It’s difficult to shock in the entertainment world nowadays. Thanks to a few musicians who have pushed the boundaries with everything from raw meat dresses to less-than-polite interruptions, the bar has been set high when it comes to creating scandal in the music world.
So it comes as no surprise that a few moments from this year’s MTV VMAs tried – and failed – to push the envelope and make people gasp in surprise. In fact, the entirety of the VMAs failed to be any surprise: The winners were predictable, big names in mainstream pop who are already at the top.
Save for Adele’s goosebump-inducing performance of “Someone Like You,” and sweet sights like Beyoncé rubbing her pregnant belly, MTV still seems mostly focused on ratings rather than on music. The music part of the channel has obviously been gone for some time, with the appearance of the “Jersey Shore” cast reminding music fans of the transformation of the channel.
It’s nothing new that MTV has become a radically different channel than when it first started out, but this 2011 VMA broadcast made it obvious that it is holding on to the music portion of its name half-heartedly at best. This award ceremony could have been broadcast on any other channel, and it would’ve garnered the same ratings and buzz.
The channel virtually only sheds light on the obvious chart-toppers of the time. If you make the effort to wake up at 11 a.m. you can still catch the Top 20 music video countdown. But the faces are all familiar. VH1, though also having its slew of reality TV shows, at least offers music lovers a “You Oughta Know” category that exposes them to new music.
The VMAs seem to be MTV’s last attempt to maintain the channel’s musical history and reel in more viewers. But when it comes to fostering the discovery of new music, MTV and the VMAs clearly fail. They’re not pushing the limits of the music world by introducing something new.
Even Adam Levine, the lead crooner of Maroon 5, took the liberty of cursing out the VMAs before they were televised, tweeting “the VMA’s. one day a year when MTV pretends to still care about music. I’m drawing a line in the sand. f**k you VMA’s.”
Many attribute this statement to bitterness over not being nominated, but the reality is that the lack of a VMA nomination will not hurt the popularity of Maroon 5, or the success of Levine, who has spent a season as judge on “The Voice.”
And that’s perhaps the biggest flaw of the VMAs. The winners are so predictable that the honor doesn’t seem so high after all. The awards do not hold the same degree of importance as receiving a Grammy, and many Grammy winners’ careers have been transformed by their win. Not as many people knew Arcade Fire as they did Lady Gaga, but the winning of this prestigious prize got many a music fan’s interested piqued in the eclectic band. The Grammy ceremony is less likely to be the place where Lady Gaga leans in for an awkward attempt to kiss Britney Spears.
The VMAs felt like the congregation of the popular kids in high school. Though this is not a new trend, MTV is just proving it is not taking the awards show seriously because it does not invest in introducing new artists in general. The network is timidly keeping its interest in music while taking the easy way out and giving fans the very celebrities they always see. MTV has always been a hot spot for new pop stars that everyone swoons over, but back then the channel at least dedicated more time to music videos in general, giving a wider array of artists for fans to choose from. Today, the presentation of the same musicians only cements the fact that MTV is looking to get ratings rather than making genuine waves in the music world.
If MTV chooses to finally separate completely from music, it will hardly come as a surprise to anyone. It makes more sense for a channel to maintain a full dedication to music than an obliged one. VH1 will most likely lose all its music affiliation as well, but it’s much harder to explain to the next generation why a channel with the words ‘music television’ hardly plays any music.
If MTV wants to focus on ratings, it is only fair that it doesn’t even attempt to deceive viewers as to its true intentions. The musicians at the VMAs are already to booked for plenty of performances elsewhere.
Blogs: Music Notes
MTV: Music? Television
By Eva Recinos
Article posted on 9/7/2011
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