Monday, August 26, 2013

“Applause & Roar with a Side of Nasty” – Red Carpet Manners at the VMA’s 30th Anniversary

Huge expectations for the 30th anniversary of MTV’s Video Music Award’s did not disappoint. The two hour plus show (if you include the pre-show), started off with awkward applause, ended with a big roar and in between got more than a little nasty. 

Far away from last year’s venue at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, MTV decided to commemorate the anniversary by going back to their roots relocating to their original hometown of New York, but taking up residence in the popular borough of Brooklyn. The still newish Barclays Center housed the majority of the show, with the exception of the grand finale which was held outside with a backdrop of the famous Brooklyn Bridge. 

The hoopla had been building for weeks with speculation surrounding a Justin Timberlake and ‘NSYNC reunion, a Lady Gaga what will she do next? show opener and a Katy Perry will she give us another anthem? closer that created a competition between the two ladies of pop before the show even hit the airwaves.  Other artists scheduled to perform included the dynamic duo of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thick and Miley Cyrus, as well as rappers Kany√© and Drake.  The highlight of the evening was projected to be Justin Timberlake's acceptance of the special Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award.

The night had me a bit nostalgic for my youth.  I will always remember exactly where I was when I turned on my MTV in August of 1981.  I can picture the early rotation of video performances by artists like Scandal (featuring Patty Smyth), Pat Benatar, J. Geil’s Band, Phil Collins, The Police, and Kate Bush. It was clearly revolutionary, but it was also fun, meaningful and fairly innocent.  Can’t necessarily say that about today’s music videos!  Had I known this evening’s awards show would be sprinkled with commercials touting Trojan condoms and performers strutting thong underwear and using foam fingers to perform lewd acts, I most certainly would've made a greater attempt to keep my girls (9 & 11) out of the viewing area.  

So what exactly stood out for us at the VMA's 2013?  Who were the biggest winners in the upstanding citizen’s category and who went down the less favorable path of total embarrassment and shame?  Take a look at our red carpet manners hits and misses below.  

Not Necessarily Applause Worthy.  After a rather long hiatus, Lady Gaga returned to the world of music and the audience was waiting with baited breath. Slated to open the show, imaginations were running wild with what elaborate costume she would arrive in.  Would it be another beef ensemble or an updated version of the egg-shaped cocoon? Nope. Instead, she appeared in full white nun regalia complete with tunic, pearls, scapular and a tricked-out version of a head veil. What followed was a spectacle that somehow fell short. Her new song “Applause” didn't exactly encourage us to want to perform the act. After a series of nonsensical wig changes, the lowest point was her stripping down to a thong bikini revealing butt cheeks that were neither tight nor appealing, for no apparent reason other than to try to be different and add an element of daring.  

Good Sportswomanship.  "Besties" Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez could teach a seminar on how to be supportive friends.  It doesn't hurt that they are equally talented, driven young ladies with good looks and multiple hit songs to boot, but they do seem to seriously support one another's achievements and that was evident in their hearty congratulations when they each took to the stage to accept their Moonmen awards.  Even when not supporting one another, they were caught on camera with giant smiles dancing enthusiastically from the audience showing unwavering support for their fellow performers.  Nice job girls and appreciated your choice of wardrobe!  Your elegant full-length gowns stood out amongst the sea of gawdy choices.

Most Shameful Performance.  Where in the world did our little Miley go and where were her parents when this genius decision was made? It was just yesterday that she blossomed as the wholesome “Hannah Montana" on the popular Disney channel and now she's Miss Nasty! Listen Miley, you don’t have to go down the road of indecency to transform your image. Although it may seem that gyrating and twerking with Robin Thicke in front of a live audience is good times, there are smarter ways to gain attention and affection. Your best moments were when you were singing about “The Climb” and other inspirational songs.  You are a talented young lady with so much to offer. Call it a momentary lapse of reason and decide to turn it around.  You will thank yourself in the end.

The Hardest Working & Most Well-Liked Man in Music.  I had the privilege of seeing JT along with Jay-Z at the Rose Bowl this summer and he knocked my socks off.  There is nothing this triple-threat talent cannot do!  He is more than deserving of the Vanguard Award he received having been at the top of his game for two decades, both as a member of 'NSYNC as well as a solo artist, delivering hit after hit while managing to maintain a squeaky clean public image.  His record medley in the middle of the show had everyone on their feet dancing from start to finish!  Justin is a role model extraordinaire for every young performer looking to get into the business. The introduction by fellow nice guy, Jimmy Fallon, only proves his likability factor. Listening to his acceptance speech sincerely thanking everyone who supported him over the years from his managers to his video directors, his family and former band mates, shows he is as appreciative and respectful as he is charming.  This guy will be around for a long time.   

Best Social Message.  When I first heard the song “Same Love” I was leaving a funeral for a young boy. I had been crying my eyes out for two hours straight and heard this song upon my exit and it stopped me in my tracks.  Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ song could not be more on point if it tried.  No matter who you are, you cannot help but feel something when you listen to these lyrics.  The words may have been written in support of gay rights, but they resonate for anyone who has experienced social injustice due to sexual preference, race, religion and more.  It is an important step in music that has been embraced by the community at large.  The fact that Macklemore is not an overnight success, but has been working tirelessly on his talent for years, makes his story of achievement even more appealing. 

A Roar of a Performance.  Katy Perry was handed the throne of the final performance of the evening and she lived up to her title.  Taking a cue from Rocky III’s. “Eye of the Tiger,” she roared herself right to the top of the charts and into the hearts of the audience.  Not missing a beat and feeling the adrenaline of the city in front of the Brooklyn Bridge, the message of empowerment and hope for a girl seizing the moment and taking back control of her life was invigorating. When she held up the sign at the end of the song that read, “GAME OVER,” it was clear who was in charge.  Kudos Katy, you've magnificently lifted us up once again! 

In the event you missed the big show, here is a complete list of the winners.

Video of the Year
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Best Male Video
Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Best Female Video
Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Best Pop Video
Selena Gomez, "Come and Get It"
Best Rock Video
Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Up in the Air"
Best Hip Hop Video
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best Song of the Summer
One Direction, "Best Song Ever"
Best Art Direction
Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, "Q.U.E.E.N."
Best Collaboration
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"
Artist To Watch
Austin Mahone, "What About Love"
Best Video with a Social Message
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, "Same Love"
Best Choreography
Bruno Mars, "Treasure"
Best Cinematography
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Best Direction
Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z, "Suit & Tie"
Best Editing
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Best Visual Effects
Capital Cities, "Safe and Sound"