#MTVVMAs2014 Recap: @Beyonce steals the show. Again.

While last year’s VMA ceremony was quite controversial and exciting, this year’s lacked much of the pizazz and outrageousness that defines the VMAs. Not to say it was a total reserved and conservative night, but much of the award ceremony was forgettable, save for a few moments. Here’s a list of ALL WINNERS from the night.

MTV VMAs 2014

It started off with a BANG (BANG). Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj kicked things off by performing their current hits “Break Free,” “Anaconda” and “Bang Bang,” respectively – talk about setting the mood. While the performances were essentially recapitulations of the music videos, I enjoyed seeing Ariana frolic around and Nicki actually do the moves she pulled off so flawlessly in her homage to Becky and big booties. Great way to kick off the VMAs – not the best performance I saw tonight, but definitely one to start the night off right, with just the right amount of  awkwardness one would feel when watching with my parents (side note: totally was).

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Also – props to Nicki for still performing while her dress was coming off. She stayed true to her duties and just clutched herself and covered what needed to be covered while maintaining a calm and composed demeanor.

Nicki grasped both sides of what I’m guess was a rip through the front of her dress while performing. Like a boss.

Soon after this, Katy Perry won Best Female Video for “Dark Horse.” Firstly, I was not the biggest fan of the video. The song I loved, but the video, it felt too contrived and beneath the quality I have come to expect from Katy – see anything she released from the Teenage Dream era. Also, I thought the video would be disqualified from this category based on it being a collaboration… But alas, it was not.

Once Perry won the first award, it was time for another performance. I mean, that’s the formula, right? One award, one performance – keep the audiences at home entertained. Enter TSwift. Her performance: not as awkward as I was hoping :(, though I loved the whole “I’m not going to jump” bit. Overall, “Shake It Off” came off as tasteful and cute. Very TSwift. Not very outrageous VMAs, but definitely TSwift-worthy. I just wish TSwift channeled all of that gyrating and awkward energy from the video onto the stage… Missed opportunities, I guess.

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From here, TSwift’s BFF Ed Sheeran won Best Male Video for “SING.” Thank The Lord! I called this one earlier tonight. The video itself was hilarious and definitely embodied the feelings associated with the song. And it had muppets behaving badly. I love all the talking puppets who do outrageous things, especially muppets. Yes, I am still a seven year old boy who loves muppets and animated films. Don’t judge.

Ed Sheeran’s muppet man from “SING”

And then came Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, and they were so out of their element. Carrey was able to pull off his jokes, but Jeff – his came off as old-timey and dated. I feel like this was not the best audience for him. Carrey did a great job of playing off his fall, though. Their whole purpose for being on stage was to announce the winner of Best Pop Video, which surprisingly went to Ariana Grande (and Iggy Azalea) for “Problem.” While I love that song and the video seemed like a cross between retro/’70s-platform-boot-hippie-fashion and early Britney Spears, I still thought Iggy’s Clueless-inspired “Fancy” with Charli XCX would take home the award. After all, the video portrayed a cult classic so well and propelled the song to stay at No. 1 for seven weeks. Seven weeks. That’s a long long time. Oh well… Ariana’s acceptance speech was funny, short and cute, so there’s that.

Ariana and Iggy going retro in “Problem”

GREAT PERFORMANCE ALERT

Wow, Sam Smith. You really brought down the house with “Stay With Me.” With just a piano and vocals, you commanded the attention of everyone around you – even my father turned to me and said, “Now that’s a good performance.” So, I mean, you have the approval of a 76-year-old Indian man, if that helps. And to think the song was inspired by a grindr hookup gone bad… I will say that this performance turned me into a fan. I legitimately went from loathing the song every time I hear it to now actually humming along.

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After this, Drake won the Best Hip-Hop video for “Hold On We’re Going Home,” which, given the other nominations, made perfect sense. And then Usher took the stage.

Starting off a little rocky (he sounded a bit like a banshee in the beginning), Usher definitely brought it. Pulling off the Roaring ’20s jazz band look, Usher moved his feet back into public prominence with his decent rendition of “She Came To Give It To You.” Overall, it felt like he was trying to pull a Bruno Mars – not the worst thing, but when you are the R&B powerhouse known as Usher, it does not come off as authentic.

