The VMAs are always a fun night. From Madonna’s legendary performance of ‘Like A Virgin’ & Janet Jackson tearing up the stage during her ‘Control’ run, to Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift & and Miley’s twerking fiasco, the VMAs always deliver a hotbed of pop culture moments that keep us entertained and talking. In my mid-30s now, I barely watch MTV these days and as far as the VMAs go, some years intrigue me, others don’t. This year, with all the femme-fatale star power – Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Jennifer Lopez, Ariana Grande, etc… I’m definitely intrigued. With that in mind, tonight I’ll be writing as I watch and sharing some of my thoughts on standout moments.
Uh oh, Sway’s on the Red Carpet, let’s get the party started.
8:00pm – Pre-show begins with the cast of ‘Teen Wolf’ on the Red Carpet. I don’t know what that means anymore. I always thought Michael J. Fox was the ‘Teen Wolf’. I must be getting old.
Christina Garibaldi and Lucy Hale of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ fame are co-hosting the pre-show with Sway. They interview Jason Derulo who proceeds to hype up his ‘Talk Dirty’ tour and then leads the crowd in the “first ever wave in MTV VMA history.” Annnnnnd, the crowd pulled it off. Not bad Jason Derulo, well-played.
8:05pm – Sway interviews Ariana Grande. She’s got a laid back vibe, but at the same time seems excited about the night. She looks absolutely stunning. Apparently she’s kicking off the show. Can’t wait for that.
8:14pm – Taylor Swift is interviewed and talks a bit about her upcoming album. It’s entitled, ‘1989’, in part because that’s the year she was born. Oh my… Definitely feeling old now.
8:17pm – Sway interviews Iggy Azalea who’s performing and has 7 nominations tonight. She sounds very Australian in this interview. Ha! She looks fantastic, sporting either a great tan or a great tan spray job. She’s wearing a white/silver Versace dress that she says didn’t fit initially. She goes one to explain that ‘they busted it apart and [now] it looks great!’ I have NO idea what that means… Must be a fashion thing. A “Miley Cyrus” chant breaks out in the crowd. Iggy jokes that Miley’s about to twerk. I kinda wish it were the other way around.
8:20pm — Hey, it’s Gwen Stefani! Nice to see her on the Red Carpet. She dodged a question about whether she’ll be putting out any new music soon, sounding non-committal at best. That sucks. I’d love to hear some new Gwen. Quick shot of Miley on the segue to the commercial break. Thankfully, she wasn’t twerking. But the night is young.
8:25pm – Back from the commercial break and Miley’s being interviewed. Sway mentions to Miley that Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda‘ video surpassed her ‘Wrecking Ball’ video for number of views on Vevo in 24 hours (with a staggering 19.6 million). She praises Nicki’s ass and goes on to say that she’s moved on from the twerking vibe and that what’s most important is the music. Good for you Miley, some growth exhibited I suppose. But again, the night is young…
8:31pm – Sway interviews Jennifer Lopez, who will always be my future wife. My goodness, she looks fantastic in that silver dress. She says they just shot a video for the ‘Booty’ remix which features Iggy Azalea. Well then – that made my night. Can we fast forward time to whenever that video’s going to air? Are the awards even necessary at this point?
8:37pm – Fifth Harmony has the pre-show performance, a girl group consisting of 5 very sexy girls. They kind of remind me of The Pussycat Dolls. They’re singing a song about being on their ‘Michelle Obama’ isht. I can dig it. I guess it was only a matter of time before someone used a ‘Michelle Obama’ reference for a hook. She’s the president after all… 🙂
Charli XCX follows up with a stellar performance of ‘Boom Clap’. This girl can sing. That said, everyone’s pretty much agreed that this was the summer of Iggy Azalea, but does Iggy blow up like she did without Charli XCX on that ‘Fancy’ hook? Listen to this the original version of ‘Fancy’, previously titled ‘Leave It‘, without Charli on the hook. You tell me. And don’t get me started on ‘The Invisible Men’ jacking that production credit for that beat from DJ Mustard. Not that I’m hating on Iggy, she intrigues me for a myriad of reasons (the “culture vulture” criticisms, being a native Australian with a Southern flow, her music, etc…). I’ve definitely got my eye on both her and Nicki tonight. Hope to see some fireworks there. But I digress…
8:59pm – Katy Perry arrives on the Red Carpet in a bronze Lamborghini. I don’t often check for Katy Perry, but that right there was gangsta. And the show’s getting started. Here we go!
