Tuesday, August 27, 2013

2013 VMA Review

The VMAs did NOT disappoint this year!

Ok. The ceremony started with a really up-close shot of a wide-eyed, crazed-looking Gaga-her face in the middle of a white block. 

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I love that that's the first image we saw!! LOL She started in on some opera-esque sound..She lost the white block framing her face, stripped down and segued int Applause. Her dancers outfitted her with 2 different wigs and sequined outfits for the first part of the song, She is such a drag queen! Love it. Then she disappeared and re-emerged wearing a sea shell bra and thong. Damnnnn her body is looking good!!! People kept talking about it throughout the ceremony..just tight and toned..with an ass! Anyways, it wasn't as cray cray as I thought it would be but I did enjoy it.

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I didn't realize there was no host this year, which I did not miss at all. Shit just got started right away and the first award they handed out was for Best Female Video: Come and Get It, Selena Gomez! I didn't see that coming at all (despite the fact that it was a beautiful video)! She would have been my choice for who I wanted to win, but I saw it going to Taylor or Miley. Thank God it didn't!

Speaking of.. Miley was the first to perform of the night and it's emerged as the most talked-about performance of the night-for all the wrong reasons!! Omg. I can't. 

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Watch if you dare.

We ALL knew Miley wasn't going to serve up any sort of class or substance.. and we all expected  it to be some ratchet ass shit.! And I don't like using that word but I think that is just the best way to describe what went down! Also: Tasteless, talentless, image nightmare, offensive, disgusting, horrifying, embarrassing, etc.

Sticking her tongue out, making those stupid faces, thrusting, shaking her ass.. Then Robin Thicke came out and it was more of the same, except she stripped down to reveal and nude-looking silicone bra and panty (?) set and shit was not flattering. The look of endless Memes. !

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On my prediction blog I touched on cultural appropriation via Miley's adoption of her idea of  "Black culture" and this went even further than her video.. Just as I said her video featured black women as props, she featured them as such again in her performance of the song-They were literally the teddy bears. And she used the giant black woman from Beechers' Madhouse (I'm an LA nightlife local, cough cough) to motorboat? mime rimming? and spank as she passed by. Reducing black women's bodies to sexualized props to be seen or touched for your entertainment. The audience reactions said it all. Horrifying. Horrifying at the shallowest surface level and even more-so when you look at the deeper subtext of what she's demonstrating.

How does she recover from that?? We shall see, but I think it's safe to say there is pretty much no one on her side who can say that was in any way a good performance. Probably more universally panned than Brit Brit's zombie walk through Gimme More in 2007! Oye.

Lil Kim and Iggy Azalea come out to present the award for Best Hip Hop Video, which went to Macklemore for Can't Hold Us, which was the only good nominee. He was looking good!

Kanye performance!! It was reported everywhere that he was going to do Black Skinhead but he came out doing Blood on the Leaves. It started out with a darkly lit close-up of his face and then cut away to just his shadowy figure spazzing/dancing in front of a background scene. It was simple but I really loved it. I'm obsessed with the way he moves.

Best Female Video: I knew You Were Trouble, Taylor Swift. Of course she gets up there and gives a bratty little finger-wag, thanking the person who inspired the song "And he know EXACTLY who he is".  Perpetual Martyr. Stop whining about every guy who's done you wrong and move on. I wish Kanye would have come up there again!!

Best Video with a Social Message: Same Love, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Of course. They come up and give a great acceptance speech about how they really wanted to win for Best Hip Hop but this was so far and away the most important award for them.. the evolving landscape of gay rights/acceptance. Gay Rights are Human Rights..It was a poignant moment.

Ok....What happened next was the most unexpectedly magical, spectacular moment (15 minute moment) of the night and, dare I say, in VMA history! I knew Justin Timberlake was scheduled to perform but that didn't spark any excitement or expectations from me At All. It almost didn't even register.. like, Oh.. JT's performing..? That might be Ok I guess.. OH MY GOD. His performance was so out of left-field spectacular it blew my mind. It started with him performing Take Back the Night in some lobby, probably of the Barclays Center, then he appeared on stage and slowly started in with.... SEXYBACK!! You don't even know ! I wasn't (before this night) even that big of a JT fan but I still die for SexyBack. And!! I remember, when he performed at the VMAs in 2007, after a whole summer of SexyBack tearing it up, he DIDN'T PERFORM SEXYBACK. It left so much to be desired, for me, personally, and this redeemed everything, and them some. He said "I still run this bitch!" and he's so right.. After a 7 year hiatus from releasing new music and a lame ass return single, he still runs this shit and can do a better performance than ANYONE.
And I am not even a third of the way done. After SexyBack, he continued to do: Like I Love You (Omgg flashbacks to 2002 when he emerged for his solo debut on the VMA stage with that light-up boombox), My Love, Cry me a River, What Goes Around, Senorita..Rock Your Body..!!!!!!!!!!! And these aren't 20 second snippets-he goes a good way into the whole song. And chereography!!!! Out the Ass!!! Ev.er.y. single move is sharp, crisp, exact, on-point!!! Singing live, sounding amazing, nostalgia swells and there is much glory!!!!!

