Has the live-blog been obliterated by Twitter? Let's find out on MTV's biggest night of the year, the Video Music Awards, which this year will feature Taylor Swift (in business casual on the double-decker red carpet right now), Frank Ocean, Rihanna, and Green Day, among others, as well as honors to various clips designed to big-up the biggest pop tracks of the year.
Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel's annual paean to musically borne decadence and its own self-storied past. Tonight's roster of performers includes Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Chris Brown, Pitbull, and Young the Giant, as well as a "surprise" performance by Jay-Z and Kanye West, a tribute to Britney Spears (not dead and celebrating the 10th anniversary of her dancing uncomfortably with a snake), an homage to Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.), and the looming possibility that Tyler, The Creator will crap himself onstage. The blogging starts below.
MTV turns 30 today. To celebrate, we're running a bunch of pieces on the channel, its legacy, and its future.
Would you look at all that postmodernism?
For a multimillion-dollar event orchestrated with the dictatorial hand of all awards shows, there's always been a certain thrilling seat-of-the-pants quality to the Video Music Awards at its best. Maybe it's just the amount of big (and often liquored up) egos in one room, and the potential that one of them might do or say something dumb or funny or unexpected. But even with producers attempting to control every micro-second of the broadcast, viewers at least get the sense that anything might happen, even if 99 percent of the time nothing outlandish (or even very entertaining) usually takes place.
Most of the WTF watercooler moments from past VMAs seem plenty corny in retrospect. (Fiona Apple's mildly profane acceptance speech in 1997, for instance.) Occasionally, though, things get away from the producers to such a degree that clips from the shows can produce a feeling of avert-your-eyes queasiness years later. (Pretty much the entirety of the apocalyptically awful 2007 installment.)
But there's also another kind of awkwardness, the sort that comes with watching a show forced to reinvent itself from year to year; the whole thing can fall flat on its face for reasons that have nothing to do with drugged-out performers or presenters who go off-message. Like every company that attempts to stay on top of the fickle tastes of teenagers and act as both taste-maker and taste-agglomerator, MTV is in a constant race to keep up with the pubescent Joneses. And so, you rarely get more than two VMAs in a row that look or feel much alike.
Last night MTV announced the nominees for this year's installment of their annual pseudo-event extravaganza, the 2011 Video Music Awards, and once again, the nominees for Video Of The Year have three pop picks ("Rolling In The Deep," "Firework," "Grenade"), one sop to the olds in the crowd who still like to trot out the hoary, "LOL MTV, they should just call it 'TV'" argument (the Beastie Boys' "Make Some Noise"), and one pick designed to tickle the fancy of those people who like to chatter on the internet about pop music and its trappingsTyler, The Creator's "Yonkers," which also got a Best New Artist nod but which didn't get nominated in any other categories. (You'd think the oft-put-upon MC would be peevish about not being up for Best Director, but I guess his butt got sufficiently kissed by his being up for the Big Moonman. He really wants it, you guys!) Anyway this is all pretty much a rerun of 2007, when the narrative suggested by the nominations was setting up an all-Kanye extravaganza in Las Vegas (he sampled Best New Artist nominee Peter Bjorn & John and got pissed at fellow Video Of The Year nominee Justice for beating him at MTV's European award-show arm) but then Britney And Her Bad Weave happened and that was out the door.
Anyway, consider yourself warned for the 9,356 thinkpieces and threats of MTV boycott and Twitter-arguments that will ensue between now and the VMA telecast on Aug. 28. Full slate of nominees below.
Just how awkward will the awkwardly staged moment between Kanye West and Taylor Swift be? Will Eminem deign to smile? Which uncomfortable pop star will B.o.B choose to bring up on stage with him? And how will your hosts, Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal and eMusic's Sean Fennessey, make it to midnight without passing out? The answers to these questions and more, below, on our official SOTC 2010 MTV VMA Live Blog, commencing shortly. (Amuse yourself in the meantime with last year's edition.)
Nicki Minaj Performs "Check It Out" With Will.i.am on the Pre-Show [8:35 p.m.]
SF: Tim Kash informs us that Nicki Minaj has a "great behind." And here she is. Will.i.am emerges dressed like the black Max Headroom.
RD: Will.i.am has too much time on his hands. Also, a live-action Jetsons movie just got greenlit. I want to Jazzercise right now.
SF: Nicki, fearlessly weird, and sort of disturbing!
RD: She just did the "Come to Daddy" scream to a dude in all white who's doing the robot -- I think I recognize that guy from Nicki's Ustreams! I have too much time on my hands.
SF: That man is wearing a "Pink Friday 11.23.10" T-shirt. RIP Macy Gray.