That definitive time of year happened last week, where the biggest pop artists of the year come together to celebrate their work by accepting awards and staging performances. This event always serves as a conversation topic for the late summer season meanwhile previewing the successes of the year to come. Except that the network airing this program no longer plays music videos consistently. The nominations are limited to what was popular in the past 12 months leaving most genres without any attention whatsoever.
Regardless, the MTV Video Music Awards remains a staple of visual music, and although it may have seemed underwhelming to many, there was still plenty to talk about. Below is the important stuff without all the time-filler.
Jessie J as House Performer
One of the most up-and-coming artists in the music scene was Miss Jessie J, whose largest success to date was with B.o.B. in “Price Tag.” But this British babe proved she wasn’t a one-trick pony when she acted as the house performer. Viewers only got to see her in and out of commercial breaks, but what they got to see was golden. Not only did she bust out covers from Cyndi Lauper and Cee-Lo Green while injured, but she out-sang Katy Perry as she performed “Firework” from a chair.
Tyler The Creator Wins Best New Artist
The not-so-underground debut rapper was lucky enough to have been nominated for two awards this year. Somehow he actually took one of the moonmen home. A win for him in the Best New Artist category was a grand upset for the music community, and a sad sigh for his notable celebrity enemy Bruno Mars. But he remained humble about it in his acceptance speech, claiming, “I’m about to cry” between expletives. His mother was shown weeping from the audience.
Beyonce – “Love On Top”
Beyoncé has never really let us down when it comes to live performance. This year was no exception. Though it was atypical of Beyoncé as it was to hold back on theatrics (only a small fleet of dancers and some sequined blazers as costumes), the show was made up for by the power of the song. This girl mastered five key changes in front of millions of people with no sweat. Not only that, but the biggest moment happened at the end of the song. When Lady Be threw down her mic and the end of her performance to bust open her jacket, revealing a very obvious baby bump, it rationalized her words at the beginning when she asked the audience to share “the love growing inside” of her. This kid’s going to have some tall shoes to fill.
Amy Winehouse Tribute
Bruno Mars was the lucky one chosen to represent Amy Winehouse in the year of her death, and he surprised with a performance that did the woman justice. Clad with ’50s-style suits, Bruno and his band brought spunk and retro-classic love to his ode to Amy. The group showed off simple grapevine choreography routine as they chanted “Amy!” against a pop art backdrop of the late Winehouse. The song wasn’t Amy’s to begin with, so it wasn’t the ideal song to choose for her tribute. But, ultimately, the performance was sweet and memorable.
Adele – “Someone Like You”
Nobody knows for sure why Adele sings the chorus of “Someone Like You” with less vocal height as she does on her recording, but the power in her voice is something to never be forgotten. She’s having a fabulous 2011 that’s sure to roll into an incredible 2012 and much of it will have to be credited to her delivery with this performance. This woman’s tranquility and sultryness are received undeniably well with audiences across the nation as well as around the globe.
Justin Bieber Photo Bombs
When the photos popped up of Justin Bieber photo-bombing Katy Perry and Russell Brand from the audience, the images went viral instantly. It was one of the funniest moments of the night that viewers weren’t even able to witness. If you can’t give the dude some credit for his music, maybe haters can cut the Biebs some slack for his sense of humor.
Jay-Z and Kanye West – “Otis”
One of the most anticipated collaborations of the season was given its first live performance. The two rappers joined forces on stage accompanied by an American flag and a lot of swagger for a studded performance of “Otis.” It’s hard to say whether Redding himself would be proud of this act, but it was still a spectacle full of fire.
Lady Gaga – “Yoü and I”
Considering Gaga’s past show-stopping performances and outfits, perhaps the only way for her to outdo herself was to show up in character. The inspiration for the male Gaga, “Jo Calderone” might be left for the viewer to decide, but that didn’t matter because there was still something to talk about at the end of the night. The seven-minute monologue and performance of “Yoü and I” proved Gaga’s talent as an actress and also reminded fans of her ability as a performer. She tore the house down with the pop smash hit.