TV Review: The VMAs in 140, X10 + Videos

Theoretically, I could summarize the VMAs in 140 characters:

Commercials. Several lackluster performances, awards were given based on popularity (not video quality), and then Beyoncé performed. The end.

However, I am going to go a little more in depth than that by doing 140 characters per performance, or note-worthy moment.  You can watch the whole thing again here, or click the specific links below.

Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J
The opening was good, but what was even more entertaining were the facial reactions to Anaconda, Ariana enunciation, and Nicki’s dress fail.

Taylor Swift
Watching T. Swift perform “Shake It Off” was comparable to watching the video except thankfully much less in your face and stomach turning.

Sam Smith
This was one of the highlights of the night: a truly talented artist giving a quality performance with moving vocals and genuine sincerity.

Common’s Ferguson PSA
It was nice to see Common take a moment to address the issues in Ferguson, but more could’ve been done to raise awareness of the issues.

Usher featuring Nicki Minaj
Aside from Nicki wearing a draping of cotton balls, Usher’s all-white performance was rather fluffy and just not quite up to his standards.

5 Seconds to Summer
They just made me feel old. I couldn’t grasp why they merited a VMA performance, and then realized my age was showing: VMAs are for teens.

Miley Cyrus
Thankfully she didn’t perform, but I actually want to commend her for the very touching and classy (for once) “acceptance speech.” Go Miley.

Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even remotely interested in paying attention to this beyond noting their rather fierce black catsuits. Boring song.

Maroon 5
I used to love Maroon 5. Now? Not so much. The most exciting part of the set for me was when I noticed their stage was an M and V, for 5.

Beyoncé
Let’s be real: there’s no way I’m going to limit myself to 140 characters when reviewing Beyoncé’s iconic performance of the visual album.

The obvious choice of setlist for this performance would’ve been for Beyoncé to take us through her career via the hits that ultimately brought her to this moment.  However, she’s done that plenty times before.  Most recently, at the Superbowl.  It was quite fitting for this Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award moment to be complimented by a performance showcasing the body of work that is most comparable to the work of MJ: the visual album, BEYONCÉ.  

The performance was a masterful medley that gave a tantalizing sampler of several tracks off the album.  Every song from the album was referenced in some way, with only “Superpower,” “Heaven,” “Pretty Hurts,” and “Ghost” not being sung at all.  However, the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour performance of “Heaven” was in fact shown tonight on her HBO series, BEYONCÉ X10.

While most of the previously performed tracks did not stray too much from prior performances (though, thankfully, she was not perched on a chair yet again for “Drunk”), what was great to see were the never-before-performed “Rocket,” “No Angel,” “Mine,” “Jealous,” and “Blue.”

For “Mine,” she recreated the visual from the video for the opening sequence, which was stunning.  The choreography for “No Angel” was a highlight: Beyoncé appeared to have Jedi-like powers, seemingly moving Les Twins around at the wave of her hand.  “Rocket” oozed sex appeal, and “Jealous” was appropriately emotional, as was “Blue.”  As she stared at the screen showing images of her husband and daughter, and then out at the crowd where they sat, her sense of fulfillment can be felt through the screen.

Following the performance, Jay-Z took the stage (with Blue in tow) to present Beyoncé with the award, calling her “the greatest living entertainer,” while Blue yelled out “yay mommy!”  Hopefully dispelling those pesky rumors, the family embraced on stage and then ran off, after a choked-up Beyoncé expressed a few words of gratitude to close the show.

Grade:

75/97

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