If you, like most people on my various social media feeds, spent last night watching the 80-something minute long “Game of Thrones” season finale then you likely missed this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. In a pretty bad PR move on their part, MTV aired the VMAs largely against “Game of Thrones.” Come on, MTV, even “Power” knew better than that.
To be honest though, you didn’t miss much in the world of music videos and the people who make them. The show overall was a little bland, although anything was bound to disappoint after last year’s non-stop Beyonce-Rihanna concert where they also gave some people some awards. As a host, Katy Perry kind of felt like the older person in the room trying to make cool with the kids and mostly failing. An early reference to “The Handmaid’s Tale” fell on deaf ears (shout out to MTV for the hilarious shot of a confused Fifth Harmony trying to make sense of it) as did a fidget spinner joke. The worst bit, an extended take on the failed Fyre Festival, felt like it would have only worked if it had been done in the five minutes immediately following that fiasco, not months later when people have clearly moved on.
While a VMAs host can really be a mixed bag in terms of quality, that can be let go if the performances are all exciting and elaborate. Unfortunately for last night, they really weren’t. While Kendrick Lamar opened the show with a performance that was literally fire, most of the other performances barely lit a spark. Ed Sheeran and Lil Uzi Vert had a super weird mash-up performance that felt more like something you’d get in the sixth hour of the Grammys, Fifth Harmony (presumably after googling “The Handmaid’s Tale”) threw some obvious shade at their recently departed former group member and Lorde, reportedly recovering from a bout with the flu, decided to dance her little heart out instead of singing. There were many more performances in addition to those, but they were largely forgettable and in some cases even cut short so MTV could go to a commercial break.
The show thrived the most when it fed into its newfound woke-ness. Appearances from a descendant of Robert E. Lee (who, for the record, was in supported of statues of his relative being removed) and the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman who was tragically killed in Charlottesville several weeks ago, were truly moving, as was Pink’s directed at her daughter Video Vanguard acceptance speech and a performance of a song focused on mental illness by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid. As for the decision to nix the male and female specific categories for a combined Artist of the Year award, that was won by a man, Ed Sheeran, as were 10 of the 15 awards given out, so take from that what you will. (To be fair though, Kendrick Lamar deserves every VMA he won last night for Humble. That video is stunning.)
Oh, and Taylor Swift debuted her newest music video. It was…a lot.
Overall this year’s VMAs were not particularly memorable. There were definitely a few moments of excitement and interest, but for a three hour show they felt few and far between. Now that MTV is trying to bring actual music back to its channel with the upcoming returns of TRL and Unplugged, perhaps next year will be a much different story.
Did you watch the VMAs? If so, what did you think of the show? Did you watch “Game of Thrones” instead and feel the need to tell everyone about that? Wow, aren’t you so cool. So so cool. Tell all in the comments. And of course…