Just an Average Year for the VMAs

By: Samantha Hazen

It’s that time of year again: time for stars to come together for MTV’s Video Music Awards: a celebration of the biggest singers and song writers on the charts.

Rapper Eminem kicked off the show with his single “Not Afraid.” The song’s current popularity made it a good opener, as did the beat’s ability to stick in viewers’ heads. If this did not draw people in, Rihanna’s surprise collaboration with Eminem on “Love the Way You Lie,” surely did. Although the collaboration was hot, Rihanna’s wardrobe choice – bright red hair, a shimmering headband, a ballerina outfit, and combat boots – was not. Nevertheless, the performance was intimate and powerful, making up for the lacking outfit choice.

Chelsea Handler, this year’s host, fully delivered with her appearance. She arrived to the show in a video that featured her wearing a short white robe to meet Lindsay Lohan in a hallway. Lohan and Handler shared a comical moment mocking Lohan’s recent drinking problems and her SCRAM ankle-bracelet violation. Shortly after her stage entrance, Handler happily told the audience that she is the first woman to host the VMA’s in sixteen years, an amazing feat. She incorporated much of her Chelsea Lately humor and sarcasm into her presentation, which drew many laughs, although at times responded to her slightly inappropriate jokes with awkward silences. Overall, Handler’s current popularity and unique humor made her a great choice to host this year’s awards.

Ellen DeGeneres presented the first award for Best Female Performance to none other than Lady Gaga (a huge surprise)! Gaga returned to the stage two more times to accept awards for Best Pop Video and the always-anticipated Video of the Year. As she accepted this prestigious award, she announced her new album title, Born This Way, which she had earlier promised her fans. She almost did not make it to the stage to accept her second award because her outfit was “too heavy.”

As announced, the cast of the MTV hit Jersey Shore was in attendance for the event. They relaxed in a Jacuzzi on stage while Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi taunted Handler to join them. Handler, being Handler, of course got in.
Taking home the Best New Artist award was teen heartthrob Justin Beiber. Whether it was all an act or the poor boy was genuinely confused, Beiber was not sure how to get to the stage. After shuffling around, he luckily made his way on stage. A noticeable aspect of his time on stage was what appeared to be the early stages of his voice changing. It will be interesting to see how his voice coaches deal with this transformation in the months to come.

Most of the night’s performances were impressive. Justin Beiber made a grand entrance at to the sounds of screaming girls. He performed his bubbly single, “Baby” and showcased his impressive dance moves while dressed in his embroidered “Beiber” jacket. Beiber’s mentor, Usher, had an outstanding performance. He really showed off his genuine talent, showing the crowd that he’s “still got it” after being in the shadows for a short time period before his hit single “OMG” was released. He performed “DJ Got Us Falling in Love” and “OMG.” I give him credit for giving the performance his all in both vocals and dancing.

Florence and the Machine’s performance was one of simplicity and dullness. The lead singer wore a beige gown as she sat on a rotating white circle and delivered unimpressive vocals. The performance felt random, and I expect the VMA’s to showcase the most exciting and talented acts. Travis McCoy emergence shortly thereafter to sing a portion of his song “Billionaire” felt even more random.

Taylor Swift’s performance opened with the clip from last year’s VMAs of her controversial award acceptance and Kanye West’s subsequent interruption. After the clip, Swift sat in an office chair sporting short curls and performed a new, somber tune on an old-fashioned themed stage. The performance was a bit bland and boring for a young and lively songwriter.

The super-collaboration between B.o.B., Bruno Mars, Hayley Williams, and her band Paramore was fabulous. Bruno’s sensitive piano solo was a graceful opening for his and B.o.B.’s song, “Nothin’ On You.” Hayley Williams came on stage to join B.o.B. for “Airplanes.” It was a real treat to see this summer’s hit performed by B.o.B. and Williams live for the first time. Their performance was truly captivating, and outstandingly done.

The VMA-notorious Kanye West closed out the night with his song, “Runaway,” which was most memorable because of his bright red suit.

A common theme throughout the entire show seemed to be the color red. Red was incorporated into every performer’s outfit or background. Perhaps it was an attention-drawer.

Though not entirely impressed with this year’s VMA’s, I will still be a loyal viewer when next year rolls around.

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