The MTV Video Music Awards are almost always the most overhyped event of the year, but their knack for courting controversy (or even courting entertainment) has slipped in the new millennium. But with host Jack Black and a bevy of next-gen performers and nominees, this year's version of the VMAs seemed like they could break the mold, and the only way to come to a conclusion is to break it down. Join me on the journey through the outer reaches of music television.
I missed the first part of the pre-show, which seems like it's been pretty grating, but right now My Chemical Romance are killing. Seriously, this record is spectacular, and it's a bummer that this song's premiere is in a live setting where the sound isn't perfect. Why the hell can't MTV produce live music? It probably has something to do with the fact that they're forcing MCR to perform on top of the damn GE building, but seriously, we can't mix the microphones correctly?
The other pre-show stuff I have seen is just confusing. Why SuChin Pak had to pimp for All-American Rejects' car is mysterious, and the reasoning must be twice as stupid. I like how they take John Norris out of deep freeze once a year just so he can lob softballs at LL Cool J (memo to LL: turning to 50 for your career renaissance is so 2004; look at what it's done for Mobb Deep). And Gideon Yago's heavy-handedness in introducing My Chemical Romance was totally unnecessary and utterly goofy. My Chem are heavy enough -- they don't need anybody's awkward attempts at gravitas.
Oh, and I totally knew the answer to the trivia question about the first band to play the VMA pre-show.
I want to trust Gerard Way, but man, any time anybody mentions the words "rock opera," I got a little numb. It just seems like the rate of success for those things is really low. Then again, I said the same thing about American Idiot. I'll admit I was the idiot on that one.
SuChin Pak interviewing Paris Hilton. It's two bad things that go worse together!
My mom just called. UConn 7, Rhode Island 0. Just in case you were wondering.
I'm normally anti-facial hair, but Brandon Flowers has the greatest mustache I have ever seen. Sam's Town is totally amazing. Deal with that.
Do we need an ad for the VMAs six minutes before they start? If they haven't hooked you by now, there's probably no hope.
So Diddy has a spokesman tonight? Eek. How is it that Diddy is still rich? When was the last time they had a hit record? I suppose Danity Kane is number one. And people seem to like Yung Joc. Okay, so maybe he is still rich. But I'm still upset.
I tried to convince SPIN.com correspondent Emily Zemler to trip Fergie during her performance on the red carpet. It doesn't look like she did it. Disappointing. (Ed. note: According to Zemler, Fergie was never within ankle's reach) What the hell is Snoop even doing there? He seems as confused as I am.
This Overdrive thing seems like it'd be pretty cool. Sadly, I have a Mac, so it's dead to me. Memo to MTV: Make Overdrive compatible for Macs! The fact that I can't watch all that Laguna Beach-related bonus material really chafes my caboose.
Gideon's reference to the "November Rain" video when referencing the My Chemical Romance performance is just stupid. First of all, there were a dozen sets for that video. Second of all, he's probably thinking of the rooftop shot from "Don't Cry" (the one with the helicopter and Shannon Hoon). Do your damn research, Yago. I hope they leave him on top of the GE building.
Is it me, or did the whole pre-show seem to exist just to insult Miami? Everybody talked about how great it was to be back in New York and how much Miami sucked. I don't have an argument with that, but still...Miamians? Do you feel slighted?
JT looks like Pee-Wee Herman from the back. There, I said it. Actually, my roommate Sean said it. He'll be chiming in repeatedly throughout this adventure.
The set looks pretty cool -- it actually appears as though it's an award show and not a terrible modern art exhibit.
Timbaland! I'm still not convinced that "Sexyback" is all that great, but I like that Timbaland gets to mug for a national cable audience. Though does he need to dress like an Idlewild extra?
Is it just a mix problem, or was nobody saying "Yeah" when JT asked? Oh, and I should have mentioned it during the pre-show, but Jennifer Lopez looks like she's a bag lady from the future. Deal with that.
I like the two douches who run MTV. So far, I'm sold on Jack Black. And he's right -- most of the awards over the past twenty years have sucked. Seriously, what's the batting average for these things? Maybe three have been entertaining in their whole history.
So in the Raconteurs/Lou Reed pairing, who's stroking who? Jack White arguably has more cred than Lou Reed, right?
Didn't MTV steal this schtick from the Emmys? The fact that the whole fiasco just isn't very good? And who missed Lil Kim? Nobody kept any lighters up. That last record wasn't very good, and I think everybody forgot she was even in the clink. I know I did.
Lil Kim, you are not bringing sexy back. We turn to JT for that.
