8:50: As MTV’s Video Music Awards get ready to launch in a moments, we already know two things: Lady Gaga’s “Born “This Way” snagged the Moonman for the newly minted Best Video with a Message and that Maroon5’s Adam Levine will not be watching. He tweeted earlier today, “The VMAs. One day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music. I’m drawing a line in the sand. F*** You VMAs.” It’s a safer move than you’d think since Maroon5 falls squarely in VH1’s demo, not MTV’s. Given how he also just took on “American Idol,” “The Voice” mentor is veering seriously into “Get off my lawn” territory.
There have already been some WTF moments during the pre-show, such as Justin Bieber telling girlfriend (and black carpet host) Selena Gomez that he has a snake named Johnson. We are so hoping that none of his tween fans got that joke, but our little boy is growing up. Plus, Nicki Minaj’s incredible odd--even for her-- black carpet outfit included a decorated surgical mask and James Montgomery interviewed her as if there was nothing odd at all. Who dresses her? And, of course, Beyonce stole the show already by announcing that she's pregnant. It's a Bey Baby!
Not that the actual awards matter tonight—they’re just something to hand out between the performances— but if you’re keeping count, Katy Perry leads all nominees with nine, followed by Adele and Kanye West with seven.
Join me for the fun. I’d love to know what you’re thinking as we go through the next few hours together.
9 p.m.: Lady Gaga opens the show as her alter ego, Jo Calderone, who looks like a reject from the Dylan pic, "I'm Not There." Flash to former MTV VMA host Russell Brand in the audience, who is not amused, and seems to be thinking, "They decided to go without a host for this?" This is a little scary and brilliant all at the same time in that Jo is channeling everything the rest of us say about Lady Gaga: is it real or theatrical? Another audience flash to Justin Bieber. What does it say that Lady Gaga makes a much more convincing man than the Biebs?
9:10: I loved LG's performance of "You & I," which featured her flanked by male dancers dressed in the same white t-shirt and black pants as she/he is and sporting ducktails. I'm not sure how many people, other than Dave Grohl, realize who Brian May is or that a lot of the man moves, including the final gaze off into space, were copped directly from Springsteen.
9:11: Kevin Hart is giving us all the reasons why he should be hosting. I'm trying to listen, but I can't get past the YSL belt buckle. Well, all that routine is doing is proving us to why he should not be hosting.
9:14: Nicki Minaj, sans surgical mask, and Jonah Hill are presenting best pop video. Hill tries to convince us that he's still funny despite the weight loss in a sketch that is meant to be unfunny--and is. The show already had a weird meta feel with a lot of folks working out their inner issues. They present best pop video, which goes, surprisingly to Britney Spears for "Till The World Ends." And she's getting a Lifetime Achievement Awards tonight. Coincidence? You decide. Will Katy Perry continue her losing streak? So far, yes.
9:23: Kayne West and Jay Z, a.k.a. The Throne, perform "Otis." The rumor that they were performing leaked out today, though was never announced officially. Both are dressed very casually. I'm digging that the first two performances are relatively low key and are focused on the song and not special effect (although there is a bit of a steam geyser going off right now). So here's a taste of what their tour will be like. More importantly, will tonight's performance be enough to keep "Watch The Throne" at No. 1 for one week longer?
9:27: Miley Cyrus, dressed like a speckled Morticia Addams in a dress appropriate for Angela Lansbury, and Shaun White present best rock video to Foo Fighters for "Walk." Dave Grohl remembers to thank Joel Schumaker, who directed "Falling Down," the movie on which the video was based. "Never lose faith in real rock and roll music," Grohl says. "You may have to look a little harder." Grohl also dedicated the award to Judy McGrath, who was the longtime president of MTV (and had been at the network for three decades) until she stepped down earlier this year. Very nice touch.
9:34: The first Rebecca Black sighting: in an interstitial piece with Joe Jonas, Cali Swag District and Ke$ha. People, please, she will never go away if we keep leaving food out for her at the back door.
9:36: Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and Seth Rogan come out as Beastie Boys (ala the video for "Make Some Noise). Out comes Odd Future and they do a dance off. That could have really developed into something so much better. The present best Hip Hop video to Nicki Minaj for "Super Bass." This has to be the first time a woman has ever won this award, unless Missy Elliott managed to sneak one in more than a decade ago. Kanye West was robbed, but our projections are looking pretty good right now: three for four. We're only pointing that out since it may be our best percentage of the evening.
9:41: The dancing mice and robots in the Kia commercial are so far the most entertaining part of the evening.
9:45: Demi Lovato and Chord Overstreet awkwardly present best collaboration to Katy Perry for "E.T." featuring Kanye West, her first VMA ever. Despite even a little baiting from Perry that "now is a time to interrupt," West is on his absolute best behavior. Maybe he really has changed.
9:48: Paul Rudd and Rick Ross awkwardly introduce Pitbull. We're watching on a Slingbox without the best clarity and we honestly can't tell if they just showed Kim Karsashian or Nicole Scherzinger. It doesn't matter because all eyes are on the least clothed woman in the room, Nayer. Katie Holmes just politely clapped and wondered if she could get Tom Cruise to wear that outfit.
9:58: Adele is classing up the joint with a subdued, beautiful performance of her searing, wrenching new single, "Someone Like You." Look ma, no backup dancers, no fireworks, no auto-tuning, all X-rated body parts covered up. Listen up kids, that's what singing actually sounds like.
10:05: We're halfway through, or thereabouts. Jessie J did a great version of "Firework," complete with a broken foot. It's been a fast and uneventful first hour. No outrageous performances at all, but all have been solid.