9:00pm – The actual show kicks off with Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Jessie J teaming up to perform a medley of ‘Break Free’, ‘Anaconda’, and ‘Bang Bang’. Ariana kicks it off with ‘Break Free’, delivering excellent vocals. Uh oh, Nicki’s next with ‘Anaconda’. Oh my gosh! Look at her butt. She looks extremely good in a metallic green, glittery two piece. The crowd is absolutely going nuts. Her and her dancers twerk a bit and perform dance numbers from the actual video. I’m glad I’m recording this. Jessie J and Ariana join Nicki on stage for ‘Bang Bang’. 3 gorgeous women on stage together rocking out. And that’s not even mentioning Nicki’s wardrobe malfunction, which she covered up well by holding her outfit in place while performing ensuring the cameras captured nothing inappropriate That poor dress had no chance. Ha! Good stuff right there.
9:07pm – Snoop and Gwen come on to present the first award of the night, Best Female Video. This is a big one. The nominees are Beyonce for ‘Partition’, Lorde for ‘Royals’, Katy Perry featuring Juicy J for ‘Dark Horse’, Ariana Grande featuring Iggy for ‘Problem’, and Iggy featuring Charli XCX for ‘Fancy’. Drumroll please! Katy Perry and Juicy J. take home the night’s first Moonman.
9:12pm – Jay Pharoah comes out to introduce the ‘Artist To Watch’ Award. The fans can vote online throughout the show to determine the winner. He jokes about Nicki lap dancing on Drake during the ‘Anaconda’ video – “he couldn’t even touch it! He was just sitting there looking like a creepy guidance counselor!” Ha!
9:25pm – Up now, the Best Male Video award goes to Ed Sheeran for ‘Sing’. Groovy little track, I’m not mad at that. Glad Eminem didn’t win for ‘Monster’ – love Em, but that’s not one of my favorites from him.
9:31pm – Jay Pharoah comes back out and does his now famous Jay Z impression. Meh. It’s getting a little played out at this point…
9:32pm – Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels come out and silly it up on stage. Jeff Daniels says to Jim, “haven’t seen you in a while! I heard you pulled your groin?” Carey replies, “constantly!” Ha! These guys are nuts. Can’t wait for ‘Dumb and Dumber To’. They present the Best Pop Video Award and it goes to Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea for ‘One Less Problem’. She seems genuinely surprised and thankful, though it’s interesting that Iggy doesn’t join her on stage to accept the award. She does thank Iggy however as well as a slew of others. Ariana’s having a great night.
9:37pm – Kim Kardashian comes out to introduce Sam Smith. She looks as beautiful as she sounds air-headed while reading the teleprompter. Sam Smith delivers a powerful performance of his hit single, ‘Stay With Me’. He sounds great. Awesome vocals on the mic so far tonight. Quick shot of J-Lo in the crowd grooving to the track. Suddenly, I like this song a lot more. “Darling, stayyyyyy with meeee!”
9:46pm – Common comes out and talks about the tragic events going on in Ferguson, MO.
“The people in Ferguson, and St. Louis, and communities across the country have used their voices to call for justice and change to let EVERYONE know that each and every one of our lives, MATTERS. Hip Hop has always been about truth and has been a powerful instrument of social change from Melle Mel to Public Enemy to Kendrick Lamar. Hip Hop has always presented a voice for the Revolution. I want us all to take a moment of silence for Mike Brown and for Peace in this country, and in the world.”
