The MTV Video Music Awards 2011
August 30th, 2011
Todd lets out a sigh
Todd: I remember...when it mattered. I remember when the VMAs actually mattered, I do. Like, the first one I watched was in 1999. That was the year Chris Rock hosted, that was...they had it in the Metropolitan Opera House, and... Obviously, people were talking shit about MTV by then for a long...long time already, but...you know, the MTV Awards were a big deal then, and even...you know... Chris Rock hosted, and, you know, they talked about it for a long time, he did that great monologue, uh...Aerosmith and Kid Rock performed with Run-DMC... [another sigh] you know, Diana Ross felt up Lil Kim. It was a place where, like, the hottest comedians would go, and the biggest pop stars in the world would go, and the legends like Diana Ross would show up. And it was a...it was...it was an awards show that was fun and relevant. It was hip. You know, even by...in the early 2000s, it still mattered.
And, you know, MTV would run retrospectives all week about all the crazy shit that's happened at the VMAs over the years. [He takes a drink, which he does periodically throughout the video] And this is their...they were...they've been celebrating their 30th anniversary this...this year. They've been running big things, hyping it up, and...like, I don't know why they even bother. Like, MTV is not what MTV was, it's like...I wanna say it's like the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrating their years as the Seattle Supersonics—like...one is not the other, so why...why even pretend?
And I actually read that more people tuned in than ever this year. It was, like, MTV's biggest ratings thing ever this year, and I'm like, why? Like, people still watch MTV? It's...all they have is crappy reality shows now. Like, I watched it, and it was like a referendum on how much MTV no longer matters. Like, you know, they don't play music videos anymore, that's...that's just like a fact of life now, we've all accepted that. Like, there's no M in MTV, we know that. Where's the TV in MTV?! Like, this was such a crappy little boring ceremony. And the commercials for their other shows, they all looked like crappy boring things, like ripoff Tosh.0s and...it's just...
I don't know, maybe, like...it's the only...maybe like...there's no way it could matter the way it did when I was 15, but it feels like there's been a serious downward slide. And it's...the music television that matters nowadays is, you know, American Idol and those ripoff shows. Music videos play on YouTube. And they put on this terrible show—it's so short. Like...they don't have a host this year, they've done that a few times, and I guess they were trying to streamline the...the process. But if you're gonna put on an awards show, it's supposed to be bloated and stupid. That's the whole point of an awards show, and if you're not gonna that, it doesn't feel like it matters.
And you know, the Grammys, they don't matter either; no one cares about winning a Grammy...I realize. No one cares about winning a Grammy, but they...they deal with that by going balls out with the performances, like trying to put on as many great music performances as they can, and it's like a celebration of music.
And the MTV Mov...MTV Mov...MTV Video Music Awards, there's just nothing. Like, they hyped up a "big surprise performance," a surprise performance by...Jay-Z and Kanye. It was terrible, and you couldn't hear them over the sound mix, and like, "ooh, Jay-Z and Kanye? They're..." Like, how did that differ from any of the other performers that were out there today...[correcting] on that last night? Like, why? Like, you know, I remember past...like, surprise performances, like, "surprise, Guns N' Roses reunited!" Well, they didn't "reunite", but like, the return of Guns N' Roses! Run-DMC's performing with Aerosmith! Van Halen's reunited! KISS is back with the makeup! This kind of thing. Like, Jay-Z and Kanye, whoop-de-friggin'-do.
And I don't know how they pick who wins anymore. Like, I gotta assume there's some kind of, like, viewer voting going on because...well, I don't know if they can on the Internet, that's a terrible idea. But...okay, Justin Bieber beat Cee-Lo Green—that's all I have to say about the caliber of winners here. And I don't...I only heard that song that won for, like, twice. He's not...doesn't really get played much. Outside of his devoted fanbase, like, if you're not a Justin Bieber fan, he's very, very avoidable. [Drink] And you know that meme, "Justin Bieber looks like a lesbian" or "lesbians look like Justin Bieber"? I...I don't think that's a funny meme; I think that's incredibly lame. But goddamn, did he look like a lesbian in those glasses. Like, wow.
