It’s been a few days since the 2013 VMAs, a show I didn’t watch but the internet wasted no time in catching me up. The line-up for this year’s show seemed relatively boring to me, and I knew if I really wanted to see NSYNC, I could just wait until the morning.
I used to get really excited for this awards show, it was the pinnacle for me, combining all the bubblegum popstars with all the aggressive and plaid clad rockers. It was the only night where all these musical beings could be under one roof, watching each other, trying to vie for the best showman. Between tightly choreographed routines and smashing guitars, to dancing midgets and Garth Algar (aka, Dana Carvey) playing drums with U2, the VMAs used to be the coolest show on the planet.
But, over the past many years, the MTV VMAs have declined into something incredibly uninspiring. This has been written about before, so I don’t think I’ll find many naysayers after that statement, especially if you were a teenager in the mid- to late- ’90s.
Granted, I wasn’t as in-tuned to the VMAs when they were concepted in 1984, since I was just a mere fetus at that point. But the first VMA I specifically remember watching was in 1997, just after Notorious B.I.G. died, and Puff Daddy, Faith Evans (Biggie’s widow), 112, and Sting performed “I’ll Be Missing You.” It was one for the books, and surprisingly moving. I also recall Fiona Apple winning Best New Artist and telling us all the “world is bullshit,” which I found slightly frightening as a 12-year old.
Besides Puff, my favorite performance in ’97 was Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People,” because that song was – nay, is – so badass, and he rocked it, even though his entire schtick made me pee myself a little in terror. Other performers that year included Beck, Jamiroquai, Spice Girls, U2, Jewel, Missy Elliot & Co. (“Ladies’ Night”), and The Wallflowers with Bruce Springsteen. What a smorgasbord, right?
It’s no wonder One Direction won for Song of the Summer this year, what I assume is the new Viewers’ Choice award. That’s the demographic these days. Back in my teenage days, the fan battles might’ve waged between Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Britney, Christina, etc, but there was more than just a bubblegum presence. Much of the time, Eminem, Ludacris, Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Outkast, Missy Elliot, P.O.D., Korn, Jay-Z, and Linkin Park would rattle the pop genre’s dominance. TRL was chock full of variety, because MTV related to the prim and proper, as well as the rebellious and weird.
For me, the last great VMA was back in 2000. It featured one of my favorite performances, ever, by Ms. Britney Spears, and seems like the last of its kind.
Just for shits and giggles, let’s compare last Sunday’s list of performers to 13 years ago:
Hey, MTV. Rap and pop music are not the only genres thriving (and I use “thriving” loosely) in the industry today. Why were we all subject to hearing the songs that are played 50 million times a day on all those “HOT Z100” radio stations?
Now, here’s a list of the 2013 VMA Best Rock Video nominees that weren’t performers (hell, 30 Seconds to Mars won this category and only presented), but should’ve been so that we could’ve had a fucking VARIETY of music played:
Fall Out Boy — “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)”
Imagine Dragons — “Radioactive”
Mumford & Sons — “I Will Wait”
Vampire Weekend — “Diane Young”
I don’t even know what the fuck that last song is, but just throw a band a fucking bone, MTV. Are the VMAs doing so badly that you can’t afford some decent rock music? Fall Out Boy’s song is pretty epic, and it’s a bit of a comeback for them. They were MTV darlings at one point, give them the stage. Imagine Dragons has had one of the biggest years, commercially, so they should’ve been a no-brainer. Mumford & Sons probably knew better.
I understand JT got the coveted Vanguard award, but did he need all that time? We all know he’s talented and deserves his spot in the industry, so how about letting some other folks shine for a few minutes?
The VMAs used to be the “cool” music show, but now I’d actually rather watch the Grammy’s, because at least I’ll be exposed to more music and genres. I find it sad that the Grammy now shines brighter than the once-great moonman.
All that being said, this whole post might as well be a waste of typing since MTV hasn’t played music videos, or made them a big deal, in yeeeaaaarrrrsssss. Can we actually claim a decade now? Maybe even longer? Thus, the idea of producing a Video Music Award show is fucking stupid on their part. That would be like ABC Family having the AVN Awards – there’s no porn there, so why bother promoting it?
MTV, hear out your public: music videos are still relevant – in fact, in this YouTube generation, they might even be more popular. Bring back the excitement of music video storytelling on your channel, and not just from Gaga, Katy Perry, JT, and Miley, and maybe you’ll successfully be able to reinvent the VMAs.
Until then –