Congratulations to James Blunt, whose win is probably considered an upset. He should really be thanking VH1 for playing his video, not MTV. See you on Celebrity Duets in a year.
Black's gold suit is pretty boss. So far he's handling this pretty well. He actually manages to sell an appearance by Ciara. Who's Ciara again?
Andre 3000's riding boots: Mistake?
It'd be great if Three Six Mafia won the Oscar but lost the VMA. To me, that only reinforces how meaningless the Oscars have become.
The fact that "My Humps" won anything other than "Worst Thing to Have Ever Been Created by Man" is pretty staggering.
The Rock needs to have less hair. It looks like the dude is wearing a toupee (and an unconvincing one at that). Rocky, I love ya, but seriously, just get back in the ring and deliver the People's Elbow already. The streets can't wait!
Shakira still sounds like she needs to clear her throat whenever she sings -- she's got the craziest vowels in all of pop music -- but this song is pretty great. For some reason, they've decided to recreate one of those terrible belly dancing workout videos as the performance. Actually, my girlfriend Nicole made that observation. She'll be joining us tonight as well.
On the other hand, remember when Wyclef was the guy in hip-hop? Yeah, I barely do either. It seems like "Ready or Not" was an awfully long time ago.
I just interviewed Bam Margera last week, and he said that he was really disappointed that he didn't break any bones making the new Jackass movie. Good to see he's still gung-ho about hurting himself. A good bit. Obviously Fall Out Boy will win Viewer's Choice -- nobody knows their way around a text message like emo kids.
Nicole says: "It's almost 9 -- it must be Lou Reed's bed time."
I'll say it again -- Laguna Beach is absolutely the best show on television. Deal with that.
LL Cool J needs to take some sort of class on aging with dignity -- the dude just looks like a goofball. He's like twice as old as 50 Cent, and is still trying to make a grab at a market that left him a long time ago. Come on, dude -- I know rappers don't age well, but there must be options. Then again, LL was in Deep Blue Sea, so what the hell does he know about dignity?
I love the tradition of the presenters accepting awards for absent winners. As though 50 Cent hangs out with Kelly Clarkson on a regular basis. Actually, that'd be an incredibly awesome collaboration. Let's try to work that out for 2007, okay?
Sean: "Why isn't Clarkson there?"
Nicole: "Because she has dignity?"
Burned! Honestly, I don't think this show has been as bad as years past. But it's still early.
Why are rappers constantly asking us to put our hands up? Do they enjoy B.O.? Seriously, I want to know.
I don't want to get too blue, but in the middle of "Moneymaker," does Ludacris suggest that his genitalia can be used as a flotation device? Rappers confuse me.
Enter the Pussycat Dolls. Exit my sanity.
Here's what you need to know: Sean absolutely hates Sarah Silverman. So her segment is creating a great deal of tension in our apartment. It's not that funny either, which doesn't help matters. Though I'll have to agree with her: Space travel is really gay.
Kyle Gass, ladies and gentlemen. The dude's a genius. Go see The Pick of Destiny. Just go. "I'm like Jared Leto, and you're my 30 Seconds to Mars." Take that, Jordan Catalano!
Sean says: "Is there anything more pathetic than a half-hearted 'Woo'?" The answer: Not really. Jessica Simpson needs to not be drunk on stage. Sean is clutching the Mr. Met doll that lives on our couch, because he's afraid of J. Simp. Rightfully so.
The Pussycat Dolls are accepting their award for something or other, but does the display behind them really say "Pants"? One question: Why? Follow-up question: The hell?
Whenever I hear that "Buttons" song and Kelly Kelly isn't stripping, I get confused. If you get that joke, then you're probably down with R-V-D.
So Pussycat Dolls are pro-pants? And dancers make music look hot? I told you I'd go a little insane once PCD hit the stage.
Here's the problem with OK Go performing this treadmill thing live: Everyone, even their fans, are rooting for them to fall. It's the only reason to watch this, isn't it? If they really wanted to kick this thing up a notch, they'd set the treadmills on fire.
Okay, I was skeptical, but that was wildly entertaining. Well done, OK Go. You deserve a second bow.
UConn 31, Rhode Island 7. It's the Huskies' world, and we're all just living in it.
Call me a simpleton, but I love Jackass. These bits have been great. In the battle of Steve-O versus lobster, lobster wins every time.
So Nicole Richie is trying to become the first two-dimensional person in history, right?
