Are the VMAs Must-See TV?

Spoiler alert – no.

Once upon a time, during a blissful era when Jersey Shore did not exist, the VMAs used to be required viewing.  If you didn’t watch the VMAs, you were bound to miss a pop culture watercooler moment.  In 2002, when I was watching my then-celebrity crush Jimmy Fallon host (he was so pretty), Guns N’ Roses reunited on-stage for what turned out to be a very lackluster performance.  But still.  It was Guns N’ Roses (well, Axl, anyway).  In 2003, Madonna kissed Britney and Christina.  I was in shock.  “Their careers are over,” I muttered. (I was an innocent nineteen. I didn’t know any better.)

As MTV’s focus on actual music has lessened, the quality of their music awards shows has diminished.  It seems as if the shows are scheduled by rote and no effort is made to distinguish the show from the previous year’s rendition.  I guess I watched some of last year’s awards, but I couldn’t tell you what happened or who even hosted.  Last night’s show didn’t even have a host.

After settling on my couch resignedly, I turned to MTV.  Lady Gaga opened the ceremony.  Excuse me, Jo Calderone:

I have to hand it to Lady Gaga – she consistently goes for weird.  This appearance was some sort of performance art piece in which Gaga, guised as “Jo,” launched into this monologue about how weird his ex-lover Lady Gaga is.   I got such bad second-hand embarrassment watching this, because I kept thinking, “JESUS CHRIST, YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF.” Yet I had to give her credit for being ballsy and so committed.  The “WTF” faces from the celebrities in the audience were more entertaining than the monologue. Britney had an expression on her face that had been reserved for her own disastrous VMAs performance in 2007.

The actual performance of “You and I” was really good (no matter what your feelings on Gaga are, you can’t deny that she is incredibly talented), and Brian May just popped out of nowhere to play a solo.  I just realized that a good majority of the VMA’s intended audience probably doesn’t know who Brian May is.  This is very depressing.

Overall, I’m still undecided if the performance art piece was brilliant or horrific.  I think it’s a dilemma Lady Gaga fans consistently find themselves in.

There were some halfhearted attempts at entertainment before the awards for “Best Rock Video.” I think MTV defines “rock” very loosely, considering the nominees in this category.  The nominees were:

Foo Fighters (why else do you think I was watching this trainwreck?)
Cage the Elephant (I love them)
Black Keys
Foster the People (I really like Foster the People, but they’re not rock)
Mumford and Sons.  OH DEAR GOD. 

Can I please rant about Mumford and Sons for a moment? I find that people’s love of Mumford and Sons borders on cultish.  I hear people gushing over them like they are the saviors of music, that they are incredible, and that they “set the stage on fire” when they perform.

To which I say – huh?!

I’m sorry, guys. I tried. I listened to a couple of songs and I could not get past just how much they sucked. Yeah, I said it.   All this hype is much ado about nothing.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy slower music – I really do.  But their music is just monotonous and soporific.  I can appreciate the musicianship of the instrument playing, but that’s about it.  The rest of their stuff does nothing me for, especially the song-writing.  Here’s the opening line from “The Cave.”

It’s empty in the valley of your heart

I mean, come on.  How the fuck am I supposed to take that seriously? And MTV considers this ROCK?! Shitty indie folk pop? Yes.  Rock and roll? Hell to the no.

Luckily, the Foos won and Dave made a speech about how there’s still rock and roll out there if you know where to look.  TELL ME WHERE TO LOOK, DAVE.  I can’t rely on MTV to show me, that’s for sure.  And I know you Foo Fighter haters will think, “How are these ‘Learn to Fly’ guys rock and roll, Jenny?” I used to think the same thing, y’all, until I went to one of their live shows. Trust me, they’re legit.

After that, I tried to watch but the show was just so bad that I switched stations.  I’m disappointed that the VMAs weren’t how they used to be.  But maybe that’s part of being an adult – things will never be as good as your childhood memory.  And maybe I’m sounding like every other generation, but pop music just isn’t as good as it used to be.  Take what I said with a grain of salt, because I know that I feel this way only because of nostalgia.  However, there has to be a ring of truth to it – pop music from when I was a kid may have been corny at times, but Autotune wasn’t prevalent.  I’d take corny and sincere over Autotune any day.

That being said, I’ll probably attempt to watch the VMAs again next year. Old habits die hard.


8 thoughts on “Are the VMAs Must-See TV?

  1. I totally agree with you on Mumford. I can tolerate a couple of their songs, the ones on Sirius’s “Alt Nation” but that’s it. For me, the rest are too slow. That must be why I enjoy FF, CtE, and a little Foster.

    Damn, I wish FF or Soundgarden were opening for Pearl Jam this weekend. It should still be some good bands, I digress.

    I can’t recall watching the VMA’s. Which is probably a good thing. I’ve all but given up on MTV for music. And until recently thought that bands didn’t make videos anymore. I guess I need to look at more Youtube.

    • Ooo, who’s opening up for Pearl Jam this weekend?

      Yeah, I’m depressed at the current state rock is in now. It needs to be revived. It’s sad when a folk band is being considered as rock.

      • I sort of saw the Strokes (we showed up late and had to watch the show from outside). They put on a good show. Queens of the Stone Age is a good band, but have you seen Josh Homme live? I saw him with Them Crooked Vultures, and I don’t think he’s the best vocalist live. I have not heard of any of the other bands.

  2. I get email updates from USA Today about the top five stories of the day and the top five celebrity stories of the day. One of their titles said something about, “No to Gaga, Yes to Britney.” Anyway, I was so confused when I read the article and saw a picture of some dude. Thanks for explaining. I am so over Gaga. I really am over her trying to out weird herself. The persona takes over and screams louder than her music. But hey, I hear Beyonce picked that show to announce her pregnancy on and that rated both of my USA Today updates. I was not sure how they thought that fit under real news stories, but sure, it fit into celebrity news. I agree with you. I think most award shows have gone downhill, many of the ones I used to enjoy.

    • The thing about Gaga’s music is it’s really catchy pop, but I wouldn’t call it *groundbreaking* I think her persona makes the music. I do get tired of her antics at time, but I still respect her for bringing something weird and interesting to the game.

      Lol, Beyonce’s announcement was such an attention-getter. You know she waited on purpose to announce it at the VMAs.

  3. I quit watching the VMAs after high school. Possibly before that.

    And can I just say I’m kind of sick of Lady Gaga using “weirdness” (aka: exploiting controversial issues) for publicity. Just be talented. Talk about yourself when appropriate and don’t use controversial issues just to talk about yourself and your music again. It’s tacky.

    I think Britney summed it up nicely when she turned Lady Gaga’s kiss down… “I already did that.” I feel like Lady Gaga isn’t actually all that original in her shenanigans… Madonna’s done this all before. The sex-controversy-for-publicity type thing. Now it’s just kind of… meh.

    So she dressed in drag… so what?
    Disney’s Mulan did that too.

    I’m gonna have to look up Mumford and Sons. I’ve heard of them. I have no idea what they sing.

    • I have mixed feelings about Gaga (though I’m still a fan). I can appreciate when she does out of the box stuff like this because even though it’s so embarrassing, it’s interesting and adds variety. I do get annoyed when she tries to attach a political meaning to everything she does, or tries to make herself the voice of this generation. Though I got major secondhand embarrassment watching her on Sunday, I can appreciate it as a performance.

      I think the Britney/Gaga interaction was staged. Most of it, anyway.

      Here’s the Mumford and Sons song that was nominated. It reeks of indie pretentiousness to me, but I know some people who love it.

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