It is 3:57 AM Frankfurt time. It is almost 24 hours since I began on my journey to the MTV Awards in Germany. In these 24 hours I have established solid friendships, drunk a lot of drink, been in Kim Kardashian’s changing room, consumed three complimentary hotel granny smith apples and been mistaken for a man. Let’s start at the very beginning.
6am 11th November 2012
It is 6am exactly. My Addison Lee has arrived. Obviously there’s only one flight to Frankfurt on a Sunday and it’s early. The streets of London are black and deserted – London does actually sleep. Except I’m awake and so are the workmen on the Westway. Due to the quiet, AddLee and I bomb down Baker Street like it’s a German motorway. This doesn’t happen on any actual German motorway once I get into German country.
So many of the desks in Terminal 5 are for British Airways check-ins. Like almost all of the desks. It’s like a Terminal full of British Airways check-in de… oh yeah.
There is a Harrods in Terminal 5. And there is a Fortnum & Masons. And there is a Bulgari where I could buy a watch in the shape of a snake for £15800. You know, if I was Heidi bloody Klum.
I am on a flight with the music industry. There is a mini inflight egg and tomato croissant on the pull-down tray in front of me but I’m more of a breakfast cereal type of gal.
We are now an hour ahead. Taxi to the hotel Steigenberger/Steegenberger/Schteignburger… my GCSE pronunciation is spot on. Frankfurt looks like the setting for a David Fincher movie soundtracked by Trent Reznor (ie. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). Except rather than there being a courthouse or Scandinavian sex pest on every corner there is a hotel. Frankfurt is the city of hotels. I will later coin it the “Coventry of MittelEurope”.
“The ceremony will probably be held in the equivalent of Germany’s O2 Arena,” we surmise just minutes before meandering past the venue in the taxi. It’s hard to imagine that the biggest pop talent in the world will be inside there in a matter of hours. Mainly because right now the building has all the grandiosity of the council gym in Bethnal Green.
The lovely check-in desk ladies at the hotel are very suspicious of me. I can’t work out why. Is it because my room hasn’t been paid for by the label who flew me out here? Will I now have to pay for the room with all of the Euros I didn’t acquire at Heathrow Airport? Do they think I’m with someone famous, ie MTV EMA Award presenter David Hasselhoff? Or is it just their stern Germanic expression? They put my room key on the counter. It’s for a “Mr Eve Barlow”. Ah right. Herr Barlow in da house.
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There is nothing open in Frankfurt (apart from all the hundreds of hotels in every single building on every one of the streets… and a Thai restaurant). It’s like walking about Liverpool Street on the weekend. The lack of available hangouts suddenly kills my chances dead of standing in a Starbucks queue behind Rihanna. So we decide to hook up with some other British MTV guests and see if we can find a place of interest to occupy our minds for a few hours.
Similarly to Carly Rae Jepsen, I’ve spent my entire pre-Awards afternoon in ‘O’Reilly’s’ – the Irish pub – watching Manchester City and Liverpool matches and being chatted up by an Australian barman.
It’s now time to get ready by reapplying eyeliner while enjoying the novelty of having a TV (I don’t have one at home). It’s a novelty despite the fact that the TV is mostly in German (32 channels) and a little bit in Arabic (3 channels).
We have hooked up with a journalist also staying in our hotel. His name is Jack and he’s just arrived having been flown out by the label on a later flight. There was more than one flight to Frankfurt on a Sunday. And it didn’t require leaving the house at 6am.
We arrive at the venue. It’s just as unassuming inside. A little like Brent Cross shopping centre, except Jedward are downstairs. So a lot like Brent Cross shopping centre, then.
Ten or so pre-mixed vodka, cranberry and limes later and everything feels a lot more… zingy. There is a very hyper German man in the middle of the round stage inside the “arena” urging the MTV fans in the pits to “SCHEISSEEEEE” (or whatever the German word for “SCREAM” is). He must be Germany’s equivalent of Carson Daly circa 1999. Germany on a whole is very MTV circa 1999. Which is why the EMAs – nearly always held in Germany – have felt like 1999 ever since 1999.
