Monday, August 29, 2011

Who Runs the World? Girls: VMAs 2011

I don't actually care about the VMAs. For one, it's an award bestowed to the best in music videos by a network that barely even plays music videos anymore. This is compounded by the fact that the winners are selected by MTV viewers, a group that, as the network's own Teen Mom and 16 & Pregnant have shown, is remarkable for making good decisions. The ceremony itself is more about performances than it is for awards, so let's treat it the same way here and talk about who did what.

I've discussed Lady Gaga here before, and there was no doubt that whatever she did last night would be polarizing. And so she opened the show, doing a strange greaser impression before ripping into "You & I," complete with Queen's Brian May. While the performance could have been tighter (losing the dancers would have helped), it was still fantastic, proof that Gaga can rock and hopefully pushing Born This Way's best track further up the pop charts. Gaga does have this problem, which became very evident last night: she can't really surprise us anymore live since we expect it. A female performer dressing as a man wasn't even all that surprising 50 years ago, much less so today.


Kanye West & Jay-Z's performance of "Otis" was a fun bit, but ultimately it didn't give us anything new. They like hanging out together, so, good for them.

Adele, on the other hand, gave us exactly what we would have expected: a stark, raw performance of her new single "Someone Like You." I'm really glad she didn't do "Rolling in the Deep," because that would have been too easy, and it gave the audience an idea of how truly powerful her voice is. I really hope "Someone Like You" takes off after last night: I'd hate to see such real talent be reduced to a trendy one-hit wonder.

Beyonce performed as well, but more importantly, she's pregnant, which has already postponed work on that unnecessary A Star is Born remake. And everyone's made Destiny's Child jokes. Hardy-har-har. But "Love on Top" was a soulful blast.

I missed the Britney Spears tribute (really?). The other tribute, to Amy Winehouse, was a well-meaning failure. It's not that "Valerie" isn't a great song, it's just that Bruno Mars wasn't really the right choice for such a performance. Obviously Adele was the best choice, but of course she couldn't do it. But was Joss Stone not available?

Chris Brown isn't a very good singer, actor, or human being, but the man can dance, and I'm glad his performance highlighted that fact.


I vaguely remember Pitbull being there too.

And then, finally, there was Lil Wayne, who's spirited performance was enjoyable and, more importantly, signaled the release of Tha Carter IV (finally!).

Overall, it just wasn't a terribly exciting show. And it was very awkward the way Jessie J, the broken-footed house band, had advertisements thrown over her during the transitions. But at least MTV realized that there was no reason to pretend that they needed an MC, though Kevin Hart more or less did that job anyway.

As for the winners, it's pretty much what you'd expect. Notable, however, is that women ruled the night, as a female artist took home 11 of 15 Moonmen. Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" video, like a blockbuster epic at the Oscars, took home the most trophies with three, all of which were technicals that weren't open to public voting. Katy Perry received three awards as well, including Video of the Year, and Lady Gaga nabbed two awards. You can see the full list of winners below.

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
"Firework," Katy Perry


BEST FEMALE VIDEO
"Born This Way," Lady Gaga


BEST MALE VIDEO
"U Smile," Justin Bieber


BEST HIP HOP VIDEO
"Super Bass," Nicki Minaj


BEST POP VIDEO
"Till the World Ends," Britney Spears


BEST ROCK VIDEO
"Walk," Foo Fighters


BEST COLLABORATION
"E.T.," Katy Perry feat. Kanye West


BEST ART DIRECTION
"Rolling in the Deep," Adele


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY
"Run the World (Girls)," Beyonce


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
"Rolling in the Deep," Adele


BEST DIRECTION
"Make Some Noise," Beastie Boys


BEST EDITING
"Rolling in the Deep," Adele


BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS
"E.T.," Katy Perry feat. Kanye West


BEST VIDEO WITH A MESSAGE
"Born This Way," Lady Gaga

2 comments:

Jose said...

I'm thrilled that Brit is finally racking up on the VMA count but it would've been nice if she'd won back when she was doing her best video work. Toxic losing still baffles me!

Jason H. said...

Agreed on Toxic! Easily her best video and song. I'm not much of Brit-Brit fan otherwise, but I am glad to see her succeed after the mid-'00s fiascos.