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Not done.

He disappears for a sec and then you see spotlights on 5 figures.. Oh My God it's NSYNC!!!!! The guitars for Girlfriend come on and people go crazy! But they have already been on their feet going crazy for like 10 minutes. They do Girlfriend and then Bye Bye Bye. They are so happy JT FINALLY threw them a bone and let them dance and sing with him for all of 90 seconds. That was the biggest moment of Lance, Chris, JC and Joey's LIVES of last 10 years. And we won't see them again for another 10 ! Hope they enjoyed it!!

JT KEEPS ON GOING. He does Suit and Tie.. and finished with Mirrors. I am out of breath even typing what all went down. He MURDERED IT!! This performance was not even on my fucking radar and he killed it so hard!! It wasn't even an awards-show performance that climaxes quickly after like 3 minutes with some theatrics.. This was a mini-concert, a fucking marathon!! And it was ALL JT. Yeah he had backup dancers but your eyes were on him the whole time. No costume changes, no gimmicky background images, smoke, flying through the air.. it was just him dancing, singing, performing like I have never seen anyone do! Reminding us why he runs this bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!! JT just had the BEST VMA MOMENT OF ALL TIME!!!!!

My boo Jamal brought up the fact that you know JT had to FIGHT to convince MTV to give him a 15 minute performance. That is like an 8th of the whole ceremony!! They don't give NOBODY 15 minutes!! That's pretty fucking amazing.

Then buddy Jimmy Fallon presented Justin with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award. This was just on another level. When Britney was presented with the Video Vanguard award 2 years ago that lazy trick didn't even perform!!!!! She has some troop of 12 year olds dance to a mashup of her songs!! She just waddled onstage with some "Thanks to the fans and my babies" BS and walked off.!! Wowwww. Your ex-boo just put you to shame girl.

Jason Collins (recently out NBA player) and A$AP Rocky introduce Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert to perform Same Love. It was good. I love Macklemore and his spastic, uncoordinated movements, even for this song. I love it.. J.Hud came out towards the end and sang with them. Jamal said he kind of didn't like that she appeared in the performance because it was such a surprise that it stole the spotlight from Mary Lambert. I didn't even think of that, but it's true. Here they are performing an important socially-aware song, most people's first time ever even seeing who the woman behind that beautiful voice is.. It should have been a moment for us to appreciate the song and the unique artists behind it and a totally unrelated powerhouse singer swoops in and steals a bit of the focus. It's true though. Nothing against J.Hud but.. maybe she should have just let them make the moment.

Drake performance: He started out with Hold on We"re Going Home and then shifts into Started from the Bottom. It was good but this was a ceremony of AMAZING performances so it got lost in the shuffle.

Best Male Video: Locked out of Heaven, Bruno Mars!!! Yay!! Love that video.

Bruno performs his newest single, Gorilla. I'm not about sex-songs but this performance was really good. I love his expressions and movements. His face is so soulful when he sings!! What a freakin cutie!!! Will Smith approved. (They were cutting to his ass all show long!! Every fucking performance or acceptance they would cut to Will Smith and the kids to show their reaction! I just thought that was so random. and hilarious.)

VIDEO OF THE YEAR! Goes to.... Mirrors. Ok I'm not a fan of the video but I ain't sayin shit after all JT just blessed us with.

The ceremony closes with some cliche, overdone boxing-themed performance by Katy Perry. The scene was cool- It was a ring set up outside with the Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop. Like the real Brooklyn Bridge. It was a great setting wasted on a boring performance. It was just baisc. Reductive, to use a Madonna-word. The only person who can make a boxing-theme cool and not contrived is Xtina!!!

Let me catch my breath!!!

