I didn't see quite all of the VMAs last night... I think I dozed off with about 20 or 30 minutes to go. Anyway, it was okay, considering (old man alert) I didn't know ANY of the songs these people were singing. I am hopelessly and happily out of touch with mainstream tween-oriented music.
I will say this: Pink's performance/spectacle was the highlight. It looked like something not everyone could do--jumping from a balcony, breaking a window on cue, rolling into a coreographed dance routine, and actually singing* while she did it. It was impressive. Compare it to the guy--I already forget, I think it was T.I.--who walked with a girl, then got in a fake car with her, singing along with his backup track. Why was the backup track there? And why so loud in the mix? Especially because he seemed to be hitting all his notes just fine; it said to me: "we, the producers of this show, have no faith in this man's talent."
Pink's display of actual talent as an entertainer reminds me of why I'm so nostalgic for the VMAs in the first place. For a pretty good stretch--roughly from the late 80s to the early 00s, if memory serves--the VMAs actually tried to make their stars look more than human. Maybe it was the simple act of doing the show in a theater, like Radio City, with no access to back stage and--gasp!--less spontaneity. Four or five years ago, everything went downhill when they moved the show to Miami, where it took place in a basketball arena rather than a theater. The result was every single musical act sounding like shit and the vast dark, featureless aura of the arena flattening all of the action--there was no focal point, no wow set piece. Last year's disastrous Las Vegas VMA was even worse, as they separated everything out into multiple rooms of a hotel and had shit running simultaneously. It felt chaotic, unfocused, not very special.
This year was somewhat better than last, though that wasn't hard to achieve. Still, this whole thing of bands playing during the commercial break, playing outside then inside, and no surprises whatsoever--"Lil Wayne and Kid Rock in 50 minutes!," the screen told me during the commercial breaks--it all just adds up to more nothing special. We, the viewers at home, aren't getting the whole show when all we see is Katy Perry doing the first verse of "Like a Virgin" and the last verse "I Kissed a Girl"; what's more, with nearly every performance we at home saw in full, it seemed the audience at the awards didn't get to see, since the groups kept moving between the inside and out. So there were two obstructed-view VMAs happening in parallel.
I wish MTV would stop trying to cater to kids who watch TV, surf the internet, and text their friends simultaneously. Trying to appear as distracted as they are doesn't make the VMAs seem current, never mind worth watching. Maybe it's worth noting that the biggest, most entertaining show in the nation for the last 7 years running--coincidentally, about the same amount of time the VMAs have sucked--is American Idol, a show that is nothing more than a single stage on which people go out and sing in front of an audience. It's not boring; it's inspiring. Compare it to the VMAs, where the stars these wannabe Idols supposedly aspire toward seem to be play-acting more than performing, singing along with their albums and mugging for the cameras rather than trying to connect with the song itself, never mind the audience.
*There may have been a backing track for Pink too. I thought there was at first, but then in the end she had her arms around her two backing singers so I wasn't sure if she was singing with them or a track. At anyrate, her real voice was in the forefront.