The VMAs took place in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and suffice it to say, there is a lot to be said about a music show that thinks it is the biggest music show of the year – or so it told its hosts to say and keep reiterating.
As you can tell, I think they tried to sell us a lot more than they had in stock. A little history: The VMAs, an MTV initiative, initially started out as the Video Music Awards in 1984, and was meant to highlight and reward artists and musicians in their fields for certain genres, but has expanded to include new categories such as Best New Artist and Best Latin (!). Here are the things I loved and hated about the VMAs, and no, number 5 will NOT shock you:
1. It has taken them a total of 34 years to recognise Latin music. This is the year that they introduced the category called Best Latin – regardless of the fact that some of the most viewed videos on YouTube are Latin songs, such as “Despacito” (5.4 billion) and “Bailando” (the Spanish version has 2.5 billion views, the English one has 283 million). It's ludicrous that the 'greatest music show on earth' should be so remiss as to completely ignore billions of views.
2. While we're still on Latin music, one of my favourite performers was on stage, representing – Maluma, the sexiest Colombian alive, truly. He sang “Felices Los Cuatro”, a very naughty song, but...Maluma's performance was NOT Maluma. And I kind of feel bad that that was everybody's first introduction to this fine man's fine music. If you want to get a true taste of his prowess, check out the actual song on YouTube – and Corazon, of course. And Chantaje, with Shakira. And...
3. While we're, you know, still on Latin music, the song that won the Best Latin award was Mi Gente. J Balvin wasn't present to receive it, but Willy William, the French DJ also on the track, received it, and was very happy to. It broke my heart that he felt that he had to apologise for his happiness and for what he perceived as broken English – in the same way that our Kenyan athletes feel like they are forced to speak in English after races that they have just walked all over. You're important. they should get you a translator. You should not have to apologise.
4. There were a lot of people who were not present at these awards – and I don't know what that says about the perceived importance of these awards – people such as Childish Gambino, who won the award for Video With A Message for “This is America”, as well as the Choreography Award (his choreographer is Rwandese, folks), and the Carters, who took three awards for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Direction; and Bruno Mars, who was nominated for his remix of “Finesse” with Cardi B, just to name a few. Some of the better parts of the night were indeed, the performances, but the BEST part of the entire night was, quite possibly, Lenny Kravitz introducing Post Malone's performance, which was then blended into an Aerosmith performance. Best. Best!
5. The Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award went to J-Lo, who had an entire performance as well to show us exactly why she deserved that award in the first place. Nicki Minaj had a performance that had the crowd completely amped – the audience knew all the words and were yelling to every song. Ariana Grande performed “God Is A Woman”, proving to us that there is actual growth for this ponytailed songstress in terms of voice and song-writing, and she may just be the next Mariah Carey that we've all been hoping for. Logic, of course, had a straightforward performance that, as always, was conscious, and this one dealt with the topic of immigrants – his shirt said “F* the Wall”, so you know where that one was going, particularly when he symbolically dropped down the wall on stage that was between children and their parents, and gave them candles. Yes!
A bonus for you: that Madonna 'tribute' to the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was complete and absolute trash. She shouldn't have been allowed to give the Prince tribute, and she shouldn't have been allowed to give this weak, disrespectful half-baked story about how Aretha changed her life – it was a story about her, and not a tribute at all. The VMAs could have done and should have done better, but then again, what do you expect from the not most important music awards show in the world.
Madonna shouldn't have been allowed near such a reverential topic, and they just shouldn't have bothered at all.