There are images on the screens of Psy (of Gangnam Style fame) outside on the red carpet being given the celebrity treatment over genuine celebrities such as Ludacris. People are going wild for Psy. In what universe is this happening?
It’s Heidi bloody Klum – our host for the night dressed in a top hat and cloak like the childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Besides marrying, having babies with and divorcing Seal, she also hasn’t changed since 1999. There is a human being dressed as an ostrich jumping near the front of the stage. The ostrich remains over the course of the next two-and-a-half hours but it’s soon overshadowed by all the “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?” of the entire evening.
“TWO MINUTES TILL WE GO LIVE TO THE PLANETTTTTTTTT” screams German Carson Daly. Enough time for another vodka, cranberry and lime.
SHOWTIME! With every MTV Awards/major pop concert there is always a ridiculous video-led “story” that takes you through the evening. Tonight Heidi Klum is getting ready in her bathroom at breakneck speed – the benefits of being Heidi Klum are that you look like Heidi Klum so needn’t make much effort. But lo and behold, while getting ready so fast Heidi loses an earring. And so we begin the ceremony. (Really, that was the whole “story”).
Rita Ora performs ‘RIP’ on the main stage with some weird Cirque Du Soleil acrobatics circling all around the ‘arena’. The acrobatics mostly involve fire stunts. In fact, generally there’s a lot of fire-related activity on the stage tonight. Rita’s particular fire trick is making it rain fire from the ceiling and then having a (presumably) fireproof umbrella to protect her from the fire. I think, ‘Why don’t you just not have the fire in the first place, Rita?’
Straight after Rita comes the band Fun. – a product (or rather, a discharge) of Glee. The lead singer jumps around like he’s practising at being Bryan Adams in the mirror at home. They are the sort of band who make me pine for Blink-182.
We’ve kind of forgotten that this is an Awards ceremony as immediately after Fun. we pile into a performance by Carly Rae Jepsen. She does the song that will not be named (it’s in your head now anyway, apols) while a flashmob of E-nhanced 27-year-olds acting like teenagers dance around the stage. Carly Rae Jepsen, also 27, does a crowdsurf – an exquisitely well-managed and choreographed crowdsurf nonetheless. Carly Rae is so kreay. You might say she’s… CRae?
Lana Del Rey is onstage presenting for Best Female: “(drones) I’m soooooo happy to be here.” Yes. Ecstatic. So apparently Pink still gets nominated for this. But Taylor Swift wins. I remember when Britney Spears won this award back in the day. Britney Spears.
Alicia Keys is performing. She’s standing up while performing. I suddenly realise that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Alicia Keys stand up before.
In between all the one award that’s happening, 18-year-old French DJ Madeon is entertaining the crowd. He is blowing my mind a bit. How can an 18-year-old who looks like a 12-year-old and has presumably relatively little experience of clubbing know how to do this? Unless they just go clubbing when they’re 11 in France. Part of the egalité/liberté shtick.
Kim Kardashian’s mind is also blown. She nearly trips over walking to the podium to do something Kim Kardashian-y.
No Doubt are still MASSIVE in Europe. Which is nice for them because this song is chronic. Gwen, however, has amazing pins and looks younger than she ever looked. To be honest, she looks younger than I looked aged six.
Apparently some people are going to be representing the MTV British contingent tonight. “Us Geordies are just like you Frankfurters. We LOVE sausages.” It’s Geordie Shore presenting the Best Male Award to Justin Bieber. He’s the only awardee who doesn’t turn up tonight, which is sad for the cast of Geordie Shore.
The Killers perform ‘Runaway’ behind a curtain so they’re obscured from view. This seems to be anathema to the point of MTV and videos.
Another odd thing: the MTV Europe Music Awards is the sort of event where Taylor Swift is nominated for Best Live alongside Muse and Lady Gaga. And wins.
Psy comes out to perform Gangnam Style, which is basically an overcomplicated version of Steps’ ‘5,6,7,8’. He is described by David Hasselhoff as “The KING OF POP”. Countdown to the end of the world starts here.
Heidi Klum comes back to present the Best Look award describing fashion as “the difference between life and death”. Taylor Swift wins, which irks me because I wore plaid shirts and cowboy hats years before her when I was in a school production of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’.
