VMAs poorly-paced mess, despite big acts

Courtesy of Chris Pizzello of Invision/ AP
Madonna presents Camila Cabello with the Video of the Year award for “Havana.”

Nicolas Jozefczyk | Staff Writer

08/23/18

What does someone get when MTV, musicians and an unorganized award show are combined? The 2018 VMAs. Without a host to keep pace, this year’s event seemed completely unprepared.

Cardi B opened the night with some jokes that did not quite land with the entire crowd, while swaddling something in a blanket. After stating, “I got a little surprise for you,” the crowd cheered thinking she was going to show her baby, Kulture. Cardi revealed a Moonman award instead and introduced the first act, Shawn Mendes.

The first and one of the best acts of the night, Mendes sang his hit “In My Blood.” Near the end of his song, water started falling from the sky. Though visually appealing, it was very reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” 2005 VMAs performance, making the rain idea seem less original.

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish presented the first award of the night, Best Hip-Hop, after making higher-tier jokes than Cardi, but still not the best due to stumbling over words and misreading the cue cards. Nicki Minaj won the Moonman for “Chun-Li” and with her acceptance speech shared her gratitude for people liking Queen and shared her love for Ariana Grande.

The night continued, following a very generic format: performance, then award, then repeat. Sometimes there would be two acts in a row, but without a host to break things up and add more to the show, the VMAs were quite bland.

Logic with Ryan Tadder performed their track “One Day” while sending a strong message about the U.S. and Mexico border wall. The act had Logic wearing a shirt that stated “F*** the wall” while children wore shirts with “we are all human beings” printed on them. The background of the stage showed a ragged wall with yellow tape that said “U.S. Border Patrol.”

Toward the end of the song, the background lifted and people trapped behind it were reunited with others at the front of the stage. Logic’s live performances always come with a not-so-subtle significance, and this one was no different.

Jennifer Lopez received one of the biggest honors of the night, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Her medley included many hit songs from her career, ranging from the classic “Jenny from the Block” to “Dinero,” a newer track.

Lopez’s speech was very inspiring, stating that she dreamed her wildest dreams and then watched them come true. When talking about her children, Lopez started to tear up when talking about how she is stronger and better than she was prior to them. She ended her acceptance speech talking about Alex Rodriguez, calling him her “twin soul” and thanking her fans.

Olivia Munn and Keegan-Michael Key presented the most shocking award of the night, Artist of the Year. The nominees included Ariana Grande, Drake, Post Malone, Camila Cabello, Bruno Mars and Cardi B. Camila Cabello won the award, which is exciting, but seems almost unbelievable. After splitting from Fifth Harmony and starting her solo career, Cabello has released wonderful tracks like “Havana” and “Never Be the Same,” but her repertoire is quite bare. Yes, she is a good artist, but when compared to others in the category, Cabello did not seem as deserving as others.

Shockingly, Cabello also won Video of the Year, presented by Madonna. The video in question was for “Havana” which featured Young Thug. Other nominees included The Carters for “APES**T,” Ariana Grande for “No Tears Left to Cry,” Childish Gambino for “This is America,” Drake for “God’s Plan” and Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B for “Finesse (Remix).” Again, the music video for “Havana” was cool, but when compared to “This is America,” which was a cultural movement, and “APES**T,” which was shot in the Louvre, Cabello’s video seems subpar.

The VMAs did a mediocre tribute to Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who passed away on Aug. 16. The show played a couple seconds of video showing Franklin singing the beginning of “I Say a Little Prayer.” After which, Madonna came out and gave a speech. Though acknowledging Franklin’s influence on the industry and Madonna’s success, Madonna’s speech focused around herself and not the career, life nor legacy of Franklin. Logistically, the VMAs only had four days to put a tribute together, but Madonna or even another singer performing one of Franklin’s hits would have been a more heartfelt and honest tribute.

All-in-all, MTV’s Video Music Awards was a flop this year. Though there were some great performances throughout the night, nothing could top all the disorganization and boring flow. Hopefully the 2019 VMAs will be better, because this award show was not worth the time to watch.

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