Well MTV has brought us another Video Music Awards filled with moon-men giving and performances of sort. Yet this year seemed a bit lack luster from its former years. Lackluster I say, until about 10:55 pm/et. when the greatest performer alive single-handedly saved the reputation of the show. More on that later. Still, there were moments that definitely had me not only enjoy the twitter commentary that was going on, but also question what was really going on this year at the VMAs.
Since the highs of the show were just so sky-high, I’m saving those for last, so I’ll be working backwards as I discuss my picks for the High, Okay? and WTH?! Moments of the 2014 VMA’s.
Lack of audience | It seemed like just about everyone in popular music would be there and even with the pre-show red carpet interviews and arrivals, that is what we saw before the big show. Yet when the show started, beyond the ground level, there seemed to be groups of empty seats. The coverage and direction of the show did not make me think anything different. Every 5-10 minutes, we would certainly get a view of Taylor Swift & “friend of the time”, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus or the Kardashians. This repetitiveness of appearances and casual shots of empty red seats left me wondering if MTV was able to fill the Forum this year?
Not to mention these shots always seemed to show everyone looking so bored, instead of showing celebs who were actually having fun like Laverne Cox. But this was only used for the online audience-access that no one actually watches.
The robbing of Sam Smith | Arguably one of the most beautiful voices, Sam Smith, has stormed onto both our radio waves and hearts this year. Between his top single Stay With Me and featured track Latch, if you are not familiar with the man, you’re at least familiar with his voice. So color me livid when an award called “Artist to Watch” is left up to a text-in vote and a mass of viewers, probably under the age of 18, vote the pop girl group Fifth Harmony as the winner. If you listened closely, you may have heard gasps from the show audience or a collective “WHO” from the ages of 20+.
Jay Pharaoh is the Host .. or is he? | The last time I remember the VMA’s advertising they had a host was 2012 when Kevin Hart was given the job. Unfortunately, that’s all I remember and nothing else about the show. This year, the performances were all that was advertised. So when Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharaoh took the stage with some pretty corny pre-written jokes, I thought this will pass, maybe next year Jay. But then he came back in his classic impersonation of Jay Z, and then later, he came back again as Kanye West. I got confused and Essence Magazine tweeted it best:
Robin Williams tribute | Now that I think about it, I don’t think the VMAs has ever had a kind of In Memoriam tribute, so I was pleased that they recognized the untimely passing of the great Robin Williams. My okay? came when it began with no introduction and over the cheering for Fifth Harmony who had just robbed Sam Smith of the Artist to Watch award. My emotions could not adjust properly for what seemed to be a 30-second slideshow. But for self-assurance, I know the Primetime Emmys will save this one. It’s already been announced that Billy Crystal will say some words for the tribute. That’s how you segue.
We all would’ve stayed with Sam Smith | I already talked about the amazing talents of Sam Smith earlier when he was robbed of an award. To make it worse, that actually took place after he performed an acoustic, chilling rendition of “Stay With Me”. His voice echoed through the venue making everyone collectively get goosebumps as he hit. every. single. note. With one of the most soulful voices, Sam Smith definitely brought something the show definitely could have missed.
#Ferguson | I have actually watched a decent amount of MTV over these last few weeks because I can always use a good fix of The Hills in their morning throwback lineup. But what really caught my attention was their strong PSA’s about the shooting of Mike Brown and subsequent protest in Ferguson. The information was big and straightforward, easy reading for any viewer. So I was very relieved that they continued this support when socially conscious rapper/actor/one of my boos, Common, spoke about the historical connection of hip-hop and social issues. Before presenting the award for Best Hip-Hop video, Common lead a moment of silence for Mike Brown and I gave props to MTV for that small bit of necessary social awareness for the night.
Beyoncé’s World | Before the show even began, the term “BeyMA’s” was being thrown around. MTV had already heavily advertise that Beyoncé would receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after putting on a “performance of her life”. So naturally I assumed that the majority of the viewers, like me, were tuning into the show, but only waiting for one person: Beyoncé. Even at the Forum and the cameras shot to the audience during other performances, there was an overall thought going through everyone’s mind “when is she coming on?”. And then at approximately 10:55 pm/et., it began. The Queen had come to grace us with her presence, to educate us on how a real performer performs, to take our lives, edges, wigs, whatever you would give up, and to overall just claim her argued status as the greatest living performer. To achieve all of this, Beyoncé decided to not just perform a compilation of her hits and singles, but her latest album BEYONCÉ for the full 15 minute performance. So believe me when my heart began to palpitate like I was physically at her concert as she emerged onto the screen in one of her classic bejeweled bodysuits, and her voice hit the first note for Mine. When she announced “MTV, welcome to my world”, it was when I realized this is in fact her world, and we are just living in it.
I enjoyed every single second, but life was really given for me when Bey and her standard group of dancers: swung their hair and hip to the disco beat of Blow, “surboart-ed” for Drunk in Love, and just when someone would think she would skip the sexual melody, Rocket, the worldly infamous curved chair was put center stage as Bey strutted towards it to sit her assssss on it. After a few flips and leg swings, drums dropped and Partition began setting the mood for a short, but appreciated pole dance; just so everyone is sure, she can do that too. Bey then glided across stage to the flashing of words from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx message, perfectly hitting center with FEMINIST behind her, and the stage was once again cranked with high-energy as the hardcore beat of Flawless filled the Forum.
Bey asked the crowd how we woke up? and from my living room I claimed “I woke up like dis”. We heard her riff a part of Yoncé, probably leaving those who do not really know how one can yoncé all on his mouth like liquor. And as if our hearts could not take anymore, Bey launched into her daughter’s anthem Blue with Blue right in the audience sitting on Jay Z’s lap before dedicating XO to us, her fans. The most amazing performance seemed to continue when Jay stepped on stage to hand the Vanguard Award to his wife with Blue on his hip. The love was apparent and strong. Rumors be gone, the world saw The Carters as a unit. It was nothing short of a theatrical performance of perfection worthy of a Queen.
Surely the VMA’s were packed with other musical performances, some memorable than others. There was some good presenting and a small sampling of comedic bits, weird production choices and questionable correspondents. But it was truly Beyoncé’s night and nothing else proved otherwise. Because like 2009 with Kanye confronting Taylor Swift, and in 2011 as she signaled pregnancy, when Beyoncé is at the VMA’s, the VMA’s revolve around Beyoncé.
For all the highlights, performances, and to watch Beyoncé multiple times, check out the show at mtv.com