Cosmic Slop #78: VMAs 2016 – obnoxious crap, and Beyonce

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The VMA's lone saving grace

The VMA’s lone saving grace -pic: MTV

As the MTV Video Music Awards desperately plod on, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby decided to watch it so you didn’t have to. 

The MTV Video Music Awards returned this week, for reasons that nobody is really sure of. I can’t even remember the last time it was relevant. Probably about the time MTV stopped playing music videos. Which begs the question; when the channel is more concerned with soft documentaries like 16 and Pregnant and faux-reality bollocks like [Insert place] Shore, why bother keeping up the pretence of being about music?

Oh! Because a bunch of the biggest stars in music need publicity! Of course!

Still, the whole thing gets more desperate every year. Take this year’s hosts – every time they appeared on screen, I died a little inside. Throughout the night, the obnoxious twerps graced the screen, proving how funny they aren’t by bellowing about things that bona fide young people like directly in my face. Hey guys, being manic doesn’t make you funny by default. In fact, it makes you repulsive.

They don’t have real names, they come to us from an alternative dimension where people are identified by their twitter handles; in this case @lizardsheeple and @theshamester. By about their third link, I realised that it was all but an expositional way to ensure the show trends, as all they did was bang on about what they were tweeting. They were supposed to be witty retorts to the show’s action. They were wrong.

I don’t know if it is just me. I am still in my 20s and every time these fuckers came on the screen, a series of expletives just left my mouth without warning. My television is now full of beer and pizza stains (I haven’t bothered to clean it). Is this what da kidz are into?

This year Rihanna won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. I’m not sure why, exactly. For the most part, I wouldn’t call her videos particularly illustrious. But, I guess she’s a big star and they wanted to guarantee she would be at the show.

She performed three or four times throughout the night; opening the show, closing the show and halfway through. They were mainly aimless medleys that reminded me of those annoying DJ’s who switch songs and add pointless special effects just as the groove is hitting. I have often wondered how she managed to forge a career as a singer. I’m not convinced she had even heard of music before signing her contract. If they ever make Nails on a Chalkboard: The Musical, I’m pretty sure she could play the lead role. My copy of the show cut out at the end, and I was happy.

It was supposed to be her big night, but she was absolutely outclassed and outperformed by Beyonce. I’m not known for being a Beyonce fan, in fact I often find her hollow, overwrought and basically dead behind the eyes, which coincidentally is exactly how the prosecutor described me in that drunk driving case (long story).

In the last year or so, though, she has been more or less nailing it for me. Her performance with Kendrick Lamar at the BET Awards was stellar, and this was too. The staging, her vocals, her presence, it was astonishing. Even her ripping off Slade In Flame’s costumes worked – and I am confident she gets most of her ideas from Noddy Holder.

But…if I’m going to nitpick…

It was probably a little too long for a show like this. It was longer than her Super Bowl performance, and by about three quarters of the way through I was kind of waiting for it to wrap-up.  And there’s still a lot about Beyonce that annoys me in general, the self-consciously messianic presentation and signature move where she strips to her underwear, puts her hands on her hips and all but rubs her Velma Dinkley on the camera lens amongst them (hey! I’m all for female empowerment, but it makes me wince as much as Michael Jackson’s awkward crotch grabs). But they are minor quibbles.

She had absolutely no competition to beat, as all other performances gave whole new meaning to the word “sucky” (which technically isn’t even a word). I’m not sure Future was rapping in English, and I’m not lying when I say I looked up where he was from to see if it was xenophobic to make fun of that fact. My three year old nephew has better diction. I couldn’t even make out what he might have been saying, save for one line; “Give myself a boss shake”, which I’m sure wasn’t the actual lyric.

Shaun’s life is so empty that he feels the need to do whinge about how shit things are every week. You could read the Cosmic Slop archive here, but we wouldn’t give him the satisfaction

Nick Jonas. There’s a name you never find yourself saying. All the Jonas Brothers are a prime examples of people who are more famous than they are successful. None of them have had a particularly successful solo career. It’s like they are all Jason Orange. Nick himself has a cheesy daytime TV persona, meaning that there’s something vaugely Jimmy Osmond about him. He performed a totally nothing song called Bacon in one of those staged a set pieces that starts backstage and then makes its way to an audience of over-enthusiastic sycophants for the last 30 seconds.

Ariana Grande proved that singing on an exercise bike underneath inflatable legs that may have been an old David Lee Roth stage prop from the 80s is more difficult than it sounds, given that she provided a truly dreadful vocal performance. She was joined by Nicki Minaj, who I am not a fan of, but even I can’t deny that she has a powerful presence that only highlighted Grande’s lameness.

Once again, MTV allotted Kanye West a long period of time to speak in the hope that he would say something controversial. We know this because he banged on for seven minutes and the show still pretty much ran to time. If they hadn’t planned on it, they would have cut him off the minute he said “I’m going to talk first”. This is a slick TV network with advertisers to honour, after all. So, yeah, they are more than encouraging these moments, they are outright facilitating it.

The thing is, he often says things that make a lot of sense, in theory. But he has such an air of arrogance that it makes me not care, which does his message (if there is one) more harm than good. He will then follow it up with something dumb, which then devalues whatever point he is making.

Technically, he was there to introduce the World Premier of his new vide Fade. It starred Teyana Taylor and was apparently inspired by a training montage that forgot to include more than one scene. At the end there was a shower scene with Taylor and her husband and then she was back in the gym, where she had turned into a cat and was surrounded by sheep.

One of the big supposed coups of the event was the return of Britney Spears. Kim Kardashian introduced her as “the VMA’s original pop princess”, which meant I was expecting Madonna to walk on stage. Actually, there are some small parallels between Britney and Madonna; neither are particularly good at anything. But, in the same way that Madonna is the best damn Madonna anyone could be, Britney Spears is a top class Britney Spears.

The difference, of course, is Madonna’s boundary breaking importance, clever performance art approach and knack for sourcing talented young producers and writers, none of which Britney has ever been anywhere near proficient at.

As expected, her big comeback performance was underwhelming in every sense of the word. Even by cutting her some slack for following Beyonce, you kind of have to give it a very weak “meh”. At one point, she switched from a lapel microphone to a hand held, despite the fact that she was clearly lip synching, rendering that a totally pointless move.

She was joined by a rapper named G-Eazy, who came on stage with the kind of look that might have been edgy in 1956. Britney grabbed his crotch, which seemed like a half-arsed attempt to recreate that time Hannah Montana twerked on Beetlejuice a few years back.

And then this happened.

And it was awkward.

Thus ends the 2016 VMA’s. Once again, the onus was very much on creating talking points and providing people with free PR rather than celebrating anything worth celebrating. Beyonce, however, did manage to prove that it is possible to brilliantly do all of that at once, whilst pretty much everyone else just coasted.

Perhaps a little offensive was that Prince, one of the people who helped build MTV back when it mattered, wasn’t mentioned once. I get that the BET Awards already nailed the awards show Prince tribute, but the channel itself reverted to taking off their shit reality shows and playing wall-to-wall Prince videos the day he passed. Obviously, the thought of Drake covering Little Red Corvette makes the world throw up in our collective mouths, but not even an acknowledgement?

I’m not sure why I care. Maybe it’s because for a night that mainly celebrated the most dire of mediocrity, tipping the hat to a true genius would have been a welcome breather.

All in all, a review in a nutshell looks like this; crap, crap, obnoxious, crap, cheesy, crap, rambling crap, Beyonce, crap. Did I learn anything? Yes. Madison Square Garden appears to be circular, as opposed to a square.

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