Friday, May 24, 2024

MTV Serves Up Annual Witless, Loud. Commercial Video Music Awards


Was there anything redeeming about the MTV Video Music Awards? Not that I could tell. And I watched it from a very nice party thrown by Republic Records over at what used to the Lotus nightclub on West 14th St. There were lots of young people, all guests, and you know what they told me? They don’t watch MTV. And if they do, they don’t see music videos on it.

Sunday night’s show came from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn but it could have been anywhere, outer space, Kansas City. It had no personality, very little artistry, and a lot of noise. Lots and lots of noise. Miley Cyrus seems determined to destroy whatever fanbase she had by going from Hannah Montana to Madonna. She wore very little and raunched it up in her segment with Robin Thicke– who looks old enough to be her father. It didn’t work. I did like her singing “Blurred Lines.” Maybe she should stick to singing.

Maybe they all should try sticking to actually singing. The painful truth about pop in 2013 is that is freeze dried, presented in perfectly produced packages. All of them– Taylor Swift, Katy Perry– they are like windup dolls in a store window. Someone has conceived and styled them. They all sound vaguely the same which is why Perry’s new single sounds like one released by Sara Barielles a few weeks ago. They are all the same.

With some exceptions: Lady Gaga, god bless her, changed outfits, makeup and wigs around 5 times in four minutes at the start of the show. I give her a lot of credit because at least she’s trying something different. It may not always work. And you can her frustration.

And Justin Timberlake: the material may not always be great, but he’s a stellar showman. His music is not going to stand the test of time. But he’s goodnatured about it. And as with Gaga, the work ethic is obvious. Bringing on NSync was a nice gesture even if it wasn’t their finest moment. They’re like old war buddies trying to relive some old skirmish.

But the sum of the MTV VMAs is that this dreadfully humorless stuff is what pop music is now–at least the pop that is celebrated by MTV. You really had the feeling that the songs were there to hold up the commercials. And what other awards show gives awards on the red carpet during the pre show? That was too much. But of course then these people — these so-called “artists” — would have to speak. And boy that would be a terrible mistake.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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