10:10: Mystery solved. It was Kim Kardashian, who's now presenting best male video and manages to do a sweet intro about love, given that she's a newlywed. Will that marriage last until the end of the VMAs? Best male video goes to Justin Bieber for "U Smile," who kisses Selena Gomez on the lips. Oh, shout out for Christianity. It's not enough to thank God anymore, as Bieb shows, you have to thank Jesus. Good God, even the uber-right country music artists don't go that far. The Holy Ghost cries a little at the omission.
10:16: Uh, every bit of restraint expressed in the first hour just went to hell as Chris Brown delivered a performance of "Beautiful People" that included lots of flying, dancing, a nod to Nirvana, and Kanye West standing up in solidarity with the felon. It's MTV meets Cirque du Soleil. There wasn't a note of real singing in it and it is far and away the most captivating performance of the evening. Discuss.
10:25: Jo Calderone is back to introduce that Britney Spears' lifetime achievement segment and to tell us that he used to have a poster of Britney over his bed that he pleasured himself to. Britney's life flashes before her eyes in a very short dance homage. Quite frankly, even though we think its ridiculous that she's getting the award at 29, it was way too short a tribute. And the even weirder thing is that Britney's thank you speech, which she's so clearly reading off the teleprompter seemingly for the very first time, was basically an introduction for Beyonce.If I were a hardcore Britney fan, I'd be pissed.
10:31: Beyonce's spoken song intro about "the love that's crawling inside of me" takes on new meaning given the good news she announced earlier tonight. She's performing our favorite tune from "4," soulful retro "Love On Top" in a glittery tux jacket. Jo Calderone is drinking whiskey and getting a hug from Kanye West, Katy Perry has a wedge of cheese on her head (the state of Wisconsin thanks her). Beyonce sounds like she's singing live and, if she is, has never sounded better. At the end, she rips open her jacket to rub her tummy. Okay, we've only known she's pregnant for less than 2 hours, and we're already tired of baby bump watch. Plus, unless you actually give birth during the show, no pregnancy performance will ever top M.I.A.'s appearance at the 2009 Grammys. The shot of Beyonce's baby daddy Jay-Z glowing in pride and getting hugged by West is a true "Awwww" moment. Our favorite shot, though, was Tony Bennett looking over at Jo Calderone with complete befuddlement.
10:41: Selena Gomez and Taylor Lautner present best new artist video to Tyler, The Creator. Bugs everywhere are running for their lives.He's bringing the rest of Odd Future up with him. Tyler says he's wanted the award since he was nine. We're hoping that's his mother that the camera that just flashed to. OK, the only part of this acceptance speech that wasn't bleeped out was "To all the kids that's watching." There's something very, very hilarious about that to us.
10:45: Young the Giant is performing (in what looks to be a taped piece). Why? Seriously, if someone knows why, please answer below. This is the only rock performance of the night and it goes to a new band that isn't up for anything.
10:53: Cloris Leachman just came out to present with girls from The Jersey Shore. I don't know what it says about the fate of Western Civilization when Snooki is the most charismatic person up on stage. Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" wins best female video. Katy Perry and Adele have to politely clap on camera. Of course, since Lady Gaga is pretending to be Jo Calderone all night (including even accepting the award and referring to LG in the third person... oops, she just broke form and said "they told me I got best video with a message") we have a dude accepting best female video. What will Beavis and Butthead have to say about that?
11:03: Russell Brand is introducing the Amy Winehouse segment. As you may recall, he wrote a very touching tribute to her (and the reality of addiction) on his website following her death. He's basically recapping that here. Did he just say his wife was influenced by Winehouse? Uh, that must on some hidden Katy Perry tracks we've never heard. Tony Bennett is now talking about recording with Winehouse on "Body & Soul" for his "Duets II" album. They recorded at Abbey Road, not The Abbey, but that's okay Tony. Both Brand and Bennett have given out plugs to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Wouldn't it be incredible if this turned some new folks on to them?
11:11: Bruno Mars is performing "Valerie," the Zutons tune that Winehouse and Mark Ronson recorded for Ronson's album a few years ago. We're sure it's going to get pilloried, but we like the performance despite the fact that Mars and Winehouse shared absolutely nothing in common other than their retro sensibility. He's a star.
11:18 Squeee! It's the first look at "The Hunger Games." And in the time it took me to type that, it's over. If I had tuned in just for that, I'd be pissed. And if I'd tuned in for that and the Britney Spears tribute, I'd be so hating on MTV right now. Looks like a cross between "Twilight" and "Robin Hood" based on that preview.
11:20: Katy Perry wins video of the year for "Firework," presented by Katie Holmes. This means that Adele, whose "Rolling In The Deep" was nominated for seven, goes home empty handed (although the clip wins best direction, best art direction and best cinematography). Kanye, who was also nominated for seven, wins only as a featured artist on Perry's "E.T."
11:23: Lil Wayne is closing the evening with "How To Love" approximately 35 minutes before "Carter IV" goes on sale via iTunes. It's all too sedate. Oh... there we go. Off go the shade, the shirt, and almost the pants. He's now blazing through "John," most of which is bleeped out.
11:27: No credits, no sign off, no passing go because MTV has to use the time to show a clip of new scripted program "I Just Want My Pants Back," which looks beyond awful. Well, for better or worse, we just saw the most music that MTV has shown in the past year. All the MTV promos during the show were for scripted series. Is there even a reason for MTV to have music video awards anymore? Most folks see videos on Vevo or YouTube anyway. Why don't they take it over.
11:34: So the 28th Video Music Awards are over. It was a watercooler-moment-free show, which is the exact opposite of what MTV was going for. Other than Chris Brown, most of the performances were fairly low key, but all were solid. There were no trainwrecks or OMG moments.
What are your thoughts?
For a complete list of winners, including the non-televised awards, go here