We...we always joke, "remember when MTV used to play videos?" The thing is, Bieber probably does not remember when MTV played videos. Like, MTV had nothing to do with his rise to stardom. He started out on YouTube. MTV had nothing to do with Bieber, and he's as famous as he is without the support of MTV whatsoever. You don't need MTV anymore. MTV...
I'm trying to think what else happened. Chris Brown came out, and they, like, hyped him up like he's, like, a great, amazing superstar, and that just made my stomach turn. Like he isn't just this utterly replaceable, generic R&B singer with a serious attitude problem. Ugh. You see Jay-Z—you know, he's big friends with Rihanna and everything—you see Jay-Z, they cut to him while Chris Brown was performing and Jay-Z just, like, taking a drink, trying not to look too pissed off, trying not to watch him. Chris Brown comes out, he danced to... First he started doing one of his own songs, and then, I'm not sure why, he started dancing to Wu-Tang—there was a big Wu-Tang thing. It was like, if they were trying to do a "music through the MTV era" thing, it didn't work because they only played two songs—one was...I can't remember which Wu-Tang one it was, "Shame on a..."? "Shame..."? The other one was "Smells Like Teen Spirit", of all things. That's not really a dance tune. So imagine, like, theme park dancers dancing to "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and that's what it looked like. Dave Grohl was actually in the audience; I can't imagine what it looked like to him.
I...I...I have to believe that they consciously chose to give awards only to the people who arrived, because the Foo Fighters won an award for Best Rock Video. MTV doesn't play music videos; they certainly don't play rock videos. They certainly don't do that. And Dave Grohl was there, he seemed to absolutely hate being there. He seemed to really just resent being there, he said something like, "don't give up on real rock n' roll. It's real music...real rock music is out there." It just was a sad reminder of how much rock music has been pushed out of the mainstream. Like, mainstream rock is almost, like, not a thing anymore. I know there's, like, what, Cage the Elephant out there and Muse, Rise Against, Phoenix, I guess, Mumford and Sons, Kings of Leon, Black Keys. But you know, none of them matter the same way that, you know, Smashing Pumpkins did in '95 or Korn did in '98 or Linkin Park did in 2001 and Guns N' Roses did in '88. Like...there's not a band like that anymore. And it was kind of depressing to watch Foo Fighters come up there and just basically acknowledge that.
I'm trying to remember...it's just not an interesting ceremony, I'm trying to remember what happened. Like, the one big thing that happened was Lady Gaga comes out. Like, she starts the show dressed...like, a lot of people said she looked like the Cinema Snob. Like, wearing the Cinema Snob's black suit and white shirt, doing this, like, really awkward, puzzling drag king performance, like this drag performance. And no one seemed to understand what she was trying to do or why Lady Gaga didn't quite seem to know where she was going with this, like a lot of things she does. But she was trying. You know, she was trying. It was...self-consciously weird, but in an unexpected way, which is...you know, what you hope for...from Lady Gaga, I guess. I mean, that's the best you can hope for. And then she came out and performed that terrible song she does, "You and I". Up there with "Paparazzi", it's probably my least-favorite of Lady Gaga's singles. Sounds like Shania Twain...a really bad Shania Twain song. And then...yes, Brian May from Queen showed up; God knows why he was there. He did his thing, and then he left. I don't know, it was just kind of met with a shrug, and I didn't... It wasn't a terrible performance. It was a good performance from Lady Gaga, I guess, especially when she was...before Brian May came out and she was just on the piano alone.
And Kanye and Jay-Z, I guess, they were just boring.
They gave Britney Spears, like, the Lifetime Achievement Award, or the MTV equivalent of it. Which makes sense, but if I were Britney Spears, I would feel jipped, 'cause she got upstaged. Like, Lady Gaga did her...she introduced and she presented to her, she kept trying to hog the spotlight and she was still in character, this underthought character, which didn't make any sense. And then they put on this sad little retrospective of... It was really uncomfortable 'cause they had these little girls, prepubescent girls in Britney Spears outfits dancing to Britney Spears, and it was horribly pedophilic.
Beyonce came out... and then, I mean, Britney comes out, gives a short little speech, and then she has to give...you know...she has to give...present, you know, introduce Beyonce, who performed fairly well. Like, she got s...she was just the least interesting part of that whole segment, Britney was. Lady Gaga introduced her, Beyonce upstages her. Beyonce is pregnant now, and that's the only thing I've heard people mention about the MTV Awards, like, "I guess Beyonce's pregnant now." So I guess this is some kind of evidence that Jay-Z and Beyonce have a real marriage and not just a royal arranged wedding or something like that. I'm not a fan of Beyonce, but she was really good that night.
