hough it sounds sort of ridiculous to say, we need the MTV Video Music Awards now more than ever. In case you haven’t noticed, and it’s sort of hard to avoid, the music video art form is basically at an all-time low in relevance—MTV and VH-1 having almost totally phased out music video programming between the hours of 11:00 in the morning and 3:00 at night, and even music video alternative station MTV2 having started to see trickles of demographic-pandering non-video programming infiltrating its normally video-heavy schedule, leaving BET as the last basic cable channel of music video integrity. Though channels like MTV Jams and VH-1 Classic (for the few of us lucky enough to have them) provide us with constant video programming, these channels are poor barometers for a video’s success and poor breeding grounds for new artists (especially the latter, which by definition is retroactive).
Basically, it takes an event like the Video Music Awards to remind most people (none less than the video channel programmers themselves) that music videos are still being made. It necessitates the consistent showing of music videos in the weeks leading up to the awards (during the day and even on the weekends, a disturbingly rare practice) and does what little it can to re-establish the idea of there still being a music video canon, however loose it may be, filled with past legendary winners like The Cars’ “You Might Think,” Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” up to modern-day classics like Missy Elliott’s “Work It” and OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” It’s not a flawless canon-builder—god knows what inspired the powers that be to award the ’01 Moonman to “Lady Marmalade” over “Stan” and “Get Ur Freak On”—but at the moment, it’s the best chance we have of ensuring that the most popular, relevant videos of today are insured some sort of place in history, that they won’t be totally forgotten about. It’s more important than you think.
And if you don’t buy that, which I imagine a large number of people reading this article probably won’t, there’s also the point that the VMAs is perhaps the last remaining award show that attempts to be both relevant and fun. These days the Oscars concern themselves far more with their constant battle with the four-hour mark than with actually making the four hours enjoyable, and the Grammys just want to constantly assert their hypothesis that all music of every sort comes from the same place, resulting in three unbearable hours of awkward duets, interspersed with occasional salutes to overrated dead people. The VMAs, scripted and forced though they may be, are still undeniably fun—with larger than life performances, unpredictable audience reaction shots, no Billy Crystal, no Jack Nicholson, no dead people, and even a good joke or two when you’re least expecting it.
But unlike a complete throwaway award show, MTV still sees itself as an important part of musical history when it comes to the VMAs—which is why you’ll still catch retrospectives of the most notorious and influential moments in the show history every year up until the ceremonies themselves. I didn’t start watching the VMAs myself until ‘96, but I can still cite countless moments of VMA infamy from the 80s and early 90s just as a result of the constant re-airing of these clips. Things like Madonna’s orgasmic “Like a Virgin” performance in her white wedding dress at the ’84 VMAs or Van Halen’s near-reunion at the ’96 awards have become part of pop culture, known even to some non-MTV watchers. It’s a mix of the legitimately contemporary and the legitimately historical that few, if any other award shows are able to manage.
But enough about that, this is the 2005 VMAs, so let’s see what we have on tap for this year. Well, for one, we’ve got the one and only Sean Combs hosting, for one thing, and he’s promised to make it like one of his famous after-parties, loose and fun. He says he’ll be doing away with the forced teleprompter “he’s in a new movie about cars, and she drives a car!” sort of presenter introductions. And the key word of the evening, of course, is “sexy”—this is Miami, after all, and god knows what the man has in store for us. He’s even changed his name for the occasion, as you know if you’ve watched MTV for ten minutes in the last week or so—he’ll be dropping the P. and just be known as “Diddy” from now on. Puff Daddy’s host qualifications are questionable but somewhat intriguing—and just about anything is preferable to last year’s “EVERYONE’s a host!” approach, so I’m willing to approach this with an open mind.
We’ve got performances from a somewhat impressively wide array of a-listers, from rockers Green Day and The Killers to pop superpowers Kelly Clarkson and Mariah Carey and rappers Ludacris and 50 Cent, as well as Shakira, Coldplay, and of course, Kanye West. We’re promised a predictably large list of celebrity presenters, from Shaq to Eva Longoria. We’re even promised performances by Fall Out Boy, Mike Jones, and others, as well as a few new video premieres from My Chemical Romance and Missy, during the pre-show. And for the first time, we’ve even got a background score—composed by, unbelievably enough, Lil Jon and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.