SO. I've been glorifying 2009's VMAs as the best I can remember watching but this one might take the cake. It just proves my thoughts that the VMAs are infinitely better in New York. It's on so much more of a grand scale in NYC.. LA just can't compare. And that seems to set the tone for the whole show too-the red carpet, performances, and EVERYTHING are just better in New York. As much as I'd love to attend the VMAs in LA, I'd rather preserve the credibility and grandiouse nature of the ceremony and keep it in NYC!!

Ending notes/themes- Miley is a mess. Justin is an entertainment God. Taylor's a martyr. Gaga is bangin. And we should always watch for Will Smith's approval.

Aand Robin Thicke walked away with NO awards for that distasteful, ignorant video, despite being nominated in three major categories. And his association with Miley via their performance together was surely embarrassing and a little damning. SORRY ROBIN.

Despite that embarrassing spectacle, I am thoroughly pleased-even delighted- with the 2013 VMAs. Like I said on Facebook- JT brought it to the highest possible level.. and Miley brought it to an ultra embarrassing low!! But the VMAs are nothing without drama, so the Miley-low was actually an integral part of the show. At least it got people talking, thinking, evaluating, and hopefully looking at pop culture on a deeper level. I wrote my final university senior paper on Kanye's Twitter rant/apology about his VMA incident, and Miley's performance could for SURE be dissected and analyzed deeply enough to serve as a dissertation. Engage the culture (Sorry, SPU)! That is what the VMAs are all about.! So sad they're over for another year..but already looking forward to 2014!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2013 VMA Nominees, Predictions and Commentary

I'm back!!! It's been a year since I posted; It was for the 2012 VMA predictions post..! And here I am again to give my two cents.. I haven't been posting much lately as I have been experiencing different stages of an identity crisis for the past 8 and a half months since Kim got pregnant and had that baby. I can't really say I'm her anymore because of that...pretty much everything else lined up with her before but now there's this huge disparity between my values and desires for my life and what she has done in hers! I don't want kids!  I won't get into all of that but that is what I've been going through.

On a brighter note I AM so excited for the VMA's this year! Just like last year, I was NOT excited about the nominees and wasn't going to make a blog but I watched all the videos and mustered up some insights. My excitement this year comes not from the nominees but from the scheduled performances!! GAGA is returning to the VMA stage (she's the opener!) to perform her new single Applause from her new album, ArtPop. Gaga always shuts it down!! My favorite performance from a VMA ceremony EVER was when she did Paparazzi back in 2009, AKA the best VMA ceremony that I can remember (Kanye mic-stealing, Beyonce's Single Ladies performance..the best!!). Then she performed as Jo Calderone, doing a monologue and singing You and I to open the VMAs in 2011. So obviously I am beyond excited for that.

Kanye is going to perform Black Skinhead, which I'm actually pretty surprised they are going to let him do. Between his and Gaga's performances, it sounds like there's going to be a lot of theatrics and drama. Other confirmed performers include: Bruno Mars (I LOVE his performances, esp. at the VMAs), Justin Timberlake (with rumored N*Sync reunion?), Miley Cyrus (please spare us the twerking), Katy Perry, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and Robin Thicke. It's going to be gooood!

JT and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis lead the pack with 6 noms each, followed by Bruno Mars and Robin Thicke. It looks like the pendulum has swung back the other way to be very male dominated this year! Last year was in the middle I guess (uneventful and not very notable) and before that it was heavily female dominated. When Justin is around he brings it, because the last time it was male dominated (in my mind) was back in 2007 when it was JT, Kanye, 50, Timbaland, etc.

Anyways, let's talk!!

Video of the Year

Macklemore &Ryan Lewis feat. Wanz, "Thrift Shop"
Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"
Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"

Thrift Shop is just such a fun music video! I'm going to have a Seattle bias anytime I'm talking about one of his videos since he always seems to feature the city in some way.. But the track and the video are just so creative and different. it seems pretty low budget and I'm impressed by how much they were able to do with it! This was our (or at least most people's) first time ever seeing Macklemore and I think it was great; we got to see how much swag he's got!!

I love the Locked Out of Heaven video too because it's also so different! Love the retro effects and Michael Jackson-y feel.. and Bruno is just too perfect in this video!!