Russell Brand did a tribute to Amy Winehouse. He did some...talk. He wrote this really nice article about it, and he repeated most of it at the awards that night, talking about Amy Winehouse. It probably...would've worked better in print, maybe Russell Brand shouldn't try any, like, heartfelt tributes, like, in person, doing his whole Russell Brand thing. He's not really a guy built for sincerity. Tony Bennett came out and plugged an album he did with Amy, I guess, before she died.
And Bruno Mars came out and did a very good performance. It was a lot like his performance of "Grenade" at the Grammys. It was...with Janelle Monae and B.o.B., and that's the kind of thing they should have more of at the MTV Awards. If you can't be relevant—and it wasn't because... They... Like, the awards? No one gives a shit. Like, they put out...they gave out the least amount of awards they could. Best Pop Video, Best Rock Video, Best Hip-Hop Video, Best Male Video, Best Female Video, Best Group Video, Best Video. Like, the bare minimum of awards that they can give out.
Let's see...oh, Adele. Adele was very nice. Didn't just...no flash, just...like, she had, like, the actual serious artist spot that Florence + the Machine had last year. And there was this really, just terribly awkward where Jessie J... Okay, Jessie J is a British pop singer, she's more popular over there, she's had one hit over here. And they had Jessie J performing to lead into the commercial breaks. Played some of her own songs, played "No Scrubs" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" just to lead into the commercial breaks. Adele tears the house down with a great performance, the crowd is on their feet, and then "Firework" starts playing, Jessie J starts singing "Firework", and I think...I thought that Adele was actually gonna sing "Firework" and it was like, "ha ha! Show that Katy Perry what for. Upstage Katy Perry." And it was just Jessie J leading into the commercial break. There was this, like...it was like the crowd was on their feet, and then it was just, like, deflated. That...it was just horrifically awkward.
Oh, "Firework" won Best Video. Last year, it went to "Bad Romance"...which it should have because that's, you know, a fantastic video. They gave it to "Firework" this year, and like, who cares? Like..."Bad Romance" is a great video, and they gave it to "Firework". People aren't gonna remember that. If people talk about it now, it's just 'cause of how lame it is, how lame and silly and stupid, like, in a way that most music videos haven't been since 1988. Just...atrocious.
Then they close it out with...you know, I'm not even a Lady Gaga fan, but you know, MTV should be kissing up to Lady Gaga as hard as they possibly can because that's...she's like the last video music performer. Like, she's a godsend to MTV. Like, that is what they can use to launch themselves back into making music that people care about. [Drink] But they don't. Like, Lil Wayne came out there, did that terrible acoustic ballad "How to Love". It should've been called, "How to Not Use Auto-Tune" because he sucked. And...I don't know, it's like the Black Eyed Peas at the Super Bowl, like maybe this is just, like, something that shouldn't be used live. Auto-Tune just doesn't work live, or at least it didn't for...didn't for Lil Wayne. He sounded terrible...and then he did another song, playing guitar for it, it sampled "Iron Man". If it was good, I have no idea...because they cut him off. They just cut him right off because they needed to get to the premiere of their new show called...what is it? I Hope They Find My Pants? Something like that? I'm not predicting good things about it. Like...like, shit, even when MTV was not playing music videos, at least for a while, it was still, like, a relevant cultural force. I mean, they had The Real World—I mean, they still have The Real World. I guess they have Jersey Shore now and, like, My Super-Sweet Sixteen and all that garbage. They do Teen Mom? I guess they do Teen Mom, but they used to do, like, Headbanger's Ball, Daria, Beavis and Butt-head, Celebrity Deathmatch, Aeon Flux, The Maxx, Cartoon Sushi, fuck...Jackass, Cribs, something!
MTV...and the sad thing is they started out with that 80s MTV riff, like, [imitates riff] and it's just like...what happened to you, MTV? You used to be cool. You used to be so cool. I am disappoint. All right, have a good...I can't talk about this anymore.
Gets up and leaves