And of course, we’ve got the awards. Green Day leads the pack of nominees with eight, most for their #2 hit “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” followed by Gwen and Missy with six nominations each (for “Hollaback Girl” and “Lose Control,” respectively), and U2 with five nominations for “Vertigo.” “Hollaback Girl” and “Boulevard” are both up for the big kahuna, the best video VMA, and are facing off against Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound,” and Snoop and Pharrell’s “Drop it Like It’s Hot.” Other big nominees are The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” My Chemical Romance’s “Helena,” John Legend’s “Ordinary People” and Ciara’s “1,2 Step”.
So now that we know what to expect, let’s know what we should be hoping for. I’ve outlined ten possible goals, which, in my opinion, would make for a successful, worthwhile VMAs.
01. A comical appearance by Beavis & Butthead:
Yes, those paragons of the 90s are back for the VMAs after a five-year retirement from the channel. Do they still have it? Do the MTV audiences of today still care?
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Pretty good. Those dudes just get better with age—anybody remember them at the MTV 20th Anniversary Bash? “We wasted our lives!”
02. A shut-out for Jennifer Lopez:
Amazingly enough, the has-been’s flop of a video for “Get Right” is nominated for a grand total of four Moonmen. Now, the majority of her nominations are for technical awards, but even winning one of those would be inexcusable—a god-awful clip for a god-awful song.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Very good. Nobody’s going to feel bad about denying her the Best Editing VMA.
03. At least one VMA for Snoop and Pharrell’s “Drop it Like It’s Hot”:
A great continuation in the line of classy B&W; hip-hop videos like Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear” remix and Q-Tip’s “Vivrant Thing,” and probably the best rap video of the last year. Sinister tongue clicks, “Separate Ways”-style keyboard playing, cars tilted on their side, random skateboarders—the video has it all.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Possible—he’s got no shot at the best video VMA, but the best hip-hop video award could fall his way.
04. Kelly Clarkson performing “Since U Been Gone”:
Possibly the song of the year for 2005—I could take her losing to Gwen for her VMA noms, but I gotta hear her belt this one out for her performance over “Behind These Hazel Eyes” or (god forbid) “Because of You.” Bring it on home, Kelly.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Not bad. If I had to guess, I’d bet she’d start with either “Behind These Hazel Eyes” or “Because of You” and segue into SUBG. Let’s hope.
Would Settle For: A performance of BTHE with Kelly wearing her wedding dress from the video.
05. A bizarre indie-meets-mainstream sort of moment:
Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, surfing the crowd in a gigantic plastic bubble, anyone? What. The. Fuck.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Impossible to predict, but it’d really take something to top last year’s.
06. At least one VMA for The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside”:
Sophie Muller turning these awkward frogs of indie rock into new wave princes before our very eyes, there’s no question that this is the video of the year.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Not too good. Even though they’ve got four nominations, most of ‘em are also in categories featuring “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” which is likely to sweep.
Would Settle For:: At any point in the evening, a shout-out to the Farnsworth Bentley of 2005, Eric Roberts (star of both “Mr. Brightside” and Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together”)
07. At least one VMA for My Chemical Romance’s “Helena”:
Plenty of videos in the past have featured undead goth chicks, and plenty have had synchronized dancing, but none have dared to combine the two before this. Between “Helena” and MCR’s other collaboration with director Marc Webb, “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” we have located this decade’s Smashing Pumpkins of music videos.
Likelihood of Actually Happening::Very good—though like The Killers, most of their nominations fall under the Green Day cloak, they should be able to nab the MTV2 award without too much drama.
Would settle for: Fall Out Boy’s fans hitting the polls in record numbers to nab the MTV2 award from MCR.
08. At least one self-consciously epochal VMA moment:
You know the one—the Britney/Madonna/Christina kiss, the Guns n Roses comeback performance, the “Rock meets Rap meets Rock/Rap!” Aerosmith/Run-D.M.C./Kid Rock collaboration—every VMA ceremony needs to have at least one MTV-approved, ostensibly spontaneous but quite obviously scripted moment to ensure that MTV’ll have something new to put into next year’s VMAs Uncensored Ultrasound. It’s tradition, for chrissake.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Take a fucking guess.
