Because if there’s a more efficient way to randomly comment on the state of pop music, I don’t know it.
7:39 – Okay, I know we’re not starting until 8, but I was just skimming through some of those old VMA liveblogs and found this unsettling paragraph from 2008: “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?” Hindsight McNutt obviously regrets that question.
8:03 – Selena Gomez is the special guest host for the ‘black carpet’ show, but they don’t bring her out yet, so she misses talking to Rick Ross. I’m sure they’d have plenty in common.
8:05 – Wiz Khalifa says he’d love to win Best New Artist because Lady Gaga won it last year. Fun fact: Justin Bieber won it last year. Would this knowledge change his enthusiasm at all?
8:10 – That “going back with George” Wal-Mart commercial is distressingly catchy.
8:11 – Pitbull intrigues me, just because he seems to simultaneously have lots of personality and yet also no personality at all. He’s talking about his controversy with Lindsay Lohan, and he’s still talking like that line in “Give Me Everything” was positive. It’s adorably on-message.
8:13 – Demi Lovato is out, talking her new album coming out next month. Not a single mention about rehab. Hard-hitting MTV journalism as usual.
8:17 – Pre-show performance slot goes to Cobra Starship performing “You Make Me Feel..” It’s no “Good Girls Go Bad”—or “Snakes on a Plane” for that matter—but I’ll give them this: they perform their shamelessly chart-read pop in such a way that I can’t tell when the irony ends and the sincerity begins. In this way, they feel quintessentially 2000s.
8:23 – “That was a long, weird walk I just did” says Seth Rogan, and he’s right; does he really warrant such an entrance? He’s talking about 50/50, and I suppose that cancer talk totally makes sense on a ‘black carpet.’
8:25 – Taylor Lautner is here. If you haven’t seen it yet, the trailer abduction for Abduction is a must-watch: you have John Singleton directing, Sleigh Bells rocking the soundtrack, cool supporting cast like Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina…and then Lautner, who sucks all the energy every time he says or does anything. This could be riveting.
8:26 – Tyler the Creator and OFWGTKA are there! They let them on TV! Tyler says he hates Bruno Mars—”I might kill myself,” he says, if Mars wins—but likes Justin Bieber. He also notes that he’s at the bottom of the list of people getting tweeted about on MTV’s TV tweet screen.
8:32 – I had to zip back my DVR to make sure I heard correctly; they’ve actually come up with a category for “Best Video With a Message.” Don’t ALL videos technically have a message? Namely, “Support this artist financially by purchasing their musical product or otherwise investing in their work?” What about videos with a negative message? Can they get nominated? This is the worst.
8:34 – Bieber sneaking a cheek smooch from Selena Gomez is pretty adorable. Don’t try and admit you think otherwise.
8:35 – Given that her mouth is covered, I’m not actually convinced that’s Nicki Minaj. That could be some serious MF Doom shit right there.
8:37 – The MTV tweet follower dude saying that Tyler the Creator can write a homophobic rap about beating Bruno Mars in Twitter buzz is easily the shoot comment of the night so far.
8:38 – Foster the People, who may well win Best New Artist tonight. I’ll have a bit more to say about “Pumped Up Kicks” as part of an article later this week, but as a preview: it’s boringly acceptable.
8:41 – The Much people providing commentary during the commercial breaks all think that Bieber’s kiss, that I just called “pretty adorable,” was actually “so embarrassing.” I just can’t relate to ANYTHING anymore.
8:43 – Beyonce gets an entrance that is only slightly more grand than Seth Rogan’s. Quick cut to the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl’s comment that they have generally made “pretty crappy videos” seems disingenuous.
8:45 – The cast of Teen Wolf? No. It’s not. The cast of Teen Wolf must contain either Michael J. Fox or Jason Bateman. No deal.
8:52 – LMFAO are still a thing. They did not forget the robot.
8:56 – It’s Britney, bitch. She’s getting one heck of a big tribute tonight, apparently. She seems less robotic than usual. Just slightly.
8:57 – 30 Seconds to Mars. I’ll repeat what I said last year: it’s still weird that Jared Leto has more credibility in music than acting, and he doesn’t have that much credibility in music.
