MTV’s VMAs: From Music to Mayhem

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Britney Spears performs onstage during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/MTV1617/Getty Images for MTV)


The annual MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) highlight the music industry’s greatest talent in performance and video production. At least, they are supposed to.

The star-studded event, which took place on  Aug. 28, has strayed away from being an actual and credible award show to become something that simply fills TV time. Aside from Beyoncé’s flawless performance, which seemed to be the only aspect that kept viewers on the channel, the VMAs were a cacophony of chaos.

Seemingly void of a host, the award show featured Key and Peele—the sketch comedy  duo—performing as commentators and sharing takes on their version of pop culture and memes before and after commercial breaks. Key and Peele attempted to dress like they came straight out of someone’s famous Instagram page yelling at people to “hashtag stay woke,” a small tribute to a popular saying among teen and early 20-something viewers. Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah and Nicole Byer also played prominent roles in somewhat hosting the award show.

The focus of the VMAs was mostly on Rihanna who was the recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. She performed some of her most well-known songs four times throughout the duration of the show. But because of her constant experimentation with her vocals in her own songs, such as harmonizing to no melody, while performing on stage, her performances were hard to follow, sub-par, and void of her actual potential and talent.

Following the VMAs, performances and celebrities made headlines, but the click-bait links had little to do with the awards that were actually given. So, if it’s not the awards, what keeps people talking about the VMAs? In 2009, it was Kanye West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift’s Video of the Year acceptance speech. Between 2013 and 2015, it was Miley Cyrus’ almost uncensored, ambiguous, and raunchy performances that declared she was no longer the girl from Disney’s Hannah Montana. This year, the highlight was Drake and Rihanna’s newfound romance.

The rapper and singer duo recently announced their relationship to the public. And their adamant displays of affection at the VMAs did not go unnoticed, one of which headlined the relationship on credible news like Time magazine. Further proving that the VMAs should consider changing its name to the Video Music Affairs.

Between the catastrophe and advertisements, the VMAs did an amazing job showcasing their abilities to utilize the best lighting and stage effects for performers, particularly for the best performance of the night that belonged to none other than Beyoncé.

Her 15-minute performance, packed with high-energy dance moves and new tracks, was a peek at her worldwide headlining tour highlighting her brand new visual album, Lemonade, which kept viewers attentive and the show afloat.

Despite their best efforts to stay relevant, the VMAs have become a place where people are searching for the next best celebrity meltdown or controversy instead of the best new artist. The audience walks away knowing a little bit more about pop culture and even how a mainstream awards show can lose its credibility.

The VMAs need a complete overhaul in order to sustain what little credibility they have left before they become only a giant commercial and desperate cry for publicity.

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