Corset = Dirrrrty? Damn, I should have paid attention in calculus. Pink wins an award. Everyone is nonplussed. What do you think Nicole Richie thinks of that video that makes fun of her? Not a thing? Yep, you're probably right.
John Norris is showing us some sort of control room, and he SHOULD NEVER HAVE TURNED AROUND. What the hell is eating the back of his shirt? It looks like a mutant dragon Smurf is trying to hump his neck.
I'm calling it: This Raconteurs thing is a dud. Wouldn't it have been better if they had played the winners' songs? Or thematic songs? Or White Stripes songs?
Is Snoop allowed to drink on camera like that? Oh, Snoop does what he wants? Good point. I would pay good money (though probably not enough for Snoop) if the D-O-G-G blazed one on air. We dare to dream.
I'm glad Chamillionaire won. And a nice batch of shout-outs to DJ Screw and Fat Pat.
Did he just call out 20/20? Chamillionaire versus Barbara Walters in a cage match. Deal with it.
"Ring the Alarm" might be the worst song of the year. Seriously. I'm changing the channel.
Man, Zathura sucks. Thanks for nothing, Starz.
Back to MTV. Two-A-Days is an excellent show. If you hate Laguna Beach, you'll love it. If you love Laguna Beach you'll love it also. It pretty much puts the Laguna idiom in a non-glamorous high school in Alabama. What more could you possibly want?
These Silverman bits are painfully unfunny. Why didn't they, you know, write jokes?
I like T.I., but he's got a long way to go as a performer. This seems really amateurish. Plus, why the hell are we opening with "Shoulda Lean"?
MTV hates me, because Jared Leto has a camera pointed at him. Sean says: "Why is he dressed like a Goth pilot from the 1920s?" It's not a good look.
Jared Leto is not bringing sexy back. I'll say it again: ONLY JT IS BRINGING SEXY BACK.
Good for All-American Rejects. Way to be drunk. Honestly, it makes for better television. This show should have a two-drink minimum. Could you imagine how much more entertaining Beyonce would be if she were two sheets to the wind? Don't pretend you're not wishing for it.
Are we really going to do this for another hour? Honestly, this show hasn't been nearly as painful as the last couple of years, but there also hasn't been anything truly memorable. It's very competent -- which I think is also true of the music on the show (and the music on MTV in general).
Congratulations to Fort Minor for...Best Ringtone? Uh, isn't this the video awards? I'm really confused. The Fort Minor dude seems to be taking this seriously, which makes me even more confused. In fact, has anybody thanked that many people all night?
Jay-Z looks like he regrets executive producing this Fort Minor record. I don't blame him, though I'm sure he cashed some checks on it.
Panic! at the Disco welcome us to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Seriously, has Tim Burton considered a lawsuit? Those trees look very A Nightmare Before Christmas. (I later discover that Panic is participating in a Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack project; so...product placement?)
So riding boots are the new trucker hats?
Is there anybody out there who isn't rooting for Fergie to pee her pants again? Now that would be a memorable MTV moment.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD! I love this band, even though I'm pretty sure it makes me a little dumber. And the "Bat Country" video is genuinely cool. That Little Miss Sunshine girl just looks afraid, though.
Okay Internet, what did that dude from Avenged Sevenfold say that got censored? I demand your collective Wiki-knowledge!
Jack White does not seem amused by Jack Black. Bummer. Of course, Jack Black made that same joke in the pages of Spin three years ago. I wasn't even working here then, but I'm going to take credit for it.
Is it me, or should Britney and Kevin not mock their bad parenting, considering they appear to actually be bad parents? Sean (my roommate, not their kid) says yes. Deal with it.
Also, where the hell are Britney and Kevin where they can't show up? That thing appears to have been shot in the dressing rooms at Radio City. Did they just not want to walk onstage?
Sean: "Kanye looks primed to say something crazy." He's right. How's this going to go? I think "Hype Williams taught me what shoes to buy" qualifies as crazy. Well done, Mr. West.
If I'm hearing him correctly, he just compared Hype Williams to Picasso and Warhol. It's true -- whenever I see the Campbell's soup can, I think, "This is an awful lot like Belly."
Hype Williams' primary skill appears to be making things expensive. Since when is that a sign of a visionary? Still, that "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See" clip is pretty boss.
Okay, that "Sock It 2 Me" video is awesome as well.
Hype Williams is boring without his crazy hair. Back to Zathura.
Yep, still sucks.
Sarah Silverman is back for a third bit? Did somebody cancel or what? The bits just aren't funny. She sort of makes me yearn for the genius of Zathura.
What the hell is Yo Momma? And why are people still writing checks for Wilmer Valderamma? The world may never know.