8:58 – Why is Katy Perry Miss VMA 2011? Oh, she’s the most nominated apparently. I enjoy that Russell Brand doesn’t join in on the theme costumes; he looks the same as ever.
9:00 – Game on.
9:01 – The best parts of Gaga’s kinda-boring “You and I” video are the scenes on the piano, when she splits her persona into male/female halves, each incomplete and unable to finish the song’s lines. So it’s great to see her open the show with her male persona, delivering an f-bomb dropping rant against herself. Unfortunately, the crowd’s desire to cheer keeps getting in the way (you kind of wish they’d just let her deliver the material – it’s not exactly comedy, and as such, the whole thing plays awkward). “You and I” remains one of Born This Way‘s highlights, a gem of a country ballad, so it kind of pains me to see her break away from the piano and deliver a dance routine. It reeks of Born This Way‘s fundamental flaw: trying to be something for everyone.
9:06 – Brian May comes out. I suspect he’s the person you call for these things when Slash turns you down.
9:09 – There’s no host this year, so Kevin Hart (?) comes out, but he’s not the host; there is no host, but he proceeds to do this weird rambling talk about not hosting that, um, goes nowhere. He is now throwing out bad jokes that are self-consicously bad…except that Pauly D from Jersey Shore is seen REALLY laughing at one of them. Awkward.
9:12 – ?uestlove just tweeted that Jay-Z and Beyonce are preggers.
9:13 – Nicki Minaj is out with her mask off, so I know THAT is the real one. Jonah Hill is even skinner than Seth Rogan now. They’re presenting Best Pop Video.
9:15 – Britney Spears wins for “Till The World End.” Great track, but video? Really? Which one – the one that got released or the awkward ‘more dancing’ edit?
9:17 – Rick Ross makes a pretty badass painter.
9:18 – I’m guessing this surprise performance will be Jigga and Yeezy.
9:23 – Yep. Otis Redding’s “Try and Little Tenderness” kicks in, transitioning into “Otis.” There’s a TON of fire, fireworks, American flags and this crazy long-ass stage – like airport-hanger long. Both Yeezy and Hov are high energy, making this a fun performance. No shout outs to future babies, though.
9:26 – Miley “I Have Always Loved Rock Music” Cyrus is out with Shawn White to present Best Rock Video, which the Foo Fighters take. I’d say something about how The Black Keys’ “Howling for You” was way better, but hey, the VMAs haven’t been about videos in a long time. Nice to see the Foos actually thank their director, though.
9:29 – Jessie J is still a thing that someone is trying really hard to make happen.
9:34 – I find it hard to believe that Rebecca Black doesn’t know how to dougie. Fun fact: “dougie” is the top quick result that comes up when you try and Google “Teach me how…”
9:36 – So there was just a short dance battle between ‘Beastie Boys of the Future’ (Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Seth Rogan) and Odd Future. That was a real thing that just happened.
9:37 – Nicki Minaj wins Best Hip Hop Video and Tyler the Creator goes yonkers. I’ll leave it to you as to whether “Super Bass” should count as hip hop.
9:44 – Demi Lovato and Chord Overstreet present Best Collaboration Video. Katy Perry and Kayne’s “E.T.” wins, with Yeezy coming out from backstage to join Katy. She makes a joke about letting Kanye interrupt her, Yeezy just smirks. Slightly awkward moment when Kanye shouts-out Lil’ Wayne, Chris Brown and Busta Rhymes, and Perry feels compelled to throw in a shoutout of her own to Nicki Minaj.
9:49 – Pitbull performs “Give Me Everything,” sings the Lindsay Lohan line. Ne-Yo is here too, and I feel like everything I enjoy about this song is entirely his doing.
9:58– Katy Perry has changed clothes. That she’s introducing Adele is my favourite part of this whole show – robo-voice singles artist who can’t sell albums introducing the one artist who’s managed to push records this year (and who, you know, can actually sing). More on Adele later this week, in that same essay I mentioned above, but she sings “Someone Like You” as well as you’d expect. Perfectly acceptable, perfectly performed pop.
10:03 – Super awkward moment as Adele’s still on stage getting cheered while Jessie J starts singing “Firework” as the pre-commercial song.
