As always, the performances ruled the show. Lady Gaga, dressed as male alter ego, Jo Calderon, opened the show with song You and I. Gaga is pure theatricality, which makes her performances so fun to watch. It was a great decision to have her as the opening act.
Next performance was a “surprise.” Jay-Z & Kanye West took the stage and performed their latest single, Otis, from Watch the Throne. As a big fan of both rappers, it was great to see the two on stage performing one of my favorite songs. They brought in a lot of energy and got every pumped up for the rest of the show.
Probably one of the most popular songs of summer 2011, Pitbull & Ne-Yo performed Give Me Everything. While not the most memorable performance, it was funny to hear Pitbull put a little extra zest in the line ”I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan,” which Lohan is suing him over.
Hands down, one of the greatest moments of last night’s VMAs was Adele’s performance of Someone Like You. First, it was a relief not to see her perform Rolling in the Deep once again. Adele was a nice break from all the flash and over-embellishment that fills the VMAs. Her performance was understated, intense, touching and perfect.
Following up Adele is the worst position to be in, especially if you spend the entire performance lip-syncing. But we can’t entirely blame Chris Brown for lip-syncing to every classic song in recent music history when he’s dancing and flying like crazy. While it was a pretty cool performance (although hardly original), I still find it hard to support someone like Chris Brown.
The Britney Spears tribute was a let-down. Lady Gaga (or really, Jo Calderon) spoke a little about Britney and introduced a dance performance by young girls to all of Britney’s classics. I loved the idea of the young girls dancing to Britney’s hits; that was ME as a kid. Busting a move in my room, while Britney’s CD played from my boombox. But the dancing was too fast! I hardly had time to appreciate the tribute. It wasn’t like I was expecting some major tribute to her, but MTV could’ve spent a couple more minutes on her.
While Britney accepted her tribute award, she and Gaga introduced Beyoncé to the stage to perform “Love on Top.” During the pre-show, Beyoncé announced that she was pregnant! Everyone was curious to see if her performance would have the same energy, now that she’s expecting. Well, Beyoncé delivered (not the baby, folks) and pulled off a high-spirited Motown-esque performance. At the end, she opened her jacket and rubbed her belly. The camera panned to a smiling Jay-Z. It was a very sweet and precious moment between the two.
Another surprise was Young the Giant, a band that I have been familiar with for a while. I love their album, especially the song, My Body. So it was great to see them perform at the VMAs, and hopefully, this gives them the exposure they deserve.
MTV didn’t get Britney Spears’ tribute right, but they did a wonderful job honoring the late Amy Winehouse. Russell Brand introduced the tribute, by telling the story of how he met Amy Winehouse and was completely amazed by her genuine talent. Next, Tony Bennett took the stage, talked about working with Amy earlier this year and presented some new footage of them singing a duet. In the footage, Amy looks happy and healthy, and it really hits you that we lost a true talent. Bruno Mars then takes the stage to perform “Valerie.” Mars was a great choice to sing “Valerie.” It’s hard to top Amy’s interpretation to the song, but he did it justice. He didn’t make it his own; he wanted the audience to know that his performance was truly for Amy Winehouse.
Finally, after being teased ALL NIGHT, we got our first footage of The Hunger Games. At first, I will admit it was disappointing. And MTV is all to blame. They overhyped the footage making us believe that it would be more than it ended up being. Next, they said that Jennifer Lawrence will introduce the clip, leading fans to believe that she would actually be at the show to do it in person. Lawrence did a video introduction from The Hunger Games set. It would’ve been all fine with me if MTV wasn’t all so purposely vague and misconstrued everything.
The teaser itself was a tease. We watch Katniss run through the forest and shoot an arrow. Although there isn’t much to it, the clip looks good. Jennifer Lawrence looks great as Katniss. I’m surprised that she actually looks like a 16 year old. When she shoots that arrow, you see Katniss’ fierceness all over her. At the very end, you can hear the four -note whistle from “Rue’s Lullaby.” It’s perfect! Check out the teaser below and let us know what you think!
Lil Wayne closed the show, with an energetic and slightly volatile performance. To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to it because I was too engrossed in The Hunger Games trailer that had just premiered before. But from the reactions I read on Twitter, most seemed to agree that Lil Wayne’s performance was a bit of a mess, and that what’s the point of performing a song when every other word is bleeped out. The show started out great and ended on a disappointing note. That’s MTV for ya.
Oh, wait, actual awards were given out at this show! Check out the winners list below and let us know in the comments what you thought was the best part of the VMAs.
MTV Video Music Awards 2011 Winners
Video of the Year:
Katy Perry, “Firework.”
Best Female Video:
Lady Gaga, “Born This Way.”
Best New Artist:
Tyler, The Creator, “Yonkers.”
Best Male Video:
Justin Bieber, “U Smile.”
Katy Perry, Kanye West, “E.T.”
Best Hip-Hop Video:
Nicki Minaj, “Super Bass.”
Best Rock Video:
Foo Fighters, “Walk.”
Best Pop Video:
Britney Spears, “Till the World Ends.”
Best Video with a Message:
Lady Gaga, “Born This Way.”
Best Art Direction:
Adele, “Rolling in the Deep,” art direction by Nathan Parker.
Beyonce, “Run the World (Girls),” choreography by Frank Gatson, Sheryl Murakami & Jeffrey Page.
Adele, “Rolling in the Deep,” cinematography by Tom Townend.
Beastie Boys, “Make Some Noise,” directed by Adam MCA Yauch.
Adele, “Rolling in the Deep,” edited by Art Jones at Work.
Best Special Effects:
Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.”, special effects by Jeff Dotson for Dot & Effects.