Just awesome. I am SO GLAD that happened. The presentation of the Best Hip Hop Video that followed almost didn’t matter. In times like these, Hip Hop artists can use their platform to galvanize the masses and push positive messages. I don’t want to turn this into a post about a lack of parity in Hip Hop, but I’ll quickly mention that I believe major labels and industry forces are mostly at fault for pushing too much violent and hyper-sexual content while not offering a positive and artistic counter-balance, like there was back in the 80s and much of the 90s. So again, I’m glad we had this moment with Common and hope other artists follow suit. It’s not enough, but it’s a baby step in the right direction. Drake wins for ‘Hold On We Going Home’ – but he’s not there to accept the award. Oh well.
9:53pm – Jay Pharaoh comes back out and does his now famous Kanye impersonation. Not bad. It was funnier than the Jay bit but again, it’s getting old.
9:56pm – Usher comes out and does his set wearing all white and using a gold-colored mic which pops against the white outfit. The song he’s doing sounds a lot like ‘Just Be Good To Me’ by the S.O.S. Band. Nicki comes out to do a verse on the track, also sporting all white and looking as desirable as ever. She booty bumps Usher a few times and then he spanks her as she walks away. Great job by Usher, but Nicki thus far has stolen the show. Granted Beyonce has yet to make her appearance. I’m guessing Queen Bey will provide some fireworks before night’s end.
10:15pm – Some tween boy band called ‘5 Seconds of Summer’ perform some song called “Amnesia”. I have no idea. I feel 34 going on Medicare right now…
10:24pm – Jay Pharoah comes back out to present the ‘Artist To Watch’ award. Nice to see Schoolboy Q nominated for ‘Man of the Year’, but the Moonman goes to Fifth Harmony for ‘Miss Movin’ On’. These were the girls that rocked it during the pre-show. They all seem genuinely surprised and thrilled to win. Good for them. From a performance and vocal standpoint, they seem to have their stuff together pretty well. Hopefully their careers go more the way of a Destiny’s Child and less a Danity Kane, but we’ll see.
10:26pm – The ‘Artist To Watch’ Award was followed up by a Robin Williams tribute. It was a quick picture montage that segued into the commercial break. Hmmm… I know it’s a music award show, but once I saw the tribute begin I expected it to be a bit more lengthy. Maybe there was more at the actual show during the commercial, but the brevity of what aired on tv was disappointing.
10:31pm – My future wife is on stage to announce Iggy’s performance and plugs the ‘Booty’ remix again. God bless you J-Lo. Iggy and Rita Ora perform ‘Black Widow’ . Iggy’s rapping and she sounds Southern. Ha! I can’t front though, I’m a fan. I personally have no issues with her rap style, given all the time she spent as a teen in the South chasing her Hip Hop dream, absorbing that culture. Not that she’s off the “culture vulture” hook just yet; time and how she handles that narrative will tell. That said, her and Rita look fantastic in their black, skin-tight suits. And as has been the theme for the night, they’re both nailing their vocals. Very good performance. I was hoping for a ‘Fancy’ splice because I’m not a big fan of ‘Black Widow’, but that was certainly fun to watch. The performance breathed some life into the track that made it more enjoyable, at least for me.
10:45pm – Jimmy Fallon appears and does a bit involving a ‘Hug Cam’, a ‘High Five Cam’, and a ‘Give The Person Next To You $5 Cam’. Ugh. Was Kimmel not available??? Anyways, the Best Video VMA goes to Miley Cyrus for ‘Wrecking Ball’. Interesting development here: Miley sends a guy with long hair in a blazer to the stage to accept the award on her behalf.
