Monday, August 26, 2013

RIP, Video Music Awards

Why does MTV insist on these Video Music Awards every August? This isn’t another MTV sucks rant (it does), or why doesn’t MTV play videos thing (I know why they don’t). I’m asking why would a network, that has clearly divorced itself from the music game, exercise this charade of handing over Moon Men for videos when there aren’t videos? MTV does nothing with music the other 364 days. Nothing.

Foolishly, I got excited about the VMAs this year. I got filled up with memories of the Eminem performance at Radio City, Madonna gyrating around the stage in a wedding dress, Guns N Roses rocking “Welcome to the Jungle." U2 was in the audience back then. Bon Jovi strolled the Red Carpet. Kurt Loder covered limo arrivals. It was a music empire’s flagship show. This year it was kids doing bicycle tricks outside the Barclays. Nonstop product placement, Twitter questions from "lucky" 9 yr. olds, via-video "OMGs!!!" for One Direction, then ten minutes later, Cyrus simulating sex in a flesh-colored bikini. It was desperate. It was unwatchable.

Back in the Eminem/Madonna/Axl Rose days, MTV was in bed with music’s biggest stars. 1515 Broadway had major muscle with record execs and managers. You can’t imagine the amount of flesh pressing that happens to get Springsteen on the VMA stage. The tradeoff was simple: You perform and give out awards at our show and we’ll air your videos and promote your products on our channel. We’ll give you a full week on TRL. John Norris will report on your tour dates and CD sales in the News Break. But now . . . As I watched some VJ I never saw before interviewing a 12 year old ten minutes before the Big Show, on an empty Red Carpet, framed by eighth-graders drinking Diet Pepsi, I asked myself: What’s the tradeoff in 2013?

As for the show itself? Soulless. When Selena Gomez is the biggest star in the building, kiss it goodbye. The production was riddled with technical difficulties. Every performance was sophomoric. Kayne West is mentally ill. Stop saying he’s a genius. He’s gibberish. Lady Gaga? Enough already. And how could MTV saddle Robin Thicke, who pumped out the summer’s best song, with Miley Cyrus? The awards are ridiculous. If they'd put the camera on Taylor Swift once more . . . Significant stars from music, movie, and small screen wouldn’t be caught dead at the VMAs. Beyoncé wasn't even there. Beyonce's at everything! She headlined the opening of Gil's Garage in Clifton Park last month.

MTV has nothing to do with music anymore. TNT or USA has as much of a right to put on a music-awards show now. MTV and the VMAs is like LeBron James joining the billiards tour. One has nothing to do with the other. MTV is a young-adult channel with programming (scripted and um unscripted) geared towards people in their late teens and early twenties. That's it. Nickelodeon on steroids. They don’t play music. They don’t report on music. They don’t promote music. Best Video with a Social Message? There are no videos. MTV's not in the music game. That was evident last night in Brooklyn. Why does MTV care? What is their VMA angle at this point? Next-day buzz? I don't see why they roll out the Red Carpet.

A word on Justin Timberlake: His 20-minute performance was epic. Fresh off the LEGENDS Tour, the moves were razor sharp, the stage presence beyond belief. He was the one professional singer/performer in the building. He had 20,000 people on their feet through samples of ten songs. The NSYNC part was totally lame, all reunions are, but wow, JT is the Undisputed Pop King of this generation. I only pray that his powerhouse play was a farewell lap. JT's too big for MTV. And the second he finished his bit, I turned the VMAs right off.

That wasn’t an awards show. That was a funeral.

Watch JT:

Brian Huba

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