Monday, September 08, 2008

Notes on the VMAs:

- Pretty good this year! Or better than last year's hotel-suite clusterfuck silliness, anyway. The whole thing moved fluidly, most of the performers got to do complete songs, and not one single performance bored me. Judging by last night's performances, virtually all of the non-Disney pop universe seems to be trying to make stuff that'd fit on the soundtrack to The Crow: Rihanna, Kanye, Christina Aguilera, possibly Wayne and Paramore. I approve.

- The Hollywood backlot thing seemed cheesed-out and gimmicky at first, but they really figured out how to make spectacle out of it. The Jonas Brothers' Sesame Street act bored the hell out of me at first, but I laughed like a fool when the building opened up and all the screaming people ran out. I knew they'd have to finish big, but I didn't think they'd finish that big.

- Russell Brand crashed and burned like a motherfucker. I'm glad they had an actual host; it really gives continuity to the whole spectacle. But holy fuck. He started out bombing, getting no laughs at all, and he just got worse from there. If I wanted to see elaborately-haired cokeheads flailing around for attention, I'd take the train over to Williamsburg. I've decided to retroactively stop liking him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I liked seeing Jordin Sparks snap on him, though. Next year, they should just let Jamie Foxx host the thing. He'll get drunk and go off script and cuss a bunch and ignore the schedule, but at least he'll be funny and charismatic, you know?

- I couldn't be happier about Rihanna's Road Warrior fetish-gear move. It's like she looked around, realized that there was no basic equivalent to circa-95 Trent Reznor out there these days, and she decided she'd be it. It's awesome. She's also getting dangerously authoritative onstage. She just completely overwhelmed T.I., and that guy is a great performer, at least in person.

- T.I.'s performance was the only one where they should've just let him go nuts onstage, like when he did the "Top Back" remix at the BET Awards a couple of years ago. That whole live-video thing did not work at all: Tip just standing around looking bored while a video chick buys stuff, guh. I like the song, though.

- Christina Aguilera as Batman, ripping off Goldfrapp: a good look!

- Another good look: the girl from Paramore doing the Bruce Dickinson foot-on-the-monitor pose.

- The whole thing, at least in terms of awards given out, was basically constructed as a big institutional apology to Britney for throwing her under the bus last year, which was pretty nice I guess. She looked OK, anyway. She said the exact same thing every time she accepted an award.

- Travis Barker and DJ AM: gas face.

- Having McLovin join Slipknot was one of those ridiculous and dumb award-presentation things they do every year, but I still thought it was funny as shit, mostly because of McLovin's Slipknot mask with the pipecleaners on it.

- It was nice how they let the bad guy from Never Back Down present something. He was a pretty good bad guy. If he plays the exact same character in Twilight, maybe I'll watch Twilight.

- Pete Wentz looks more glazed every day. It's almost amazing.

- Wayne's solo performance was sort of great on sheer energy alone, and I appreciated the fake-classy touch of Leona Lewis and the string section. Wayne's ability to take a standard prestige-trope like that and make it ridiculous is one of his great gifts. But his cameo during Kid Rock's thing? Hoo boy. I'm obviously not one to toss around minstrelsy accusations, but he had to know something fucked up was going on there. The big grin, the bowing to Kid Rock, the one line I could make out being about watermelon and fried chicken? Yee.

- Hard to say since that stupid blinking heart thing was distracting me the whole time, but Kanye's new song sounded pretty good!

- I'm still not entirely certain exactly what a Tokio Hotel is.

- Pink fucking ruled, for real. "So What" sounds better every time I hear it, and her whole juvenile breaking-shit thing is great because she's got serious physical-comedy gifts. Weird how she's somehow a star again.

- Worst video bumpers ever.

- Can't think of anything else. Felt amazing to not be taking notes during one of these things for once.