09. At least one relatively un-scripted epochal VMA moment:
These can and do happen, people. Rage Against the Machine’s bassist climbing the scaffolding at the ’99 VMAs after losing to Limp Bizkit (I mean, wouldn’t you?), the Beastie Boys storming the stage in lederhosen and claiming to have invented Star Wars, Diana Ross’s infamous Lil’ Kim jiggle, right up to last year’s priceless shot of Bruce Willis and P. Diddy leaning back to the Terror Squad. Necessary for balance’s sake.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Respectable.
10. The denial of the Best Video VMA to Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks”:
The most important of the ten, and also the least likely.
Likelihood of Actually Happening: Not good. The refusal to give Kanye West the VMA this time around, needless to say, would not be taken lightly by the man, and especially after the All Eyez on Kanye special MTV’s been airing non-stop and with the new album pending, with Kanye performing, and with “Jesus” perfectly fitting the mold of the typical Best Video recipient, it doesn’t seem very likely. But damn, would that be ever so fantastic to see.
Would Settle For: Kanye losing everything EXCEPT for Best Video—including every nomination for the K-man directed vids by those boring dudes John Legend and Common.
Now, for some quick predictions and commentary on the nominees:
Video Of The Year
This being their only major nomination, we can more or less rule out Coldplay, as well as Snoop, who’ll probably get thrown the best hip-hop VMA. Gwen's also more of a category winner and for the most part lacks the sort of prestige usually associated with a Best Video winner, so that leaves it down to Kanye or Green Day. I'd say Kanye walks away with this (making up for him getting totally snubbed last year). The Killers or MCR should've gotten a nod here.
Best Male Video
Immediately forget Usher’s secondary and unmemorable hit, John Legend, who wasn't nearly big enough, and Beck, who’s already won twice, and it's pretty much between Kanye and 50. I'll say Kanye.
Best Female Video
Gwen. Mariah and Kelly present a slight challenge, but not really. This is her category, practically a lock.
Best Group Video
Almost definitely going to Green Day. This VMA rarely goes to non-rock groups, and Green Day are definitely going home with at least one major VMA. This is as good as any.
Best Rap Video
Immediately rule out Ludacris’s secondary hit and the not nearly popular enough T.I. I'd love to see them give it to the Ying Yang Twins’ "Wait" but it's probably too polarizing, and hopefully they're not going to give it to Eminem again. Game probably takes here, with the added bonus of throwing a bone to 50.
Best R&B; Video
Alicia's not going to win for "Karma" and probably won't take it for "My Boo" either, Legend could get this on prestige and his already disproportionate amount of nods, but more likely I'd say it's even odds on Ciara and Mariah. I'll say Mariah takes here, Ciara takes dance.
Best Hip-Hop Video
Gotta be Snoop. Common, Nas and Missy all have next-to-zero chances, Kanye could take but seems a bit too weighty for this category, which usually emphasizes the jams.
Best Dance Video
Even odds on Ciara (f/ Missy) and Missy (f/ Ciara) (with DC a possible sleeper since they're breaking up), but "1,2 Step" probably gets it for being bigger and not so recent.
Best Rock Video
This'll be the most interesting one. The only one I can immediately rule out is Foo Fighters (they've had bigger and much better), and I'd say Green Day probably doesn't take both this AND group. This one tends to sway towards the newer vids, so I'll go with MCR taking.
Best Pop Video
Toss-up between Kelly and Gwen. I'll go with Kelly since Gwen's already got Female.
Best New Artist In A Video
Killers take here or probably not at all.
Immediately rule out Akon, Bravery and Daddy Yankee, Mike Jones has a shot but since this category has tended to skew emo, I'd say MCR takes this, with Fall Out Boy the most immediate challenger.
So the actual ceremonies are about to start, Fall Out Boy are performing and they’ve already announced Green Day have won best Group Video, natch. They also announce who won the Best Video Game soundtrack, but I’m not paying close enough attention to the silly award to hear who wins. I’ll find out after the show if you guys really want.
Green Day kick off the proceedings—the biggest band in the world, ten years after what everyone must have thought would be their peak. They perform a properly righteous “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and the crowd loves ‘em. I’d have thought this’d be the perfect opportunity for them to break out new hit “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” especially with the song’s soon to be legendary anti-war video playing in the background. “Setpember,” in case if you haven’t noticed, is the first Event Video to hit MTV in years, and expect it to be a huge feature in next year’s ceremony. Still, “Boulevard” more than suffices here, especially with the smoke and fireworks going on in the background.