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Then came the Rock Video Award, snagged by Lorde for “Royals.” This marked the first time EVER in the history of the VMAs that a female received the Rock Award. Way to go, Lorde! 🙂 Not going to lie, I didn’t watch any of the other videos nominated, so I was gunning for her to win. And her acceptance speech was precious, as usual.

Things took a turn for the worst immediately following this, when 5 Seconds Of Summer started performing… They were such a borefest! Performing a slow song called “Amnesia,” you know the type of song that a record label would release as a sixth single in order to squeeze every last drop of sales out of an album, 5SOS took a moment that could have been their solidifying moment in the pop landscape and just shit all over it. The song was an inappropriate choice for a performance (something I found was a trend with rock bands that performed at the awards show: Maroon 5‘s “MAPS,” anyone?).

And it was at this point that the VMAs started to lose steam. Fifth Harmony (AKA the next Danity Kane) won the Artist To Watch award, and Maroon 5 showed us just why “MAPS” is not taking off at radio stations with a lackluster performance. In addition, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora tried to make the VMAs something worth watching, but they were somewhat unsuccessful. The performance was great at times, like the beginning and chorus, but Iggy’s raps were too long to really rope in her audience. I will say the ballet dancers worked well for the song, especially since the melody has that twinkling music box aspect to it (reminiscent of an old jewelry box containing a rotating ballerina).

Iggy Azalea channels her inner black widow for the performance.

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In terms of random non-music related things that occurred during the VMAs, what was with the tribute to Robin Williams with NO lead-in and then an abrupt cut to a Covergirl moment? I believe that was definitely in bad taste. It could have been the perfect time to discuss the benefits of talking with a counselor or mental health professional about any issues a viewer could be facing. They missed out on some great social awareness moments just then. At the very least, they could have prepared the audience for the Robin Williams montage, so that we could prepare ourselves to pay our respects. But again, it was a missed opportunity.

Lastly, the big award of the night: Video of the Year. Of all the nominees, I could not decide which one I really wanted to win it. Going through the list, there were so many great nominees, and if memory serves me correctly, it is hard for an artist to win all three awards (the specific genre, gender and Video of the Year awards) for the same video since Britney did it with “Piece Of Me” back in 2008. And so, I really had no idea that Miley Cyrus was going to take it for “Wrecking Ball.” The video itself was beautiful, raw, full of emotion and while it was an obvious ploy to gain attention, by Miley, the video actually served its purpose of representing the song really well. But the thing that got to me was what Miley did when walking up to accept the award.

Miley did a total 180, causing “controversy” in a more positive light: she asked a homeless youth from LA accept the award on her behalf. The young man talked about his and the struggles of so many across the nation – those who were abandoned or ran away from abusive homes and who try every day to support themselves by taking odd jobs to make ends meet. Miley took away what could have been an ultimate controversial moment on her part and turned it into something beautiful. I mean, I know I was waiting for her to get up there and say something outrageous to liven up the snoozefest that the VMAs had become, but instead, she brought light to a cause near and dear to her heart. Good on you, Miley.

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And then came the performance everyone had been waiting for: Beyoncé’s Video Vanguard Award. Going through most of the songs from her self-titled hit-drunk frenzy-inducing secret release Beyoncé, she sashayed and hair-flipped through a mini-montage to one of the best video works of the past year. The funny part was that the performance was actually quite different than the one any of her fans would have experienced if they had seen her On The Run show this summer. And for that, I commend her. Beyoncé always goes that extra mile, living up to the “best entertainer alive” title Jay Z had bestowed upon her when handing her the Vanguard Award. Side note: the most awe-inspiring part of the whole performance was when she sang “Blue.” You could see the emotion permeating throughout the stage. Beyoncé owned it.

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Overall, the show was more conservative and reserved than I was expecting. And I’m quite bummed that I missed watching the last episode of True Blood live for it. But alas, we are all allowed to make stupid choices every once in a while, right?

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