There's no easy way to put this, so let's get straight to the point: The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards sucked. Badly. Real badly.
It's not completely MTV's fault, because it did have to go up against the Democratic National Convention and President Obama. But that's no excuse for what was a night of no surprises, unwarranted rewards and all-around disappointments.
What disappointments, you say? Let's start with the opener, Rihanna. For some godforsaken reason, she has decided that we need one more single from Talk That Talk and she's decided it's gonna be "Cockiness." But the performance she put together for "Cockiness" was nothing but cooch pats and lazy two-steps.
The energy was low for a show opener, and Rihanna's idea of a "surprise" was bringing out A$AP Rocky, who promptly helped himself to a handful of ass. Rihanna seemingly approved; no word on how Chris Brown felt about it though.
The night was supposed to belong to Frank Ocean. After all, he completely cleared his schedule so he could perform at the MTV VMAs. But all we got was a timid, restrained, campside performance of "Thinking About You." Frank is hardly a spectacle kind of performer, but he could've chosen a less sleepy single, like oh, say, "Pyramids" or "Lost." And with all of the shrubbery, low lighting and stage props, Frank looked more like he wanted to disappear than stand out. So Frank's star-making moment was more mehworthy than noteworthy.
Alicia Keys tried to dazzle the crowd with her new single "Girl on Fire," and she called on Nicki Minaj, who delivered a very serious verse with her head down the entire time. Then Alicia brought out gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas to do a few back flips for the people. It was a bit of a surreal interpretative dance moment for the crowd.
Unfortunately, Alicia's vocal cords and throat seemed to be more inflamed than the figurative girl she was singing about. If you've seen Alicia Keys perform on TV, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Her vocals are always strained, flat and scratchy, and tonight was no different. WHY she continues to write these shouty songs for herself, only she knows. But it's not a pleasant experience for the listener.
One Direction isn't worth spilling digital ink over. Katy Perry summed up the most accurate reaction to their performance in one GIF:
The VMAs Are In Danger of Losing Their Relevance
People might say that "awards don't matter," but the reason that all of these celebrities bother to come together for the VMAs is because they're happy to be recognized for the work they put into their music videos. A VMA was a proud achievement. Not necessarily on the same level as a Grammy, but a VMA for a music video definitely carried more weight than a Grammy award for a music video.
But MTV opted instead to reward fangirlism by giving One Direction the Best New Artist award over the critics' darling, Frank Ocean.
The copout for this appalling insult will be blamed on the fact that "fans voted" in the category. But that's bull. Even if the voting incorporates fan voting, we all know that it's not an exactly democratic process and that MTV will make decisions for political reasons if need be.
It's a shame though, because Frank moved mountains to make the VMAs a priority and he didn't receive a SINGLE award for his three nominations. Let's hope that Frank isn't shafted so horribly at the Grammys, but still, this has to hurt.
If MTV, a television network that doesn't even air music videos anymore, hopes to hold on to the prestige of the VMAs brand, then it needs to take the awards a bit more seriously. Perhaps not as seriously as Kanye West does, but definitely more than their blatant "don't-give-a-fuck" attitude.
Another thing, MTV also needs to accept that the spirit of the VMAs lives in Radio City Music Hall in New York. There's an energy there that something is duplicable and every time they change locations, it's never the same.
Rihanna, who rightfully walked away with the Video of the Year for "We Found Love," sang about finding love in a hopeless place. Let us pray that MTV's VMAs can find its soul there as well.