10:12 – Kim Kardashian is out to present Best Male Video. Justin Bieber wins for “U Smile.” And just when I think that J-Biebs is going hipster faster than an American Apparel fire sale…he opens with, “I want to thank not only God, but Jesus.”
10:14 – Chris Brown launches into a big dance routine for “Yeah x3.” Kanye West is standing watching. And now…um…he’s dancing through other music? Wu-Tang’s “Protect Ya Neck”? Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Then back to his own “Beautiful People”? And now he flies. Of course, he’s not actually singing anything but hey, that’s par for the course with most Brown performances these days: the dancing has always kind of been the point.
10:17 – Yeezy’s standing like “yeah yeah!” and Hov is sitting like “I’m enjoying this beverage.”
10:23 – Now we get the Britney Spears video vanguard award. As you can see from Wikipedia, MTV awards this thing so sporadically that they can’t even keep the name straight.
10:24 – You know, I see a lot of people on Twitter shitting on Gaga for this “Joe” character, but I kind of admire the commitment.
10:26 – You know, most of the people who receive the video vanguard have been, well, vanguards of video. They’ve made significant contributions to the art form. Britney gets credit for a couple of iconic clips—”Baby One More Time,” “Toxic,” maybe “I’m a Slave 4 You”—but, if anything, celebrating her legacy makes for a fitting footnote of the post-music-video multimedia MTV era. After all, it’s there’s something very 21st century about the fact that she’s had more memorable VMA moments than memorable music videos.
10:31 – Not really much celebration/thanks talk, just an awkward bit about whether Britney and “Joe” Gaga were going to kiss. Then we go right into a Beyonce performance of “Love on Top” that is super crazy well sung. Little belly rub at the end that says “I’m preggers” while Yeezy does the whole “I’m gonna be a fake uncle” thing with Hov in the crowd.
10:41 – Selena Gomez and Taylor Lautner perform Best New Artist, which is fan voted. And…Tyler the Creator won? Really? Wow. Huge stage jump by Typer as he runs all over the place like a madman. “I’m excited as fuck right now, yo. I wanted this shit since I was nine.” Nothing too crazy, but Earl does get a shout-out. Swag.
10:43 – So umm…Young the Giant? I’ve only heard this song, like, a few times before, but it’s pretty much as mall indie as you can get. Yawn.
10:46 – Young the Giant make Vampire Weekend seem like Megadeth.
10:56 – Best Female Video presented by the Jersey Shore ladies and, um, Cloris Leachman. Gaga wins for “Born this Way,” hugs Brian May. She’s still in character. Points out that she won “video with a message” earlier, but that all videos have a message. THAT’S WHAT I SAID.
10:58 – We’re about to hit “this show is supposed to be over” time, and there’s still the Amy Winehouse tribute, video of the year, and Weezy to go.
11:09 – Russell Brand describes the first time he met Amy Winehouse and heard her sing. He introduces Tony Bennett, who tells his own story. Bruno Mars now performs “Valerie,” which is as professional as you’d expect from Mars.
11:16 – Featuring The Kills’ “Sour Cherry” in the commercials for Footloose makes it look way more badass than it could ever possibly be.
11:22 – After a short Hunger Games preview, Katie Holmes comes out to present Best Video. Katy Perry’s “Firework”—aka exploding boobs video—wins. Whatever, really. There really wasn’t a gem of a video in the category. Most years there’s at least one video with some visual artistry in it (a “Bad Romance” or an “Umbrella”) but when the year’s biggest song, “Rolling in the Deep,” had a simple, unremarkable video, I suppose this sort of thing happens.
11:23 – Drizzy Drake comes out to introduce Lil’ Wayne to close the show; his Tha Carter IV comes out digitally at midnight. He’s “singing” (air quotes) “How to Love,” which is pretty much autotune. I know Weezy’s been big into autotune for a while, and it works okay on the record, but he’s rather awful at using it live. Thankfully, he switches tracks, rapping “6 Foot 7 Foot” while his backing band cranks the riff from “War Pigs.”
11:27 – PUT. DOWN. THE. GUITAR. WEEZY. …oh wait, he did. And that’s…it? Yep. Fin.