20 Questions: 2016 MTV Video Music Awards Review

It’s getting harder and harder to con … um, convince, the wife to watch these award shows with me.

Like all music fans from our generation, we grew up with the Video Music Awards – those moments and performances are indelibly part of our fandom.

But then Grandpa Simpson came with the wisdom:

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So yeah, I realize the VMAs aren’t “for me” anymore. But they’ve been part of who I am for as long as I can remember. It’s hard to let that go.

So despite my better judgement, I keep giving them a chance. Year after year after year.

This year, though, promises more familiar faces and less weird children with strange haircuts. Veteran artists Beyonce, Britney Spears, Kanye West and Rihanna will be the focal points.

But were they enough to keep the show from spiraling into mediocrity?

Don’t get your hopes up.

1. Rihanna opened the show karaoke-ing a handful of her own hits – this child didn’t even bother trying to sync up with her own vocal track. Did that stop Twitter from YASSSSS’n all up in down their timelines and declaring the show officially “slayed?” Of course not.

We were then promised THREE MORE Rihanna performances throughout the show. Joy.

2. Key & Peele served as our hosts throughout the night, playing, um, self-absorbed social media influencers or something? The whole bit fell as flat as Rih Rih’s opening notes. Nicole Byer, who apparently only speaks in caps lock, also served as a VERY LOUD CORRESPONDENT. I’ll pass.

3. Drake’s immortal earworm “Hotline Bling” won the award for Best Hip Hop Video, but were we really supposed to believe he was “stuck in traffic” and couldn’t accept?

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Drizzy’s backstage Pokemon hunting for Charmanders.

4. Look, I’m all for Alicia Keys’ no-makeup campaign. It’s a nice statement. But why does she always look so disheveled, like her alarm clock went off late and she couldn’t finish getting ready for church?

5. Remember the infamous Michael Phelps mean-mug meme from the Olympics? Well, the gold medalist revealed tonight that he was listening to “Stick Talk” in his headphones.

Then he dropped this gem: “There’s no rapper today more inspiring that Future.”

 

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Imma need a moment to process.

6. And speaking of Future, why is it that Twitter had PLENTY of slander for Ariana Grande’s incomprehensible performance with Nicki Minaj earlier in the evening, yet they gave Future’s Boomhauer bars a pass?

7. Y’all ready for Kanye’s State of the Fake Deep Union address?

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One of the night’s biggest draws was that MTV promised to give Kanye 4 minutes to discuss whatever he wanted. What we got was what you’d expect – a bunch of nonsensical rambling about people he admired, with weird shots at Ray J and Amber Rose.

Amber is perpetually unbothered.

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But there was one silver lining to this confusing dark cloud:

8. Has Kanye finally figured out a way to get America to care about Teyana Taylor? Yep, I think so.

Ye introduced his new video, “Fade,” which is basically an excuse for Teyana to run through a half-naked Flashdance routine. I mean, just watch:

I’m a dude and she’s got ME ready to get into the gym to work on my glutes. My lord.

9. And what’s the over/under on mainstream media outlets cluttering up our timelines Monday morning with “Who is new artists Teyana Taylor?” posts, like she hasn’t been releasing music for nearly a decade now?

10. Can we all agree that Rihanna’s second performance of the night was her best of the evening? I mean, it wasn’t great – it sounded like Beanie Man’s dancehall was drowning in Nyquil – but at least it was fun.

11. Was Nick Jonas REALLY out here singing about bacon?

12. I’m far from a card-carrying member of the Beyhive but even the most irrational hater has to admit this: Beyonce is currently the greatest performer on the planet. And her fans know it – why do you think my wife sprinted into the living room like Barry Allen when she heard Beyonce being introduced?

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13. Which song did Beyonce perform, you ask? Oh, she just performed HALF THE LEMONADE ALBUM. From the vulnerability of “Pray You Catch Me” to Bey destroying a camera on “Hold Up,” she went from Martin Luther King to King Magazine and back in one performance.

Yeah, nothing could top that tour de force.

She had time to do all that and STILL tell Blue Ivy to fix her face, like any good and mean momma should.

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“And when we go in these people’s house you BETTA not touch NUTHIN, you hear me!?”

14. MTV: “Hey, Rihanna, you ready to hit the stage again?”

Rih Rih:

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15. Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla Sign won Best Collaboration for “Work From Home.” This was the first time I learned that song existed, so yay for that I guess. But someone tell me why Jaden Smith is running around here Living Single? He looks like Maxine Shaw, attorney at law.

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16. Don’t you feel bad for Britney Spears? You had to know that whoever was following Beyonce was DOA, and that honor went to poor Brit-Brit, who sorta-kinda sang over her pre-recorded vocals while kinda-sorta going through the motions on the dance floor. Britney was like, “look, MTV, imma sing or imma dance. I can’t do both.”

17. Beyonce won Best Female Video award for “Hold Up,” which was presented by four of the “Final Five” Olympians.

But did you see this reaction?

18. The Best New Artist award went to DNCE. Which Sega Saturn fighting game did these guys come from?

19. Rihanna closed the show with yet another medley, including hits like “Stay” and “Diamonds.” The performance was solid but safe, which I’ll take any day over “dumpster fire.” Rih-Rih was still stretching to reach a few of those notes like Mr. Fantastic, though.

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20. And guess who finally showed up to close the show? Drake arrived, after apparently after playing real life Grand Theft Auto, to officially present Rihanna with the Video Vanguard Award, congratulating her on a successful career, detailing their history, then … professing his love to her ….

Playa, you only went five minutes before your inner cornball emerged.

Then Drake tried to kiss her on the lips and got curved.

Didn’t they tell you that she was a savage?

Thanks to Beyonce, this was the very definition of a one-note show – and considering some of these performances, you can take “one note” literally. Still, there were enough highlights sprinkled between the trainwrecks to make it somewhat entertaining.

After all, we’ve been watching this show for the better part of 30 years. Even with your lowlights, MTV, it’s impossible to quit you.

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