The first thing to get out of the way about the MTV Video Music Awards is that they are not about music videos. It’s a night for promotion, performance and controversy. In what world would One Direction win three awards for a video of them frolicking around in the surf in Rock, Cornwall wearing Jack Wills and jumping over a log? Get the idea out of your head that anything of good quality is going to win, sit back, get the popcorn and wait for the pop circus to unfold.
Or not. This year’s show was appallingly tedious. No equivalent to Lady Gaga’s meat dress, the Madonna triptych lesbian kiss, or Kanye West’s “Imma let you finish” stage gatecrash. The only surprise was Green Day playing new song ‘Let Yourself Go’ from ‘!Uno!’ after Billie Joe Armstrong’s hospitalisation over the weekend for severe dehydration and influenza. “It’s hard to sing when you’re puking,” Mike Dirnt had said earlier this week explaining their absence from live gigs, but there was zero projectile vomit (which could have been used here to great effect).
Miley Cyrus came as Pink. Taylor Swift came as your mum (and made stage-diving look as fun as washing up). It was hard to tell if Nicki Minaj was a real person or a cartoon. Still, if you flicked over to the livestream of the Democratic National Convention out of boredom – or you’re planning to watch the show in the UK tonight – here are the three things you need to know about the show.
Simon Cowell’s Bieber-clones cleaned up at the awards last night with Best New Artist, Best Pop Video and Most Share-Worthy Video. Apparently the sound of screaming girls was deafening and even Katy Perry got in on the act, asking if she could be their Mrs Robinson. This is really happening: 1D are the modern-day Beatles (as far as American success, not musical talent, goes).
The Redemption of Chris Brown Continues
The tabloid headline of the VMAs will be Rihanna hugging ex-boyfriend Chris Brown and then tousling his hair. Additionally, Brown won the Best Male Video award for ‘Turn Up The Music’. I’m guessing this means that the US music industry have conveniently forgotten that photograph of Rihanna’s bruised and puffy face after Brown battered, bit her and applied pressure to her carotid arteries.
Hip-hop and R ‘n’ B dominated last night’s show with Drake, ‘Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Frank Ocean and A$AP Rocky taking centre stage. A$AP’s duet with Rihanna was very watchable – particularly because she entered through the mouth of a giant snake – and suggests he might be going down a more commercial, cheesy path. Frank Ocean’s emotional, stripped-down performance of ‘Thinking About You’ was the highlight of the night.
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Music videos are better than ever in 2012 thanks to creative opportunities afforded by technology. M.I.A’s ‘Bad Girls’, Grimes ‘Oblivion’, Benga’s ‘I Will Never Change’ and Chairlift’s interactive ‘Met Before’ are a zillion times more inventive than VMA winner ‘We Found Love’ from Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris (although the chundering ribbons bit is clever). For anyone who spent their childhood and teenage years watching MTV, MTV Base, Flava etc, ingesting video after video after video, last night’s results will be disappointing. Next year, the VMAs need to step up its game. I want to see Seal dressed as a seal performing with ten seals, Skrillex jousting with Dave Grohl and Gaga in a swimming pool of oysters.
Stupidest song title of the night? Taylor Swift – ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’.
Humble brag of the night? Amber Rose – “I’m hot and my feet hurt but I look gorgeous’.
Ridiculous celebrity child name of the night? Swizz Beatz has a son called Egypt.
Full list of VMA 2012 winners
Video of the year: Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris, ‘We Found Love’
Best pop video: One Direction, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’
Best new artist: One Direction, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’
Best female video: Nicki Minaj, ‘Starships’
Best male video: Chris Brown, ‘Turn Up The Music’
Best hip-hop video: Drake featuring Lil Wayne, ‘HYFR’
Best video with a message: Demi Lovato, ‘Skyscraper’
Best electronic dance music video: Calvin Harris, ‘Feel So Close’
Most share-worthy video: One Direction, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’
Best rock video: Coldplay, ‘Paradise’
Best direction: MIA, ‘Bad Girls’
Best art direction: Katy Perry, ‘Wide Awake’
Best choreography: Chris Brown, ‘Turn Up the Music’
Best editing: Beyonce, ‘Countdown’
Best visual effects: Skrillex, ‘First Of The Year (Equinox)’
Best cinematography: MIA, ‘Bad Girls’