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    The 2008 MTV Video Music Awards

    On Sept. 7, MTV presented its 25th Annual Video Music Awards, a show that, in recent years, has been having more and more trouble living up to its own hype.

    Not for lack of trying, of course, seeing as this year’s awards was as drenched in glitz, glitter, and glamour as any previous year’s shows. MTV just seems to fall short in the whole ‘Try to take us seriously’ department. This year, unfortunately, was no different.

    On the whole, the show can be described as occasionally entertaining and mostly confusing, due in no small part, perhaps, to the apparently revived and refreshed Britney Spears.

    So what happened? The night opened at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, Calif., with British comedian Russell Brand as host and emcee. Dressed in what must have been a post-punk-meets-’80s-hair-metal outfit, his brand of comedy was a mix of political humor (nowadays, sex with a running mate’s daughter will turn you into a Republican. Who knew?), self-deprecation, pop culture commentary, and sheer earnest to entertain his audience. He managed to entertain only about half the time, with the other half having the audience wondering, ‘Who is this guy?’ I would wager that he represents MTV’s honest attempt to stay relevant to its audience and industry, but squarely missing the mark, as it did when ‘The Hills’ became popular.

    In terms of performances, most of them were good both on and off the main stage. Standouts definitely include Pink’s performance of ‘So What’ and Rihanna’s ‘Disturbia,’ both of which recalled the over-the-top performances of past VMAs. The Jonas Brothers wholly embraced their teen heartthrob images as they sang ‘Lovebug’ to insane fangirls. Lupe Fiasco, LL Cool J, The Ting Tings, and the oh-so annoying Katy Perry all performed with the house band TRVSDJAM, and Kanye West ended the evening with a performance of his new single, ‘Love Lockdown’ (from his forthcoming album), with fireworks and backing drum ensemble.

    However, no show is without its low points. Christina Aguilera’s performance of ‘Genie in a Bottle/Keeps Getting Better’ had far too much lip-synching than could be excused, and, for a show whose focus was supposed to be the future, recalled 1998 more than anything. T.I.’s performance overall was good, but he languished in the ‘Whatever You Like’ portion of his set. ‘Live Your Life,’ with Rihanna’s presence, was a much stronger one.

    Lil Wayne had a mixed showing as well. ‘Misunderstood’ went over well with the audience, while Leona Lewis singing Nina Simone was definitely a treat. Wayne rhyming over Kid Rock’s ‘All Summer Long’ was much less so.

    And then there were the awards. There were generally no surprises this year as this portion of the ceremony is consistently, and ironically, boring. The winners of the night were:

    Best Female Video: Britney Spears, ‘Piece of Me’ Best Male Video: Chris Brown, ‘With You’ Best Dancing in a Video: Pussycat Dolls, ‘When I Grow Up’ Best Rock Video: Linkin Park, ‘Shadow of the Day’ Best New Artist: Tokio Hotel, ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ Best Pop Video: Britney Spears, ‘Piece of Me’ Video of the Year: Britney Spears, ‘Piece of Me’

    Hopefully, something should have struck the reader as odd. Britney Spears, without ever winning the eponymous award, has been a fixture at the VMAs for the better part of a decade now. For the past two years she has been a big part of the hype. And yet, anyone who watched last year walked away either scratching his or her head or wondering what the hell happened to the poor girl.

    This year, in sharp contrast, sees this once and future Pop Queen rise again from the ashes as she takes away not one but three moonmen. Is it believable? No. This is the stuff of fairy tales (Jonah Hill is apparently her Frog Prince). It’s at this point that MTV’s credibility — the whole ‘try to take us seriously’ department as was mentioned — collapses on itself. Her winning the award was met with some well-deserved controversy later that night. Still, what more can we do but nod our heads and go along with it? The show must go on.

    So there it is. The 2008 Video Music Awards have come and gone. We laughed a little, girls cried, and life goes on after the post-shows and after parties. Were we impressed? Probably not. Still, if there’s one thing MTV can be sure of, it’s that we’ll be watching next year’s show. Confused as ever, but with nothing better to do than to shut up and enjoy it.

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