TV review: VMAs show all that glitters

By Jamie Di Rosario-Connor

MTV has been criticized for its lack of actual music programming these days. However, the music was spot-on for the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards.

Lady Gaga (or Mister Gaga, to be precise) opened the show with “You & I,” dolled out in drag and backed by an ensemble of greasers. Her vocals are so strong and her interpretations so intriguing that it is actually hard to hate on her. Or him.

Kanye and Jay-Z performed a fiery performance of “Otis,” complete with flames, fireworks and one gigantic American flag. Their rhymes were tight and delivered with gusto.

Adele performed her new radio single “Someone Like You.” No gimmicks; simply Adele and a piano. Her voice was flawless, her runs pitch-perfect. 21 has offered some of the best music of the year, and Adele might have given the best performance of the night.

Young the Giant gave a surprisingly refreshing performance nearing the end of the show. The group’s alternative rock stylings were standout against the pop feel of the night, and they made a fantastic first impression for millions of viewers who are most likely unfamiliar with them. If only all bands of this caliber and genre could get airtime on something so mainstream as the VMAs … but then again, if the Pitbulls, Beyonces and Lady Gagas were absent, most of the audience likely would be too.

To close out the night and launch the sale of his new album, Lil Wayne took to the VMA stage to teach millions of viewers “How to Love.” Its hard to tell what was more noticeable: the auto-tune on Weezy’s mic or the diamonds gleaming in his mouth. He launched into a new tune from Tha Carter IV, and it surely would have been a great performance if there had been no censoring. But alas, what was heard of Weezy was minimal.

Other performance highlights include Jessie J, Pitbull, Neyo and Nayer on “Give Me Everything,” Bruno Mars’ Amy Whinehouse tribute, Chris Brown’s airborne dance spectacle and Beyonce’s Motown-inspired “Love on Top”— complete with the triumphant announcement of a baby bump!

Tyler, the Creator, took home the prestigious Best New Artist , while Moonman and the top-nominated Katy Perry shot off with Video of the Year for “Firework.”

Its obvious the VMAs are a mainstream product of pop commercialism at its finest, but hopefully some eyes have been opened up to the Tyler, the Creators and the Young the Giants of the music world, who have more to offer than flashy videos and record sales.

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