MTV Video Music Awards 2014: ‘Moonmen’ and other goings-on
Awards shows in general and MTV’s Video Music Awards in particular seem to exist in universes unto themselves, so it wasn’t terribly surprising that the network made no formal acknowledgment during the ceremony Sunday of the real world shooting early that day of former rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight at a pre-VMA party in West Hollywood.
Or that an almost equally surreal twist, last year’s bad girl, Miley Cyrus, she of the infamous twerking performance with singer Robin Thicke, transformed herself this year into a misty-eyed artist of social conscious upon receiving the video of the year honor for “Wrecking Ball,” in which she frolics, often naked, with heavy construction equipment. After she was announced the winner, Cyrus turned the stage over to a man who described himself as a former homeless youth and who talked about homelessness among young people.
“The music industry will make over $7 billion this year,” he said from the Forum in Inglewood, “and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home tonight.” He invited the live audience and those watching the show on TV to visit Cyrus’ website to get more information about youth homelessness.
It was one of a few moments in which the outside world actually got some attention during the show. Rapper Common cited the recent violence in Ferguson, Mo., before giving the hip-hop video award to Drake featuring Majid Jordan’s “Hold On (Were Going Home).’'
“Hip-hop has always stood for the truth,” Common said. He then called for “a moment of silence for Mike Brown and for peace, in this country and in the world,” referring to the teenager whose shooting death in Ferguson has sparked a wave of civil unrest.
The show also included a short montage of photos of comedian Robin Williams, who died Aug. 11 in an apparent suicide.
Mostly, however, the VMAs were business as usual. Barely five minutes in, rapper Nicki Minaj experienced what appeared on camera to be a wardrobe malfunction, clutching the open front of a black mini-dress she wore as if the cutaway in the front was too revealing.
Musical performances trump the actual awards, but for the record, besides Cyrus’ win for top video, other key “Moonman” trophies went to Ed Sheeran featuring Pharrell Williams’ for “Sing,” best male video; Katy Perry featuring Juicy J for “Dark Horse,” female video; Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea for “Problem,” pop video; and Lorde for “Royals,” rock video.
Simon Cowell-groomed female vocal quintet Fifth Harmony took the fan-voted Artist to Watch Award for the group’s “Miss Movin’ On” video.
As the recipient of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Beyonce was allotted the final performance of the night. She ran close to 15 minutes for her extended medley of every song from her 2013 album “Beyonce,” including “Drunk in Love” (during which cameras cut to shot of husband Jay Z and their daughter Blue Ivy), “Rocket” and “Love in This Clubs, Part II,” “Blue” and “XO.”
After Jay Z presented the Vanguard Award and introduced his wife as “the greatest living entertainer,” Beyonce said spoke briefly, saying, “I have nothing to say, but I’m filled with so much gratitude. I thank God for this moment. I love y’all.”
The couple’s appearance together and their kisses — including one after cameras stopped rolling — no doubt will only further speculation about whether they are or aren’t breaking up.
Other performers during the ceremony that ran about 15 minutes past the allotted two hour time included Taylor Swift, Usher and Minaj, Sam Smith, Grande, Jesse J, boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, Azalea and Rita Ora.
As for the Suge Knight shooting, police said the investigation is ongoing:
“It’s disappointing that we as a society can’t have fun or enjoy ourselves without any altercations sometimes,” said Brown, who missed the 2009 Grammy Awards after assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna during a fight in the wee hours following a pre-Grammy party.
During red carpet coverage of celebrities on their way into the Forum, MTV’s cameras cut away to a commercial just after they caught Brown arriving.
Coincidence, or an attempt to downplay the shooting? That’s anybody’s guess.
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.