Blurred Lines.... where do I even start. I loved the song but was so disappointed when I saw the video. I just have a lot of problems with the subtext of the video. Was it really necessary to use three naked women dancing and bouncing around you, TI and Pharrell-fully-clothed, dressed like gentlemen? Showing that you have acheived success because you have multiple naked women at your beck and call to just prance around like little girls, bouncing their tits without a care in the world, having fun? At the end of the day, when one person is naked and another is fully clothed, it's a power difference and it shows who's in control and who's vulnerable.  The line sung "You're an animal" followed by one of the guys brushing and stroking a naked girl's hair like she's literally a creature from the animal kingdom. Super passive, the girls are just nodding along to whatever the guys say or do, meowing like a cat, having toy cars roll over their bodies, having smoke blown in their face and coughing.. I really do find it disgusting, what they're conveying in this video. Which is sooo disappointing because there are a lot of things I like about the video!  All three guys look so good in their suits! I love their weird looks into the camera, the dancing, moseying around.. if it was just them, or perhaps with some fully-clothed women I'd like the video a lot more.

I knew you were trouble..girl please. Thank you at least for giving me a good laugh by giving us a glimpse at your acting skills trying to look strung out and confused for the first minute and a half of the video.! Overall, she just ripped off Rihanna's We Found Love video! Starting it with a retrospect, wiser self-narration, looking miserable from what she just went through, then showing the back and forth flashes between the good times and the really bad, complete with obvious drug metaphors, strung out scenes in a motel with her boyfriend, tattooing, intense scenes in the cars.. I hope you got Rihanna's permission to steal her whole video concept !

Who SHOULD win: Thrift Shop! He did the most with a small budget and it was his grand entrance !! he didn't have to rely on stealing anyone's video concept or resorting to some cliche, cheap sexism. My second choice would be Bruno though!

Who WILL win: Ughh.. I'm fearing Blurred Lines.

Best Hip Hop Video

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton, "Can't Hold Us"
Drake, "Started From The Bottom"
Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools"
A$AP Rocky feat. Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, "F--kin' Problems"
J. Cole feat. Miguel, "Power Trip"

Can't Hold Us- How many countries and continents did they even film this video in?? If Thrift Shop made it work with a smaller budget, this made it work with obviously bigger funds! This video is pretty epic, I must say. And it ended on the Space Needle! Before I even knew it was going to feature Seattle, I first saw the view from the top of the needle and immediately recognized it. Love it!

Started from the Bottom- What a terrible video! From last year, thinking Drake had one of the best videos of the year with Take Care, to this mess! This video is all over the place with no focus. He doesn't even look good in it. And all the drug store scenes were wack. Terrible video.

I love Swimming Pools as a song but the video didn't do enough for me. It was trying to be a artsy but it just came across boring and slow.

Problems..you would think a video with that many guys on it would be kind of epic but it looked low budge and LAME to me.

Power Trip was whatever for me too. Damn last year's nominees were wayyy better!! These are all a let-down.

Who should win: Can't Hold Us. The only nominee that put in effort! They gave viewers a magical trip around the world!! 

Who will win: Can't Hold Us

Best Male Video

Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell, "Blurred Lines"
Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven">
Ed Sheeran, "Lego House"
Kendrick Lamar, "Swimming Pools"

Mirrors was a mess too, but this could evade you if you were distracted by the smoke and mirrors (no pun intended). I was so not amused by the slow-moving older couple and their flashbacks. It didn't have a full story, right? Like you didn't know what their story really was? It was just an old couple and flashing back to when they were young. And I think it was poorly done. The period they flashed back to didn't seem believable or look accurate. It didn't look like it was a flashback; It just looked like a retro-styled modern shoot. Not convincing. But thanks for all the artsy mirror metaphors on every wall, JT. The only good part was at the very end when the song slowed down and it actually showed Justin dancing in between all the mirrors. The only good part. Mirrors is a bad video disguised as a good video.

I already shared my thoughts on Blurred Lines, Locked Out of Heaven and Swimming Pools.

I don't care much for Lego House. Why did that video even make the list?

Who should win: Bruno

Who will win: Mirrors. You low-brow people will be fooled by anything shiny (Pun not intended!!).

Best Female Video

Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko, "Stay"
Taylor Swift, "I Knew You Were Trouble"
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
Pink feat. Nate Ruess, "Just Give Me A Reason"
Demi Lovato, "Heart Attack"

Everyone seemed to love Rihanna's video for Stay but I don't get it. It's just her in a bathtub with less makeup than usual, looking sad. THAT'S it. I kept waiting for it to flash to another scene or show something else to add to the story... nothing.

