Plus: Madonna is a tribute to Aretha Franklin
For an award show that has taken steps in recent years to emphasize gender – retiring the categories Best Male and Best Female, changing the brand name of the astronaut-inspired trophy as a moonperson – the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards were practically divided into a boys section and a women's section, with a series of male artists who warmed up the stage for a group of women who clearly ruled it.
The 35th iteration of the show, which returned to Radio City Music Hall for the 12th time, started with no bang but more like a monsoon: Shawn Mendes held his own wet t-shirt contest with a soaked performance of "In My Blood." Newcomer Bazzi had no shortage of national TV broadcasts when he followed "Beautiful", his second performance in the evening after an attack during the pre-show not long before. Logic, with the help of Ryan Tedder, strove for another statement-making moment with a performance focused on American immigration policy. And then panic! at the Disco made a stylish and energetic performance that began to float in the air. The performances were solid, certain, but sometimes they did not feel more vital to the show than the bits and gossip from presenters, or a few of the speeches for early acceptance of the evening.
You may also notice that all those artists have something in common. It took almost 45 minutes for the show to get a performance from a woman: rising star Jessie Reyez, one of the different nominees of the Push Artist of the Year who received short periods – and even smaller stages – to introduce herself. to a larger audience. (One highlight is Hayley Kiyoko, the ultimate winner of the category, who flew through a shortened version of her song "Curious" after charming the red carpet with shout-outs to her # 20GAYTEEN slogan.) And it was not until Nicki Minaj performed a medley of songs from her Queen album in a pre-pasted, external segment that felt like the VMAs really started.
That is by no means a shadow to Mendes – it is only that when you think of classic VMA moments and performances, you probably do not think of young pop artists playing with their instruments, who show their musical chops and credibility. You think about the spectacleThat is what Minaj has delivered with her phalynx of dancers and monarch-inspired clothing from the Oculus transport hub in New York. Minaj's friend and acclaimed collaborator Ariana Grande had a similar sumptuous set, reconstructing a completely feminine version of The Last Supper with slow-motion choreography that transformed the VMA phase into a living video clip during & # 39; a woman & # 39 ;, released from her righteous Sweetener LP.
And then there was J. Lo. When MTV announced that Jennifer Lopez would receive the Video Vanguard Award this year, many on the internet seemed more concerned about howling right for Missy Elliott, who was the subject of such inexplicable stubborn rumors about the honor she felt forced to feel. shoot the chatter down on Twitter. But as the first Latinx recipient of the video Vanguard Award – and during a year in which MTV introduced a Best Latin category – Lopez's latest award is not insignificant. And in her first VMA performance since 2001, she offered an abridged version of her Las Vegas residency show with a career-changing medley that served the choreography you were expecting and the impressive live vocals you probably did not have.
The only part of Lopez's crowning moment was the person who introduced her and gave her the award: Shawn Mendes, whose connection with her as an artist … well, what exactly? It was hardly the only pair-odd couple of the evening: producers shoe-horned in a tribute to Aretha Franklin by letting Madonna come out and holding a monologue about what Franklin meant for her. The Queen of Pop has a personal connection with the Queen of Soul beyond their shared roots in Detroit – in a typically cruel way Madonna told a story about how the singing of Aretha Franklin helped her to impress during an audition that set her career in motion . But the optics were not great, considering Madonna's award-show history of delivering occasional self-centered homage to black legends, and indeed, most of her tributes to Franklin were spent on celebrating her own tenacity during her early days as a starving artist.
It was not difficult to find out what Madonna's original primary goal was: to hand out the video of the annual award, which went to Camila Cabello for Havana & # 39; The singer was hardly the forerunner in the category, who bumped into her Childish Gambino & # 39; s much-dissected "This Is America" clip and the private Louvre party that was the Carters & # 39; "Apeshit" – competitors that were not present.
But no matter how surprising it may have been, watching the victory as a big support for Cabello is in line with the diminishing emphasis of the show on real music videos & # 39; s. That is an eternal MTV complaint, certainly, but that shift has certainly been reflected in the categories: last year the show introduced the award artist of the year, and this year followed the song of the year award – two star-studded categories of which nominees are not attached to certain videos. And the most troubled and hyped award of the night was not a video of the year – it was the best new artist, who came to Cardi B and Hayley Kiyoko and, which was not a big shock to someone who had given her unsustainable year, went to Cardi.
By the time Cabello won the great honor of the evening (her second award of the night), the show had returned to a third act with male performances with mixed results. Travis Scott is technically heavy Astroworld medley never completely found, while a sponsored Lauv version that played during a commercial break after the Madonna-Cabello segment was shockingly anti-climax. (A Madonna monologue is a difficult task that everyone must follow, let alone a still emerging artist who fulfills a brand partnership.) The homecoming was not without fierce stains, including Aerosmith – which, despite all the news, scratch their heads. probably inspired, drew a lively grand finale by working with Post Malone for a ripping rendition of "Toys in the Attic." Yet, when it comes to the strangely separate exhibition this year, it is clear that – to paraphrase the song Grande – the women were the deities.