2011 VMA’s: Great Start, Terrible Finish

Last night, my roommates, Dan and Fawn, gathered into my room with me and we watched the 2011 Video Music Awards (VMAs) on MTV. This is always a must-see awards show for me. I like to watch it because first of all I am interested in the music and the artists themselves and second of all, I know the show is out there to be edgy and controversial and I like that. With that said, I thought the 2011 VMA’s really jumped the shark big time. Well, I want to give MTV some credit, I thought the first half of the show was pretty good but the second half was an absolute disaster. There are definitely improvements that need to be made.

This year the VMAs went without a host. I think a good host, someone who is really etched into pop culture at the time, helps with the appeal of the show. A talented and funny host for the VMA’s is a good thing because he/she can really let loose and provide outrageous monologues/jokes much more so than he/she could for any other awards show. Chelsea Handler hosted the show last year, Ben Stiller has done it in the past, same with Jack Black. I think someone like Daniel Tosh or maybe that really annoying actress from “Glee” (Susan Slyvester) could have been billed as the host. Did MTV not just have the budget to hire a team of writers for the show? Again, I think an awards show like the VMA’s calls for a host much more than other shows. However, I did enjoy the house artist concept. I thought Jessie J. did a great job singing going into the breaks/coming back to the show and she looked great doing it.

As I mentioned, the first half of the show was pretty good. Gaga opened the show which I hated (I will get to her later) but the other first half performances were not bad. I thought the Jay-Z and Kanye West performance was good. The Pitbull/Ne-Yo performance of “Give Me Everything” was expected but was pretty entertaining despite Pitbull’s ridiculous pants. I am not an Adele fan by any means but I do recognize a good voice when I hear one so she gets a pass from me. My favorite performance came from Chris Brown though. Yes, it was brutal on how obvious it was that he was lip-synching but his dance moves were out of this world. I am not a guy who gets too excited about flashy dance moves but some of the stuff Brown did last night in that opening sequence was down right crazy. I enjoyed watching him pretty much act out his whole performance while also flying in the air. I would definitely christen that a classic VMA performance.

I thought the award winners in the first half were pretty spot on as well. Once Nicki Minaj won best hip-hop video for “Super Bass” I was set though. As many of you know, I have a mild obsession with Minaj and “Super Bass” was by far my favorite song of the summer. It was a given that Katy Perry and Kanye West would win best collaboration and how can you argue with Britney Spears winning best pop video (“Till The World Ends”)? Speaking of Britney, I thought the tribute performance commemorating her lifetime achievement award was awesome. They had people dressed up as Brit from all her different videos as they played cuts from all of her major hits. I thought it was a cool concept and well executed. It sent the first half of the show out with a bang.

Unfortunately, once the second half of the show started, the wheels started to come off. So I know the VMA’s are voted on by the fans so it was a given that Justin Bieber was going to win best male video for “U Smile” but let’s take a moment to recognize the ridiculousness in this. First off, the award is for best VIDEO. How does the video of “U Smile” offer anything remotely interesting/flashy/cool/risky? The whole video is just Bieber playing the piano and singing in a hallway while he courts a girl. Totally basic and cheesy. Not only is the video lame, but the song is too. Bieber has way better songs than “U Smile.” Don’t think I ever took the time to listen to that song the whole way through…if I did I know I would have fallen asleep.

Speaking of winners that left me scratching my head, how about Tyler the Creator winning the award for best new artist? Excuse me, but who is Tyler the Creator? Did he really have a better year than Wiz Khalifa? Never mind the upset, I thought the award should have been taken away from him right after he gave that acceptance speech. Actually, I don’t even know if he delivered an acceptance speech because it was impossible to tell considering half of what he said was censored out. Have a clue dude and show a little bit of class up there. Sure it is the VMA’s but you could have at least used a couple of words in the English dictionary that expressed gratitude over winning the award. Maybe you could have dressed up a little too, the 1980’s called and they want their tye-dye back. But I guess who cares what you wear when you have all the friends that Tyler the Creator does. It seemed like he brought everyone up to the podium with him who lived on the same street he did growing up. I could have done without all the background noise and the flashing of signs, but I guess he wanted to make more of a statement considering the one he was verbally trying to make was pretty much completely blocked out.

Let me get to Lady Gaga real fast before I blast the second half performances. I don’t think I had ever been so annoyed and disturbed in my life as I was when I watched Gaga up on stage or the millions of times MTV cut to her in the seats. Dan, Fawn, and I could barely watch the screen when she was on. Okay, fine, if she wanted to dress/act like that for the opening segment I guess I could have stomached that but she took the whole Joey Caldrone thing way too far. I can’t stress it enough…it was just tough to watch. Gaga at the 2011 VMA’s is going to be one of those deals that will show up in five years on those TV shows that make fun of terrible pop culture moves.

The performances were bad. I am a Beyonce fan and I love “The Best Thing I Never Had” but I was bored by her performance. Didn’t like the song, didn’t get the normal Beyonce vibe that I usually do, and didn’t think she looked as good as usual. Of course that could have been because she was dressed pretty conservatively and because she is now pregnant. Am I the only one who was shocked to find out that when she revealed she was pregnant it broke Twitter records? More people tweeted per second during that moment than when Osama Bin Laden was killed.  That concerns me.

I could have cared less about Bruno Mars’ performance. The whole Amy Winehouse tribute just really did not resonate with me. What a mistake it was giving Russell Brand the opportunity to pay tribute to her. I mean, do people actually associate a shred of credibility/sensitivity with that guy? The whole time he was talking the three of us just talked about how much we hated him.

MTV saved the absolute worst for last though with Lil Wayne’s performance. It  bombed. I have  no idea why you would have someone perform at an awards show when the television audience is not going to have a chance to basically hear one lyric. Watching Lil Wayne strut aimlessly around the stage with his shirt off while all audio was cut for majority of the time was painful. And that was supposed to be the grand finale? I think “embarrassing” is the only way to describe that performance. Viewers deserve better than that. I could have had my TV on mute and gotten the same effect if I had the volume turned up.

MTV did not fully fail at the VMA’s this year. The first half of the show was good. Regrettably, the second half was pathetic. Next year, MTV needs to bring back a host, get performers who will be able to share their music with the television audience, maybe tweak their voting formula so fans (or teenage girls) do not get total control of who wins the awards, and concentrate on putting a full show together that meets basic standards. I am looking for a 2012 VMA’s show where Nicki Minaj cleans house. Don’t Blink.