I was a mild Miley supporter back in the Party in the USA days but she's turned into something terrible. I hate it. The song is wack to me and the video is just gross. Why is she trying to act like some hood chick? Twerking anytime there's a camera on her, including this video, surrounded by all black women as her props (to give her cred or make her seem more legit), wearing a grill and all those stupid faces she makes..She's trying to convey that she doesn't give a fuck, she's tough, she's edgy..by adopting the styles, trends, dance moves of black people. She's a privileged white girl  " 'playing' at being a minority specifically from a lower socio-economic level.
"  I could get into some more cultural appropriation analysis here but I'll spare you.

Just Give Me a Reason..just give me a break.

Heart Attack.. I actually like the track a lot but this video looks too much like a Kelly Clarkson video. The shots where she's wearing less makeup with the black hands is just weird.. she looks like an alien and the shots where she's all done up she just looks like Kelly Clarkson!!
 I do like Demi, but this video is a mess.

Who should win: None !

Who will win: Disappointment.   (Taylor or Miley)

Best Pop Video

Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Justin Timberlake, "Mirrors"
Fun., "Carry On"
Miley Cyrus, "We Can't Stop"
Selena Gomez, "Come and Get It"

I've reviewed all of these except Carry On (which I will not even review because the sight of that lead singer makes me want to vomit, he is grotesque!!) and Come and Get It.. which I surprisingly liked!! I've never seen Selena as pretty; I've always thought she looks like a little rat or other rodent, but this video helped me to see her as beautiful for the first time! She is GORG in this !! The whole video is gorg-the scenery, beautiful wardrobe, the close-ups of her mouth, the slow-motion of her beautiful dresses blowing in the wind and moving with her..omg. This video officially won me over.

DISCLAIMER: YES I know I was on Miley about cultural appropriation and this video has elements of that too..with the Indian stuff, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. I don't even think she was wearing a bindi. So just out of fairness I do have to acknowledge that as an impartial judge and deduct a few points... but still!! The video is exquisite!

Who should win: Locked out of Heaven or Come and Get It

Who will win: Mirrors, ugh.

Artist To Watch, Presented by Taco Bell

Twenty One Pilots, "Holding On To You"
Zedd feat. Foxes, "Clarity"
Austin Mahone, "What About Love"
The Weeknd, "Wicked Games"
Iggy Azalea, "Work"

Is this a new category? I'm confused.. because the VMAs aren't about the artists themselves or even just the song..it's about the Music Video. So.. the fact that this category is Artist to Watch makes me think they are confused and just talking about the artist? Or maybe the artist to watch in this case is represented solely by this one selected video?  That's how I'll be evaluating, anyway.

Holding On To You- You know I get irritated when people get nominated that I have never heard of.. but this one was surprisingly good. I like the song and the video. It wasn't so good that I'm about to look into their other songs, but I did appreciate the video.

Clarity has been all over the radio this year and I do like the song a lot actually, though I've never been compelled to check out the video.. I'm so glad I did for this review! It was so good! It conveyed the feeling of the song so well.. I was mesmerized watching and totally felt the feeling of helplessness, powerlessness of this force you have no control over. The images of light bulbs or other objects colliding and breaking, the image of the guy being thrown though the air.. powerless against the forces of gravity or inertia or LOVE or anything else. Props!

What About Love.. this video and especially song belong in 1999! This song has N*Sync written all over it! I can't review this.

Wicked Games.. if this was general Artist to watch, then I'd say the Weeknd definitely has the most momentum going to be considered the most worthy of "watching", but this video didn't do anything for me, sorry.

Iggy Izalea Work!! Now Git this Work!!!! Her twang is a bit much for me but this video is the shit. My best friend Rachel/Bambi showed me this video when it first came out and I was like Okayyyyy! Some of Iggy's video's/songs in the past have been too much for me and reek of cultural approriation (see: Pu$$y, Bounce) but this one strikes the right balance between fab glam and honest and real. It's her story!!

Yes she has black women twerking around her.. but she wasn't born into wealth living a life of privilege from the start like Miley, who has no real connection to that life.  I feel like she has the background to be about to feature that if she wants to and it's not out of place.. Go watch it right now, click past the slow part in the beginning where you hear her speak, ow that hurts my ears.. Start at 00:27; the rest is good!!

Who should win: Clarity or Work!!

Who will win: The Weeknd? I dont know!

And that's all the relevant categories I feel are worthy of review! Stay Tuned ! Can't wait for the red carpet and performances!! The VMA's air this Sunday, August 25th, 2013!!