Host Diddy is basically given a Messiah’s introduction—I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an introduction like this on an award show. It’s almost fit for the introduction of one of Diddy’s late-90s epic videos (remember “Victory”? Talk about an event video). As a female voice intones “D-I-D-D-Y is your host tonight, please follow his instructions,” the opening bass pounds of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” (????????) start thumping, and Diddy starts commanding the crowd like a preacher, appropriately dressed all in white. “Your dreams have been fulfilled,” he promises. We’ll see.
“It’s so great to see Diddy coming out of his shell,” presenter Lindsay Lohan chimes in. She and Nelly are here to present the awards for best male and female videos (together, for some reason). The hastily announced winners are Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” and Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks.” Kelly looks and sounds like she just can’t believe it, which is both reasonable and likely considering her competition. “I voted for Gwen!” she insists. Gwen, in the audience, bites her lip and flashes a priceless “fuck fuck fuck I KNEW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN WHY DID I BOTHER SHOWING UP” face to the camera. “I guess they wanted to get this out of the way,” Kanye suggests in his acceptance speech. Uh, is that a promise?
YES!!!!!!!!!! Beavis and Butthead advertise for the Viewer’s Choice award. “So maybe this year, instead of voting for Sssssnoop or SHAKIRA you should vote for Big Daddy Butthead (arch eyebrow).” “We’re better than Green Day.”
Goal #1: Satisfied
Ciara and Missy are announced, though unfortunately not to perform. They announce Ludacris and his new DTP protégé Bobby Valentino to perform the disappointingly middling top ten summer jam “Pimpin’ All Over the World”. They rock a live band setting, which doesn’t add much at all. Much of the audience is expectably unimpressed. They segue into a bizarre world-music segment, with lots of drums, dancers and flag-waving. Someone’s shouting in the background, that’s gotta be Fatman Scoop.
P. Diddy insists that he’ll be bringing class to tonight’s proceedings, meaning there’ll be no cursing. He then goes on to detail specifically what words he won’t be using, which are all bleeped out. This is most likely Diddy’s idea of humor, which is not promising. Uh-oh, to prove how anything goes this evening, Diddy’s offering his diamond-encrusted watch to a random audience member. He then tells of a $100k grand prize he’s offering to the best-dressed male and female of the evening—the nominees being Usher, Kanye West, and Snoop for male and Gwen, Eva Longoria and Amerie for women (the last two of which look surprisingly similar). The winner will be decided by mtv.com voting. “Vote or die,” Diddy reminds us. Hahaha, remember how well that turned out the first time?
Now it’s time for Best Rock Video. Come on, not Green Day. Not Green Day. Not Green Day. Not Green Day.
MCR look understandably disappointed. “Good to know rock music still has a place on MTV,” says Billie Joe. A point worth making, I suppose.
Diddy proves how much of a party this is by having Grandmaster Flash on the ones and twos, playing Biggie’s “Hypnotize” and doing the requisite “SOMEBODY SCREEEAM” crowd pleasing/agitating. Diddy is forced to repeat his watch stunt as security has confiscated it from the dude he gave it to, apparently underrating how 4 REAL Diddy is. Some “random” girl calls out for Diddy to show us his moves, which he then does to the instrumental backing of “Atomic Dog.” He is “challenged” by the appearance of Omarion, who is quite obviously twenty times the dancer Diddy is. More random chicks show up and some dude starts shouting “GO DIDDY,” despite the fact that Diddy doesn’t appear to be doing much of anything.
In the audience, Destiny’s Child look understandably confused.
A surprise performance is announced by…MC Hammer? Well, OK, that’s a legitimate surprise. The audience appears similarly perplexed by Hammer’s crunk “U Can’t Touch This,” though Usher is amused as hell. “ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!!!!!” Diddy explains. Touché.
Jessica and Ashlee Simpson show up for the R&B; moonman. They’re both blonde now and look predictably trashy. There’s no way Mariah loses this.
What the fuck? Alicia Keys gets it for her good-but-not-great “Karma.” This is an atrocity—this marks two years in a row for Alicia, both totally undeserved. Worse, this means a shut-out for Mariah, who by almost all definitions had the biggest hit song of the year and had a pretty good video to match. Shameful.