“Thank you all, my name is Jesse and I’m accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 millions runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now. I know this because I’m one of these people. I’ve survived in shelters all over the city. I’ve cleaned your hotel rooms. I’ve been an extra in your movies. I’ve been an extra in your life. Though I may have been invisible to you on the streets, I have a lot of the same dreams that brought many of you here tonight. Los Angeles entertainment capital has the largest population of homeless youth in America. The music industry will make over 7 billion dollars this year and outside these doors are 54 thousand human beings who have no place to call home. If you wanna make a powerful change in the world right now, please join us and go to Miley’s Facebook page. A dream you dream alone is only a dream. But a dream you dream together is reality. Thank you so much for you time.”
Touching. Miley looked on the whole time, encouraging him to get through the speech, at times tearing up. Fallon to his credit held the mic for Jesse and was attentive and respectful throughout the speech. My guess is some naysayers out there will question Miley’s motives, but I don’t have a problem with this. I think it’s great when artists use their celebrity to promote something positive. That said, Miley goes from twerking on Robin Thicke to promoting her charity for homeless kids in 12 months. Maybe she is growing up.
10:55pm – Beyonce is up. My goodness, she looks phenomenal in a multi-colored bead encrusted 1 piece with long sleeves. This may be the best VMA ever in terms of eye candy. She starts off with a couple of verses from her track, ‘Mine’ and then announces, “MTV, welcome to my world” as she transitions into ‘Haunted’ and ‘No Angel’. From there she goes into ‘Jealous’ and picks up the energy a bit with ‘Blow’ as the word “Cherry” lights up across the stage while she sings that provocative “turn that cherry out” line. Nice. She then goes into ‘Drunk In Love’ and between her and her dancers there is so much going on as far as sexualized dancing that I’m finding it hard to type… My eyes are glued to the screen right now. ‘Rocket’ is up next, followed by ‘Partition’. The more I watch, the more I’m realizing she’s doing a lot of the same dance numbers from the ‘On The Run‘ tour, which I had the pleasure of attending.
‘Bow Down’ is up next, and if anyone in the crowd hasn’t bowed at this point, shame on you. She follows that up with ‘Flawless’ and as she performs that “sometimes sh!t go down when there’s a billion dollars on the elevator!” line from the remix the camera pans to Jay-Z in the crowd, holding their daughter. He definitely smirked when she sang it. Good stuff there. ‘Blue’ is up next, followed by ‘XO’ to close out the set. At this point Jay Z, while holding Blue Ivy, met her on stage and presented her with the ‘Michael Jackson Vanguard’ Award, calling her the “greatest living entertainer” before handing her the Moonman. Let’s think about that for a second. Beyonce is a hair shy of her 33rd birthday and she’s already receiving lifetime achievement awards bearing Michael Jackson’s name. Amazing. All hail Queen Bey.
“Thank you. I have nothing to say, but [that] I’m filled with so much gratitude. I’ll just thank God for this moment. I love ya’ll so much. Blue-boo I love you, my beloved I love you, my fans I love you, MTV I love you, good night!”
What a fantastic way to close out the show. Beyonce nailed the performance and delivered a heartfelt, albeit brief thank you speech where in the midst of all these divorce rumors going around she refers to Jay Z as her “beloved” and mentions their daughter as well, as if to quell all separation talk, at least for the night. She absolutely ROCKED. What better way to end the show than with Beyonce performing a medley of her self-titled masterpiece. Jay Z is 100% correct, she is definitely the world’s greatest living entertainer. Turns out Beyonce stole the show after all.
To conclude, this was most definitely an entertaining VMAs, despite my feeling like a fossil at times. The ladies definitely ran the night (sorry Jay Pharoah and Jimmy Fallon…), delivering fantastic performances, nailing their vocals, and looking amazingly sexy doing so. Nothing on the Nicki vs. Iggy front. They seem to be playing it cool since Nicki’s ‘no shade‘ moment, but I suspect there’s more brewing there than meets the eye. Time will tell. In any event, I hope you enjoyed my VMA timeline and found the show as enjoyable as I did. Oh look, the replay comes on as soon as the live broadcast ends. Welp, I think I’ll go ahead and check out that ‘Anaconda’ performance one more time before calling it a night. On second thought… maybe Nicki did steal the show.