Last night the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards was underwhelming without a host, and yet it seemed to get the job done anyhow. Lady Gaga opened the show as her male alter ego Jo Calderone. After a dizzying monologue she finally showed off her mega-pipes and belted out a memorable rendition of “You and I” on the piano with assistance from Queen’s Brian May. Kudos must be handed out to Gaga for managing to keep herself in one dress (and personality) for the entire duration of the show. She totally stole the spotlight away from Britney Spears when the pop queen was presented the Michael Jackson Vanguard Award. Other highlights from the night include… Kanye West and Jay-Z performed a low-key version of their Watch The Throne single “Otis” in front of a cheering crowd; Russell Brand’s tribute to Amy Winehouse was heartfelt in all the right ways, Tony Bennett’s prerecorded duet with the late jazz singer was uplifting, and Bruno Mars’ “Valerie” was full of retro flair and fitting to close out the tribute; Adele’s “Someone Like You” performance was only rivaled by Beyonce’s “Love On Top.” During the pre-show Beyonce announced that she is pregnant with first child; rap king Jay-Z is the baby daddy. Immediately following the entrancing performance (you can’t help but get lost in Beyonce’s glowing face and rockin’ bod), she dropped the mic, unbuttoned her shirt and showed off her slight baby bump. Now that’s a way to walk off the stage. Speaking of walking off the stage, that’s exactly what Lil Wayne should have done before opening his mouth to rap (if you even want to call it that). Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Weezy’s music, but man was that a lousy way to close the VMAs. Over the top auto-tune doesn’t work live, especially if you can’t sing and it hurts when your song contains so many expletives that viewers only hear half the lyrics. Chris Brown’s medley didn’t do it for me either; the crooner can move (hell, he can even fly), but I was expecting him to sing a bit and wearing that headset was just redundant.
But I don’t want to wrap things up on such a sour note. Overall, yes, the show was underwhelming (there was no hostful opening monologue, acceptance speeches were kept to a minimum, the telecast was controversy-free), but it worked because for the most part the performances were solid (I’m thinking about Gaga, The Throne, Adele, Bruno Mars, Beyonce) and the show never felt like it was dragging along (expect maybe the part when Jonah Hill proved that he’s not funny when he’s skinny). Kevin Hart could have made a great host; his mini-monologue and commercial break segments were enjoyable. Maybe next year.
And now let’s turn to the night’s big winners. A geometry-influenced Katy Perry took home the coveted Video of the Year award for “Firework.” (I still can’t believe that beat out the Beastie Boys’ “Make Some Noise”; oh well.) She also scooped up Best Collaboration and Best Visual Effects for “E.T.” Kanye West was on hand and kept cool to accept the award with Perry. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” won two awards for Best Female Video and Best Video with a Message. Adele won the most awards (4), but they are all in the technical categories so unfortunately she never made it on stage to make an acceptance speech. Other notable winners include: Tyler, The Creator is Best New Artist, Justin Bieber’s “U Smile” somehow nabbed Best Male Video, Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” was Best Hip-Hop Video, Foo Fighters won Best Rock Video with “Walk”, and “Till the World Ends” gave Britney Spears the award for Best Pop Video. Jump after the break for the full list of winners.
Update: The numbers are in. This year’s Video Music Awards drew 12.4 million total viewers, making it MTV’s most-watched telecast ever. That’s up 8% from last year’s show which attracted 11.4 viewers. See what happens when MTV airs music-related content? Craziness!
With the MTV Video Music Awards airing exactly one month from today, now’s the best time to read up the 2011 nominees list. As revealed in the post title, Katy Perry leads the pack with nine nominations. Perry’s sensational single “E.T.” is up for Best SFX, Best Editing, Best Direction, Best Art Direction, and Best Collaboration (with Kanye West). “Teenage Dream” is up for Best Cinematography, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” might be the Best Female Video, and “Firework” is vying against Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” Beastie Boys’ “Make Some Noise,”Bruno Mars, “Grenade,” and Tyler, The Creator’s “Yonkers” for the coveted Video of the Year. Adele and Kanye West managed to score seven nominations each; “Rolling in the Deep” and “All of the Lights” are fan favorites. West’s “Power” scored two nominations for Best Art Direction and Best SFX. Check out the full breakdown of nominees organized by category after the break. MTV announced that Adele, Lil Wayne, and Chris Brown will perform at the ceremony this year; expect more artists to make the cut before the show airs live on Sunday, August 28 at 9PM.