&B pop track with a heartbeat beat, a piano riff and a drum line. But not a single rap verse.
12:18 – The show ends and I still have no idea how to respond to what just happened. I guess the hook was catchy enough, but without any verses the whole thing just repeated itself over and over again. Look, Yeezy, I know people unfairly give you shit for not being as good an MC as, say, Jay-Z, but that doesn’t mean you should STOP rapping. Is this seriously your single? Or did we all just get punked?
12:19 – Pop is dead.