Giving an emotive and heartfelt speech, Madonna made several thought provoking points that captured the human and intimate essence of Michael that we often either forgot about and/or failed to see (see the post below for her speech in its entirety). When they panned to the audience to show their reactions to the speech, many of the recording artists present were either fixated on Madonna, had their eyes closed, or their heads bowed. Entrenched in every word and moment, it seemed as if the audience was in prayer or reflection. If you’re Michael fan, you were right with them. She ended her speech with the phrase “long live the king”. I was really hoping someone would run with that and start a chant. Madonna’s speech was followed by a dance team performance of his hit songs. Each dancer was dressed in a replica of a signature M.J. costume. The only thing that would have enhanced the performance more was to have someone who was obviously influenced by M.J. (like Justin Timberlake, Usher or Ne-Yo) be a part of the sequence. The icing on the cake was JANET JACKSON (yes, J.J.) performing “Scream” (the only recorded M.J. and J.J. duet) as the music video played in the background. The choreography was synced perfectly with video. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I was jumpin’ around and screaming to the top of my lungs when Janet came out. It was the ultimate performance and the ultimate tribute, and it seemed like the crowd loved it. It only got sad when it registered that Janet was on the stage by herself without her brother, and we would never see them perform together again.
The rest of the live performances were awesome, including Taylor Swift, Muse, Lady Gaga, The Queen Bee (Beyonce`), Green Day, Pink, Kid Cudi , Jay-Z with Alicia Keys and a special tribute to the late DJ AM.
Taylor’s performance was interesting -it was shot following her through a New York subway and into the street in front of Radio City Music Hall. Several fans won a chance to ride with Taylor on the subway and dance with her in the street for the performance. That’s another thing I love about the VMA’s- they always involve the fans, and give them the best seats (right by the stage). Lady Gaga made me want to check out her album- I didn’t know she could actually sing. It’s hard to get passed her craziness long enough to notice that she can sing. She doesn’t realize that she’s distracting from her own talent. I find it interesting that Lady Gaga is considered to be “cool and different” for her eccentricities, but Michael was called “Wacko Jacko” and weird. Intriguing…......anyhow, on to Beyonce’s performance….Bee Bee, (as I affectionately call her ) NEVER fails to perform well (and believe me, I have seen enough performances to say that with confidence). The only reason why “never” would turn into “almost never” with her VMA appearance is because there were about 3 notes at the beginning that didn’t quite hit right. And she almost tried TOO hard to put the sexy on with one too many body rolls. Sometimes, I think she forgets that she’s Beyonce` and things like “sexy” just come natural to her, requiring no work. Her introduction was cool and creative; she made a tribal-esque remix of the bridge to “Single Ladies”. Looking like a small “Sasha Fierce” army, several dancers eventually joined her on stage to perform the infamous choreography.
Like Beyonce`, Pink is usually impressive live and was even more impressive as she performed “Sober” while being flung around in a trapeze act (believe it. It happened). If you thought THAT would be distracting or keep her from performing well, it didn’t. She sung in full voice and didn’t miss a beat. Now Keri Hilson really has no excuse for her poor live performances (See my June 29th Keri post). The coolest New Yorkers in music, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, gave an excellent performance of “Empire State of Mind” from Jay-z’s latest album, “The Blueprint 3”. I LOVE THAT SONG! One whiff of that song and you’re gonna wanna pack your bags, put on your Manolo’s, and book lunch with Samantha, Carrie and Bloomberg. I’m leaving tomorrow. LOL It was a perfect ending to the VMA’S- the best of New York music, in New York, singing about the aura of New York. It was classic. The only glitch in Jay’s performance, if you can call it one, was the random and sudden appearance of rapper and fellow New Yorker Lil’ Mama. Because she’s from New York, I initially suspected that she was supposed to be up there, but there was still a hint of “this wasn’t planned.” And it wasn’t. On NBC’S “Today” with Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb, Alicia Keys was quoted as saying “We can appreciate her being overwhelmed and inspired, but we would have appreciated it if she would have done it from her seat."
There was another random and obnoxious interruption earlier in the show by Kanye West. Now an infamous and much talked about moment, Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video, denoting that Swift’s fellow nominee, Beyonce`, should have won. “Taylor, I’m happy for you and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyonce` had one of the best videos of all time” (referring to “Single Ladies”). After his snide remark, West handed the mic back to Swift, shrugged his shoulders and left the stage as he was booed by the audience. The audience showed their support for Swift by chanting her name. Host Russell Brand, who was less obnoxious this year (thank goodness) mentioned that in the spirit of Michael Jackson, we should “love everybody” and that all the nominees were great artists. West has a history of and a reputation for making fuss over award wins and losses, but over his OWN wins and losses. Kanye was being his typical self: rude, immature, arrogant and special edition. One of the things that irritate me the most about Kanye’s act was that he put Beyonce` in the middle of his bull. It’s one issue to act a monkey over your OWN awards, but someone else’s awards too? He called himself “defending” her, and yet he was putting her in the position to have to put out a P.R. fire. He stole Taylor’s moment AND Beyonce`s, as she had to use her moment winning Video of The Year (which better honors it as the pop-culture impacting video it was than Best Female Video, btw) to make up for his mess. RRR!!!! Like Lady Gaga, Kanye doesn’t realize he’s overshadowing his own talent with his chicanery. I’m surprised that he hasn’t matured, considering all that he’s been through with the death of his mother and his dramatic breakup (that he made a whole album about). It’s ridiculous.
On the note of who won and who lost, it appears that this year’s theme was “everybody’s a winner here.” The “heavyweights” of the past year (and therefore the expected winners-Beyonce` and Lady Gaga) won. The “authentic, genre impacting and legitimate” artists (Eminem, T. I. and Green Day) won. Old MTV favorites (Britney Spears) and the unexpected, yet fresh and new (Taylor Swift) won. It was everybody’s party and everybody’s night. No one was left out it seems, which makes for a good award show.
While Britney is still on my breath, I find it interesting that when Brit Brit was most deserving of a VMA (pre-“Blackout”), she never got one. She’s been nominated 26 times total, only winning 4 times. 3 out of her 4 wins were attained last year; her 4th at this year’s show. When she won last year, I felt like that were just giving them away to her as thanks for seeming like she got her crap together and putting out “Circus”. I thought it was a spit in the face because MTV didn’t appreciate Britney and give her just dues until they thought they were going to lose her. Say what you will about her talent and whatever else, but she MADE MTV in the late 90’s and in the early 2000’s. MTV Asia and MTV Europe gave her props from jump, but no, not in America. Why is it that Europe treats our artists (including minority ones) better than we do? If you can’t make it America, start selling your junk in Europe and you’ll be rolling in doe, but that’s besides the point. I digress.
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards were filled with lots “OMG!”, “sis-boom-pow!” and great performances, making it memorable one. Brava MTV.