The VMAs are MTV’s last callback to a time when they were the cultural music zeitgeist, the one pop music station everyone under 25 tuned into across the country. Ever since leaving NYC’s Radio City Music Hall and moving out to LA’s JWMarriott hotel, the VMAs have lost a great deal of the personality that made it fun to watch, as well as the sense that you’re watching a trainwreck live in slow motion. Gone are the visually jarring moments where the house LD shoved over to make way for which ever act’s touring LD stepped in. No more do we see the shots of backstage as frantic stage managers try to round-up drugged up pop stars de jour to shove them out bodily on to the stage to squint at their teleprompters. The look may be far more polished, but the heart is gone.
That doesn’t mean the pop stars themselves have gone too. Lady Gaga opened the show with an excerpt from her Freshman Acting 101 Final at NYU. If you really must subject yourself to why Gaga became a pop star and not an actress, you can watch all three acts starting here. Act2 was probably the most interesting, as Gaga attempted (in character) to sexually pressure Britney into making out on stage for the headlines, just one more time. Britney found the strength to say no at the last second, but the whole “Gaga-in-Drag” act obviously made her desperately uncomfortable, which is why the video cuts away. Act3 wrapped up the one-woman show. The best thing you can say about it was that, on a night of wild speculation of how Gaga could top herself costume-change wise, Gaga chose to go the truly unexpected route and do nothing. Continue reading
Yes, I will save the best for last. This mini trend that Amy Winehouse started before she died of singers who can actually sing is my favorite of the last five years. No showboating, no runs or thrills or goaty vibrato. Just a woman with a realistic body belting the hell out of a love song. You can’t beat that. It’s why her album 21 was Number one on the Billboard chart for 12 weeks, a feat not seen since Santana’s Supernatural back in 2000. That was eleven years ago, four years before the advent of iTunes and one of the last years before the music industry nose-dived off a cliff, a descent that still hasn’t found rock bottom. They keep searching for the next big thing, the thing that will revive the industry.
Perhaps they should consider dropping all the gimmicks and going with real vocalists?
Yes, this is a Katy Perry Alert. No, this is not one where she has stuff ejaculating from her breast, as is the motif in many of her videos. Yes, it is an earworm, and it will not leave your brain until you go crank up pandora and drown it out.
By the way: Katy Perry? Can actually sing. It’s just that she chooses not to. Even so, there’s something about the lyrics of this song that make me sad. The best pop songs are the ones that sound so joyful until you listen to the words, and then they make your heart hurt.
With the oddly dissonant Video Music Awards coming up on MTV, a channel that no longer bothers with the art form, thought I’d take today to look at the videos garnering the most attention. (Warning, today WILL include Katy Perry. Feel free to rant about how I’ve sullied my blog in the comments.)
But let’s start with a man for whom the VMAs were made. I am talking about one-half of a Throne himself, Imma Let You Finished But This Joke Is So Played Out, Kanye West.
And for the record, I am madly in love with this song.
(I am not nearly as in love with All The Lights, which is why I chose to go with “Power.” But if you feel your short attention span clip is incomplete without a dose of epilepsy, by all means, go on and click.)