Sean's calling it: These new MTV ads aren't working. Does that tag line "Eat. Dance. Puke" disturb anyone else?
What else are they storing underneath Radio City? T.I. had those kids he was stashing, and apparently Christina Aguilera keeps an orchestra down there. What a raw deal.
Sean says: "Is that Fivel on piano?" Actually, it's Linda Perry, but she acts as another exhibit in the case of Kyle v. People Who Wear Stupid Hats.
Lou Reed's back! Why? Even Lou Reed doesn't know. But he does want more rock and roll. And he loves Pink. And I'm dying a little inside. And if 30 Seconds to Mars wins, I'll die a whole lot more.
AFI wins. Suicide averted.
Davey Havok's hair freaks me out, but I like his band, so I'll let it slide. Everybody should crank up "Summer Shudder" this weekend to celebrate/mourn the end of the summer.
Lou Reed grew a lot of facial hair during AFI's speech. Oh, it's Billy Gibbons. I would have never pegged Jack White as a ZZ Top fan, but he's an enigma.
So we've been having this debate all night: Are those "Get Diddy to the stage"-style voiceovers fake? They certainly feel staged. Also, that Overdrive stuff looks like it's been really boring. Thank goodness I own a Mac. Still, a good try. I like their attempts at innovation -- it's more than other award shows are doing.
Kyle Gass should join Black Eyed Peas permanently. Also, is that long-haired dude in Black Eyed Peas not the most frightening guy in all of pop music? I don't know what the hell is going on at this point in the show, by the way.
I want Timberlake to build shelves in my house. I could use a little hook for my keys!
Sweet! AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels versus LAX in an Ultimate X match at the next pay-per-view! What a strange departure for MTV.
It turns out that's not on the VMAs. I was watching TNA Impact by accident. Back to MTV.
Fall Out Boy win the Viewer's Choice Award, but does it seem like they got snubbed elsewhere? I think "Dance Dance" is as good a video and song as anything else nominated, especially in the rock and group categories. But I don't think the machinations of the VMAs are meant to be understood.
Pete Wentz is not that much taller than Wee Man. Just an observation.
With all that talk about population, I thought Queen Latifah was going to encourage the use of birth control. Unfortunately, she introduced professional killjoy Al Gore. We're running long, Al. Keep it tight.
Al claiming to be the sexy that was brought back is amazing. He's won me over. I feel guilty for not voting for him or going to see his movie.
AXL! Who knows what he's going to do, but who cares? It's AXL! Also, does this mean the Killers are closing the show? I can't argue with that -- they are the heir apparent to MTV's rock throne. They've got a lot to live up to, though -- Kelly Clarkson's show-closing "Since U Been Gone" last year was pretty kickass.
UConn beat Rhode Island by a score of 52-7. I was supposed to be at that game tonight, but it's in Connecticut and the VMAs are in New York. Plus, I like to remain in the same state that Axl is in at all times.
Was that Jim Jarmusch jamming with the Raconteurs? Did I have one too many Jack and gingers tonight?
Final votes on Best Video: Sean says Shakira, I think it's Panic! at the Disco, and Nicole believes Madonna's camel toe will take home the moon man.
Tremendous coup for Panic! At the Disco. They deserve it, and this'll be a massive boost for them and what they do. I don't like the record, but those guys totally keep it real. They absolutely mean it. You've got to give props to that.
Who the hell is Six? I'm normally all for ruining award shows, but you couldn't do this earlier in the show when somebody was sucking?
Sean: "Axl looks like Kevin Federline." Sean's moving out tomorrow. Is Axl still nuts?
Yep, still nuts. I miss Axl. Chinese Democracy needs to come out soon. The world still needs Axl.
I love the bit in this Killers song where Brandon sings, "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus," as though that's a massive turn off. Are all women looking for a guy who looks like Jesus? Maybe Brandon's cracked the code. He's crafty like that.
Say what you will about the Killers, but they certainly know bombast. What other band could close a show this size in this fashion? They're like U2 but better -- you don't have to put up with Bono's politicking.
Jack Black sends us home. If you started watching from the beginning of the pre-show, you've been on your ass for five hours. That's too long. But overall, not a terrible show. John Norris talked about the upsets, and he would have been right if there were any sort of tension involved. Ah well. Baby steps. You have to dig on the Killers, and Panic, and Jack Black, and the Jackass guys. I give the 2006 version of the VMAs a B-, right in the meaty part of the curve for the show's history. This will be one to grow on. See ya next year!