The only controversy the show could muster was this year’s snub of Taylor Swift, as if she really cares.
These days, Swift is the artist hipsters loved to hate, because of her feud–if you can call it that–with West, and his abhorrent, publicity seeking wife Kim Kardashian.
All Swift wants is to be left alone. But West, who appears, more than ever, to be under Kim’s influence, saw an opportunity for free publicity and took it to promote his new album.
That, pretty much, says it all about the state of music. It lives and dies by manufactured beefs and publicity stunts.
At this year’s MTV VMAs, Beyonce, of course, was a big winner–again–with eight awards.
She performed five songs from her visual album Lemonade and undeniably stole the show. She was on stage for more than 16 minutes, virtually a mini-concert, according to reports.
But music careers are traditionally measured in dog years. By that score, at 34, she’s an octogenarian.
And, did you notice? Her MTV VMA act this year was exactly the same as her 2014 show–two years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Musicians used to be kids. Now they have kids. Beyonce dragged hers onstage; three cheers for motherhood.
When it comes to new talent, the closest thing MTV could muster for the show was Ariana Grande. The 23-year-old certainly has the vocal chops.
But she’s such a homogenized pop princess, the biggest news about was her decision to add bangs to her trademark ponytail hairdo.
Other recycled acts included Nick Jonas, formerly of the Disney manufactured Jonas Brothers.
Nicki Minaj was the freshest act on the show, even though she’s only a year younger than Beyonce. She debuted her singular rap, hip-hop and urban pop style a mere dozen years ago.
But that’s just about as young as it gets at the MTV VMAs.
Let’s not forget these youngsters, Rihanna and Drake. The provided another thing the MTV VMAs have become famous for–schmaltz.
Drake, wearing a tuxedo, looked like her prom date as they took the stage.
“She’s someone I’ve been in love with her since I was 22 years old,” Drake said. “She’s one of my best friends in the world. All of my adult life I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me (by a whole year).”
He presented her with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Wait, aren’t honorary achievement awards supposed to be presented when someone is in the twilight of their career?
Well, maybe she is. She’s 28 and has been a big star for more than a decade.
It was a touching–and mostly synthetic–moment, especially since Rihanna has repeatedly rejected Drake’s amorous advances over the years.
If she was going to pull the trigger on the relationship, she would have done it long ago. Instead, let’s just go through the motions… again.
Now, contrast that with the 2009 Grammy Awards. Sure Rihanna was savagely beaten by then-boyfriend Chris Brown. But at least their love was young, raw, emotional, and most of all, tragically real.
In the humor department, Jimmy Fallon’s bit as Ryan Lochte, complete with platinum blonde hair, was awkward and off-color. Of all the people worth parodying in this crazy election year, the shamed Olympic swimmer should have been pretty low on the list.
Lochte has been charged with filing a false robbery report during the Rio Olympics, as if Rio doesn’t have enough petty street crime to begin with.
If the swimmer needed an excuse for his night of debauchery, he should have just hung out a little longer and gotten robbed for real.
Fallon’s lame bit played off Lochete’s lying.
At this stage of the game, it’s probably too late to expect MTV to represent the cutting edge in music, if there even is a cutting edge.
The music industry is so decimated by illegal downloading and music so fractured, it’s a wonder any new acts can break through.
The newest act to hit the stage was The Chainsmokers, and they aren’t even a band. They’re EDM DJs Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. They performed “Closer,” their new No. 1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Critics have not been kind. “It’s reminiscent of the Chainsmokers’ entire career to date, which reads as one long con,” writes Chris Molanphy in Slate.
“Either these dudes have uncovered hidden depths as songwriters just this year, or they are gaslighting us with a simulacrum of human feeling. Probably both,” he writes.
Yep, sounds just like the music industry… and the MTV VMAs.
Let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest election coverage.