Peaks & Valleys: The 2013 VMAs
Year after year, record breaking amounts of viewers tune into MTV for what has become the biggest mainstream music award show in the world. While a moon man isn’t quite comparable to a Grammy trophy, legends such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Eminem, Beyoncé and more have put out unforgettable performances at the show. Viewers tune in to see the performances first and foremost, while the delegation of awards take a back seat (except for that one year Kanye was allowed entrance with a bottle of Hennessey). Check out Page 31’s take on the peaks and valleys, or highs and lows if you will, of the 2013 VMAs.
The VMA Pre-shows aren’t ever the highlight of the night but allow fans to get a peak at what everyone is wearing in preparation for the show. The scenery of Downtown, Brooklyn was a really nice backdrop for the VMA red carpet. The most notable interview was with Pharell Williams who rode into the red carpet with a crew of 20-30 bikers.
Lady Gaga also did a pre-carpet interview in which she revealed Bay Area rapper Too $hort would be on her album to the excitement of Sway. Also fans were treated to a formal announcement that Danity Kane is officially re-uniting for another album, minus D Woods.
The one major bust of the pre-show was the comical personalities put in place to conduct quirky interviews. In one of their appearances the two female personalities handed Big Sean a love letter to give to Justin Timberlake and in the other they handed Wiz Khalifa a bag full of gifts to help him through the VMAs, highlighted by “beef twerky.” These segments were awkward to say the least and were flat out a waste of the star’s presence.
The true highlight of the pre-show was pop star Ariana Grande’s performance of her latest single Baby I and her hit single The Way. Ariana sang powerfully with limited back up vocals winning over fans everywhere.
After her performance were done she mouthed the words “oh my god,” in utter shock at her latest accomplishment. That moment a true star was born.
Lady Gaga’s opening performance was creative and entertaining and the perfect way to kick things off. Gaga pulled inspiration from Andy Warhol and Fosse the musical amongst others as she changed in and out of several outfits while performing. Roll on wigs, and breakaway clothing aided Gaga’s mission, but at the end her seashell bra and panties left men and women startled at the body no one knew she possessed.
Whether or not her new single Applause will be her next megahit is still in question but as far as performances go, Gaga is still one of the elite musicians. A cutaway to Drake showed him uttering his disbelief, possibly adding her to his list of future flings. Later into the show Kevin Hart would reference Gaga’s body in a comedic monologue, saying what everyone in the room was thinking.
One of the first surprises of the night was the joining of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s sets. Our latest child star gone wild, Miley Cyrus’ entire performance revolved around her often criticized twerking which were the only real highlights of her set. Cyrus stripped down to her bra and underwear, which revealed the very little she had to show as Robin Thicke made his way to the stage to perform Blurred Lines.
For MTV to allow the song of the year to be wasted in a 30 second publicity stunt is shameful. Cyrus bent over in front of the twice her age and married Thicke, grinding up against him and at one point motioned to kiss on his neck as he sang. Ten years from now we’ll look back at that video clip in pure disgust that such a good song was reduced to so little. Afterward, Thicke was joined by 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lemar for his latest single Give It 2 U which was great but only allowed him to break even after the previous debacle.
Kanye West performed Blood On The Leaves off his latest album Yeezus and while the show was a little underwhelming by his standards, it was still a great moment.
The silhouette of an animated Kanye dancing in front of a still of a tree in New Orleans once used to hang blacks was all that was needed to captive fans momentarily. Unfortunately the song was not performed in its entirety.
If there was any stain on the touching performance by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis of Same Love it was the ill paired presenters who introduced them.
NBA player Jason Collins who recently rose to fame for coming out of the closet gave an anecdote about his grandmother advising him on coming out which was immediately ruined by A$AP Rocky’s need to validate his coolness and attempt to push his crew member’s album on middle America.
Jennifer Hudson and Mary Lambert closed off the performance with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis by singing back and forth, note for note, which was a cool addition.
Justin Timberlake stole the show when he performed a medley of all his past hits and even re-united with N’sync for a couple of songs before receiving his Video Vangaurd award. Timberlake’s body of work is overwhelming and his stage presence can’t be put in words.
This will go down as a legendary performance for years to come as JT has truly reached the highest marks as a musician and entertainer. This easily should have been the closing moment of the 2013 VMAs, but MTV had other plans in mind.
Bruno Mars excelled as always in his performance of Gorillas, and he’s shown once again why he’s one of the most underrated entertainers in the game.
Mars is one of the most consistent artists when it comes to his award show spots and he always keeps things innovative and fresh, beginning with the music.
The VMAs decided not to go with a host this year and instead, we were “treated” with two comedic rants by Kevin Hart. Hart did some impromptu stand up on what he observed as the evening went along, but he was far more ridiculous than funny.
The host is half the magic of award shows, and for MTV to choose to go without one was brash. Hart and Jimmy Fallon found themselves getting numerous spots throughout the show, making them the evening’s informal hosts.
It could have been cool to see Kevin Hart and Fallon work together as official hosts.
For some people, like Jaden Smith, Drake’s performance at the 2013 VMAs were moving. For others, it was a typical showing. Drake’s discography has no blemishes so whether his voice cracks on a note or his hand shakes uncontrollably, its hard not to appreciate his presence.
Hold On Were Going Home and Started From The Bottom are two of the biggest songs of this year, so as fans you’re just happy to have them included in the show.
Katy Perry’s show closing performance was bad for numerous reasons. The first being that MTV kept precluding the performance as her biggest hit yet, for a song that hasn’t hit #1 like most of her others. Secondly, the show being held in Brooklyn was supposed to be an iconic feat and MTV celebrated this by having a California girl close things out in a boxing ring placed near the Brooklyn Bridge. The aesthetics of the performance its self was cool, but very forgettable. As soon as the show ended, the telecast launched directly into a repeat of the event.
Being that they opted not to have a host…there was no one to send fans off with closure. Having Jay-z close the show as a surprise guest was an obvious fix, but it never happened. An hour removed from the greatest moment of the night, fans left feeling unsatisfied and many pointed at Eminem’s comeback commercials as the most meaningful developments throughout the evening. All in all the 2013 VMAs were entertaining, but it certainly lacked a punch for what is known to be one of the biggest pop events of the year.
-Recap by Gregory Calvaire