Jessica Alba and the Miami Heat show up to introduce Shakira and Alejandro Sanz. Is she gonna roll around in oil for this one too under the hysterical misconception that doing so is somewhat hot, or is she just gonna work her chest thrusts? Does it matter that this song sorta sucks? Who the hell is Alejandro Sanz anyway? Well, no oil or real chest thrusts to speak of, but I guess it still beats J. Lo and Marc Anthony at the Grammys last year.
Usher gets a Diddy-like entrance, and starts blathering about the history of LA dance. Enter a bunch of LA dancers, at least one of which is a little girl and at least of which is a clown. “CRUNK CLOWN, BREAK IT ON DOWN!” This is surely going to go down as one of the most surreal VMAs in history. The audience applauds very slowly and hesitantly.
Oh, apparently this was a segue into the Best Dance Video VMA. So who to take, Missy and Ciara or Ciara and Missy? Or does the fact that Shakira just performed mean that….Uh-oh.
Phew, Missy & Ciara take. Destiny’s Child seem relieved to not have to take the stage. Where’s Fatman Scoop, though? I’d love to hear him shout his acceptance speech.
FUCK YEEEEAAAHHHH THEY’RE LETTING ERIC ROBERTS INTRODUCE R. KELLY He shamelessly pimps his own son’s album, but whatever, too cool.
Goal #6: Satisfied
Wow, R.’s premiering part six of “Trapped in the Closet”? And he’s acting out all five parts himself? Oh man, the webboards are gonna freak. I guess Kells needs the practice for when he takes it on Broadway. Woah, so I guess this part six doesn’t even feature R.’s Kelly in it? There’s way too much CHUCK SAYS “RUFUS!” RUFUS SAYS “CHUCK!” KATHY SAYS “RUFUS!” RUFUS SAYS “KATHY!” “CHUCK!” “RUFUS!” “RUFUS!” but it’s good to have him back, I guess. I won’t ruin the ending for those of you who missed it, but you’ll be somewhat excited to know this one actually changes the music up a bit.
They show Jeremy Piven talking about Shakira for about two seconds. Awesome, but totally insufficient.
Agh, Diddy’s back to tell us about his etymology. He traces his evolution from Sean Combs to Puffy to Puff Daddy to Kunta Combs to Shanye West to Seandalisa “Diddy” Rice to Diddy. “Yeah, ladies, y’all like that ass, don’t cha” he says about his baby picture. Diddy then introduces Hillary Duff and boy-toy Joel Madden of Good Charlotte (the “Jay and Beyonce” of rock, he says, proving that all of music is now relative to Jay-Z). A thousand Hot Topic shoppers slit their wrists at the sight. They introduce The Killers, who are playing at some place in Miami that isn’t the VMAs (it has a pool, if that helps). I’m a little bit disappointed that they’re not playing the real thing, but it works OK. Brandon Flowers still has no idea how to sing and pose at the same time.
Hahhhahaha, Lil’ Kim and Jeremy Piven. It’s awesome that Entourage has made him enough of a household name for him to show up here. He says of Lil’ Kim, “she’s about to go to the big house for lying, but I gotta say, in Hollywood, if it was a crime to lie, those motherfuckers would be doing twenty to life”. Hah, so she really is going to jail? “And the nominees are,” Kim shouts, without mentioning what the category is.
It’s best Rap video. I’m pretty OK with anyone except Eminem taking here.
Well shit, Ludacris wins. I don’t know anything about the VMAs. I guess nominating him without a win three straight years started wearing at MTV’s conscience. The Ying Yang Twins are too busy dancing and sipping champagne to notice their loss. “IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME,” Luda announces. Usher, giving a solo standing ovation, seems to agree.
Diddy gives random shout-outs to Nelly, Jay-Z, Destiny’s Child, his kids, and Biggie’s mom, before announcing another surprise. Puffy announces that all the lights be turned off, and he starts…conducting. Yes, that’s right, Puffy has got the baton in motion, and he conducts an orchestrated version of Biggie’s “Juicy” and “Warning,” while the video plays in the background. After “Warning” starts, Puffy drops all pretenses of conducting and just starts shaking his baton at various audience members, while Snoop shows up to rap the phone-call part of “Warning.” This is too strange for words.
Common and Johnny Knoxville show up for the MTV2 Award. Knoxville goads Common into doing a little freestyle, and he acquits himself admirably. MCR or Fall Out Boy for this.
