The MTV Video Music Awards are an annual “holiday” of sorts for me. For the past few years, awards shows in general have been very lackluster with a few sporadic great moments. The VMAs really put in a great effort to make this year’s show one of the best.
What I Saw…
A-List lineup… FINALLY!
For the last few years, the MTV Video Music Awards have been very mediocre. But for this year’s VMAs, MTV made sure they had an all-star lineup. Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Rihanna, Kanye West, etc. Unlike the 2016 Grammy Awards & Billboard Awards earlier this year, the VMA producers definitely didn’t drop the ball this time when it comes to star power.
I’m one of the many people who felt like MTV had no business giving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award to Rihanna in the first place. They’ve gone years without handing out the award before (presumably due to no one being deserving at the time), so I don’t see why they couldn’t just omit the award from this year’s show. Or give it to Beyoncé again (she definitely deserved it). Rihanna is receiving the award prematurely, and her videos really aren’t good/iconic enough for her name to be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Jackson (let alone receive an award named after him). Other recipients have made sense: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Hype Williams, Beastie Boys, etc. But this year, it felt like MTV just wanted to make sure Rihanna performed at the show so they had to give her something.
Speaking of Rihanna’s performance…
She had four four-minute performances unlike Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake, who performed ONCE for 16 minutes. That in itself made me roll my eyes but I should’ve known she wouldn’t be able to perform for 16 minutes straight with choreography and live vocals. However, Ms. Fenty didn’t even seem to be able to give the audience four straight minutes of choreography and live vocals. For the first two performances, the backing track did most of the work even though the choreography was relatively easy when compared to the likes of Beyoncé and Britney Spears. And when Rihanna did sing, she either sang four-five words of each line and let the track do the rest or she just sounded terrible. Rihanna really exposed herself last night and showed us that she definitely isn’t a true performer. She has cute songs that I love very much; she just can’t deliver them on stage.
Ariana & Nicki
Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj’s performance probably seemed like a good idea in theory. Especially since it basically mirrored the music video for their new single together. HOWEVER, Ariana Grande’s diction whilst singing isn’t great even on a good day when she’s standing still. But when you add the SoulCycle choreography to the mix, we end up hearing shaky vocals that are basically incomprehensible. I couldn’t understand a single word coming out of her mouth until she got off the bicycle. And although Nicki Minaj was a force to be reckoned with on the VMA white carpet, her presence seemed dim when she got on stage. Ari & Nicki don’t have a lot of chemistry with one another. And I’ve seen both of them have amazing chemistry on stage with other people so maybe this song was the result of Ari’s people calling Nicki’s people and not an authentic collaboration. Either way, it didn’t translate well last night but they could get it together after a couple more performances.
I really enjoyed Future’s performance. If I didn’t still need to see Beyoncé, I probably would’ve turned the channel after he left the stage. I thought the introduction from Michael Phelps was cute and very unexpected. Who would’ve thought that Michael Phelps was listening to “Stick Talk” before winning a gold medal? I’m actually not a fan of rap concerts because I tend to feel like I could’ve just listened to the song. But last night Future had a live band, and that always takes a rap concert/performance to the next level.
When I watched Britney’s performance for a second time, I realized that she actual did really well. Her team is who fell short last night. I know Britney doesn’t sing live. She hasn’t done that since like 1999 and quite frankly, I didn’t care because you could always count on her to give you a show back in the day. Nowadays, her showmanship is hit or miss. But last night, she was on point. She nailed the choreography, she looked ALIVE and happy to be there. But her team should’ve known to negotiate with MTV about when she would perform. MTV either didn’t tell Britney that she would be performing after Beyoncé or her team wasn’t smart enough to make sure it didn’t happen. Her team also should’ve done more with the stage. Britney was a full-on production type of performer in the past. Someone who’s as big of a star as she is, deserves more in terms of her staging and production. This is one of the things that makes Beyoncé’s performances so amazing. EVERYBODY on her team is great at what they do. If Britney still had a team like she had in the early 2000’s, her performances could be better executed.
Of course, I LOVED Bey’s performance. It was great to see her incorporate the poems from the visual album in the performance. I wish they were included on the album too because they contribute to the story as much as the music. As someone who attended the Formation World Tour, I can honestly say 90% of Beyoncé’s performance was new to the BeyHive. She’s often accused of “recycling” but we hadn’t seen her actual bring Lemonade to life in this way before. “Pray You Catch Me” had never been performed live until Sunday night and the imagery of the angels being shot down and Trayvon Martin was so beautiful. She was so powerful on stage. She just exudes so much swag. She’s literally like a goddess of the music industry. The only issue I had with the performance was that it was too short. I wanted to see her perform “6 Inch”, “Love Drought” and “All Night” but maybe she’s saving the latter half of Lemonade for a Grammy performance.
Who/what I would’ve liked to see but didn’t…
Better Video Vanguard recipient
There are so many people who were more deserving of the Video Vanguard award than the last two recipients. Missy Elliott needs to be awarded. Mariah Carey needs to be awarded. Janet Jackson and Madonna could be awarded for a second time. Puff Daddy needs to be awarded. These are people who are legendary in their own right AND can put on a good show.
Tinashe is one of my favorite newer artists. She’s hosted the after show for the BET Awards this year and Sunday’s VMAs. But she really should’ve been performing (at least on the preshow), considering the fact that she has a new single out right now.
This year’s VMAs were dominated by the ladies thanks to Beyoncé, Britney, Rihanna, Ariana & Nicki. But it would’ve been great to see Usher perform or present an award. Or Frank Ocean. Nowadays, it seems like we get a show full of men or women but never a good mix of both.