The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards reminded me of why, prior to last year, I had all but abandoned this awards show and MTV in general. Not necessarily because of the often lamented fact that they never show videos anymore, or that the “programming” that they air in place of said videos makes me feel intelligent and superior at best and actually makes me dumber at worse. No, I’m basically just not a fan of most popular artists that are in (relatively) heavy rotation on the channel (or the radio for that matter) since the turn of the century. Once Britney, N'Sync and Eminem took dominance over the station and were soon joined by Alicia Keys, Pink, Christina and Limp Bizkit I had virtually lost interest in popular music as I had once new it.
Not to mention in the last five years I have come to the conclusion that music videos themselves have become a virtually outmoded art form. I had stopped watching them and basically felt that everyone I spoke to on a regular basis had done the same. Also, the decline in industry budgets has put a huge damper on the quality level of videos and whatever middling level of artistry some of the current acts today can muster. That said, the reason I had a renewed interest in the show last year was not only the MJ tribute http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ9tdDQq8Cc featuring none other than Janet herself (surely mending her relationship with the network after that Nipplegate untidiness), and the appearance of one Lady Gaga, who singlehandedly seems to be trying to bring the art form back to relevance. And the 2009 show itself was great. It was nice to see Janet and Madonna be apart of the MJ tribute (they even quietly bonded by both inexplicably wearing Bop-its). Gaga didn’t disappoint with her performance art/melodrama Paparazzi and Beyonce, always a consummate performer, reminded us why the most parodied and played out song of the year, still belongs to her in the end.
As for this year, with a record 13 nominations (and ultimately 8 wins) Gaga was again a big part of the draw for me. You would think that the most nominated artist of the night would be a shoo-in to perform, but alas, Gaga remained a (stunning) red carpet spectacle, yet didn't get to grace the stage. This set the tone for a night of diminishing returns.
Russel Brand was sorely missed as his irreverent, sober, but still the life-of-the-party, antics were replaced with the acerbic to the point of being shrill and bitchy (not in a good way) comedic stylings of Chelsea Handler. She had a couple of funny moments like her auto-tuned meet and greet with Jason Derulo in a skit with the Best New Artist nominees, but for the most part came across as mean-spirited and unfunny. She won some points for FINALLY doing something with her hair, but I hope they don't ask her back next year.
The performances were mostly forgettable which is unfortunate because there was potential for much more. The WAY over-hyped Taylor Swift/Kanye West incident that should've ended last year was unsuccessfully milked by both performers although Swift gets points for making good use of the awesome set in the opening of her number. I'm not sure what was going on with Kanye and the ballet dancers.
I'm not sure if anyone over 21 is ready for Nicki Minaj. I feel like the younger generation is more open to her Tourette's noises, stink faces and outfits that range between dirty south stripper and robot Garbage Pail Kid. That said, I like her and I liked her new single Check It Out with Will-I-am (looking like a black Gumby). Usher seemed to be phoning it in for some reason, trotting out the same tired lasers he's used in umpteen videos and that plexiglass wall thing that I've seen him use to better effect on other award shows. Maybe he wanted to allow his protege Justin Bieber to shine, which he did in a performance that wasn't necessarily innovative, but fun and well executed.
The performance of the night for me though was Florence and the Machine. She used the set well and owned the stage and belted out Dog Days Are Over like nobody's business! I have been told of her awesomeness by friends for months now, but until I saw her live I had not really felt compelled to check her out. And now I'd recommend that anyone reading this does the same... http://www.amazon.com/Lungs/dp/B002F6FQGK/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1284435927&sr=301-1
As for the fashion, of course, it was all over the place, and once again Lady Gaga could be counted on to wear something everyone would be talking about the next day. Yes I'm referring to the meat outfit that she explained on an Ellen appearance http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1647701/20100913/lady_gaga.jhtml
However, my favorite of her gowns was the black leather ball gown. Other standouts were Rihanna channeling Madonna circa 1984. (Loved the dress, but the jury is still out on the Ronald McDonald hair). And I wanted to steal Jared Leto's gray leather jacket he wore when his band 30 Seconds to Mars accepted their award.
Overall, I guess I'm not looking forward to next year, but 365 days is plenty of time for something unexpected and wonderful to happen so who knows. There might be something worth watching for (the return of Amy Winehouse, for example, would be nice), but I won't hold my breath.
Oh and finally for anyone who was wondering. Yes, Cher really can turn back time. Work Bitch!