An awards show might seem like an odd choice of TV fodder to review, but this year’s MTV Video Music Awards was surprisingly noteworthy. Celebrity car-crash Britney Spears has eaten up all the column inches with her opening ‘performance’, but there was more to this showbiz love-in than a ratty hair-weave, as the organisers tinkered liberally with the ceremony’s format.
Usually music awards bashes have some performances, the handing out of the prizes and some sheepish presenters fluffing their lines. These were all present and correct, but where normally there is one stage and one audience, MTV decided to be hip and experimental by introducing numerous stages. And when I say stage what I really mean is hotel suite. Confused? So was I – what was going on?
As the shindig was located at top Las Vegas casino and hotel The Sands, MTV substituted stages for dressed up hotel rooms. They had a main stage where some lucky artists got to perform but they squeezed top name bands like The Foo Fighters and Fall Out Boy into the cramped corners of these hotel rooms and crowded them with fans. The stars in these suites were televised intermittently, with MTV tarting up their concept as exclusive, private celebrity parties. Rapper Kanye West was a bit more mobile, wandering up and down the steps in his particular room but the whole thing seemed a complete mess. The scheme meant that only snatches of songs could be heard before the action returned to the more natural home of the main stage, while camera crews struggled in the restricted confines. Who decided which stars only merited a small, sweaty nook while others got to enjoy the freedom of a more professional performance? This might have sounded like a fantastic new idea when brain-stormed at some executive meeting, but in reality the ceremony lacked the usual cohesion, structure and internal logic of an awards ceremony. But what of the stars – did they enjoy themselves and who won?
US comedienne Sarah Silverman took to the stage after the disappointing Britney and launched a stinging attack on the former pop princess. Considering the ineptitude and absolute unprofessionalism of Miss Spears the criticisms seemed justified, and though Silverman’s patter was patchy and sporadic, her jokes were hilarious. Britney wasn’t the only one to suffer a mention, with 50 Cent and Amy Winehouse (“if she’s not Jewish, someone should tell her face”) also in the firing line.
Umbrella, ella, ella singer Rihanna (pictured right) won the first ever monster single of the year award, while Beyonce (winner of most earth-shattering collaboration with Shakira) gallantly gave her golden curtains a night out in a nasty Grecian inspired frock. Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson sounded out of breath as she presented with personality vacuum Robin Thicke, while other new category, quadruple threat seemed ludicrous. Stars such as Justin Timberlake were nominated for launching a clothing line while others like Bono and Kanye West got the nod for humanitarian work. You decide who makes the more telling contribution to society away from their singing antics.
Speaking of Kanye, the rapper spent the entire night with his trademark silly shades on and comically balanced on his tip-toes when onstage with his much taller rival 50 Cent. You probably would feel quite intimidated when stood next to the ‘In Da Club’ star. 50, or Fiddy to his mates, looked absolutely huge in his smart suit, but clearly a memo had been sent out warning rappers to hulk up for the proceedings. Timbaland was keen to show off his sculpted arms, while winner of the inspiration award, Dr. Dre looked as though he had been working out night and day, though dressed down in a sweaty jumper and jeans.
New US star Chris Brown pretended to be Michael Jackson and mimed atrociously for his set, though P Diddy seemed to enjoy it (though what doesn’t he enjoy? The guy is not fussy.) Justin Timberlake walked off with the best male award and used his acceptance speech to urge MTV to screen more videos: “we don’t want to see the Simpsons on reality television.” Hear hear that man.
Presenter Transformers actor Shia Lebeouf revealed the name of the new Indiana Jones film while Fergie won best female. Busy performing with The Black Eyed Peas, the ‘Duchess’ was unable to accept the award in person and Shia welcomed Fergie collaborator Ludacris to the stage in her absence. Evidently, Ludacris had forgotten that he had agreed to do this, and after some ignored pleas to come collect, Shia decided to walk off with the Moon Man himself.
In their dark, forgotten corner of the world Fall Out Boy won best group and received the prize from a man in a bunny costume (?) Bassist Pete Wentz thanked their fans for voting for the band and like Justin used his moment in the spotlight to communicate his words of wisdom, this time encouraging young music fans to learn how to play instruments. Mmm, a not-so-veiled dig at the likes of Britney? Interesting considering Wentz’s girlfriend is Ashlee Simpson.
Alicia Keys (pictured left) delighted the audience with her crazy hair and skintight outfit, while Jamie Foxx playfully discarded the autocue during his hosting duties with Jennifer Garner. Pamela Anderson wanted to use her script but found herself distracted by ex Tommy Lee scrapping with other ex Kid Rock in the audience.
Gym Class Heroes were fighting for air under an excited mob when their success as the year’s best newcomer was announced. Hidden away with Fall Out Boy, they couldn’t even be reached to receive their award. Rihanna scored again by picking up the biggest award of the night: best video of the year, while Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake (who else?) and Timbaland ended the show. P Diddy invited everyone to his party on the 32nd floor and sad, to say, I had to decline.
The editing back and forth from one set of stars to another had left me exhausted and it must be unanimously agreed that the change in format was a disaster. I hope that MTV get a clue and ditch it quickly. Also – why on a night to honour music videos, did so few of them get a particular mention? Artists were seemingly nominated more for their music than their video. Oh MTV – like Britney you promise so much, but deliver so very little. Must do better.