Following a performance by Muse of Prince/Queen hybrid “Madness”, Alicia Keys returns to the stage to do a tribute chat about Whitney Houston. I have a fear that The Hoff will come out and do ‘It’s Not Right But It’s OK’. But instead Ludacris takes the mic to pay his respects: “Wow. Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.”
We immediately come out of mourning to watch Pitbull do the worst performance I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen Scotland play football.
And now The Jonas Brothers are onstage. Are they still a thing?
The Hoff is back to present best video. It goes to ‘Gangnam Style’. It could totally be that Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ or Gaga’s ‘Marry The Night’ are in no way the same league as ‘Gangnam Style’. Or it could just be that Psy is the only person who’s bothered to turn up. Either way, FOR FUCK’S FUCKING SAKE THIS GANGNAM BILE JOKE HAS GONE TOO FAR.
The Awards end with the resolution of the “story”. Heidi is back in the bathroom. She has found her earring. It fell in the toilet.
I’ve lost a few hours. Whoops. I find myself backstage in Kim Kardashian’s dressing room ‘borrowing’ her rider (Popcorn crisp things and vodka). The Hoff walks past. His face tells a thousand stories (but mainly the one where he’s lying on the kitchen floor failing to eat a sandwich and being filmed by his daughter who puts it on YouTube). We go into Fun’s dressing room and I ‘borrow’ a black wig that makes me look exactly (nothing) like Tina Turner. I try and entertain Jedward (WTF are they doing here?) with my Tina Turner impression but it’s a bit lost on them so I go to talk to young Madeon instead. He’s telling me about his favourite producer, Stuart Price. I’m really impressed. I shriek, “OMG HE MADE MADONNA’S BEST ALBUM…” And then in unison we chime “CONFESSIONS ON A DANCEFLOOR” and afterwards we synchronise a high-five. This is me, high-fiving a tee-total 17-year-old over Madonna knowledge. Jesus H Christ.
Outside Madeon’s dressing room is a giant replica of the MTV Award. We take it in turns to have our pictures with the giant MTV Award while simulating depraved sexual acts with it. Jack from Wonderland says: “Tonight people, we shag MTV.”
At the MTV afterparty there’s free pretzels with pots of high quality mustard. There is also a man on a Segway. The Segway has gold rims. This man has actually pimped his Segway.
We’re in a cab on the way to the Jeremiah/Jehova/Jameera/AlJazeera hotel where all the talent are. But first we need a hot dog. I have been bundled into the boot of the car because I’m a vegetarian and won’t require swift access to hot dogs. One pilsner-fuelled discussion philosophising about why the Kardashians are famous later and we’ve stopped at a fastfood outlet that sells only hot dogs. To aid with the wide variety the shop has ranked the selection of hot dogs as a top 5:
5.Chili Cheese Bacon Dog
We are in the bar of the Jameera. Dom Howard from Muse is sat in the corner with a blue light coming out of his mouth. He is smoking an electric cigarette in the company of Pitbull, No Doubt and Rita Ora who he gets his picture taken with. Pitbull is also hanging around Rita Ora like a bad smell. But her time is taken up by socialising with the rest of No Doubt (by “the rest” I mean “all of No Doubt minus Gwen Stefani”… basically Rita Ora is taken up with pretending she’s Gwen Stefani).
Carly Rae Jepsen is in the lobby by herself. I’d call her to hang maybe but I don’t have her number.
One member of No Doubt starts dry humping a man in the bar. They make moves to go. Turns out they’re probably not even staying in this hotel.
We stumbled home at about 4am. I open my eyes to see a black wig poking out of my handbag.
Frankfurt Airport and Lana Del Rey and Conor Maynard are getting on the same flight back to London. I can’t believe Lana Del Rey is travelling with us. As in, I can’t believe Lana Del Rey is travelling economy.
However bad the effects of last night are on my body, they’re nowhere near as rough as the effects of the recession on MTV and the entire music industry. I’m now desperate to be in my safe place. I want to go home then buy and listen to that Taylor Swift song until I feel human again. As for MTV and the future of music, who knows if money and music will ever ever ever get back together.