Fall Out Boy, following in the proud steps of Yellowcard and Dashboard Confessional, grab it. I’ll accept that. FOB graciously acknowledge that MCR definitely should’ve won, shouting “best band in the world!” It’s sorta touching. The MTV2 Award winners are always the most grateful.
Goal #7: Satisfied
Fat Joe shows up with his requisite CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK spatting. “Tonight, MTV provides a historic moment,” supposedly, by bringing Don Omar, Tego Calderon, and Daddy Yankee. The audience pretends like they care who these people are. “Gasolina” still really heats shit up, though. Joe goes out on a limb with a G-Unit diss, which gets a somewhat mixed reception. They transition from this into Best Hip-Hop Video. Come on, Snoop. Not Kanye. Not Kanye. Not Kanye.
Huh, Missy takes. Cool, I guess (anyone beating Kanye is a plus), but it’s a shame that this probably means “Drop It Like It’s Hot” gets shut out.
Puffy congratulates himself for bringing out the white carpet instead of the red carpet and gives a much delayed shout-out to “the people up-top—without y’all, there’d be none of us down here”. I don’t think he’s talking about God, but it’s sorta hard to be sure. He introduces Pharrell, who claims that next performer Coldplay “takes musical risks, while maintaining their sound.” Uh, whatever. Coldplay proceed to play a song that isn’t “Yellow.” Chris Martin goes frolicking through the audience, daring the crowd to poke him in his armpit. The crowd attempts a mixture of dancing and rocking out, with mixed results.
B5 is brought out for some reason—are people still expecting them to get popular? And Ricky Martin’s back too (with Joss Stone—who keeps letting her in at these things?), looking like that weird mohawked dude from the Black Eyed Peas. They introduce Best Pop Video. So since Kelly took female, does Gwen take here instead?
Nope. Kelly’s two for two. She’s got a different shirt on and she still seems totally perplexed to be winning. In the audience, Gwen grits her teeth.
Oh shit, Alicia Keys and John Legend quote some of the god-awful lyrics from Kanye’s “Diamonds” before introducing K and Jamie Foxx doing “Gold Digger.” Gotta say, they look pretty fuckin’ classy, and Kanye knows how to work a crowd. Fake dollar bills get shot out of a pipe, and the audience fight over ‘em just in case. I’m looking forward to Foxx’s solo career.
Snoop introduces supposed comedian on the rise Dane Cook. Oh my, this guy looks dreadful. Oh my, he is dreadful. The weird mohawked dude from Black Eyed Peas points wags his finger at the camera as if to say “YEAH I TOLD YOU ALL THIS GUY IS FUNNY”. The audience disagrees. So much for this dude’s career.
Best New Artist time. C’mon Killers or MCR, boo John Legend.
THE KILLERS TAKE, HALLELUJAH. Of course there is no bigger curse of an award than the Best New Artist trophy, but I don’t care at the moment. The best video of the year will be walking away with at least one moonman. “I think we just made history, because Snoop Dogg just gave The Killers an award.” Arguable.
GOAL #6: UBER SATISFIED
Diddy introduces the new Bishop Magic Don Juan. I’m not even going to ask. Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg win Diddy’s $100k fashion award, and justly so—props to Gwen for dressing like a human being for the first time in years. Gwen says she plans to donate her winnings to the Orange County Children’s Hospital, quite probably making up the charity’s name on the spot. Enter Eva Longoria in a bikini to introduce Mariah Carey and JD doing “Shake it Off.” Mariah half-sings over her own record, before launching into the “We Belong Together” remix with Jadakiss and Styles P. She’s definitely having an off night, but she’s got enough good graces from her stunning performance at the Movie Awards that it doesn’t really matter.
Diddy violates his own credo by giving a “he’s the king of crunk and she’s the queen of sexy” presenter introduction for Lil’ Jon and Paulina Rubio. They’re presenting the Breakthrough Video award—I can’t remember the last time they actually showed this one being presented. Gorillaz, please? Nah, it’s gotta be Eminem.
WOAH GORILLAZ WIN. Shame they finally win for this one and not “Clint Eastwood.” “I guess they’re not here,” Rubino suggests. No kidding.
Fergie and Will.I.Am, looking predictably ridiculous, introduce 50 Cent. He starts up with “Disco Inferno,” sounding a whole lot better than it did when it was all over radio earlier in the year. Everyone in the audience gets tambourines to replicate DI’s unforgettable tambourine hook (?). He then launches into “Outta Control” with Mobb Deep—probably the first and only time Prodigy and Havoc get to grace the VMAs—before bringing out the most pathetic man in hip-hop, Tony Yayo, for “So Seductive.” God I hope this dude’s album fucking flops. Luckily, “Candy Shop” is not included. They end with an elongated Fat Joe diss, getting at least one “fuck” past the censors. Uh-oh, we’ll be reading about that in the morning. Hope the MTV execs think Yayo’s mumbling was worth it for the flak they’re gonna catch.
Diddy breaks the news: he’s a closet My Chemical Romance fan. Perhaps as consolation for not getting an award tonight, they get to perform (Diddy claims it’s just ‘coz he asked them too), and rip through “Helena,” complete with (hopefully undead) goth girl dancers and lots of umbrellas. “This one’s for you, Grandma!!” shouts lead singer Gerard Way, marking perhaps the first grandmother shout out by a rock band in VMA (music?) history.
Paris and Bow Wow have a bling-off while presenting the Viewer’s Choice award. Of course, as we’ve been sporadically shown for the whole evening, Green Day has been way in the lead, with only MCR approaching at ten percent less. Was the MCR performance indicative of a surprise win, or do Green Day take yet again?
Green Day take yet again. At least it’s for a different song this time. “Man, that is HAWT!!!!!!!!!!!” exclaims Mike Dirnt.
All right, Jamie Foxx and Destiny’s Child, come to present the video of the year award. Could Green Day sweep it from Kanye? Was giving him the best male video enough to pacify the dude? Did MTV finally decide that maybe shots of doves flying out of packs of cocaine wasn’t so symbolic after all? Was the live performance, the new album, the shout-outs from everyone, the fashion nomination, the news special, the pepsi ads, and the self-promotion not enough to get him top honors?
And the answer is…
Apparently not. Green Day go four for four in the major categories and win the Best Video of the Year VMA for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Is it a great video? No. Do they deserve to win? Maybe. Am I glad they won? Hell yes. Watch your back after the show though, guys. If you see a shadowy pink figure approaching with a dude in a stupid cap in tow, cross to the other side of the street.
GOAL #10 = SATISFIED
And if that’s not enough, Kelly Clarkson closes the show with “Since U Been Gone.” She looks more like Avril than I would’ve thought possible, and its great and everyone loves it. Some people protested Kelly being nominated for the pop category and not the rock category, and I think I finally see why—hearing this song live, it’s way more Joan Jett than Jojo. They even work some cowbell in towards the end. Fantastic.
GOAL #4: SATISFIED
“See you at the after party.”
So, basically a success. The majority ten goals were completed--Snoop didn’t win, and I didn’t really notice any self-consciously epochal moments, but aside from that, expectations were pretty much met. I’m pretty sure J. Lo got shut out entirely, though I’ll have to wait for the announcement of the technical awards to be sure, and 50 and Tony’s f-bomb feud with Fat Joe is sure to go down in VMA history as far as unscripted moments go. Surprisingly, the most notable indie-meets-mainstream moments didn’t occur during the show, but during a surreal MTV ad where two girls miseducatedly debate the merits of M.I.A., before resident music snob Jerry corrects them, ending the commercial going “galanggalangalang”. I guess that doesn’t really count, but it was pretty cool.
But did this year’s VMAs really help to re-inforce the cultural relevance of the music video? Well…not incredibly. Only second-long clips of the videos were shown when nominated, and it almost seemed as if the awards given were just stopgaps between the major performances and Diddy’s crazy antics. And of the winners, with the possible exceptions of “Mr. Brightside,” “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” “Number One Spot” and (for better or worse) “Jesus Walks,” the videos themselves were not terribly notable, more just conduits to get the song played on another national medium. Is the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” video really canon-worthy? I don’t think so. Still, there were subtle re-enforcers of the medium’s performance throughout the evening, like MCR’s replication of the “Helena” clip in their performance or the musically utterly irrelevant Eric Roberts’s guest appearance (enjoy it while it lasts, Eric, before your historical relevance is once again relegated to a South Park punchline). Plus, those surprisingly clever “MTV Doesn’t Play Music” ads shown throughout the evening were sort of promising, assuring us “Don’t Believe Everything That You Hear.”
Anything can happen.